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Cultures of Spain

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Madrid, Spain




2.5 GPA, good academic and disciplinary standing.

Application Deadline:

Feb. 12, 2024

Program Cost:

Refer to the Application tab

Program Description

Cultures of Spain is a resident-credit summer course held in Madrid, Spain that offers participants an overview of the cultural landscape of Spain through an interdisciplinary approach to its history. The course will pay special attention to the onsite study of the conflict between two antagonistic national projects: one that understands Spain as a homogeneous entity and one that advocates for a more pluralistic, inclusive view. The former has been historically based on authoritarian forms of government, the Catholic faith, and centralistic culture, while the latter emphasizes a liberal government, tolerance, and cultural diversity. To study these issues, the course will devote a large portion of class time to field trips within Madrid and its neighboring regions and cities.

Check out our YouTube spotlight on this program!

Academic Program

Taught by UI Department of Spanish and Portuguese professor Luis Martin-Estudillo, this four-week course carries 3 semester hours of credit and is taught in English (no foreign language proficiency is required). The course is approved to fulfill the following for University of Iowa students:

  • Values and Culture CLAS Core requirement
  • 2000-level course for Spanish major or minor (fulfills Culture requirement for Spanish major or Culture/Literature/Linguistics requirement for minor)
  • Study abroad requirement for the International Business Certificate

Please note: This course is converts back to UI as SPAN:2901 Diversity and Cultures in Spain

Classes will be held from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM Monday through Thursday, with some local visits taking place in the afternoon. Most classes are held outside the classroom in museums, palaces, parks, and other sites of cultural or historical interest.

Course readings will be directly related to sites and visits about and around Madrid. Course grading is based on class participation, an online blog on the trip, and a final exam.

Cultural Activities

Program visits include: the famed Prado and Reina Sofia art museums, the National Archeological Museum, Retiro Park, Spanish Parliament or Senate, and the Royal Palaces of Madrid and La Granja.

There will also be excursions to the following:

  • Segovia, a city of impressive Roman and medieval monuments and the famous Alcazar castle
  • Sevilla, a southern city that showcases the influence of Jewish and Muslim cultures in Spain

Program Dates

The program dates for the 2024 program are Wednesday, May 15 (departure from U.S.) to Wednesday, June 12 (departure from Madrid). See the Logistics tab for more information on travel arrangements.

For More Information

Prof. Luis Martin-Estudillo, Faculty Director
UI Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Emily Brown, Senior Study Abroad Advisor & Program Coordinator
International Programs
1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353


The Spanish capital of Madrid is a city of great cultural and political prominence. It is widely considered to be one of the most energetic capital cities in Europe and is home to some of the finest art museums in the world. Its centralized location makes it an ideal starting point for any trip to other Spanish cities or to neighboring countries. The city is a melting pot for all regions of Spain, yet it has maintained its own well-defined character. It offers a wide variety of entertainment for people of all ages and cultural interests, as well as a wide variety of sports. Madrid is known for its modern skyline but has successfully preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. The result is in a unified blend of past and present: winding cobblestone streets and monumental architecture, parks, and plazas stand alongside innovative architecture and modern art. This cohesive mixture of old and new is evident in every facet of madrileño culture, making this capital city a true Spanish treasure to explore.


Situated on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Spain is a strikingly beautiful and diverse country. The country has the third largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Spain’s distinct regions means there is something for everyone, from lush forests to towering mountains and stunning beaches to vibrant cities, many of which are easily accessible through the country's extensive network of high-speed trains. Widely known for excellent food and art, friendly locals, relaxed lifestyle, Flamenco culture, and lots of sunshine, Spain has been one of the cultural centers of Europe for thousands of years and remains one of the most popular destinations in the world for study and travel.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Students will be housed double occupancy rooms in shared residence halls in central Madrid for the duration of the program. Exact housing placements will be given to participants upon arrival. Each room is furnished with a kitchenette and private bathroom. Common areas include a student lounge, gym, dining room, and laundry room. WiFi internet access is included. Three meals per day, including weekends with a to-go lunch service, are included at the residence halls for the duration of the program. Meals purchased outside of the residence hall are at the additional expense of the student.


U.S. Citizens

U.S. citizens who do not have a passport should apply for one as soon as possible. More information about how to apply for a passport is available on the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. US citizens who need to renew their passport can find more information on the US Department of State’s website.

