'We dare you to get bored in Madrid'

Madrid skyline.
Rohan Palma, the Hajim School study abroad advisor, is an experienced world traveler who took this photo of the Madrid skyline recently while visiting IES study abroad programs there and in Istanbul – “to see what kind of experiences our students have when  they go there, to help me better talk to the students from a firsthand experience about what they can expect.” This is the first of two reports on his findings.

Nov. 3, 2014—Madrid is now one of the most popular study abroad destinations for Hajim School students – right after Australia and New Zealand – and it’s not hard to see why.

Rohan Palma, the school’s study abroad advisor, is just back from a site visit and says the IES program the UR partners with in Madrid “is a first class operation, with a great support system for the students. They had tutors for each class, and if additional tutoring was necessary, they could provide that as well.”

As the leading center of industry, commerce, and technology research in Spain, Madrid is an ideal city to study engineering, architecture, and science and their applications in the professional world.

universitiesBoth universities that IES students attend there — Universidad Carlos III de Madrid  and Universidad CEU San Pablo  – offer classes in English. Both offer strong engineering programs and both offer classes that have been pre-approved as satisfying UR course requirements for engineering majors.

Three Hajim School juniors -- Steven Gattuso of computer science and Victor Montano and Boubacar Diallo of mechanical engineering -- are studying in Madrid this semester. “Before they left, they had course approval for the classes they needed,” Palma noted. “That’s something we strongly encourage.”

Two are sharing an apartment with two other U.S. students. A companero – the equivalent of an RA – is helping them get connected to the local community and meet people. The third student  is staying with an English-speaking Spanish family that provides two meals a day. All three are taking either a basic or advanced Spanish language course so they can take full advantage of culture and educational opportunities.

“All three told me the  transition is going well. They feel safe; they were learning the lay of the land,” Palma reported. IES, which has offered the Madrid program for 50 years, “has a robust orientation that they walk the students through, addressing any issues a foreigner would have.”

“We dare you to get bored in Madrid,” notes the IES website for this program. ‘You can wander around the Plaza Mayor, visit the city’s many churches and  cathedrals, enjoy the sunshine in one of Madrid’s many parks, see a Flamenco show, watch a Real Madrid soccer game, taste the city’s unique cuisine. . .  Madrid is a great starting point to explore this gorgeously diverse country.”

Based on what he saw, Palma heartily concurs.

“It’s a very nice city. It is very easy to navigate. They have a great mass transit system.”

And, he added, it is a great overseas educational opportunity tailored to the needs of Hajim School students. To learn more, contact Palma at rohan.palma@rochester.edu.

(Next: Two continents, two worlds, all in one place.)

Three students enjoying a meal.
Steven Gattuso of computer science, at left, and Boubacar Diallo, center, and Victor Montano of mechanical engineering are studying in Madrid this semester.