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MIT student blogger Chris S. '11

Livin’ la Vida Española (Pt. 1) by Chris S. '11

De Madrid, ¡saludos!

¡Buenos días! from Spain!

While these festivities are going on at MIT proper, I have been in Spain for more than two weeks!

I don’t know how many students from Spain apply to MIT each year, but just in case someone from Spain is reading this, allow me to say that you have one beautiful country.

Recap (for people who are wondering why I’m in Europe right now, when there was an amazing Hunt (yes, I know, I’m sad too) going on at MIT):
6. I’m in Europe because of 21F.782, which is a Spanish II class that is conducted entirely in Spain = living with Spanish host families and speaking Spanish almost 24/7!
28. 21F.782 covers the entire scope of a semester-long language course, which means 3 hours of class every day (from 10 AM to 1 PM) and at least one test every day of class (we cover the equivalent of one week in normal semester schedule every day).
496. Other than the classes, there’s plenty of time every day to explore Madrid, venture to other cities during the weekends, and enjoy the delicious European food.
8128. Actually, 21F.782 is definitely not the only IAP language program that exists at MIT. There are plenty of other condensed-semester IAP language courses on campus (German I takes you to Germany)!

The coolest thing about an immersion program is that you are completely listening, reading, and seeing the language EVERYWHERE around you. When I took Spanish in high school, it was 50-minutes of class, and then it’s adiós español until the next class period. Grammar/writing was important, because even if you completely suck at listening or speaking, you can still fake it pretty well in just a language class, since it’s just for 50 minutes. Here, if you can’t speak Spanish, then you just can’t speak Spanish on the streets. Gradually, as time passes, you start finding complete sentences rolling off your tongue, and soon, you’re starting to make sense of the daily newspaper, the subway announcements, and having 2-hour-long conversations with your Spanish host. It’s seriously awesome. :)

This had been a really refreshing break from MIT, and I think this is a really cool way to spend IAP, actually (although I am missing my first IAP at MIT). Living in Spain had taught me how to appreciate the “little moments” of my life, away from the stress and pressure that does sneak up on me during term.

Here, life is beautiful.

(and warm too!! It’s around 80 degrees in Barcelona, where I just came back from. It’s like what, 30 degrees in Boston? =p)

Now, forgive me for being tourist-y.

* Okay, I just realized that I’m such a bad student and I didn’t actually put up any pictures of us having class. But rest assured, we ARE having class in Spain and it’s not all just tourism (*guilty grin*)! :)

If you want to find out more, you’re welcome to read our class blog! Each student in the program is required to write 3 short entries for the blog each week, detailing their travels, as part of the program assignments. Minimum Spanish ability required.

Hasta luego! =D

31 responses to “Livin’ la Vida Española (Pt. 1)”

  1. Isshak says:

    Hola Chris ! Como estas ?

    Wow, you must have eaten really good food there. You ate tapas ! Lucky you…

    So, {include here upside down interrogation mark) ‘has viajando en las otras ciudades de Espana, por ejemplo, Barcelona’ ?

  2. naranja says:

    hey!im spanish !!!!!im reeeeallllyy glad to hear tht you like it!!!!i have to say, tht everything u said is true…u just have to put more emphsis on how good the food is../and the night life)!
    what have u visited so far??
    by the way, where do u take the courses¿
    have fun n keep on enjoying Madrid!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yay perfect numbers! smile

  4. Nihar says:

    Wow!….Have a great time Chris! Spain sure looks beautiful!

  5. Nihar says:

    n the Tapas too! wink

  6. Carlos says:

    You’re a great blogger in Spanish too!

  7. Paul says:

    Mm, gelato…

  8. Anonymous says:

    You probably already said this somewhere, but how is the cost for this program distributed? Do you have to pay for your flight/food/everything, or do you just have to pay the cost of tuition for a normal language class? Muchas gracias!

  9. Star says:

    Looks like you’re having a good time smile And I’ll second Paul there – gelato!

    Isn’t the Disney castle in Germany though?

