May 31 - June 30, 2001
July 1 - July 31, 2001

May 31 - July 31, 2001
Universidad Complutense
Madrid, Spain
Institute of International Studies
Sevilla, Spain

Faculty Directors:
Diana Decker [Madrid]  /  Marielena Bucelli [Sevilla]




        As you may know, no amount of information will eliminate the "culture shock" you will encounter when you find yourself at Puerta del Sol or Plaza Mayor in the heart of Madrid, or the Barrio Santa Cruz or Plaza de España in Sevilla. Going to a foreign country for the first time is an experiment through which hundreds of millions of people go every year. Many of them either have a better sense of adjustment or have traveled enough to adapt themselves quickly to the new environment (language, culture, climate, food, schedule...). On the other hand, some expect to find in the host country the same cultural ingredients they left behind in their native land, thus creating an insurmountable problem.  However, even if one could be fully informed and oriented on every detail regarding Spain, the only way to overcome culture shock is by living the exciting adventure with an open mind: you ought to make your own discoveries and, sometimes, your own mistakes. Accordingly, this handbook does not intend to be an all-inclusive handbook for GMU students going to study at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Institute of International Studies in Sevilla. Its aim is simply to help you plan ahead, and offer basic useful information. Please note, however, that some information provided is always subject to change.

When we prepared this booklet for the first time in 1995, the Madrid program was already a six-year old experience administered by the Center for Global Education but directed by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.  I was its first Resident Director (1989-91) and again took its helm in 1995-97 and 1999-2000.  In 1998 my colleague Esperanza Román Mendoza revised the text and successfully directed the program.  By that time we had added a two-week program in Sevilla during the month of August. In 1999 we changed the schedule: Sevilla was offered during the month of June for four full weeks, and students could join either program or both.  This year we are offering the same program with my colleagues Marielena Bucelli directing the Sevilla program and Diana Decker at the helm of the Madrid program . 

Please read carefully the following pages, for they contain valuable advice and important information for the adventure that is about to begin.  As you prepare yourself for this voyage, though, remember that this experience abroad is not necessarily a vacation. It is an academic program that requires a great sense of social and personal responsibility. By being in Spain, you automatically become an American messenger of good will to the Spanish people. Thus, your attitude and behavior are direct reflections on all Americans, needless to say, on George Mason University. We are confident that you will be our excellent ambassador to Madrid and Sevilla. 

¡Buen viaje y que lo pases muy bien!

Rei Berroa 




What was eventually to become the Universidad Complutense de Madrid began in 1293 as Studium Generale in one small village called Compluto by the Romans and Al kala en el Uhar (today Alcalá de Henares) by the Arabs. In the 15th century, the pope Calixt III established there three Chairs for Latin Grammar, and in 1499, the pope Alexander VI approved the change of status to University, which had been supported by Cardenal Cisneros. The new university was called Universitas Complutensis. In 1836, with the name of Universidad Central, it was moved to Madrid, but still needed to go through two more nominal tranformations: Universidad de Madrid, in 1943, and finally, in 1970, recovered its original name, Universidad Complutense. Nowadays the university is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education of the Comunidad de Madrid.

The Complutense,  as it is known, has 19 facultades, covering the humanities, sciences and several professions. It grants the degree «licenciado» in all Facultades (5-7 years) and the doctorate by thesis. In addition to faculty, school and college libraries, its main library consists of circa 1,000,000 volumes. Full-time faculty number about 9,000, with a student body of about 200,000. 

Additionally, the Cursos de Verano para Extranjeros, in which you are participating, is an annual staple of intensive instruction of the Spanish language, culture and literature, organized and administered by the Facultades de Filología, Geografía e Historia y Filosofía. 



          IIS:    Institute of International Studies

[Please come back for this information later on]




             [Check with Professor Diana Decker for an update of this syllabus] 


To study the Spanish language and culture (undergraduate) and Spanish literature and linguistics (graduate) under immersion conditions at one of Spain's most reputable universities: Universidad Complutense de Madrid. This program carries a six-credit undergraduate or graduate academic load. 


A welcome meeting will be held Monday, July the 3rd, the first day of class at 9:30 in the Paraninfo (Main Lecture Hall at the Edificio A). Immediately after, a language placement test will be administered to assist in placing you in one of the following corresponding levels: beginning, elementary, intermediate, or advanced. Students in the Curso Superior (graduate level) do not take this test; they go directly to their first lecture. 

          PART I 
Depending on your level, the course will consist of three daily class periods and one lecture at noon in the Spanish language or linguistics, culture and literature (9:00-12:10 Monday- Friday). Please note that the language laboratory will be used at the beginning and elementary levels only, and that no GMU student is at this level. Your schedule should be as follows: 




  • 9:00-9:50     Gramática (Teoría)
  • 10:00-10:50 Gramática (Práctica)
  • 10:20-11:10 Comprensión y expresión oral y escrita


  • 9:00-9:50 Literatura del Siglo de Oro: Cervantes / Gramática del español: estructuras y usos / Pervivencias del 98 y del modernismo en la literatura española actual / Variedades lingüísticas: la lengua española en América.
  • 10:00-10:50 La novela histórica hispanoamericana (s. XX) / Semántica española / Judíos y conversos en la literatura española / Metodología de la enseñanza del español como lengua extranjera / Español coloquial /Español de América.
  • 11:20-12:10 Rafael Alberti: El poeta y su mundo literario / Español coloquial / Comentario de textos literarios modernos / Evolución histórica del español.

