Pitt in Spain - June Session


The small, cobblestone streets of Alcala de Henares are only 30 minutes away from Madrid but will transport you back to a different time.  Pitt in Spain offers you the chance to live and study in this historic city while improving your Spanish skills.  The atmosphere of the small and manageable city combined with your Spanish host family will leave you feeling like a true Spaniard by the time your program is over.  

Courses are hosted at the Franklin Institute of the University of Alcala, one of the oldest universities in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can earn up to 6 credits towards your Spanish major/minor or European Studies certificate.


What You'll Accomplish: 

As an active and involved participant you will:

  • have real world application of the Spanish language at an intermediate and/or advanced level
  • understand the influence of language on culture and vice versa
  • interact with Spanairds at the local level and taking courses by faculty from the University of Alcala

Along with the University of Alcala, the Old Town of Alcala de Henares is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its beautifully preserved buildings from the 15th to 18th century. Wander the streets of this beautiful town or take a quick train ride to Madrid. Having Madrid a short train ride away makes it easy to explore the rest of Spain during your free time. 

Where You'll Live: 

You will be housed with in the dormitories at la Universidad de Alcalá offering you the chance to not only learn about Spanish culture but to immerse yourself in the language and improve your skills. The dorms are a five-minute walk from the university. They include three meals per day, 24/7 security, bedding, laundry facilities, weekly cultural activities, and a gym which students have access to. Laundry services are an additional cost. You may share your room with another student. You will recieve housing information about two weeks prior to your departure.
Keep in mind that living in a host culture can present challenges if you follow a special diet (vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, Halal, etc.). Get in touch with Dr. Alfonso Wells before applying to the program if you'd like to discuss this more in depth.

What You'll Study: 

You will select one course from each time block to take while abroad. The selection of specific courses will be pending passing the language placement test administered at the Franklin Institute at the University of Alcala. 

Block 1 - 9:00am-11:30am

  • SPAN 0104: Español Advanzado (Intermediate Spanish 4)
  • SPAN 1250: Civilización y Cultura Española (Hispanic Civilizations)
  • SPAN 1300: Fonética y Español Oral (Spanish Phonetics and Phonemics)
  • SPAN 1323: Traducción Medica (MedicalTranslation)


Block 2 - 12:00pm-14:30pm

  • SPAN 0120: Tradiciones de España: Comunicación Oral (ConversationTraditiciones de España)
  • SPAN 1601: Cervantes: The Adventures of Don Quixote 
  • SPAN 1603: España contemporanea por medios de cine (Contemporary Spain through film)
Intermediate Spanish 4 (SPAN0104)

The course is aimed at students who wish to enhance their communication skills in Spanish. To achieve this goal, new grammatical structures will be introduced, and others that have already been acquired by the student will be strengthened. This course requires students to have passed level B (intermediate level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) in order for them to be able to learn about the contents explained in class with no difficulty. The contents of the course will include four skills: speaking, writing, listening and reading comprehension. Students will therefore acquire greater confidence and independence, enabling them to express themselves in Spanish fluently. Cultural and social aspects will also have great presence and they will be integrated into the communication process.

Spanish Phonetics and Phonemics (SPAN1300)

The course is aimed at students who wish to have a comprehensive and thorough knowledge of Spanish phonetics, and improve their pronunciation. It is structured from a practical point of view, always focusing on practical exercises within a theoretical context. It is important for students to hear and contrast first, and modify and improve later, through a detailed study of phonemes, syllables, stress and a general knowledge of the Spanish phonetic alphabet. This study will delve into phonetic transcription with exercises and explanations to train them in order to achieve an effective use of the language.

Medical Translation (SPAN1323)

This course is intended for students with an advanced level of Spanish who have specific medical/scientific background.  Medical translation, like any specialized translation, requires specific definitions and terminology. Language as well as concepts are equally important. The course will have a theoretical and practical approach. On the one hand, students will learn the role of the medical translator, they will analyze specific English and Spanish medical texts and they will work with direct and indirect translations, that is from Spanish into English and from English into Spanish. Moreover, students will be introduced to interpretation and intercultural mediation in a medical context through different exercises.

Spanish Civilization and Culture (SPAN1250)

The course offers a historical and interdisciplinary overview of the most relevant characteristics and events of Spanish culture and civilization up to now. It is important to learn and understand the history and the past in order to fully understand Spanish history and society today. This course provides an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the social, political, artistic, religious, ethnographic, anthropological and economic perspectives that will help students understand in greater depth the reality and challenges of the country throughout the different historical periods.

