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Hamilton College Academic Year in Spain offers students the opportunity to develop true linguistic proficiency and to experience the many facets of Spanish life.

The program, now in its 46th session, offers small liberal arts–oriented classes and the opportunity to enroll directly in the Madrid University system. Participants must speak only Spanish at all times, both in and outside of class; all students are required to sign a pledge to this effect before their arrival in Madrid. The Hamilton College Academic Year In Spain is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Through personal contact with the culture, language, ideals and customs of another nation, participants step beyond the familiarity and comforts of their own environment to gain a new perspective on international affairs and a greater respect for and understanding of another people.

In a world where dialogue and open communication are more necessary than ever, study abroad continues to be an essential stage in a student's education and a base for students to develop a greater appreciation of their own country.

Why Madrid?

Madrid, a vibrant and energetic city of some three million inhabitants, is not only at the center of the country geographically, but it is also an important economic, cultural, industrial, educational and technological hub on the European continent. Truly accessible to the rest of the country, it is but a short distance away from other historically renowned cities.

El Centro, the program headquarters, is nestled in one of the most exclusive, safe and sought after neighborhoods in Madrid, El Viso. It has all the convenience of being near the heart of the city center, but our Centro is on a quiet, tree-lined street, and has excellent transportation options to all parts of the city and surroundings. Metro Avenida de America Station is a quick five-minute walk from our Centro.

It is surrounded by many cafés and restaurants and is steps away from various renowned museums.

Student Reflections

Isabella Sobolewski
Bates College

“The three months I spent in Madrid were the happiest three months of my entire life. The main reason I felt such bliss and joy was the family I found while in Spain. The first sense of family I felt was in the warm and cozy two-bedroom apartment I shared with my host mother. Whether it was our long post-dinner conversations, weekly Netflix movies, or inside jokes, she treated me as her daughter, and we bonded very deeply. We continue to keep in touch. The second form of family I found was in the relationships I developed with the other HCAYS students. Out of all the students in the program our semester, I was one of two students not from Hamilton, but there was not even a single moment where I didn’t belong and accept. I can call them friends for life. The last family I encountered in Madrid was the HCAYS team members. They truly care an incredible amount about each student, and they made my semester abroad full with funny anecdotes, delicious food, warm smiles, spontaneous dance parties, and so much more. ¡Mil gracias a todos!”

Greag Varney
Hamilton College

“HCAYS was a fantastic experience. Madrid is a wonderful city, easy and fun to explore, with warm, sunny weather (clear contrast to Clinton) and lots to do. The professors in the HCAYS program were some of the kindest, most personable I have ever had, and the administrators Carlos and Christine were equally kind and made us feel welcome immediately. The host family system gave us a solid, comfortable place to call home while improving language immersion. My favorite part above all was exploring Spain. Because of Covid, for the first couple months we were not allowed to leave the country, which actually worked well as I was able to explore different parts of the country on my own and with friends, which I may not have done otherwise. From arroz negro in Nueva Tabarca to pulpo a la gallega in Santiago de Compostela, I got to explore distinct cultures, environments and culinary traditions across the country which was a blast. Overall it was a great, enriching experience, and helped me greatly to improve my Spanish. I learned a lot about Spain and myself, and I can’t wait to go back!”

Jackie Prunier
Hamilton College

“My experience with my host family was definitely the highlight of my trip. They helped and guided me constantly while I got to know a new language and culture. My host mother always made sure I was happy, comfortable and most importantly full of really delicious food. I gained a second mother who I hope to see again soon. “

Oliver Hall
Williams College

“I came to HCAYS expecting a college experience transplanted in Madrid, and I found something completely different. The entire program is structured so that you can learn both inside and outside the classroom: my language class taught me how to sound like a native when ordering at a restaurant, my history class helped me contextualize current political issues, and my literature class introduced me to schools of Spanish intellectual thought and their influence on current culture. What’s more, the program helped me connect with groups of locals with similar interests. I was able to join the university choir at the Autónoma and run with a club in El Retiro. I had an amazing time in Madrid, and I would recommend HCAYS to anyone who is interested in experiencing Spain on more than just the surface level.”