After class (at 12:10) you are required to attend the following lectures: 
   1.- Advanced Level: Lecture Series [5 lectures per series]:

  • The 1898 Generation: Historical Context and Literary Creation 
  • Pablo Picasso: Diary of a Genius. 
  • The Crisis of 1898 and the Spain of the 20th Century. 
  • Spanish Music and Folklore. 
2.- Intermediate Level: Spanish Culture (films and lectures).

3.- Beginning and Elementary Level: Conversation class. 

Remember that you have to attend classes. In this particular, the Universidad Complutense is strict: if you miss four classes (not four days of class) you will be given an F. No questions asked. Please do not take unnecessary risks. 

At 13:10, I recommend to attend the optional lecture series on these topics [5 lectures per series]: 

  • Keys to Spanish Contemporary Culture. 
  • Survey of Spanish Contemporary Literature. 
  • Music and Folklore in Spain. 
  • Sociological Aspects of Present-day Spain.



In addition to Part I, several activities, tours and excursions are offered to enhance your knowledge and understanding of Spanish life, culture, and literature. Your active participation in these activities is of utmost importance, not just  because they constitute 25% of your final grade, but because they enrich tremendously your experience of Spain. Upon arrival, you will receive further details regarding the exact dates and times of such events. 


Excursions by bus are organized every Saturday. In the past, these excursions were conducted by professors from the Universidad Complutense and the Real Academia de la Artes de San Fernando. This year this might change with us organizing some of these excursions.  You will visit different towns or sites of historic, cultural and artistic interest such as: Segovia and La Granja (or El Escorial), Toledo, and La Ruta del Quijote. These excursions are part of the course, thus, you are required to participate. If you choose not to attend in order to join an alternative university or personally organized excursion, you must receive prior approval from the Faculty Director.  Excursions to Burgos/Pamplona (during the sanfermines or running of the bulls) and to Barcelona to study Gaudí, Miró and Picasso were organized in the past by students with the assistance of the Faculty Director.  These excursions are not part of the course, but every one is welcome to participate in them. 


Guided tours will be conducted to better introduce you to some of the most fascinating historical sites and museums of Madrid. In the past, these tours took place every Thursday during the late afternoon. These include: Visit to the Medieval Madrid, the Madrid de los Austrias, the Madrid de los Borbones and the Museo del Prado.


Each Tuesday in the evening at the assembly hall of the central building (where classes are conducted), there are Spanish movie presentations. The movies vary in theme, but have a particular historical, literary or social interest. Guided discussions are conducted immediately thereafter. 


Every Wednesday and Friday afternoon, you also have the opportunity to attend the cultural video series on Art, History, Language and Literature, guided by one of the professors of the Universidad Complutense.


Upon entering your corresponding level, you will receive further instruction from each professor regarding homework, assignments, quizzes, papers and final exams.  In order to receive GMU credit, ou are required to successfully pass each class, participate in the cultural events and show evidence of having transformed that experience into text.


Pending on the successful completion of the above mentioned requirements, your final grade will be the average of all four grades given by your professors. This will constitute 75% of your GMU grade. The remaining 25% will reflect your active participation in the previously mentioned activities (Part II). I must emphasize that your final grade is a "resident credit" grade, thus, it will be factured in to your GPA and entered in your grade report with a letter value [A, A-, B+,  B, B-, C+, C, D, F].  Typically, and depending on the level they are in their school before going to Madrid, and the level at which they are placed at the Complutense after taking the placement test,  students participating in these programs get credit either to complete their requirement (Intermediate Spanish 201 /202) or to enhance their knowledge of the language and the culture of Spain (Span  301, 323, 324, 351, 352, 451, 452, 461).  Be advised though that for you to get credit in these upper level courses, GMU requires evidence of a sufficient amount of writing for all of them (even the conversation courses 351, 451).  All assignments must be completed within the four-week time frame. 

Graduate students should consult with their advisor and the Faculty Director of the program.  [Credit is normally awarded for Span 501, 502, 545, or 551]

The Universidad Complutense de Madrid gives the following certificates to qualifying students: Certificate of Attendance for those who have regularly attended classes, Diploma-Certificate in Spanish for those who successfully pass all final examinations, and Certificate in Spanish Language and Culture for those in the advanced levels who have passed their exams on their classes and on all those subjects discussed in the lecture series. 





        To provide students with practical knowledge of the Spanish language, and offer them insights into the complex contemporary and historical aspects of Spanish culture, especially in Andalucía. This program carries a six-credit undergraduate academic load. 


The course consists of two class periods (75 minutes each) in the Spanish language (8:30-11:15 Monday-Friday) and one class period (120 minutes) on the culture of Spain and Andalucía (11:30-13:30 Monday-Friday). 

LANGUAGE:  Eighty hours of instruction devoted to conversational practice with emphasis on the vocabulary needed for survival or advanced functioning (depending on student level) in specific social situations: the post office, the telephone, around the house, stores and markets, seeking medical help, traveling, among others. This component, along with the students stay with host families, should increase the students' ability to function well in a variety of social situations. Instruction in practical Spanish will be complemented by considering three important elements of Spanish and Andalucian cultural life: Spanish and American stereotypes, the history and art of flamenco, and the cultural components of bullfighting. 

