IAP in Madrid: A Life-Changing Month

Interested in study abroad but have limited time? More and more students are choosing to spend their IAP period studying in Madrid. Founded in 2007, MIT’s popular slate of IAP programs in Madrid continues to expand in course offerings and enrollment. Students currently have the choice of three options: The Spanish Incubator taught in English, Spanish III, and Advanced Spanish Communication. 

All three courses provide MIT credit and the opportunity for cultural immersion through homestay accommodations. Funding is available for the program, and GECD’s Global Education staff will assist students in applying for scholarships to fund their studies.

Although the time may be short (3 – 4 weeks), students find their IAP in Madrid experiences to be truly transformative on academic, cultural, personal, and social levels. Here is what some of our 2017 students had to say about their experiences.

Amber – Course 6 senior – Spanish II

student in front of the aqueduct at Segovia
Amber in front of the aqueduct at Segovia

Going to Madrid this IAP was a phenomenal experience! I’m extremely appreciative of the opportunity MIT gave me to jump out of my comfort zone and try something new. Each week exposed me to more Spanish culture and history that I ever would’ve learned back in the United States. Academically, my Spanish speaking skills skyrocketed. I understood so much more in conversation with my host family by the end of the program than I did when I first arrived.

My time in Spain has shown me that I can survive in a foreign place without knowing anyone, and be content. It has also opened my eyes to new future possibilities of working abroad after graduation to get a more worldly view. Overall, IAP Madrid taught me that I’m much stronger than I think I am.

IAP Madrid is one of the only programs that provide MIT students with study abroad experiences on a shorter time scale. It fits really well into schedules that involve interning every summer, as well. This was really my only chance to study abroad and it was truly a life-changing experience.

Mackenzie – Course 10 senior – Spanish Incubator

I only had a vague idea of Spanish history before this class, knowing the dates of the Civil War and that someone named Franco ruled the country for a while. Throughout the course of the class, Professor Resnick made Spanish history come alive for us. Not only did we get to read Federico Garcia Lorca and see Salvador Dali’s paintings, but we got to see the Residencia de Estudiantes where they lived during the 1920s. And not only did we get to learn about the battles for Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, but we got to see the very streets where bombs were dropped and the palace Franco took over after thwarting Republican forces. The history of Spain and its effects on our world to this day truly came alive for me because of the readings, discussions, and visits Professor Resnick pushed us to delve into.

Professionally, this international experience only reinforced my desire to have a global career. I loved meeting Spanish alumni who had worked in the U.S. and across Europe. They had such varied experiences, and seemed to be able to make a larger impact with their work because they know how to work with diverse colleagues and think in ways that might be different from their own in order to solve tough problems. I know that every international experience I have only pushes me to think outside my comfort zone and to learn how more of the world works, making me a better engineer and a better person.

Juan – Freshman – Advanced Spanish Communication

students smiling on a bench
MIT students take trips together around Madrid and Spain

This IAP Madrid experience reminded me of just how fortunate I am to go to a school like MIT. I never could have imagined being able to study abroad so early on in my college career, as I was able to do this past IAP. I also never imagined how easy traveling actually turned out to be through the organization of the Global Education staff at GECD.

Apart from all the traveling and food, my favorite aspect of IAP Madrid was the community that I was able to become a part of over the course of three weeks. My instructor, Margarita Ribas Groeger, did a fantastic job of allowing us to get to know our fellow peers through conversation and other classroom activities. The smaller class size also helped build much more personal connections between us as peers. Since the majority of the class had never been to Madrid or even Europe before this, many of us would travel and explore together, which solidified new friendships. Over IAP I was able to meet many upperclassmen and build multiple networks to ultimately guide me as a pre-med, chemical engineering major at MIT.  

By studying Spanish Conversation & Composition this IAP, I was able to complete another HASS requirement towards graduating from MIT. As a result, my schedule for this upcoming spring semester has opened up to allow me to take additional classes more focused towards my major.

Joseph – Course 10 senior - Advanced Spanish Communication

After spending a short month in Spain, I’ve definitely grown in multiple ways. Culturally, I’ve had the opportunity to experience European culture for the first time and observe differences between our cultures. Socially, I’ve made a lot of new friends and connected with fellow MIT students that I otherwise wouldn’t have come in contact with during the regular course of the semester.

With them, I travelled to other parts of Spain and was able to more fully experience the rich culture that Spain had to offer. Besides Madrid, we travelled to six other Spanish cities during our free time, including Seville, Granada, Córdoba, Barcelona, Segovia, and Toledo.

Academically, I improved tremendously in my Spanish language. Through daily interactions with locals and my homestay family who only speak Spanish, I was forced to speak Spanish on a daily basis. Also, being surrounded by Spanish culture, it was easier to think in Spanish, which also helped me to improve at a faster rate.

From this experience, I have learned that I am capable of living in a foreign country by myself, and IAP in Madrid has reaffirmed my goal of becoming fluent in Spanish one day.