Maeve Luparello
Hamilton College

“Before beginning to look at colleges, I knew that studying abroad would be an integral part of my college experience. Hamilton’s campus in Spain was one of the reasons I was so drawn to Hamilton in the first place; I knew I was going to major in Hispanic studies and the full immersion aspect of HCAYS is truly unique. I can confidently say that my Spanish skills have improved significantly and my understanding of Spanish culture is so much greater than I possibly could have imagined. I am so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to study in Spain but more importantly be a part of the HCAYS program.

Studying abroad in the middle of a pandemic was something that was not only a little nerve wracking for my parents but also for myself. I was nervous boarding my plane in August to go to a new country where everything was foreign. However, once I arrived at Hamilton’s center in Spain, all of my nerves were left behind. I know it sounds cliche but Hamilton’s center became my second home. Never have I felt more welcomed and more belonging. Everybody at the center really cared about how I was doing, how my experience had been so far, what I have learned in Spain etc. Everyone cared about my well being and my personal growth while in Spain. The staff and other students in the HCAYS program became my family.

I also was adopted as the fourth Asterloa daughter. My host family was so incredibly kind, patient, and welcoming. I became part of their family as soon as I walked in the door on August 29th. They were patient with me and helped with grammar technicalities. They taught me how to cook traditional Spanish recipes and I shared my family’s recipes with them. I shared clothes with my host sisters. I went grocery shopping with my host parents. We danced and sang in the kitchen. I became an Asterloa. They will always be my Spanish family and we still remain in contact. In my apartment I learned so much about Spanish culture. My host family was a huge part of my personal growth and my experience in Spain.

I never ended up traveling outside of Spain due to COVID precautions but I honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way. I was able to see all corners of the country and really understand the culture. I loved cooking and traveling with friends (while looking for the best coffee obviously), but some of my favorite memories come from the group trips planned by HCAYS. I loved our long dinners and lunches where the room would always be energized by loud banter and laughing. On these trips, I really got to learn more about others and create friendships that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

My college experience has been defined by COVID but my semester in Spain was the closest thing to normalcy I have felt in a while. I felt as though I was an integral part of a community, I grew as a person, I learned so much about Spanish culture, my list could continue on forever. I would not trade my experience at HCAYS for anything in the world; I am extremely grateful for my time in the most special city in the world. “

Desiree Pico
Hamilton College

“If you’re on the fence about studying abroad with HCAYS, get off the fence and go to Madrid!! It will be the best decision you can make in your time at Hamilton and, perhaps, in your life. Every aspect of the HCAYS program makes it worth the challenge of navigating a new language and culture. Learning about the city, the country’s history, and tasting the amazing food were just a few of the things I really enjoyed while in Madrid. From being challenged to communicate only in Spanish, experiencing the incredible group excursions to other Spanish cities, and bonding with my host family, I loved each moment of my semester with HCAYS and formed memories I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I really appreciate all of the tools and resources we had available to us that helped me feel safe and comfortable exploring a foreign city, especially because I had never left the U.S. before going abroad with HCAYS. Rest assured that the entire HCAYS staff goes above and beyond to make sure you are supported and are able to enjoy your time in Madrid! Do yourself a favor, and study abroad with HCAYS!”

Jamie Hauswirth
Hamilton College

“I can clearly remember being nervous the days leading up to my flight to Spain. I had never lived in another country, nevermind with someone I had never met. After meeting my host family, the HCAYS team, and many of my fellow students for the first time, all my nerves went away. Madrid started to feel like a second home after just a few weeks, and, by the end, I didn’t want to say goodbye. My experience with HCAYS was truly remarkable, and I learned so much more than I ever could have imagined.”

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