Video: highlights of student experiences on Carleton’s 2014 Spanish in Madrid program.
We strongly encourage students to participate in an off-campus study program, if possible. For students who have taken at least one course beyond the basic language requirement, we strongly recommend the Spanish in Madrid Program.
Students considering a study-abroad program should consult with their faculty advisor and with the appropriate off-campus study advisor(s) to determine which programs best suit their goals. Programs vary widely both in structure and academic focus.
Some programs include significant language instruction. Many programs offer students specially designed courses of their own, but some programs allow students to direct enroll in foreign universities. Many programs emphasize particular substantive themes, such as gender issues, development, social justice, or ecology, to name just a few. Some programs involve home-stays; others do not. Some provide opportunities for independent field research, while other programs emphasize regular coursework or seminars.
To get the most out of your off-campus study, you need to select the program carefully.
“You get out of the Madrid program what you put into it. It can change your life, if you let it, or it can just be an extended vacation. I started Spanish here at Carleton and went on the Madrid program terrified I would be lost and confused the entire time. Instead, I learned how to feel comfortable speaking the language even if I felt I didn’t know what I was talking about exactly, and how to be a part of the city and leave my mark on Madrid, just as it left it’s mark on me. I discovered that I can feel more at home in another country, and feel like it is MY place. All in all, was it a challenge? Absolutely. Was it also “worth the pain” as they say? Without a doubt. It was an adventure I will never forget.” (Jon Bisilia ’18)
“Living separately from the other students made Madrid a much more individual experience. While my Spanish definitely improved, I noticed a much more profound change in my self-sufficiency. Living in Madrid taught me life skills I will carry with me through Carleton and back into the ‘real world’.” (Rachel Olson ’17)
“I slowly formed a bond with the doorman of my building, José Luis. At first, we only spoke to each other about Madrid’s changing weather, but as my time in Spain progressed, I learned that José Luis was an avid reader and fascinated with history. Week after week, as I returned from class and approached the door to my apartment, I would not only greet him but also ask questions about the new colloquial words I had learned that day. When it was time to leave the Spanish neighborhood I had grown accustomed to, he gave me a hug and the typical Spanish beso on the cheek telling me that if I was ever in the neighborhood again that I should not hesitate to come say hello. Relationships like this one were a defining part of my 10-week experience in Spain.” (Alondra Rodríguez ’17)
“My favorite aspect of the Madrid program was living with my host mom in the heart of the city and experiencing the vibrant and welcoming street life that is specific to Madrid. On a typical weekend, my host mom and I cooked croquetas and paella, went shopping, attended classical music concerts in gorgeous churches, and went out at night for tapas. We had daily conversations about everything from our personal lives to her opinions on the current situation in Catalonia. Through my interactions with my host mom and the local people in Madrid, I learned first-hand about Spanish culture and was able to see my own culture from a different perspective.” (Shannon Holden ’17)
“Madrid’s energy is sudden, surprising, and infectious. It is overwhelming yet comforting, draining yet inspiring. As I learned to navigate the city over the course of ten long weeks, this energy did not wane in the slightest, and it only grew stronger as I found my own place in the sprawling metropolis that has been the source of vitality to so many. Madrid put a spring in my step, and imbued me with a sense clarity I still carry with me to this very day.” (Prathiksha Srinivasa ’16)
***Some quotes have been shortened or edited for clarity.