Get to know modern Spain through the complementary lenses of its two largest cities: Madrid, the stately hub, and Barcelona, the cosmopolitan port on this summer program in Spain for high school students. Choose from fun, field-based seminars to improve your Spanish skills, build a photography portfolio, or learn about dynamic Spanish artists such as Goya, Dalí, and Picasso. Spend a weekend in the Pyrenées and take days trips to Segovia, Toledo, and the Mediterranean coast.
- June 30, 2013 - July 27, 2013
- Students completing grades 9-12
- Pre-College Enrichment
- Typical Group:
- 40 Students, 7-8 Staff
- 4 week(s)
Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world, but the tourist’s eye rarely takes in the Spain that exists outside of the sun-soaked beaches, paella, and bullfights of popular imagination. Join us for a fun and unique insider’s engagement with this country, and broaden your horizons as you prepare for college with in-depth, field-based seminars. Whether you are an intermediate or advanced Spanish speaker looking to improve your speaking and comprehension, an intrepid explorer eager to sample new flavors in food and music, or an international art buff fascinated by the dazzling virtuosity of famous Spanish painters like El Greco and Dalí—get ready to spend your days discovering the hidden wonders of the Iberian peninsula through your exciting seminars and electives.
Madrid: Located in the geographical center of Spain, high on the meseta beneath the backdrop of the craggy Guadarrama mountain range, Madrid has long been a social and creative hub, the nerve center that ties together Spain’s diverse regional communities. With a cultural heritage that ranges from the stately 18th century Royal Palace to what some would call its modern equivalent, Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu soccer stadium, there are plenty of places to explore. At night the city is alive with tapas restaurants, the sound of guitars from flamenco tabernas, and the bright lights of theatre and movie house marquees. While here, we live in double rooms in the Colegio Mayor Chaminade, part of the Ciudad Universitaria, a short metro ride from the bustling Puerta del Sol, and the Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen museums.
The Pyrenées: From Madrid, we travel by private bus to the Pyrenées and stay for two days in the miraculously preserved medieval village of Castellar de N’Hug. Castellar provides a refreshing break from city life and an abundance of opportunities to interact with local people, whether it be on the cobblestone streets, in the corner cafés, or on the town soccer field. Experienced guides lead us in a variety of activities ranging from aqua-trekking to traditional cooking and beginner-level spelunking.
“I expected to explore Spain while learning about photography and cuisine, but the program went above and beyond. Excel gave me incredible opportunities to see and experience Madrid and Barcelona in ways that I didn’t even think possible.”
- Nicole J., New York, NY
Barcelona: Europe’s largest city on the Mediterranean is a cosmopolitan gem. With a distinct regional character, Barcelona is known for its unique blend of pragmatism, style, flair, and civic-mindedness. Starting on the beach boardwalks of the Barceloneta, walk the narrow, lantern-lined streets of the Barrio Gótico, through the brilliant colors and riotous noises of the flower and bird kiosks on the pedestrian Ramblas. Then sit and enjoy a traditional pan amb tumaquets breakfast in front of the undulating, shimmering facade of Gaudí’s Battló House. The Picasso Museum, the recently opened Museum of Modern Art, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia cathedral, and the Olympic Stadium in Montjuic all serve as invigorating city classrooms. As in Madrid, we stay in double rooms in a private residence hall near the center of the city.
Afternoons and weekends: Afternoon activities may include basketball at the Colegio Mayor with new Spanish friends, a trip to the Fundación Miró in Barcelona, a search for the most decadent chocolate y churros at a local chocolatería, or a frisbee game on the beach in Barcelona. The entire group gathers for a daily community meeting before dinner. After dinner, venture out again in the company of your instructors to see flamenco shows, classical guitar concerts, or movies, or enjoy your fellow students’ and leaders’ performances at an in-house coffeehouse.
Throughout the month, weekend excursions give you the opportunity to visit an even greater range of Spain’s vital historic and cultural landmarks. While day-trips vary from year to year, excursions may include marveling at the architectural wonders of Toledo and Segovia, hiking in the Sierra Guadarrama, riding on a cog railway through the Val de Nuria, and visiting the surreal Salvador Dalí’s museum in Figueres.