CULTURE:  Forty hours will be devoted to class lectures on different topics: The history of Spain, the educational system of Spain, the political and economic structure of modern Spain, and the Spanish mass media as well as the historical monuments of Andalucía, especially Sevilla, Córdoba and Granada. The diverse cultural heritage of modern Spain will be presented to students through guided visits to the Cathedral, the Royal Palace, the Museo de Bellas Artes, as well as the ruins of Itálica, La Mezquita in Córdoba and La Alhambra in Granada. 


In addition to Part I, several activities, tours and excursions are offered to enhance your knowledge and understanding of the Spanish culture. Your attendance to these activities is of utmost importance for it constitutes 25% of your final grade. Upon arrival, you will receive further details regarding the exact dates and times of such events: visit to the ruins of Itálica,  an afternoon in Córdoba, a weekend in Granada. 


Depending on the number of participants, we might have one or two levels for all students in the program. Upon entering your corresponding course, you will receive further instruction from each professor regarding homework, assignments, quizzes, papers and exams. You are required to successfully pass each class and participate in the cultural events in order to receive GMU credit. 


Pending on the successful completion of the above mentioned requirements, your final grade will be the average of all grades given by your instructors in Sevilla. This will constitute 75% of your GMU grade. The remaining 25% will reflect your attendance to and active participation in the previously mentioned activities (Part II). I must emphasize that your final grade is a "resident credit" grade, thus, it will be factured in to your GPA and entered in your grade report with a letter value  [A, A-, B+,  B, B-, C+, C, D, F].  Typically, and depending on the level they are in their school before going to Sevilla, students participating in these programs get credit either to complete their requirement (Intermediate Spanish 201 /202) or to enhance their knowledge of the language and the culture of Spain (Span  301, 323, 324, 351, 352, 451, 452, 461).  Be advised though that for you to get credit in these upper level courses, GMU requires evidence of a sufficient amount of writing for all of them (even the conversation courses 351, 451).  All assignments must be completed within the four-week time frame. 






  • Berroa, Rei. Guide for Studying Spanish Language, Literature & Culture. George Mason University: Center for Global Education, 2000  [http://mason.gmu.edu/~rberroa/handbook.htm]

    Plus one of the following [supplied by the Center for Global Education]: 

  • 1999 Let's Go Spain & Portugal. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999. ISBN: 0312146663. $21.99. Originally started by the Harvard University students in 1960, this book has become "the" budget guide for travelers (first-timers or veteran explorers). 
  • Insight Guide: Spain. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. Published by the APA Insight Guides team (London), this book won the coveted 1995 Vega Inclán award from the Spanish Ministry of Tourism for its accurate and insightful information on Spanish history, life and culture. Superb photos by Joseph Viesti. 
  • Porter, D. et al. Frommer's Spain. New York: McMillan, 1999. ISBN: 0028612027. $21.95 
  • Porter, D. et al. Frommer's Barcelona, Madrid & Seville. New York: McMillan, 1999. ISBN: 0028611594. $14.96 
  • Fodor's '99: Spain. New York: Fodor Travel Publications, 1999. ISBN: 0679035389. $21.50. Published since 1936, this guide has been called by Newsweek "the king of guidebooks." The guide offers a useful and concise overview of Spanish history and culture. 

At least one of  the classical works written by:

  • Ernest Hemingway: For Whom the Bell Tolls [At Fenwick  PS3515.E37 F6 1987] , and The Sun Also Rises [At Johnson Center Library  PS3515.E37 S8 1954a]
  • Graham Greene: Monsignor Quijote
  • Washington Irving: Tales of the Alhambra [At Fenwick  PS2052 1991]
  • André Malraux : Man's Hope [At Fenwick  PQ2625.A716 E713 1938]
  • George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia [At Fenwick  DP269.9 .O7 1952a]

At least one non-fictional text. Here are just a few:

  • Castro, Américo. The Spaniards: An Introduction to Their History. Transl. by Willard King and Selma Margaretten. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1971. In this book the author combines two previous works on the Spanish people and how they have become what they are now. 
  • Crow, John A. Spain: The Root and the Flower (An Interpretation of Spain and the Spanish People). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985. This monumental work is, above all, a study of the character of the Spanish people and their civilization. 
  • Fuentes, Carlos. The Buried mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World. Public Media Video, 1991. [At Fenwick Media Library  DP96 .F84 1991]  This collection of five videocassettes (59 min. each) was written and presented by world-known author Carlos Fuentes on the ocassion of the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage. Fuentes looks for his forebears in the mix of people that created Latin America. 
  • Hooper, John. The Spaniards: A Portrait of the New Spain. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. Study of the social conditions endured by the Spanish people during the 20th century. 
  • Perceval, Michael. The Spaniards: How They Live and Work. New York: Praeger, 1973. Although you will have plenty of time to experience how the Spaniards live and work it might help you to take a look at this book to get ready for the "labor" shock you might suffer in Spain. 
  • Sieburth, Stephanie A. Inventing High and Low: Literature, Mass Culture, and Uneven Modernity in Spain. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994. [At Fenwick Library Call # PQ6144 .S54 1994] This book studies the relationship between the arts, especially literature, and the politics and culture of Spain during the 20th century. 

