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CIEE Alicante Language & Culture Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring


Alicante, Spain




3-4 semesters of college Spanish (or equivalent). A minimum grade point average of 2.75 is required.

Application Due:

3/1 for Fall and Academic Year
9/24 for Spring

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

The goal of this program is to provide students with 3-4 semesters of college-level Spanish (or equivalent) with a solid foundation in the Spanish language and culture. The program allows participants to improve language skills while pursuing studies focusing on Spain and Europe through topics such as history, art history, political science, and international business. This goal is achieved through intensive language coursework; area studies courses in English, a conversation exchange program, excursions, and homestays for participants. This program is administered by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) on behalf of an academic consortium of which the University of Iowa is a member. UI participants on the program join a group of students from other U.S. colleges and universities.

The list of current courses can be found here: CIEE Alicante Language & Culture Course Offerings

University of Iowa resident credit is granted for this program.

Academic Program

Students enroll in five courses per semester: one intensive Spanish language course, one required intermediate or pre-advanced-level Spanish language course, and three additional area studies courses in English, or additional language courses. Placement in the intensive course is based on a diagnostic language exam taken before students arrive in Alicante.

UI students earn resident credit which may be applied toward the following General Education Areas: Foreign Language, Historical Perspectives, International & Global Issues, Literary, Visual & Performing Arts and/or Values, Society & Diversity. Credit earned on this program may satisfy requirements for the International Business Certificate; some courses may satisfy requirements for the Spanish major or minor.

Program Dates

Moorish neighborhood in Alicante

Sessions run approximately:

Fall: Early September to mid-December

Spring: Mid-January to mid-May

Exact program dates can be found here: CIEE Alicante Language & Culture Program Dates

Cultural Activities and Excursions


CIEE’s excursions bring students' studies in Spanish history, culture, and the environment to life. Travel to other fascinating and beautiful Spanish cities like Granada, Madrid, Seville, or Barcelona. Participants will also visit places like the Algar Waterfalls, the Canalobre Caves, and Guadalest Castle. The program fee includes one weekend and overnight trip, and two-day trips. Students will also take part in several local day trips in the Alicante Province or the Valencian Autonomous Community.

Immersion Activities

Conversation Exchange Program

A conversation exchange program, intercambios, with native Universidad de Alicante Spanish students, is an integral part of the program. Intercambios will provide participants the real-world opportunity to practice what participants have learned in the language courses and help them integrate into Spanish student life.


Participants can give back to their host community by volunteering. In collaboration with public schools and other non-profit organizations, the CIEE Study Center in Alicante has created several volunteer opportunities working with senior citizens, children, and the disabled for students within the communities of Alicante and San Vicente. The Student Services Department will share more information about volunteer opportunities during the on-site orientation.

Club de Español

Students can make new friends and perfect their Spanish language skills at the same time by interacting with Spanish students through Club de Español activities. Participants will take part in an engaging language exchange program, intercambios; participate in sports activities; go on nature excursions to see the Spanish landscape up close; and take part in fun activities around the city – all while speaking Spanish.

For More Information

Aubree Compton, Advisor
The University of Iowa
Office for Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802

Phone: 319-335-0353


Situated on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Spain is a strikingly beautiful and diverse country. The country has the second largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the largest number of World Heritage cities. Spain’s distinct regions means there is has something for everyone, from lush forests to towering mountains, stunning beaches to vibrant cities, Mediterranean islands and African enclaves. Widely known for excellent food and art, friendly locals, relaxed lifestyle, Flamenco culture, bullfights, fantastic beaches, 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.


The city of Alicante, capital of the Costa Blanca, is situated on the Mediterranean Sea in the Southeastern corner of Spain. With a population approaching 350,000, Alicante is a thriving Spanish city and an inviting place for students to begin their exploration of Spain. In recent times, Alicante has experienced a development boom and rapid population growth. Students will see modern architecture and Internet cafés alongside historic buildings, and shopping malls next to centuries-old open-air markets. Although fast becoming a cosmopolitan and multicultural city, Alicante retains a distinct Spanish flavor.


Like many other regions in Spain, Alicante is historically and culturally bilingual. Valenciano (similar to Catalan, is the second language of the Alicante province. However, Spanish (or castellano) is the primary language of most Alicante residence and one is unlikely to encounter Valenciano in everyday life. Approximately 10% of the city's population speaks both Spanish and Valenciano, the latter mostly at home. It has little presence at the Universidad de Alicante or in public settings. Note that all homestay families are Spanish speakers, as are CIEE staff and Universidad de Alicante faculty.

