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UAlbany in Madrid 

UAlbany students Kaela Hernandez, third from left, bottom row (standing next to Professor Jose Cruz), and Samuel Ortiz, same row, immediately to the right of Cruz.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 18, 2018) – Samuel Ortiz discovered a powerful passion for travel and backpacking after participating in UAlbany’s Madrid summer program.

The Madrid program, in operation for more than 50 years, offers a broad array of courses for a full semester or for two- and four-week summer sessions. Both programs allow students with a wide range of majors to take courses in their academic discipline in English or Spanish. Until two years ago, courses were taught in Spanish only.

Ortiz, a biology major and Educational Opportunities Program student from the Bronx, was a summer education abroad scholarship recipient. He wants other students to know it is possible to study abroad, even if you think you can’t afford it.

Like Ortiz, Kaela Hernandez of Yonkers, N.Y., who plans to graduate in December, had never been abroad before joining the Madrid program in May.

Hernandez is a Human Biology major who is fluent in Spanish. Entering her third year as a Resident Assistant on Indian Quad this fall, she found the summer program offered the right number of credits, without taking her away from home for too long.

“Money is often a big problem for students in general; student staff aren’t exempt from this issue,” she said. “One thing I would like student staff as well as other students to know about is that there are many scholarship opportunities out there for studying abroad. You have to do your research and find a scholarship that you qualify for and apply,” Hernandez said. “Even if you don’t get accepted to one, apply to another. It’s a great experience that could lead to endless opportunities!”

Ortiz, whose goal is medical school, said he went to Spain’s capital city with no expectations, and without knowing Spanish.

“I was just ready to take in whatever was thrown at me. However, I knew the language barrier would be kind of an issue but a lot of people in the program were always around to help,” he said.

The Madrid program was revamped this past year to better align the semester and summer programs to fit students’ needs and interests, said Carrie Wojenski, associate vice provost for Global Academic Programs.

These changes include the option of living in residence halls rather than only with host families, and additional courses taught in English, said Director of Education Abroad Renee DeCelle.

The semester program now offers courses focusing on general education requirements and some of UAlbany’s largest and most popular majors, including psychology, communication, political science, marketing and statistics. Spanish language study is available at all levels, from zero experience to advanced, as well as an optional part-time internship.

This past academic year, 21 semester students and 31 summer students participated in the UAlbany in Madrid program. During the summer, the students lived in residence halls in Madrid.

Summer courses were taught at AIL Formación by professors Jose Cruz, Martha Asselin, Luis Cuesta, and UAlbany in Madrid faculty.

Ortiz said traveling in Spain made history come alive.

“You can learn an immense amount of history that you normally think is boring in textbooks but is actually fascinating to see in person,” he said.

Ortiz’s advice to other students: “Do not be dissuaded by the expenses. At least go for information, maybe you’ll find all the financial help you need.”

Application Deadlines:
Spring semester: Oct. 1
Fall/Year/Summer programs: March 1

“Scholarships are a great way to support the cost of your education abroad experience,” said Wojenski. “Apply and take advantage of as many relevant scholarship opportunities as possible.”

The application deadline for UAlbany’s Bridge the GAP scholarship for Winter and Spring programs is Oct. 5.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.