Final Presentation: Finally, a culminating series of final night presentations—photography exhibits, skits performed in Spanish, readings, architectural tours and more—showcase to your fellow students the best of what you have learned in your seminars.
- Meet Spanish students as you complete a cross-cultural scavenger hunt in Segovia.
- Attend a gallery opening during Madrid’s month-long FotoEspana photography gala.
- Go aqua-trekking in the rivers surrounding the medieval village of Castellar de N’Hug.
- Ride an aerial cable car to the secluded mountainside monastery of Montserrat.
- Workshop a Gaudí-inspired short story at a sidewalk café in Barcelona’s Born district.
What to Expect
You should come to the program with an open mind, excited about new experiences, and prepared to think critically and creatively while engaging in thoughtful discussion during your seminars. You should be enthusiastic about participating fully in a schedule packed with intellectual and physical activity, and be willing to challenge yourself to make the most of your time in Spain. Most of the day is filled with structured activities, but there are some opportunities to explore your surroundings and make your own discoveries. We expect you to behave in a mature and productive way at all times. Rules prohibiting drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, setting curfew times, and providing a safe and structured environment are in place, and are enforced.
At Putney we take pride in our reputation for careful, thorough planning and attention to detail. The descriptions of our high school summer programs are based on our experiences in previous summers and our plans for this summer. It is inevitable that some things described here will not happen exactly as presented. To get the most out of the Putney experience, participants need to be flexible in responding to unforeseen situations, and creative in taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. We expect Putney participants to share responsibility for the success of their experience.
Putney organizes escorted international flights. Please consult us for fares.
* Indicates a course in which students are required to speak Spanish.
Learn about last year’s program by reading the 2012 Pre-College Enrichment in Spain Blog.
This program begins and ends at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, New York (group flight participants) or begins in Madrid and ends in Barcelona (non-group flight participants).
Departure • Join your group as we begin the Excel Madrid/Barcelona program. The group flight departs from JFK Airport where you meet with an Excel flight escort who accompanies you on the journey to Madrid.
Madrid • Spend two weeks living in Spain’s capital, near the Complutense University campus in a comfortable private student residence. Get to know Madrid through your field-based seminars and many afternoon and evening cultural activities. Take day trips to nearby Segovia and Toledo, and practice your Spanish with everyone you meet!
Pyrenees • Travel by private bus to the small medieval village of Castellar de N’Hug, high in the Pyrenees. For two days, experience life in a small town. Try your hand at a variety of activities, such as aqua-trekking, beginning-level spelunking, Catalan cooking classes, or playing in a soccer tournament with local students.
Barcelona • Descend from the mountains to embrace the bright lights and cosmopolitan bustle of Barcelona. For eleven days, explore Gaudí’s Modernist masterpieces, the cobblestone streets of the Gothic Quarter, and the beach boardwalks of this beautiful port city. Excursions to the monastery of Montserrat, the Dalí museum in Figueras, and smaller coastal towns help you uncover even more facets of this vibrant county.
Return • Fly with an Excel flight escort from Barcelona to JFK and continue to your final destination on a connecting flight.
“Philip gained more than I think he realized. He definitely benefited from improved language skills. He was enormously excited about all the cultural excursions but I think he gained the most from the experience of traveling on his own with a group of peers he had never met and learning how to negotiate a new social situation.”
-Andrea Labov Clark, New York, NY
This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.
Background • Spain conjures up images of whitewashed villages, passionate flamenco dancers accompanied by lively guitar music, bullfights, and the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. While this vision still holds true, it is just one perspective on a country surprisingly diverse in customs, architecture, cuisine, and even language. Visigoth, Celtic, Roman, and Moorish influences coexist and commingle to form a culture that encompasses the Alhambra in Granada, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. Come find your inspiration in the unique combination of tradition and modernity that fostered past artistic giants Cervantes, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, and Gaudí, and has given rise to a new generation of talent such as Placido Domingo, Penelope Crúz, and Pedro Almodóvar.
