A necessary challenge January 25, 2024

By (Economics, Middlebury College) - abroad from 08/24/2023 to 12/22/2023 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Madrid

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile - I gained a level of wordliness and independence that I did not possess prior, and it was the best and fastest way to improve my language comprehension skills

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes at the University Carlos III were extremely challenging with little academic support. The classes at the Sede Prim were excellent with much academic support/

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was extremely invested in the well-being and success of all students enrolled in the program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was very lucky both with respect to my location and housemates. However, Middlebury's heavy restrictions with respect to housing can make the process uncomfortable and unpleasant. I was one of few who was able to secure an apartment that fit their standards.

* Food:

I cooked for myself, food was not provided by the program

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Very, Middlebury's MADLOCO kept students updated on cultural events occurring in the city and the administration encouraged us to integrate to the best of our abilities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program leaders were extremely attentive but there was little leeway with respect to personal health and wellness. If you wanted to skip class you had to get a doctors note, which did not feel very inclusive for those suffering from hidden illnesses.

* Safety:

The city was very safe and easy to navigate for someone who has spent time in an urban center prior.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

It was extremely difficult academically toward the end, but I achieved all of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of my program and was able to maintain my academic standing.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Madrid is a very affordable city

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe 150?
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Taking advantage of cheap groceries and student discount on travel.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We took a language pledge to only use spanish

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 300 level
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Lean into discomfort with respect to the language, especially when in academic settings

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people
  • The trips
  • The Middlebury (Sede) Classes
* What could be improved?
  • Academic support for students at spanish universities
  • flexibility with respect to housing
  • more school funded trips
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The level of academic rigor and independence that was necessary to achieve high marks at the external spanish universities (Carlos Tercero, Autonoma, etc.)

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

La Historia Económica

Course Department: Economics
Instructor: Antonio Tena
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: It was challenging. Did not use location/field trips. Teacher was knowledgeable in material but not helpful outside of normal class hours. Exams were rigid and multiple choice.
Credit Transfer Issues: No, this fills a direct middlebury requirement and was easy to transfer.
Course Name/Rating:

Progreso Económico en España

Course Department: Economics
Instructor: Pablo Martinelli
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: It was challenging but Pablo provided sufficient support and resources. Content was specific to spain making it highly relevant. I felt comfortable participating and was assessed via many different methods - exams, papers, presentations, etc.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Arte en el Museo del Prado

Course Department: Art History
Instructor: Ruth Gallego
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Challenging and so interactive. Weekly trips to the famous Prado which allowed for complete immersion in the culture and content of the class. I was graded fairly via class participation, presentations, papers, and exams.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Conversaciones Avanzadas

Course Department: Spanish
Instructor: Carmen Cabello
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Challenging and so useful. Very relevant content to spain as well as Madrid. Teacher was amazing and encouraged everyone to participate. Graded based on varied and fair assignments
Credit Transfer Issues: no