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Approaching Madrid

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  • Students must arrive in Madrid on the arrival date indicated on the Key Dates page and go directly to their Spanish family’s home.
  • Throughout the orientation students will meet local faculty and administration and get a thorough introduction to the program, the city of Madrid, and the country as a whole, together with language review, art history and culture classes, and site visits.

NOTE: If you choose to arrive early or stay on after the end of the program, you are responsible for arranging your own temporary housing. You will be provided with suggestions for affordable temporary accommodations during orientation on the Stanford campus.

Accomodations and Meals

  • The homestay program in Madrid gives students the rewarding opportunity to integrate into a Spanish home and gain firsthand insights into Spanish life. All families are carefully chosen by the center administration and continually re-evaluated throughout the year.
  • Madrid's administration looks for families who enjoy the company of students and who are truly willing to incorporate students into their home as one more member of the family. At the same time, students should remember that they are with the family to observe and understand the cultural differences rather than to impose their own cultural norms.
  • As the program’s goal is to attain the highest level of integration possible into the life and culture of Spain, only Spanish is spoken in the home. To help further facilitate students’ integration into family life, all meals are shared with the family with the exception of lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Lunch is usually taken between 2 and 4 pm and most stores are closed between 2 and 5 pm. Consequently, the housing plan includes full room and board with three meals per day, seven days a week.
  • The program provides monthly metro/bus passes and classes are suspended between 1:30 and 4:00 so that students may comfortably return home for lunch.
  • Students are given a meal supplement twice a week so that they may try Spanish cuisine at local restaurants in addition to the family’s culinary choices.

Meeting People and Extracurricular Activities

Madrid offers more things to do than you could exhaust in a few quarters studying abroad. You are encouraged to explore the city in depth, from its streets and houses to its shops and museums.

Talking with people in a neighborhood café, reading local newspapers, and “getting lost” for a day to explore new surroundings puts you in contact with the city life that locals know. Host families and staff can help you find activities that are of interest and through which you can make Spanish friends.

In order to facilitate social interaction with Spanish peers, the Madrid program works with a group of local university students who organize weekly chats and social activities.  Students have the opportunity to sign up and participate in the Charlas language partner program and sign up for a weekly “chat” with one of the local students and will be invited to join the entire group in informal activities. For students taking 12M and 13M, participation in this program is mandatory. The Spanish students organize these activities based on the interests of the current Stanford group, local holidays, weather, etc.  Activities in the past have included visiting the local university campuses, touring neighborhoods “off the beaten path”, Spanish board games at a local student hang-out, or going to a student-run theatre festival.  The Spanish students serve as a gateway to the larger social network of university students in Madrid and give students a chance to experience life as their Spanish peers would.

The more effort you devote to exploring the local environment, the more enriching the experience overall. While opportunities to travel throughout other parts of the Iberian Peninsula exist, if you make a conscious attempt to get to know Madrid and its people while studying at the center, you will be richly rewarded for your efforts.

City Life

Situated 650 meters above sea level, Madrid is Europe’s highest capital and third largest city (after London and Berlin). Wide 18th and 19th century boulevards in parts of the city contrast with the narrow and winding streets of the city’s historic center.  Today, Madrid is the financial and political center of Spanish life, home to the Government, Cortes(Parliament), Senate, and Royal Family.

A variety of world-renowned museums, including the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofía, serve as a testament to the city's thriving and varied cultural community and multicultural past.  Madrid is also known for its lively and colorful fiestas which are held at celebration times throughout the year, not to mention its exciting night life.