Home Customized Faculty-Led Spain: A great host for customized programs

Spain: A great host for customized programs

Last Updated on October 26, 2020 by AIFS Abroad Customized Faculty-Led

Here at AIFS, we strongly believe Spain is a great host for customized programs. With good reason, Spain is in the top three countries chosen by students for their study abroad experience. Besides the rich artistic and cultural history, the cuisine, language and people make for an immersive and impactful program. AIFS has been in the land of Cervantes since 1963 and we continue to expand into new cities. Our current locations include Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, Salamanca and Valencia, although it is by no means limited. Depending on your discipline and program goals, we are happy to suggest the right fit for your group.

The AIFS advantage

AIFS Customized, Faculty-Led programs are tailor made. We support each university or college and their faculty to meet their goals, needs and expectations. Programs include housing, classroom facilities, cultural activities, historical and artistic field visits and excursions. Most importantly, we offer opportunities for immersion and hands-on learning. Industry visits, lectures by professionals in various fields and service-learning projects can all be arranged.

Our Program Manager for Spain, Sarah Plumley, works closely with coordinators and faculty, planning programs that meet their learning objectives. AIFS’ local teams comprise of Resident Directors, Program Coordinators and Student Advisors. The local staff know their city inside and out and help with the day-to-day, as well as in case of emergency. AIFS supports faculty and students throughout the program, from starting an application to boarding the flight home.

Palacio Real, Madrid

Choosing a location

Of course, every city we offer has its unique advantages:

  • Set between the Mediterranean and Pyrenees offers beach and mountains, Barcelona is Spain’s “hip” city with a young, artistic vibe. Students will never run out of things to visit and see including La Boquería market, the Picasso Museum and Montserrat.
  • As the capital city and a center of European commerce, Madrid offers history, art as well as international business. Academic field trips can include the Prado and Reina Sofía Museums, local companies or organizations. Thanks to its central location, visits to Toledo, Segovia and Avila or south to Andalucia are easy to arrange.
  • Seville is the quintessential Spain of flamenco, Carmen and orange blossoms with lovely parks and cobblestone streets. Visits to the Archive of the Indias, Barrio Santa Cruz, and the Roman ruins at Italica often feature. Excursions to the cities of Córdoba, Cadiz, or the Doñana national park are also popular.
  • Valencia is an amazing dynamic city set on the Mediterranean. Program activities can include the City of Arts and Sciences and the Lonja de la Seda. Regional field trips can include Morella and Peñiscola and Sagunto and the Requena wine region.
  • Salamanca is an old college down in the heart of Castile-Leon. La Universidad de Salamanca was founded in the 13th century and is the third oldest in Europe. Activities can include visits to the city’s two cathedrals and the Library of the University. Further afield, field trips include the regional towns of Bejar, Candelario or Ciudad Rodrigo, or west to Portugal.
  • Granada’s Moorish heritage gives it a special mix of Spain and North Africa. Walking tours through the winding streets in the Albaicin district let students explore the legends of medieval Spain where three cultures lived in harmony. The Alhambra is a must-see, as is flamenco in the caves of Sacromonte. Students can also enjoy hikes in the Sierra Nevada, and trips to the southern coast.

Selecting Program Components

In most locations, students can live in local homestays. We offer single or double rooms, with two or three meals per day as well as laundry. Spanish families are famously welcoming and caring with their students and the Mediterranean diet is well rated by our students. Most homestay “señoras” teach their students how to prepare popular dishes such as tortilla española and paella.  Another housing option are the student apartments with access to fully equipped kitchens and laundry facilities. This option appeals to the more independent students and is a great learning experience as well. Students navigate grocery shopping, forming a community with their peers and day-to-day life on their own in a new culture.

Family dinner in a Barcelona homestay

The AIFS Study Centers with classroom facilities are located at local language schools and universities in the city centers. Classrooms are equipped with modern A/V equipment and Wi-Fi access. An AIFS student services office onsite or near-by offers daily contact, and regular office hours for students and faculty. The Study Center is within a 30-minute commute from student housing. In larger cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, students receive a transportation pass for local buses and the metro system. In smaller cities like Salamanca, Seville and Granada, students can walk easily to class and to cultural activities.

Spain is a natural fit for courses in Spanish language, literature and civilization. Colleges and universities who would like to offer more than one level of Spanish can collaborate with local certified, language schools. A visiting language professor will teach one or two levels, while supervising other levels with local teachers. AIFS ensures syllabi are matched, smoothing the process of grading and credit awards upon completion.

A tour of Seville’s Plaza de Toros ; the bullring

A Spanish Civilization course featuring the “life and culture” of Spain can be organized with a range of guest speakers. AIFS will curate a series of lectures and visits, placing special emphasis on the city’s cultural heritage. Coursework is set and overseen by the visiting faculty, per their university/college requirements.

“I wove the city into the coursework and had much of the culture class be done in a “living classroom”. The students often did presentations for the culture class on site while we were doing the tour so that the content and the location merged as one. It was wonderful.”

Jennifer Garson, Spanish Professor, Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA

Making local connections

There are so many ways for students to immerse themselves in the language and culture of Spain. Choosing a homestay, joining intercambios (language exchange partners), volunteering projects, visits to community centers, schools and non-profits. AIFS can support students in finding local groups so that they can continue their hobbies and interests while in Spain.

A cooking class in Barcelona

Cultural activities and excursions can cover the artistic and cultural highlights for every city and region. In Barcelona, field trips may include tours of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell.  In Granada, the Alhambra and the Albaicin. Tours can focus on Spanish authors and artists, artistic styles or historic figures or events as well as by academic discipline. Cooking classes, dance classes and sporting events such as soccer games are very popular among our students and help them understand the culture.  Academic field trips complement course content, with plenty of visits and meetings available in English.

Improve your students’ employability

Study abroad is an impressive part of any resume and their study abroad experience will give them relevant life skills to speak to in job interviews. In fact, in the 2018 AIFS Student Outcomes Survey, 67% of students reported being asked to speak about their study abroad experience in a post-program job interview. Study abroad demonstrates problem solving, creativity and flexibility- all qualities desired in today’s very competitive job market.

Provide a completely new experience for your students

Essentially all aspects of students’ daily lives will be different from what they know. From using public transportation to a language barrier to completely new customs and foods, a program in Spain will challenge your students. The lifestyle and culture will help students open their eyes to new ways of doing most everything as well as force them to “think out of the box” and adapt.

For more information about Consortium programs or Customized, Faculty-Led programs in general, please contact a member of our University Relations team.

Susanna Shigo sshigo@aifs.com (East Coast, South and Mid-West states)

Paula Messina pmessina@aifs.com (Pacific, Rocky Mountains and Southwest states)

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