For more information on study abroad program for Spanish majors, please contact:

Margaret Blue, Senior Lecturer in Spanish
Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese | 237 Burrowes Building, University Park, PA 16802

Education Abroad Programs Recommended by the Department:

Valencia: University of Virginia, Hispanic Studies
This program is recommended for intermediate-advanced students of Spanish, because it is a small program that enhances the language immersion experience. There are few U.S. programs in Valencia, a large city on the Mediterranean coast, which means that our students will have greater need to use their Spanish than in places with a larger number of English-speaking students. The University of Virginia established this program and has worked with host families that provide excellent homestay experiences for the students. Travel from Valencia to Spain's great cities and historic sites is convenient and affordable, and its proximity to the rest of Europe is something students also appreciate.

Puebla, Mexico: Spanish Language, Art and Mexican Culture (Summer)
This is the only faculty-led program currently sponsored by the Spanish Department, and it remains an outstanding program we are proud to recommend to our students. The summer program is open to students at all levels. We are affiliated with a local Mexican university (Universidad Iberamericana) that offers excellent facilities for our students and is easily accessible by bus, and many students find it an easy walk from the neighborhood in which all Penn State students are housed. The homestay experience in Puebla is among the great strengths of this program. The host families have been happy to host Penn State students for many years and provide comfortable accommodations (one student per house) where students truly do feel like part of a Spanish-speaking family. This program features excursions to Oaxaca, Mexico City, and a small village in the mountains. These trips, along with the Puebla experience, allow the students to form a more accurate and complete perception of current Mexican reality.

CIEE: Alicante, Liberal Arts
This is an excellent program for students at all levels, though Penn State students generally study here at the intermediate and advanced levels. Alicante is large enough to have a lot to offer but small enough to be manageable for students who are not interested in dealing with the problems of a big city. CIEE offers several courses at its study center on the campus of Universidad de Alicante and requires that advanced students enroll directly in university courses. CIEE-Alicante is a much smaller program than other CIEE programs in Spain, and for that reason students are likely to have a better linguistic immersion experience than in larger programs with more English-speaking students. Moreover, the host families in Alicante are selected with great care and because the program is relatively small, it is possible to ensure that only one student will be placed in each home. This program includes excursions to Granada, Madrid and Barcelona. Alicante is a picturesque city located south of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast, and shares Valencia's ease of travel both within Spain and to Europe and Africa.

IES: Madrid, Language and Area Studies
This is an outstanding program for advanced Spanish students. The capital and largest city of Spain offers a wealth of museums, historical sites, theater venues and cultural opportunities simply not available anywhere else in Spain. Add to this the world-class restaurants, shopping, and sports events and the argument for Madrid becomes even more compelling. IES offers excellent and challenging courses at its study center on the campus of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, as well as direct enrollment in classes taught by university faculty. This program also includes internship opportunities. Students may choose a homestay (recommended), but there are also student residence halls and private apartments available to them. Transportation via bus or subway is convenient and efficient in Madrid, and travel from Madrid to other cities in Spain and abroad is easy and affordable.

IES: Granada, Study in Granada
This program is strongly recommended for intermediate and advanced Spanish students. Granada is a medium-size city in southern Spain whose history of cultural diversity--Arabic, Jewish, Spanish, and European--make it an ideal study locale for Penn State students. The program is in a downtown location, specifically for IES students. The building is just down the hill from the Alhambra. The faculty is a combination of IES and Universidad de Granada faculty and the Spanish Department has connections to that University. The courses are excellent, as they are challenging and taught by engaging professors. This program includes a three-day excursion through Andalusia and a one-day field trip through the Sierra Nevada. Students live with host families chosen with great care by the IES Director, who is a Spaniard but received his PhD in the United States where he also taught. Therefore, he is most aware of problems and issues that U.S. students might have while studying in his country. Travel from Granada to all of Spain's major cities is easy by train, bus or plane. Travel to North Africa is also easy.

Ronda (Summer, beginning 2015)

The first group of students will participate in this faculty-led program in the summer of 2015.  It is designed for students who have completed two semesters of Spanish at Penn State.  In five weeks of class, they will take nine credit hours in classes ranging from SPAN 003 through SPAN 215 or 253W, including a conversation course and a course on Spanish Culture and Civilization.  All classes will be taught in Spanish by Penn State and local faculty.  A homestay in required; one student per house.  Short excursions to cultural centers including Granada and Cordoba are featured, as well as a longer excursion to Madrid and its environs.  Ronda is one southern Spain’s most beautiful pueblos blancos situated on a hilltop overlooking a wide plain, about an hour drive to Malaga and the Mediterranean.

Academic Notes:

Students should be advised before leaving that no course will be awarded Spanish accreditation unless it deals directly with Spanish language, literature or culture. The fact that a course may be taught in Spanish is not in itself sufficient for Spanish accreditation. Students often complete a Spanish minor during one semester abroad, assuming they have completed at least Spanish 100 prior to their semester abroad. All students studying in Spanish-speaking countries should make an appointment to see either Peggy Blue ( or Julianna Chaszar ( for more information on course accreditation prior to departure.

Other Important Information:

For more information on global experiences and enrichment funding in the College of the Liberal Arts, please contact the Career Enrichment Network staff at or 814-865-1070.

Return to Top