       Reading some of these books should help you make your experience of Spain much more rewarding. 

I highly recommend that you bring your own dictionary [try not to make it too concise though].




Neither the Universidad Complutense nor IIS have housing accommodations of their own. In Sevilla, students will be housed with families carefully selected by the college. In Madrid, there are residential facilities at several Colegios Mayores, some of them former seminaries, available to students enrolled at la Complutense. Our program will be housed at: 

Colegio Mayor San Juan Evangelista (el Johnny)
Avda. Gregorio del Amo, 4
Ciudad Universitaria 
28040 Madrid 
Tel: 011 [3491] 534-2400 

The fax number at the Colegio is 011 (3491) 536-0321. Although you can receive a fax sent to you at the Colegio (please recommend discretion to the people who would like to contact you), the administration will allow you to use the fax machine only in an emergency. 

The rooms in the residence are small, but adequate. Students have their own individual room which contains a twin size bed, a desk and chair, a tall book shelf, a large closet with a small two drawer dresser, and a sink and mirror. Sheets, a pillow, and a thin blanket are provided. Laundry machines are available from 9:00 to 15:00 in the basement of the building. Clean sheets are placed on your bed every Monday provided you have placed the dirty ones to be washed in front of your door. Be sure that you put all your articles in a plastic bag or a basket with your room number and name on the bag. Please note, they do not wash your cloth for you. It is your responsibility to be there while your cloth is in the machines and that you place them in the drier appropriately. You may also wish to wash some of your clothes by hand in the community showers, located on each floor. On the first floor of the residence you will find a large lounge for socializing, studying, and eating, among other things. A bar, where one may buy all sort of drinks, ice cream, sandwiches and snacks, is also on the first floor as you enter the Colegio. Behind the bar you will find the TV lounge.

Three meals a day are provided at the Colegio Mayor: desayuno, comida y cena. Upon arrival you will be given the meal schedule. You will also receive a meal card that will be good for the entire four weeks. For each meal, you must present some type of identification requested or provided by the Colegio. The residence is also equipped with a telephone service which allows you to make outgoing calls from the lobby and take incoming calls at the phone booths located behind the reception desk. Each room is equipped with an intercom telephone system by which you can talk to any other room in the Colegio. You can also receive calls from the outside. If you happen to receive a call while out of your room, the receptionist will announce that you have a call over the intercom system. Explain your friends or relatives how to pronounce your last name in Spanish; even if they try to do so, they would stay at the door of  an acceptable sound. 

There is always a receptionist on duty at the entrance of the lobby. Each day, as you leave the Colegio, you should drop your room key at the front desk to avoid loosing it. You may exit and enter as you please; however, after midnight the main entrance is locked for your safety. If you plan to be out past that time, you will need to ring the doorbell and wait for the receptionist to answer. In addition, should you receive any calls while being out of the Colegio, the front desk will take messages for you. Should you wish to have your room number sound as a wake up call each morning, you need to arrange it each night. The Mayor offers several facilities:  computer room, library, bar/cafeteria, chapel, gym, laundry, swimming pool, study rooms, reading rooms, music room, video room, TV room, and an auditorium. 

From the Colegio Mayor you can take the F or 132 bus to go to the building where classes take place. [Some of these buses might stop their service around July 15.]  Being this Mayor about 7 minutes from Filosofía A, where classes are held, I imagine you would prefer to walk all the time.

You can find a map of the Complutense campus at: 
If you go to the right of this map you will see the Metropolitano metro stop, where the Colegio Mayor is exactly located. Information on the Mayor (all in Spanish) can be found at: 

Find the area where classes are held at:
http://www.ucm.es/info/vicrint/mapas/ciu2.htm (Facultad de Filología)
and the general map of the area at: http://www.ucm.es/info/vicrint/mapas/ciudadu.htm


In Sevilla, students will be housed with families living within walking distance from the Institute.  Remember that wherever you would go in the world, each family would have its own rules and regulations.  Respect them as you would like them to be respected if you were the host.  At your host family you would have a room that you might share with another GMU student.  You will be served desayuno, almuerzo, and cena as part of your contract with the family.  In Sevilla, like in any other city of Europe, houses do not normally have air conditioning.  So consider yourself lucky (or unlucky, depending on your position about the echosystem) if your family has an airconditioned room to watch TVor gather to talk.



Pack LIGHT!!!! Bring no more than what you can carry alone. In July, the weather is hot and dry; loose clothing would be most appropriate. If you are sensitive to the heat and sunshine, it is recommended that you bring sunscreen, a hat and/or sunglasses. Pack one dress outfit just in case. Also, it is essential to bring a good and comfortable pair of walking shoes (shoes love to be used in Spain).
As bed linens will be provided, it is only necessary that you pack a towel and face cloth. Toothpaste, shampoo, etc., can be purchased cheaply near the university, so don't weigh down your suitcase! Although taking any type of electrical appliance is discouraged, if you must pack such equipment, you will need to have a transformer or voltage converter (110 to 220); remember that  everything in Spain is in 220 volts. The flat-pronged American plugs require round pronged converters to fit in the socket. Besides, some sockets are not leveled with the wall anymore; they are about 0.75" inside the wall. So you may also need a socket adapter.  If you are taking medication, be sure to bring a sufficient supply for the four or six week period. Other recommended items for packing are: a money belt, your international phone card and a small battery operated alarm clock. DO NOT FORGET to bring your AIRLINE TICKET, PASSPORT, INTERNATIONAL STUDENT I.D. CARD, EIGHT PASSPORT SIZE PHOTOS (USED FOR CLASS REGISTRATION) AND MONEY. If you are an American citizen entering Spain as a tourist, you will be allowed a stay of up to 90 days. If you are not, call the Spanish Consulate and check with them about the need for a visa.