  10. Hyun Jin says:

    The Disney castle is based off Neuschwanstein castle in Germany, isn’t it?
    … or did Disney just copy every castle that looked awesome around the world?

    I’ve never been to Spain, but apparently, you should check out the Alhambra Palace.

    Have a great IAP!

    Oh, and Dunkin Coffee sounds much better than Dunkin Donuts :D

  11. Isshak says:

    lol I think Chris was making a joke about the Disney Castle.
    The Disney Castle is based on a castle in Germany ? Wow, you learn everyday ^^ .

  12. Oasis says:

    @ Isshak y Naranja –
    Segovia, Madrid, y Barcelona. Iremos a Valencia y Toledo también.

    Tomo mis clases en el Instituto Internacional, más cerca de la estación de Rúben Darío en el Metro.

    @ Anonymous –
    The lodging, breakfast, and dinner costs are combined and paid to our host families. Airline fees to and from Madrid is self-covered. Also, you provide for your own lunches. This time, travel to Barcelona and Valencia (this weekend!) was covered by a collaboration with MIT’s MISTI ( MIT-Spain Study in Spain.htm) program in Spain so that greatly subsidized our trip. Basically, you do have to pay for everything yourself, at the end, but in the total payment that you pay to MIT in the beginning of the trip includes the host family cost and the cost of the tuition (I guess?). All other expenses in Spain are self-covered.

    @ Hyun Jin:
    I want to go to the Alhambra, but unfortunately, I think it’s too far away =( It’s in the south of Spain… oh well, I’m definitely coming back again though!

    @ Disney castle:ázar, read the last sentence of “The Alcazar of Segovia,” or just google “disney alcazar segovia” =p. Frankly, I think there is not really a “right” answer to the claim. smile

  13. Jess says:

    Yo, I hate you. I want to go to Spain.

  14. Isshak says:

    Bien ! Es un manifico viajo (I wonder if that’s correct).

    I hope you will eat paella, I heard it’s very good !

  15. Anonymous says:

    I thought the disney castle was based off of one of crazy King Ludwig’s castles, Neuschwanstein. He was nuts, but rather.. an interesting charecter.

    The short term exchange sounds really cool.

  16. Shamarah says:

    1. COOL! I was thinking of taking French at MIT, but that sounds great to be able to just randomly go to Spain. I really appreciate how you tell us about your classes,like how you did with the Solving Complex Problems course and now this. It really gives us prefrosh something to think about come registration smile

    2. That MIT picture was seriously too cute, you should try and get it on the webpage!

  17. Star says:

    Yeah, I was thinking of the King Ludwig’s one too. Whatever though, lots of cool castles smile

    And I’d probably end up taking a German class and doing some sort of program in Germany, just ‘cuz I speak NO spanish… But Spain does sound beautiful, and I’d really like to visit some day.

  18. Morgan says:

    If you already speak Spanish, is it easy to find a way to study abroad over IAP without taking a Spanish II class? I’ve always wanted to go to Spain!

  19. Edgar says:

    @Isshak-If you meant travel/trip, the correct word is “viaje” smile

    @Oasis-Thank you for your insight! I was pondering my semester abroad, and among the candidates was la famosa España, but now I know where I will be in the fall! =) Que bien hablas Español, autentico! Si el Instituto de Tecnologia de Massachusetts era increíblemente sorprendente, pues ahora no cabe duda que es lo mejor que puede haber. Por cierto, este blog ya se turno en una completa mescla de Ingles y Español. Grandioso! =)

  20. Isshak says:

    I agree with Edgar, and maybe soon enough, arabic, french and chinese too ! (where’s Karen !)

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hey Chris,
    So how much total $$$ would you have spent for these spanish classes in spain ??
    Do you u get to see any La Liga matches?

  22. MIT received my materials on the 7th of JAN.

    Everything except the Secondary School Report and the transcript got filed in on the 12th of JAN.