Expedited processing service is available at an additional cost. UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-U.S. Citizens

Students who are not U.S. citizens should contact UI Study Abroad ( for information on how to ensure that their passport is valid for the duration of their time abroad.

Travel Arrangements

A suggested flight itinerary will be shared with students accepted to the program. Students are strongly encouraged to book the suggested flight itinerary or an alternative itinerary that arrives in Madrid at approximately the same time. Onsite staff in Madrid will meet the group at the airport and provide transportation to the program site.

Participants who are unable to meet onsite staff at the group arrival point in the airport are responsible for checking in at the designated arrival point at the appointed date and time and are responsible for all transfer arrangements and costs. Detailed arrival information will be provided to all participants approximately two weeks prior to arrival.

Local Transportation

Madrid is home to one of the best public transportation networks in the world and the second largest metro network in Europe. Program participants will be provided with a Zone A (Madrid city) transit pass, valid on bus and metro for the duration on the program. Transportation to all course visits will be provided and is included in the program cost.

Program Provider

The Cultures of Spain program is made possible by the collaboration of the University of Iowa and ACCENT Madrid. For more information on ACCENT Madrid and their services, please visit their website.

COVID-19 Protocols

For courses traveling abroad, participating students and faculty will be required to follow host country laws and procedures regarding COVID-19. Requirements of each host country are subject to change with little notice. Requirements may include COVID-19 testing, proof of vaccination, or quarantine/isolation to enter the country or to access certain facilitates and services.

To review current entry requirements, please refer to the U.S. Embassy COVID-19 Country-specific Information page for your destination.


This program is open to UI students who fulfill the following requirements:

  • Good academic and disciplinary standing: Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa. Academic and disciplinary history will also be considered when determining whether a student is prepared to represent the University of Iowa as part of this program. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad. In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance, will not be allowed to study abroad, and are wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.
  • Minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA: Students must have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA.
  • Must be a UI degree-seeking student at the time of application.
  • Demonstrated preparedness and maturity: Students must meet entry requirements for the countries and venues visited by the program, including entry requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students must demonstrate preparedness to take on the heightened responsibilities associated with international study and travel and demonstrate a commitment to behave responsibly abroad while respecting cultural differences. Students are expected to obey both local laws and program directives conveyed to participants before and during the program. The University of Iowa Code of Student Life applies to all program participants while abroad.

There is no Spanish language requirement for participation in this course.


The cost sheet outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid and planning purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill (course fee, Study Abroad Administrative Fee, and mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance), as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic. Please see the respective websites for further details. Contact the UI Study Abroad advisor with questions regarding the cost sheet.

The 2024 course fee is $5,020. The course fee does not include the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, CISI Travel Insurance, or out-of-pocket expenses, all of which are listed in the cost sheet below.

PDFCost Sheet for Cultures of Spain, Summer 2024

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.

How to Apply

The application for the Summer 2024 program opens on January 1, 2024 and will close on February 12, 2024. The application process consists of the following steps:

  • UI applicants complete the UI Online Application for Study Abroad. Non-UI applicants should email UI Study Abroad Advisor Emily Brown ( for application instructions. Applicants will be charged a $50 non-refundable application fee.
  • Once the application process is complete, application materials will be reviewed by the program director, Prof. Luis Martin-Estudillo. All applicants will receive official notification of their acceptance status shortly after the final application deadline. Accepted students will also receive information about how to confirm their place in the course.
  • Details about flights and orientation will follow soon after accepted students confirm their place in the program in late February.

Application Deadline

Summer 2024 program: February 12, 2024

Acceptance & Confirmation Materials

Acceptance and confirmation materials will be distributed after the next application deadline.

Health & Safety Planning

All students preparing to study abroad should review the following:

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the Health Preparation Guide for International Travelform with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.


U.S. passport holders do not need to obtain a visa for a stay in Spain of less than 90 days. Non-U.S. passport holders should consult with the UI Study Abroad advisor.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These are in addition to orientations provided by ACCENT upon arrival in Madrid. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

During this in-person orientation, students will receive information on registering for their program inn MyUI, payment and billing, course approvals and other practical matters. Students will also have the opportunity to ask the program director, a native of Spain, questions about academics, Spanish culture, and other general topics.