If you want, change a portion of your cash into pesetas before you leave the U.S. With a few days advanced notice, these can be purchased from any commercial bank. At the moment I am updating this site (27 May 2000), the exchange rate is 184 pesetas per dollar. The peseta is now tied to the value of the euro, so you should expect more or less this same exchange rate, it can't be better that this.  (You can check the following WWW address to obtain an updated exchange rate: http://www.oanda.com/cgi-bin/travel). 

Keep other funds in travelers cheques. Keep the serial number copy separate from the cheques themselves, and always carry your money secured to your body. If you didn't change anything, don't panic: right at Barajas Airport there are two banks available. In the past, their exchange rates were as good as in the city. 

It is a good idea to bring your American Express, Diners Club, Visa or Mastercard should an emergency arise.  These credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. [V/MC at many more places than AE/DC.]  They can be used to obtain cash from most banks (you must show passport, although last summer I showed my Virginia driver's license without any problem) and the automatic teller machines, provided you have a pin number.  Phone numbers to report lost cards can be found in the phone directory included at the end of this study guide. 

You can also bring your ATM card.  Debit cards may be used to obtain cash from some of the automatic teller machines (only those with the logo PLUS), but you need to  provide your pin number and it doesn't always work. 

In Spain practically all banks change foreign currency and travellers cheques (there's always a fee). You can also change money at currency exchange shops, CAMBIOS [I never found one with a decent rate], the American Express Office (Tel. 322-5500), hotels, major department stores and shops frequently visited by tourists (although rates are not as good as in the bank).  An American Express Office is located at Plaza de las Cortes, 2, and a CAMBIOS is located at Calle Alcalá, 20.  Most banks are open from 9:00 to 14:00 weekdays and 9:30 to 12:30 on Saturdays. Note that, in the past, banks had a better exchange rate for travellers cheques [same for hotels].  Don't forget to bring your passport when exchanging money.  In years past, The Banco Central Hispanoamericano, about a block from the Facultad, almost always had a better exchange rate than any other bank in the city. 



Since you are responsible for getting yourself around Madrid, it will be to your advantage to become familiar with the public transportation system. Please note that you must get your own transportation from Washington to the Colegio Mayor. You should be informed on how to go from the Barajas International Airport to the Colegio Mayor San Juan Evangelista or "el Johnny" (as this Mayor is known among the students who live there). In case you don't have this information and your knowledge of the language is fragmented, here are three ways to find your way around: If the taxi driver is not familiar with the location of the Colegio Mayor, tell him/her that it is in Moncloa (the neighborhood where the Universidad Complutense is located) on Avenida Gregorio del Amo, 4  across from metro Metropolitano. In Spanish: 

Lléveme al Colegio Mayor San Juan Evangelista que está en Moncloa, en la Avenida Gregorio del Amo, 4. Está junto a la salida del metro "Metropolitano."  This ride should take about 20 minutes and should cost between 3,000 and 4,000 Pesetas ($19-25). 

If the price differs too much from this estimated price, don't hesitate in asking for a receipt that should be written on official paper with the plate number and the taxi's license number. 

A  more economical way to arrive to the Mayor is by taking the City-Airport bus (LINE 89) to downtown Madrid. When you exit the airport, to your right, you will see a sidewalk sign with a little airplane or bus drawn on it. The bus departs from there every 12 minutes. Cost: 500 pesetas, 15-20 minutes. Take it to the underground Colón terminal (last stop). Taxis meet the buses right there. Explain the taxi driver your destination. The 7-10 minute ride will cost what is on the meter (800-1000 Pesetas, plus surcharges for suitcases, normally 100 pesetas). 

If you don't have much luggage, you might want to take advantage of a longer but quite cheaper trip: Since the summer of 1999 there is a metro stop at the airport. Look for the sign (a red diamond  sign with the word METRO on it).  Purchase a ten-trip METROBUS (705 pesetas; if you purchase only one trip it will cost you 130 pesetas) and take Línea 8 (Pink Line)  Mar de Cristal direction.  Once there, take Line 4 (Brown Line) direction Argüelles. Get off at Avenida de América and change to  Línea 6 (Gray, known as Circular). Get off at Metropolitano. [Make sure you take the right direction: from Avda. de América to Metropolitano there should be only five stops.]    Directions at the Metro are easy to read and understand; but if you are confused, ask people passing by, most are willing to help.  At the Metropolitano stop, look for the "San Juan" exit.  Takes time (about 35 minutes from the airport), but it is a good way to try to absorb the culture shock! 