    So 10 days since everything got filed except the School reprt and the transcripts…

  23. AwayfromHome says:

    I happen to be in Germany this year. Most people here (for understandable reasons), claim it’s King Ludwig’s castle that the Disney castle is based off of. But, more accurately, it’s probably “every castle in the world that looks cool,” as someone already mentioned.

    I’m not studying abroad through MIT, but to anyone considering studying abroad in any capacity, I highly recommend it. These pictures are essentially what you’ll get from an average day in terms of awesome experiences, at least for the first few months wink

  24. Oasis says:

    Yes paella here is amazing! Can’t get enough of it. smile

    Re: Studying Abroad During IAP:
    -Because IAP is so short, there aren’t that many “established programs” that just lets you just go abroad for one month. MIT’s MISTI program ( does offer students an opportunity to go abroad for three months -> year doing internships or study abroad. They might offer going abroad IAP courses too, but to my knowledge, I don’t know any of them. For the languages, I know for certain that German I (I think this is their first year) and Spanish II (this is the second year? for us, I think) takes you to Germany and Spain respectively, and I guess this number will only increase in the future.

    But don’t let this limit you. During IAP, other students also do a variety of activities internationally. For example, students in D-lab (an international development course at MIT) complete their projects doing IAP, and some of my iHouse mates and friends are now in Tanzania, Tibet, and Brazil doing their projects. If you have a proposed project that you would like to do abroad that isn’t organized yet, you can even submit a project proposal to the Public Service Center, which would very gladly provide you with some funds to make your project a reality. In sum, the opportunities to travel abroad during IAP is only as limited as you want it to be.

    Re: Cost
    -I don’t think we are supposed to talk about how much this trip costs, because I think cost shouldn’t be a limiting factor at all in determining your opportunities. If you need funds, there’s always ways to garner the resources you need. Suffice it to say that this trip is much cheaper than it would be if I tried to come to Spain and live here on a month on my own (suppose I stayed at youth hostels the whole time).

    @ International-
    -If you are concerned, you can send MIT Admissions an email, but I wouldn’t do something drastic right now, if I were you. You won’t be penalized just because something takes longer to process.

    @ Sam-
    -Gracias por tus felicidades! Sí, debes visitar España en el futuro.

    @ Aditi-
    -For 28 days. 4 weeks. 1 month. I’ll be back on campus on 2/2 or 2/3.

    The gelato in Barcelona is amazing. @@”

  25. Sam R. '12 says:

    Hola Chris, Que padre oportunidad que hayas podido tomar esa clase de español en españa. esas fotos se ven increibles y los acueductos romanos se ven muy impresionantes. mi familia es de mexico asi que se hablar muy bien el español pero siempre me ha interesado la cultura española. Espero tambien poder visitar españa o italia en mis estudios en el extranjero. se que estas en barcelona pero me preguntaba si acaso iban a visitar la region norte de españa o la region vasca la cual ha sido un de mis grandes sueños visitar. bueno no se si entiendas todo lo que escribi, pero espero que te la pases muy bien aya y comas mucha paella.
    -sam r.

  26. Aditi says:

    the gelato is to die for! =)

    If by some huge ,enormous, ginormous miracle, i get into MIT i WILL take German during IAP! (i’m Germany obsessed and no i’m not German)

    Have a great time in Spain, Chris!

    How long do you get to stay in Spain as a part of the course?

  27. Hyun Jin says:

    I was suddenly curious.
    Which countries can you study abroad in during IAP?

  28. naranja says:

    im really glad that u r enjoying it! i live pretty near to ruben dario, n i know the institute…jajaja im pretty sure ive seen u round!u should go to the north. its beautiful!!!!!!!maybe if i get in, well see each other next year! lets see if im lucky…!hace fun here!!

  29. Piper says:

    Spain?! That’s amazing! You know what I think you should do a blog about? iHouse. I was really interested in iHouse (but didn’t pursue it because I needed freedom of changing my mind). It seems like a really good group, though.

  30. Raúl says:

    Dunkin’ Coffee. Sweet.

  31. Timoteo says:

    wow Chris… i wanna go to Spain too lah.. -.-