Sarah - IE University

B International Studies
Semester 1, 2023


Compulsory for my degree and wanted to improve my Spanish skills.

Personal Development

I definitely improved my conversational Spanish skills. I also improved my study skills - had been doing 2 subjects per semester for the year leading up to exchange and was I bit shocked at the workload required for 4 subjects. However, I was able to figure out a schedule that worked best for me and stuck to it. I also found that I am much more open to trying new things and feel more comfortable outside my comfort zone. If I have done something in Spanish before, I can certainly do it in English now!

Academic Development

The workload at IE which I undertook (24 ECTS) is not full time, however the workload felt similar to doing 4 subjects at UQ. I really enjoyed the classes and assignments, they were very different from what I was used to. At IE they do not have lectures and tutorials, but instead 2 1.5 hour classes a week which were generally a combination of a lecture and tutorial. The class sizes were usually around 30 people or less, which provided me with a chance to engage more closely with the professors, as well as a chance for them to get to know me. Some of the challenges included the lack of an ECP, which made assessment time difficult as they often did not provide us with a lot of information surrounding how to go about the assignments. However, with the help of other classmates this was easily overcome.

Professional Development

I think the main skill I gained from this experience was the ability to work and communicate with people from all different backgrounds and cultures. For one of my assignments I was in a group of 7, and we were all from different countries. This made it quite difficult to communicate and work together effectively, but we were able to overcome this and achieve a good grade.


I believe I spent about $15,000 on the whole experience. Rent was one of the most expensive parts (I spent about $6500 AUD for 4 months of rent). Transport was very cheap with the student card ($15 AUD a month for unlimited rides). Food/drink/groceries were about similar prices to Australia. I didn't use any budgeting techniques, just spent money as I normally would.


I received a $7000 help loan & a $2000 Spanish language scholarship. This was very beneficial - as I mentioned I spent around $15,000 so that covered more than half of it. Most of it likely went to my rent.


I used spotahome to find my apartment, which is easily accessible and all in English. I was in a studio by myself. A lot of the people that I met, however, were in shared apartments with strangers. It was a bit expensive because I had to pay a $900 admin fee, and an almost $2000 security deposit. However, I think a lot of people paid similar prices as rent is quite expensive in Madrid. My landlord wasn't great - she didn't respond very quickly and was a bit unhelpful, but i think that depends on the place you rent. Spotahome is good because you can report any problems directly to them.


Meeting new people from all around the world, discovering a new city, and exploring new places!

Advice/Top Tips

People make friends quickly so go to an exchange student meet-up (if they have one) on the first day! That is where I met a few people who I stayed friends with the entire time. The other exchange students are generally very friendly and willing to make friends with anyone! Reach out directly to any student accommodation if you're interested. I didn't because most of them had a minimum 9 month stay, but some people I knew emailed them directly and they were able to stay for 4 or 5 months. Really try to learn the language before going! It will be a better experience if you can manage to feel like a local, and it makes it easier to engage in conversation with the people there. Many young people would likely know English but they really do appreciate your attempt to speak their language.