Downtown Madrid is compact and dense and, like most madrileños, you will walk from one end to the other of it. Greater Madrid, on the other hand, is huge, but an efficient metro, taxi and bus service will take you quickly where you want to go (provided you are not trying to get somewhere during the rush hours). 


If you need to take a taxi, make sure that you use the official Madrid taxis, which are white with red stripes painted transversally across the doors and have the Madrid coat of arms. If you are carrying luggage, you will be charged about 100 pesetas in addition to the fare shown on the meter for each piece of luggage. On Sundays, holidays, and after 23:00, there is a further 150 peseta surcharge. 

Taxis are easy to get. They are available if they display a green libre sign on the windscreen (a green light at night). A meter on the dashboard indicates the fare. One can find them at the Parada de Taxi indicated by a large white T against a dark blue background, or in main thoroughfares, or requesting them by phone. For taxi pickup, call Radio-Teléfono Taxi, tel. 547-8200; Radio-Taxi Independiente, tel. 405-1213 or 405-5500; or Teletaxi, tel. 445-9008. 


The best way of getting around the city is via the Metro system. There are 125 stations, which can take you just about to every corner of the city. It operates from 6:00 to 13:30 and it costs (1999 price) 135 pesetas for one journey (one way) regardless of where you go. It is highly recommended that you purchase a BONOBUS good for 10 bus or metro trips for 705 pesetas (spring 2000). If you are claustrophobic, avoid the metro during the rush hours: 8-9:30, 13:30-14:30, and 20-21:00. Be aware: there is no airconditioning in some Metro cars and people also tend to push and almost sit on top of you during these hours, so keep calm and secure your belongings! For Metro information call 435-2266 or visit the following WWW pages (note that the newest information might not be there): 


Due to traffic conditions, the Madrid bus system is not as fast or comfortable as one would like it to be, but the bus ride is certainly more enjoyable than the underground ride in the Metro when the traffic is not heavy. The almost 200 lines of the EMT (Empresa Municipal de Transportes) cover the whole city. Buses have the number (or letter) of the bus line and the first and last stop posted on the front. Bus stops are clearly marked with signposts showing the number and route of each bus. Tickets cost 135 pesetas in both the red and yellow buses. You enter from the front and pay the driver with change or a note (try to avoid large bank notes to pay for a single ticket). When you want to leave, get close to the rear door and press the buzzer. A METROBUS, good for 10 trips, can be purchased for 705 pesetas, at any metro station, at any tobacconist (estanco), at most newspaper stands, and at any bus information booths at Puerta del Sol, Plaza Callao, Plaza de Cibeles, etc. There should be a booth close to el Johnny. [Don't see it? Ask! People in Spain like to help even if they don't know.]  There is a slotted box behind the driver's seat where you insert your Bonobus. Buses are in service from 6:00 to midnight. After midnight until 6 there is the night bus service (these buses are called Nocturnos or Buhos), running normally on the half hour (from 12:00 till 2:00) and on the hour (from 2:00 till 6:00) from strategic points of interest: Cibeles, Sol, Plaza Mayor, etc. You can get city bus information by calling tel. (91) 401-9900. 


The Consorcio de Transportes de Madrid offers different monthly cards valid for the metro, bus and train system. People under 21 and over 65 pay 3,205 pesetas for the whole metro and metropolitan bus system (ZONE A). People between 22 and 64 pay 4,620 pesetas for the ZONE A.  If you are going to be going everywhere by metro, this should be your best choice. You can get more information by calling (91) 580 45 40. 




The national currency of Spain is the peseta. Bills of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 are currently in circulation. Coins are made in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 pesetas.

Although some offices are adopting a standard 9:00 to 17:00 work day, shops usually have a morning and afternoon schedule, with a break between 14:30 and 17:00 for the long lunch 

Shops are open from 9:30 to 13:30 or 14:30 and then reopen again in the afternoon from 16:30 to 20:00. Most are closed on Saturday afternoon and Sundays. However, the major department stores like El Corte Inglés and shopping centers like La Vaguada are open without interruption six days a week, 10:00 to 21:00. By law, all shops are allowed to open a fixed number of Sundays a year.


Most post offices are open from 9:00 to 14:00 on weekdays and from 9:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays. Stamps may also be purchased in tobacconists (estancos), which are distinguishable by their deep red and gold sign with the word Tabacos. Besides cigarettes and stamps, they sell bonobuses, phone cards, paper, pens, envelopes and postcards. You can even have your letter weighed there in order to know how much postage it will require. You can place your stamped mail in any of the yellow mail boxes that you will find in the city. 

If you are planning to send packages, it is highly recommended that you go to a post office. If you go to the main one, located at the Palacio de Comunicaciones, you will enjoy a beautifully decorated XVIII Century Palace. It is located at Plaza de Cibeles, open Monday through Saturday 9:00 to 22:00, Sunday from 10:00 to 14:00, and 17:00 to 21:00. 

The closest post office to the Colegio Mayor and the Edificio A is located on Avenida Complutense.In addition, you can send mail from the ICI building (Instituto de Cultura Hispánica), located at Reyes Católicos, 4 in Moncloa. It is within a ten-minute walking distance from the Colegio Mayor. 