Population • By European standards, Madrid is a relatively young city, having become home to Spain’s imperial court only a little more than 450 years ago. It has since grown from 25,000 inhabitants to the present day total of almost 3 million. Barcelona, at 1.5 million, is a bit smaller but markedly more cosmopolitan, wearing its reputation for being Spain’s “Gateway to Europe” as a badge of considerable honor.
Language • Castillian Spanish uses the second person plural vosotros form (as opposed to much of Latin America, which uses the more formal ustedes). Spaniards, on the whole, appreciate any attempts to speak the language and will gladly help you out with vocabulary and grammar. During your time in Barcelona, in addition to Spanish, you will also see and hear a good deal of Catalan, a related Romance language spoken in Catalunya and the Southern French Pyrenees region.
-Phyllis Kesslen, Tenafly, NJ
Climate • The rain in Spain falls mainly…at other times. The term “sun-drenched” is no overstatement when it comes to Madrid and Barcelona in July. Temperatures can get up to the high 80′s/low 90′s during the day and rarely fall below 65 degrees at night. Madrid’s location on the high central plateau makes for a dry heat, whereas Barcelona is slightly cooler but more humid. Fortunately, Spanish architecture and the Spanish style of life are well adapted to the climate, with the traditional afternoon siesta falling during the hottest hours of the day, and a vibrant civic nightlife after the sun goes down.
Cuisine • Spain’s cuisine has gained well-deserved international recognition over the past decades, due to a proliferation of tapas-style restaurants and celebrity chefs such as Ferran Adrià. With an emphasis on high-quality simple ingredients, such as rice, olive oil, fresh seafood, manchego cheese, and delicious dry-cured jamon serrano, Spain accommodates a range of tastes – from the adventurous to those who prefer plainer fare. Sample some of the best olives you have ever tasted, or try the many variations of the potato and egg tortilla española. Given the urban setting of the Excel Madrid/Barcelona program, vegetarians, vegans, and others with dietary restrictions will have little difficulty finding plenty of great food to eat.
Currency • Spain’s currency is the Euro. Banks are readily available for exchanging money or traveler’s checks, and ATM machines are plentiful.
Voltage • Spain uses 230V/50Hz current and type C plugs (two round pins). You should bring a universal plug adapter, and may need a voltage converter to run some US electronics.
The Pre- College Excel Madrid/Barcelona program is directed by Zufan Hagos. If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about the program or any of our high school summer programs abroad, please get in touch!
Zufan Hagos: University of Vermont, B.S. Secondary Education, Spanish; School for International Training, M.A. International Education (expected 2013). Zufan fell in love with exploring far-away lands during high school, when she participated in exchange programs in Costa Rica and Honduras, later studying abroad in Granada, Spain, during college. After college she moved to Prague, where she taught for two years before returning to her native Vermont. Zufan is part of the outreach team and directs programs in Spain and South Africa. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, skiing, and everything to do with food.
How To Apply
STEP 1: LOG ON.
STEP 2: HOLD A SPACE IN THE PROGRAM.
You can hold a space in a program by completing the Online Application Form, submitting a signed Agreement Form, and providing the $700 Application Deposit by Mastercard, Visa, or Discover Card through our secure online system or by sending a check to our office. Our admissions staff is also available to take credit card information over the phone. We will hold a space in a program for a reasonable time, pending completion of the full application process. See Step 3.
After March 15, we will hold a space temporarily as above, but we must receive full payment by check or wire transfer within three days to continue to hold a space in the program.
STEP 3: COMPLETE THE APPLICATION PROCESS.
Before we can make a final admissions decision, an application must be complete. In addition to the Application Form and Application Deposit described above, a complete application includes:
- Applicant Statement - Attach a statement explaining why you would like to join a Putney program and what you feel you can contribute to it. Your application cannot be processed without this statement. Approximately 150–300 words is sufficient. Global Action applicants’ statements must be 300-500 words addressing these questions, and detailing their interest and/or experience in the country and issues on which they wish to focus.
- Two Teacher Reference Forms
These documents are available as part of our Online Application. We review a completed application within a few days, and notify families of our admissions decision by e-mail.