Cervantes: Las Aventuras de Don Quijote (SPAN1601)

The course is aimed at students who wish to learn about the life and work of one of our most renowned writers, Miguel de Cervantes. Students will learn about Cervantes’ most relevant works, in addition to his literary influences and characteristics within the context of the Spanish Golden Age. The course will include a selection of readings from his different works, with particular emphasis on his famous Don Quixote.

Conversation: Tradiciones de España (SPAN0120)

This course aims to improve students’ oral and conversational skills. The course provides both linguistic and cultural knowledge. Units follow a linguistic progress for this which goes from the verb to be; ser / estar / haber; prepositions; reflexive verbs; direct and indirect pronouns; irregular verbs; past perfect / imperfect / indefinite; simple future; the conditional tense and the present subjunctive. These grammar points are studied in a context that is related to cultural aspects in Spain. Thus students will see topics such as; the parts of the house, giving directions, using public transportation, food, fashion, a doctor’s visit, cultural festivals: Fallas, bullfighting, Christmas and Easter, among others.

Spain in Images: Spanish Culture through Films (SPAN1603)

Cinema is one of the most popular artistic representation due to its expressive power and narrative ability. Film productions allow us to gain knowledge of and come closer to the Spanish reality from two perspectives: as a historical document and as an aesthetic expression. In this course, students will learn about the Spanish by filming speech, taking as reference important directors and films in the history of Spanish cinema. Moreover, the course aims to make a journey through the history of Spain, from the Civil War until today, taking as reference film productions on this historical period. Spanish film productions are studied from a multidisciplinary perspective to analyze the most relevant historical periods of contemporary Spain. In addition to studying and undertaking critical analysis from different perspectives, students will have the opportunity to acquire the specialized language used in cinema and historiography, enabling them to improve their speaking and to be able to write down their ideas in Spanish, as well as appreciating cinema as a form of artistic and cultural expression that reflects the history of Spain.

Experiential Learning Description: 

Due to the potential of being in a hospital setting during the pandemic this course is not being offered due to the shadowing opportunity that poses a risk to students health and safety. Students are encouraged to take SPAN 1323: Medical Translation in its place.


SPAN 1323: Español Para Profesionales de Salud includes a field placement in a local hospital. You will need to submit a medical report and background check to the Instituto Franklin. Only 15 students who score a 90% or above are admitted to this course as that is the number of doctors available to have students shadow them. Students should be advanced/native speakers. 

The Franklin Institute has an experienced staff of professionals that will serve as your on-the-ground guides and resources! 

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Dr. Shawn Alfonso Wells

Hujambo, Hola, Bon jour! I am the Exchange and Panther Programs Manger. I have a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and am an Adjunct professor of Anthropology who has taught in the Anthropology, History, Sociology, and Africana Studies departments at Pitt and CMU. I recently helped students to achieve their goals as their Academic Advisor. I did my fieldwork on Color Classification in Cuba and have led many ground breaking experiential student trips to Cuba. I love learning about different cultures and want to help facilitate students being able to travel abroad learn the world. I look forward to assisting you to achieve your goals.


Schedule a Zoom appointment with me below or get in touch with me through email to discuss exchange options and your future global experience.


Schedule an appointment

Schedule an appointment with me using Pathways!

  • Click here to schedule an appointment with me through Pathways.
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Items Billed by Pitt



  In-State Out-of-State
Program Cost $4,999 $5,199
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $5,299 $5,499

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airefare $1,000 - $1,300
Personal Expenses $1,500 - $2,000
Criminal Background Check ** $20-$50
Visa** (international students) $97


What's Included: 

As a part of your Pitt in Spain fee, the follow are included in the program:

  • Tuition for 6 credits
  • Housing in dormitories
  • Three meals per day
  • Travel Health Insurance
  • Madrid excursion
  • Access to university gym

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

When You'll Go: 

June 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023

What Else You Need to Know: 
  • Due to the ongoing pandemic, the nature of the program can switch. We ask all students to be flexabile in terms of housing location and courses available.
  • You must be enrolled in or have completed at least SPAN 0004 to participate in the program. 
  • If you are an international student or permanent resident please make an appointment with Dr.Shawn Alfonso Wells, smwst20@pitt.edu to go over the visa application process.
  • You will take a language placement test upon your arrival. The results of the exam will determine if you are eligible to take the courses you have listed as your primary choice. If you want to take a specific class but have not passed the placement exam to be listed in the course you have the option of taking the placement test again for the following session. However, this does not guarantee placement into the class rather it will depend on your new test results.
  • If you have registered for Español Para Profesionales de Salud you will need to submit a medical report and background check to the Instituto Franklin.Only 15 students who score a 90% or above are admitted to this course as that is the number of doctors available to have students shadow them. Students should be advanced/native speakers. 
  • Some students may be asked to participate in an interview process before they have been notified if they have been admitted into the program.