Coin operated telephone booths are everywhere. To operate the phone you can use 10, 25, 100, 200, and 500 pesetas coins. A three-minute local call from a public phone costs 21 pesetas. In addition, many telephone booths operate by inserting a phone card that can also be purchased at the estancos. They can be used for local and international calls. Be aware that you are given a time limit for each call you make -- TALK FAST!  Be aware that all calls in Madrid require that you dial 91 before the telephone number [95 in Sevilla]. 

To make a direct call from Madrid or Sevilla to the U.S., first dial 07 and then wait for another dial tone before dialing 1 + area code + telephone number. Phone charges are expensive, so try to limit these calls. To call the U.S. with an AT&T, MCI or Sprint calling card from a phone booth, dial 900 9900 11 for AT&T, 900-99-0014 for MCI or 900-99-0013 for Sprint, then give the number you are calling and the calling card number. It is cheaper to call before 8:00 and after 20:00.To make a collect call from a non-public phone, dial 005, state the number with appropriate country and city codes and your name. Then hang up and wait. When the call has gone through, the phone will ring. To call to Madrid from the U.S., dial 011 [international code] + 34 [country code] + 91 [city code] + telephone number. Keep track of hour differences (Peninsular Spain has Eastern time +6 hours) to get better rates. You will be charged European rates (expensive) when calling from Madrid, so just use the phone for real emergencies or arrange for your loved ones to call you at specific times (for instance, a one-minute MCI call from Washington to Madrid would cost 55 cents, while the same call the other way around would cost around two dollars). 

For international calls, it is better to go to the offices of Telefónica at Gran Vía, 30, open daily from 9 to midnight. There is another Telefónica at Plaza Colón (right behind you if you stand at Paseo Castellana facing the Biblioteca Nacional). At these offices you will find telephone directories for Madrid and telephone booths for all major international long distance services (MCI, ATT, SPRINT, etc.). Also at these offices you can send and receive faxes at an economical rate. 

The following numbers may be helpful: 

112 Centralized emergency numbers 
061 Medical Emergency 
010 Madrid Municipal Information Hotline 
003 Telephone Information (Spain) 
008 Telephone Information (Europe) 
089 Telephone Information for the rest of the world 
005 Operator Assistance for international calls 
091 National Police 
092 Municipal Police 
519 2100 VISA - MasterCard 
572 0303 American Express 
093 The Time 
094 The Weather 
095 News in Spanish
096 Wake-up service 
098 General Information about city streets, bus service, on duty pharmacies 
061 Emergency and medical attention 
401 9501 REAJ (Hostelling Services) Calle José Ortega y Gasset, 71 
543 0208 CEU-TIVE (office of student services including traveling). Calle Fernando El Católico, (Metro: Moncloa
328 9020 RENFE (National Railroad System: train reservations) 
Estación de Charmartín 300 6969 
Estación Principe Pío 541 2225 
Estación Puerta de Atocha 396 9180 
Estación Sur de Autobuses 468 4200 
Estación de Auto Res 551 7200 
Estación Continental 533 0400 
577 4000 American Embassy located in Calle Serrano, 75. (Metro: Rubén Darío
566 5477 Tourist Information located at Plaza Mayor, 3 
902 202 202 The Tourist Line provides information on hotels, campsites, inns and other forms of lodging as well as the best travel offers and where or how to make reservations. They are not allowed to arrange accommodations for you. 

Be aware that some of the previous phone services are more expensive than a normal local call. 

NOTE: Throughout the summer, the city's tourist information service is available in the street at the main tourist crossroads: Puerta del Sol, Plaza de la Villa, Paseo del Prado, the Royal Palace. Look for groups of young men & women in yellow uniforms. Spain is one of the world's preferred summer destinations, so you will find lots of people from almost everywhere. 


In Madrid, the following hospitals have 24 hour emergency rooms: 

  • Hospital Clínico 
  • Hospital Ramón y Cajal 336 8313 
  • Hospital La Paz 358 2600 
  • Hospital Doce de Octubre 390 8000 
  • Hospital Gregorio Marañón 586 8500 
The Dental Clinic for an emergency is located on the 6th floor of Calle Juan Bravo, 44 (tel. 402 6421 or 402 6422). It is opened 24 hours. 

Pharmacies are the places where you buy your prescriptions. You can identify them by a big white sign with a flashing green cross. They are open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 to 13:30, and re-open from 17:00 - 21:00. Selected Pharmacies are open during night time, holidays and Sundays (farmacias de guardia). The list of these emergency pharmacies change every week, and can be found on the door of every pharmacie, or by calling any of the following numbers: 098 or 010. 


In Spain, the sales tax (IVA=value-added tax) ranges form 7% to 16%, depending on the merchandise or service rendered. As a tourist, you are elegible for a refund of the IVA on single purchases of more than 15,000 pesetas. The seller should provide you with a receipt detailing the value, tax and nature of the purchase. This receipt has to be stamped by customs upon departure from Spain or the last European Union country you visit before departing. Return one copy of the receipt by mail to the establishment where you purchased the item, authorizing them to pay the refund to your credit card (this is the easiest way to receive the money back). Be aware that the customs officer may ask you to show the items purchased. 


