Discovering Engineering in Madrid

g. terry

My name is Gabriella Terry, and I studied abroad in Madrid during fall of 2022 as a freshman in Syracuse University’s Discovery Program. I am currently studying environmental engineering and graduating in the class of 2026. The idea of studying abroad in your first semester of your freshman year can seem pretty intimidating at first, but I can easily say that it was an unforgettable experience that I am incredibly grateful for.

As discovery students in Madrid, our first big adventure is our Discovery Seminar to the historic and beautiful Spanish city of Toledo. Here, our program leaders and First Year Seminar professors took us through unique ways to explore the city while simultaneously getting us students to know each other better through activities including a sword-making class and city-wide scavenger hunt. We would also later have two more required class trips throughout our semester: one to the southern side of Spain in Sevilla, and the other up north to the city of Leon. These trips allowed us to see more of the country and learn more about Spain’s rich history.

Back in Madrid, our classes were very small allowing us to make closer bonds to our professors. My favorite class in Madrid was our ECS class where our professor would sometimes surprise us with goods from his favorite local bakery. Our professors as well as the Madrid Center staff were always, always there to talk to us, hear us out, and help us in any way they could and ensured that we were always having a positive experience.

The staff also arranged free weekly activities, or MadWorld events, that students could sign up for in order to explore the city through events such as neighborhood walking tours, day trips, local-led yoga classes, Spanish cooking classes, and Tapas crawls. These were super popular during my time there, and really fun ways to spend weekends, or even as mid-week breaks.

I also got the opportunity to live in a homestay, where I lived with my roommate and our host mom. This was a really immersive experience and great way to live as a local among locals. She answered all our questions, taught us everything she could about Spain and the neighborhood we lived in, took us to her favorite local spots and neighborhoods (by walking of course as most Spaniards prefer this method of transportation), and was always just a really supportive and great figure to have while adjusting to the new country.

My host mom and I still keep in touch to this day and I am very grateful I get to now call her my friend :). Outside of classes, we were also able to travel throughout Europe and anywhere we wished to on our own. Thus throughout my time abroad, I was able to visit countries like France and Germany.

These experiences really sparked my love for travel, and have contributed to my ambitions of wanting to travel the globe with my career. I learned so much about Spain and myself during my few short months in Madrid, and have come back home with an incredibly open-mindset that has shaped my outlook on life and the world.

¡Gracias y deseo que decidan estudiar con SU Abroad pronto!

Gabriella Terry ’26

Environmental Engineering

Syracuse Madrid Fall 2022

My journey in Spain studying at UAM

Hello, y buenos días!

My name is Alyeska Reimer, and I am currently a senior Theatre Management and Spanish student. I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Madrid, Spain in the Spring of 2022 and I couldn’t have been happier with the experience!

My SU Madrid experience was actually a little different because I was enrolled in the UAM program as well. This meant that I took half of my classes at one of the best Spanish Universities alongside Spanish students and other international students as well. The classes were challenging, but my language ability improved so much and I met friends that I’m still in touch with! The program was also about a month longer than SU Madrid program was, but I felt that it gave me more time to settle into my homestay and really get to know Madrid.

alyeska reimer

The SU Abroad center in Madrid was also a great place to take classes, grab a café con leche in the cafeteria, and connect with the staff. They were always super helpful in helping me navigate my class schedules, work study, organizing tutors, and letting us know what activities to check out in the city. Additionally, they were a great resource whenever I needed health appointments and made me feel prepared to get tested for Covid and even find allergy testing when I needed it.

I had a lovely experience living with my host mom, María José, in an apartment by the Real Madrid Stadium. She helped me practice my Spanish by talking with me about my day and sharing with her family, watching the show “Pasapalabra” together most days of the week, and eating dinners together. She also helped me get familiar with public transportation on busses and metros – I had never lived in a city before, but I sure do have an appreciation for Spanish transportation now!

