The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in Madrid

Programs for this blog post

Engineering + Society

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College Study Abroad

Magnificent Madrid. The most Spanish of all Spain’s cities. The best place to live. The finest people.  

That is, if you take Ernest Hemingway’s word for it. The literary icon adored Madrid and all its eclectic charm. 

Discover Hemingway’s old haunts, or better yet, create a story all your own by studying abroad in Madrid. Our ultimate guide will give you all you need to know to get started.  

madrid city guide for study abroad

Why Study Abroad in Madrid 

We could give you 1,000 reasons. But we think this list of five will give you all the excuses you need to choose Madrid for your study abroad experience with CIEE. 

Reason #1: Your Spanish-language skills will go through the roof.  

Whether you arrive in Madrid with basic or advanced Spanish language skills, you will return home with much higher proficiency. There is no better way to acquire Spanish than by living and learning in an amazing Spanish city like Madrid. 

Reason #2: Madrid is a major European cultural center.  

You will find some of the world’s finest art in the city’s Paseo del Arte, aka Art Walk. Take in the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofía museums. There are 10,000 works in the Prado alone! Is it even possible to see it all? You never know until you try. 

And still, there’s more. Madrid boasts 2,294 monuments, 53 theaters, 87 art galleries, and 71 museums. Explore as many of them as possible during your program! 

Reason #3: Some of Europe’s best universities are right here in Madrid.  

This includes CIEE partner school Universidad Carlos II de Madrid (UC3M), which is just 45 minutes from the city center.  

UC3M is recognized as Spain’s most prestigious institution of higher education. It follows a U.S. academic calendar and has one of the highest percentages of full-time and tenured female faculty in Spain. 

study abroad madrid spring semester

Reason #4: It’s easy to connect with nature, even in the heart of the city.  

Madrid may be quite cosmopolitan, but did you know it has more trees than almost any other city in the world? Topped only by Tokyo. Who knew? So, study in Madrid and live among 225,000 trees, not to mention 172 parks and gardens.  

Reason #5: The food is oh so delicioso 

This is no secret. You will love dining on some of the traditional foods of Madrid: meat and chickpea stew, snails Madrid-style, Spanish omelet, suckling pig . . . we could go on.  

You’ll have so much fun exploring it all. And don’t forget to check out Botín, the world’s oldest restaurant right in the center of town.   

How to Study Abroad in Madrid 

Seems like Hemingway was on to something with Madrid. Ready to make this fun city a reality for your study abroad adventure? Here’s how to study in Madrid: 

Step #1: Know your availability.  

Do this first. You may have a lot of flexibility in your schedule, or maybe you don’t. Fortunately, we offer Madrid study abroad programs as short as six weeks and others that last a full 17 weeks. 

Step #2: Find a program that makes the most sense for your goals and degree. Below we go into our amazing Madrid program options.

Discuss what you’re thinking with your study abroad advisor, academic advisor, your parents (of course!), and with us. Together we can make sure you choose the best program for you and your future. 

open campus study abroad students in madrid with ciee

Step #3: Make sure you’re eligible.  

Different programs have different requirements, such as GPA, language skills, etc. Don’t get your heart set on the program until you check these requirements.  

Step #4: Balance your budget with the bottom line.   

Obviously, funding your program is key to making it happen. Our fees go a long way and typically cover tuition, tours, excursions, orientation, on-site support, airport meet-and-greet, and more. We also offer millions of dollars in scholarships and grants each year, based on financial need and merit.  

Your college’s study abroad advisor may also know of other avenues of financial support. Be sure to check with them. 

Step #5: Book it!  

This is the best step of all. Well, before you take your actual first step into lively Madrid! 

Study Abroad in Madrid Tips 

A few proven tips to make your Madrid study abroad experience a success: 

Tip #1: Use your Spanish.  

And not just with other students and CIEE staff, either. Get out and talk to the locals. Use Spanish to order coffee, see a movie, and take a day trip.  

It’s the surest way to boost your language skills. Plus, it’s actually really fun using your Spanish while living in Spain. So go on, live like a local! 

Tip #2: Take the tours.  

When else are you going to visit the Monastery of El Escorial, Puerta del Sol, or Alcalá de Henares? Exactly. Now’s your chance. 

Tip #3: Keep a journal.  

Write it. Film it. Share it. Just do it. You’ll thank yourself in the long run. We promise you’ll be making memories you won’t want to forget. 

Tip #4: Bring comfortable shoes.  

Happy feet, happy you! Trust us on this. Bring a pair (or two) of really comfortable walking shoes. And if they’re waterproof, all the better. 

walking tour around madrid spain during study abroad

Tip #5: Meet the locals.  

Our immersion programs do a great job of getting you into the community. You’ll want to take advantage of all we offer. Get to know your surroundings by enjoying meals with Spanish families or Spanish university students or by taking on a volunteer project at a local organization, youth center, or school. 

Tip #6: Embrace the unexpected.  

Things may go just as planned, but we bet there will be plenty of diversions that crop up. Take them all in and know that CIEE has your back every step of the way. Adventure is part of the journey! And, we’ve got your back 24/7. 

Study Abroad in Madrid Packing List 

Our biggest tip: bring the right stuff. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of not-to-forget essentials. 

Key documents: 

  • Passport + a photocopy (just in case) 
  • Visa + a photocopy  
  • A second form of valid ID (e.g., driver’s license or government-issued ID) 
  • Plane tickets  
  • Proof of health insurance 
  • Proof of CIEE enrollment 

Other key stuff: 

  • Cash (Spain uses the Euro) and a credit card accepted in Spain 
  • Comfortable walking shoes, ideally closed-toe and waterproof (yes, this bears repeating!) 
  • Camera to capture the beauty of Spain  
  • One nice outfit for special occasions 
  • Prescription medications, enough for the stay if possible 
  • Preferred over-the-counter medications 
  • Prescription eyewear 
  • A reusable water bottle that you can fill up at the airport and use when on-the-go in Spain 
  • Adapters to charge your current tech in Spain’s electrical outlets 
  • Sunglasses + sunblock 

A note about the weather: Madrid has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and chilly, damp winters. Pack according to the season(s) you’ll be there. And layers are always recommended. 

madrid open campus block students on a cultural excursion

Study Abroad Programs in Madrid 

From fast-forwarding your language skills to taking your engineering skills to the next level – and so much more – CIEE offers a variety of ways for you to get on your way in Madrid.  

Here’s a snapshot of the top CIEE programs in Madrid: 

Madrid is Calling 

See? Madrid really is magnificent! Ready to take the next step with CIEE?