Universidad Complutense:
A Student ID will be given to students during the registration on arrival. This card will allow students the same advantages as the Spanish students have, i.e.: access to libraries, sport facilities, and travel discounts. La Complutense has many sport complexes located in different places on campus. Access to sport facilities is free except to the swimming pool, the tennis fields, saunas, and changing rooms. More information on prices and location can be obtained by visiting the WWW site http://www.ucm.es/INFOCOM/servcamp/deportes.htm. The closest complex is the COMPLEJO DEPORTIVO ZONA SUR (Tel: (91) 394-11-69). At our Colegio Mayor there is a gym and a swimming pool.

City Sport Facilities:
Madrid has a lot of City Sport Areas located throughout the city, providing a large variety  of sport facilities. Prices vary depending on the sport. For example, a 20-pass ticket for a swimming facility at Casa de Campo costs 7,500 pesetas while the same pass might cost 5,000 pesetas at the university sport grounds.  So you must shop around for the best deals. 



       If traveling out of the city, be sure to always have at least a copy of  your passport. While in the city, it is sufficient to just carry your Complutense student ID.  Be careful to keep all of your belongings close to your body, and when in the city, never walk alone. Enjoy yourself to the fullest, and take advantage of the wonderful social atmosphere that Madrid and Sevilla have to offer. The nightlife is exciting and the cultural and historical sites will overwhelm you. But you can't come back to the United States without having paid visits to El Prado (if you don't, this will be considered a mortal sin), el Museo Reina Sofía, la colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Parque del Retiro, the Plaza Mayor, and the Palacio Real in Madrid or to the Catedral and La Giralda, the Barrio de Santa Cruz, and La Plaza de España and Parque María Luisa in Sevilla. 
National Museums do not charge entrance fees on Saturday from 2:30 to 19:00, and Sunday and bank holidays from 9:00 to 14:00. Students usually pay less in all museums, so don't forget to always carry your Student ID with you. 

You can get information on cultural events, politics, sports, etc. in Spain checking the most important Spanish newspapers on the WWW: 

or getting information on all cultural activities through the web: Madrid-on-line
You can zoom in sections of downtown Madrid at this address: http://www.softdoc.es/guia_madrid/mapas/mapa_centro.html

Upon arrival, you will continue to receive more information regarding museums, nightclubs, excursions and other amusements. Don't miss out on all the fun, and look forward to what will be an exciting summer program in SPAIN!!


For the Madrid participants, there is the possibility of staying at the Colegio Mayor, at your own expense (3700 pesetas for room and board per day), if you arrive a few days before the program begins (July 2). Let me know ahead of time if that is going to be your case, since we have to arrange that with the Colegio. If that wouldn't work (because the Colegio Mayor is still housing its students  when you want to arrive) here is a list of places you might consider (prices from 2000). All of them, except the Albergue, are in the heart of downtown Madrid. [Remember that some places will charge you an extra $3 for a shower]: 

Albergue Juvenil Santa Cruz de Marcenado (Youth Hostel): C. Santa Cruz de Marcenado, 28. Metro: Argüelles. Located around the student district. If you haven't reserved in advance, you must arrive early in the morning (open at 9:00 am) and hope for the best. About 1,500 Ptas. You need the HI card to be able to stay in here. [To obtain your HI card you can call in the US 1-800-444-6111.] The Albergue is the most economical place to stay in Madrid (Tel. 547-4532).  [Don't forget to add 91 before the number.] 

Hostal Residencia María del Mar: C. Marqués Viudo de Pontejos, 7, 2nd and 3rd floor (tel. 531-9064). Metro: Sol. Singles 1,900 Ptas., Doubles 3,400 Ptas. 

Hostal Residencia Paz: C. Flora, 4, 1st floor (tel. 547-3047). Metro: Sol or Opera. Singles 2,500 Ptas., Doubles 3,700 Ptas. Triples, with shower, 5,500 Ptas. 

Hostal Marbella: Pl. Isabel II, 5, 2nd floor (tel. 547-6148). Metro: Opera. Singles 2,400 Ptas., Doubles with shower 3,700 Ptas. 

Hostal Amaika: C. Esparteros, 11, 3rd and 4th floor (tel. 531-5278) Metro: Sol. Free luggage storage. Singles 1,900 Ptas. (w.s.: 2500Ptas.), Doubles w.s. 3,800 Ptas.

Hostal Aguilar: C. San Jerónimo, 32, 2nd floor (tel 429-5926) Metro: Sol. A nicer hostal in the area. Singles w.s. 3,400 Ptas., w.b. 3,500 Ptas. Doubles w.s. 4,500 Ptas., w.b. 5,500Ptas. Triples and Quadruples available.  [Visa.] 

For information on the academic components of each program, contact: 
Prof. Diana Decker 233 Thompson Hall (decke2@gmu.edu)
Prof. Marielena Bucelli, 234 Thompson Hall (mbucelli@gmu.edu
Department of Modern & Classical Languages 
George Mason University
Mail Stop # 3E5 
Fairfax, VA 22030 
Tel: (703) 993-1220 / Fax: (703) 993-1245 

For all administrative information of the program (cost, ID, application, etc.), contact: 
Ana Alonso [cge@gmu.edu
at the Center for Global Education
235 Johnson Center, MS 2B8
George Mason University 
Fairfax, VA 22030 
Tel (703) 993-2154  / Fax (703) 993-2153

Click here for a map of Spain
     Back to main page