One of the best ways I found to get involved was to participate with the Erasmus program. This was a program run through the Spanish public universities that had a jam-packed schedule of social and cultural activities for international students (generally European, but we took advantage of this!). They would have weekly conversation groups, occasional trips, and more! I participated in an Improv group every Tuesday night and had so much fun, and I also loved the trip they sponsored to volunteer at an animal sanctuary.

cityscape of madrid

I am grateful I experienced the UAM program as well because now I feel more confident in my speaking and comprehension. This study abroad experience has inspired me to apply for a Fulbright in Mexico in order to immerse myself in another Spanish speaking country and expand my cultural awareness even further. I really hope you consider traveling abroad during your years at SU!


Alyeska Reimer ‘23

Syracuse Madrid

Q&A: Studying in Spain

Hola! My name is Leah Ford and I spent the Spring 2022 semester studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. I will be graduating in Spring 2023, with majors in finance and accounting. Here are some questions and answers about what it’s like to study in Madrid:

Leah Salamanca Garden

Why did you choose this program?

Out of all the options for study abroad locations, Syracuse Madrid aligned best with my academic, personal, and experiential goals. As a Whitman major, a majority of the courses offered fulfill the arts & science elective requirements, giving me a wide range of options to learn about topics I wouldn’t typically take on campus. I also knew I wanted to be somewhere with a different language to expand my knowledge and step outside of my comfort zone. I was able to learn so much through my Spanish class, living with a host family, and immersing myself in Spanish culture. The professors were extremely supportive of my academic goals and gave opportunities to visit local museums and monuments to learn through primary experience.

Personally, it was my first time out of the country, so I wanted to make sure I was really pushing myself. Besides coming to Syracuse from home, I had never felt confident enough to travel on my own. Being with the program was the perfect mix of support and independence outside the country. Personally, I wanted to become more outgoing and able to tackle day-to-day tasks. By the end, I was comfortable going up to new people and embrace being uncomfortable. My mom came to visit while I was abroad and she said she noticed a visible difference with my confidence.

It was also really important to me to have a holistic experience and take advantage of all opportunities. The Madrid program offers a lot of activities within the city, as well as travel throughout Spain. I was able to learn so much about the culture, the food and the history. Madrid is also a major travel hub and the airport is amazing, making it super easy to travel internationally.

What interesting courses did you take abroad?

Healthcare in Europe- This course compared the US healthcare system to European systems, such as Spain, NHS England, and Germany. We discussed the funding and performance of these systems. Additionally, we took a trip to one of the local hospitals to learn about how they operate.

The Business of Sport- I thought this class was extremely engaging and interactive. We completed case studies weekly to take a deep dive on certain sports events. Also, we took multiple trips to both the National Golf Center and “Go Fit.” We were fortunate enough to have a few guest speakers speak about their sports businesses.

Drugs & Human Behavior- In this course, we analyzed numerous types of drugs and how they impacted human psychology. We also focused on legalization and how different countries view drugs. It was a group-oriented class, so we were able to collaborate and create meaningful projects.

Did you travel on your own while abroad?

Short answer, yes! The program sponsored bullet train day trips. These were focused on learning about the culture in a particular city, such as Salamanca, Toledo, Valencia, etc. I also traveled outside of Spain with some of the friends I made in the program. My favorite location was Florence, Italy because it was such a beautiful city, rich with history. I was also able to meet up with friends from Syracuse in the Florence program. Another favorite was visiting Switzerland and going Paragliding through the mountains.

Traveling can definitely be intimidating, but it was so worth it! I was able to see so many countries in a short period of time. Once you get to Europe, travel is relatively affordable compared to the US, so I would recommend taking at least a few weekend trips!

What challenging experiences did you face while abroad?

An easy one is not speaking Spanish. I had taken Spanish all through high school, but I wasn’t anywhere near fluent. Fortunately, with my minimal knowledge, I was able to survive just fine. I could rely on some of my friends that spoke better Spanish, which also helped me learn.

I have celiac disease, so finding food that was safe was often very difficult and exhausting. Europe in general is pretty good at preparing gluten free food, so with a little bit of searching I was able to overcome this. I found a couple places, such as Naked & Sated and Celicioso, that were dedicated gluten free. My host mom was pretty good at preparing meals once I explained to her what my needs were.

Finally, it was difficult to take classes in a new environment. While it is a Syracuse campus, the classes and professors are different from what I was used to. The class length was longer and the assignments were much more collaborative and project based then I was used to. Overall, everyone was very supportive and you are able to adjust within the first few weeks.

What was your living experience like?

I lived in a homestay! It was a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment just north of Chamberí, the neighborhood where the Syracuse campus resides. My roommate and I lived with one woman who has grown children and missed living with others in the house. She was absolutely amazing and I could not recommend homestays enough! She prepared breakfast and dinner for us everyday and was always willing to take requests on what we wanted to eat. The food was really good and she made sure to give us a taste of Spanish food. Our host mom was very supportive of us experiencing all aspects of the culture and traveling. We stay in touch to this day and I plan on going to visit her again next summer!

dishes of paelle

What has studying abroad taught you about yourself and the world?

Studying abroad taught me that I was holding a lot of my personality back. There’s nothing quite like trying survive in a foreign country without the support of people typically surrounding you. I was forced to adapt and push myself in unexpected ways. I am now significantly more outgoing and willingly to tackle seemingly scary situations.

I have a heightened appreciation for travel and experiencing the world. I’ve been talking nonstop about how much of the world I haven’t seen and how desperate I am to do so. Going abroad truly is lifechanging and gives you opportunities to learn more about yourself and your limits.

Leah Ford ’23

Syracuse Madrid

Finding my religion in Madrid

Hola! My name is Ariel Hylton and I recently graduated in the Class of 2020 at Syracuse University. I majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Spanish and studied abroad in Madrid in the Fall of 2018. I loved every second of abroad! I really wanted to be immersed in the culture and practice speaking and communicating with others in Spanish. I chose Spanish Identities for my seminar and loved exploring Northern Spain and a couple cities in Portugal and France. This seminar was carried out solely in Spanish and I gained so much from it. I also traveled to so many different countries. Being able to learn from locals and their cultures was incredible. But I was still looking for more during my abroad experience.

As a Jewish woman, I was worried about going abroad. I was so used to celebrating the High Holidays with my family, friends and peers in a place I’m very comfortable going to and wasn’t sure if I’d ever find a similar community. However, I discovered KAHAL, an organization providing Jewish students with various Jewish experiences throughout the world.

Being invited into a new community may be scary and worrisome at first, but attending services for various Jewish holidays was the best decision I ever made. I attended services at a local synagogue in Madrid for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah. I met those who were also Jewish students studying abroad in Madrid, locals and individuals passionate about Judaism. In addition, the services were led in English and Spanish. Because I was fluent in Spanish, I was able to communicate with the other congregants and learn from them.

A local family also invited me into their home for a Hanukkah dinner. This was an experience and evening I will never forget. The family provided me with a delightful meal and included me in their own service. I truly felt at home. I remember going back to my host mom’s apartment and telling her how much I enjoyed spending the evening with that family. My parents were also thrilled to hear that I connected with other Jews.

I also loved learning more about what it’s like to practice Judaism in another country, especially in Spain. Toledo, a small city just outside of Madrid, is historically known for their Jewish community. I was able to visit Toledo during my time abroad, see various synagogues and discover how the Jewish people in this city practice Judaism.

My host mom in Madrid was always so willing to talk to me about being Jewish in Madrid and Spain in general. During the days when I left to go to High Holiday services, my host mom showed interest in my religious experiences the moment I walked through the door. I was able to teach her about my religion and she then shared a little about her own. Even though my own parents weren’t there to talk and spend time with me, my host mom always made me feel important as I celebrated these holidays in Madrid.

KAHAL and the experiences this organization provided me with truly enhanced my experience studying abroad in another country and city. I recommend KAHAL to any Jewish student planning on studying abroad. It really made me feel at home even when I was miles and plane rides away from my family and friends in the United States. Whether you’re traveling to Madrid, Paris, Prague, Shanghai or Sydney, KAHAL will connect you to immersive experiences in your local community! Check out KAHAL’s website for more information:


Ariel Hylton ’20

Syracuse Madrid