Universidad de Alicante

The University of Alicante is one of Spain's newest universities, offering its 30,000 students the benefits of a modern campus complete with Mediterranean style buildings. Program participants have full access to its facilities and its artistic and cultural events, such as sports, film screenings and lecture series. Students are encouraged to participate in a conversational exchange with regularly-enrolled Spanish university students.

Living Accommodations and Meals

Housing and all meals are included in the study abroad program fee. CIEE students have two housing options: a Spanish homestay or an off-campus residence hall with other international and Spanish students.


Students live in Spanish-speaking homes where all meals are provided. Each home accommodates one student. Homestays are the optimal housing arrangement because of their contribution to the program’s goals of language and cultural immersion. In the homestay, each student is considered a member of the family and has the same rights and responsibilities as other family members. Homestays are located throughout the Alicante downtown metropolitan area – anywhere within a maximum 30-minute commute to the study center via public transport, with access to public transportation that students take to and from the University. Students should expect to use public transportation two to four times per day.

Residence Halls

Students seeking an independent environment should consider living in an off-campus residence hall with Spanish and other international students. The off-campus residence halls are located near the Universidad de Alicante campus in San Vicente, approximately 40 minutes by bus from the city center of Alicante. Study abroad students who live in the residence hall will be able to walk to campus, but should expect to use public transportation to get to and from the downtown area in Alicante. All meals are provided in the residence hall. The selection of vegetarian food at La Villa is not substantial so we recommend that vegetarian students choose the homestay option. All rooms are single en-suite rooms with a telephone (incoming calls only), TV cable, Internet access, and air conditioning. Students share a kitchenette with a small fridge and microwave.


This program is open to all UI students who are in both good academic and also disciplinary standing. Applicants must also meet the minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 and have completed 3-4 semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent (3-4 years of high school Spanish). Participants must remain in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university until departure. If the applicant is not in good standing at the end of the semester, student acceptance will be revoked and the student will be responsible for the associated withdrawal fees.

Program Cost Sheet

Alicante Marina

Fall 2017 Cost SheetPDF

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill, 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.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact Aubree Compton with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Upfront, out of pocket expenses

Some costs are incurred prior to departure and will be due before financial aid/scholarships disperse. Here are the expected upfront costs for CIEE:

  • Iowa Application Fee: $50 (CIEE application fee is waived for UI students)
  • Spanish Visa: approximately $160
  • Airline Ticket: $1,000-$1,400

Financial Aid and Scholarships


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.


Federal Pell Grant recipients are eligible to apply for the Gilman Scholarship

Withdrawal Policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to the student's CIEE Program Advisor and Aubree Compton at the University of Iowa. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which student withdrawal costs will be calculated. If for any reason the participant withdraws after the early admission period, after confirming, or before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what the student will be required to pay.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
After Application Administrative fee: $0
Course Fee: $300
After Cancellation Deposit Deadline (varies by program) Administrative fee: $400
Course fee: As determined by the program contract with CIEE
After Program Start Date Administrative fee: 100%
Course fee: As determined by the program contract with CIEE

Consult with Study Abroad Advisor Aubree Compton for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when withdrawing from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with the airline for further details.

How to Apply

Steps to Completing Student Application for Study Abroad Participation

• Before filling out any applications, please schedule an appointment to meet with Aubree Compton, Study Abroad Advisor for Alicante, Spain by calling 319-335-0353. The student's application WILL NOT be approved until this step has been completed.

• Fill out the CIEE Online Application for Alicante Language & Culture program.

• Instead of submitting an official UI transcript, UI students may upload a copy of their grade report to their CIEE application.

• Fill out the Iowa Online Application for Study Abroad, applicants will be charged a $50 non-refundable application fee.

• As part of the Iowa Online Application for Study Abroad, applicants will need to upload a copy of their passport picture page and a list of courses to take while abroad, as well as a one page statement of purpose.

Post Acceptance

Acceptance into the applicant's chosen study abroad program is made by CIEE directly via an email to the applicant, which will refer to additional documents posted to a CIEE Portal account that will be created for the participant.


US passport holders should follow the batch process instructions provided by CIEE, otherwise participants must apply for their student visa independently. The consulate for all UI students is the Chicago consulate (it's based the location of one's home university, not state of origin). Students applying for their visa independently should utilize this visa guide: Student Visa Instructions for Spain

Flight to Spain

Students may either book the group flight through CIEE (see Portal for more details) or can book a flight independently. Participants are responsible for being at the orientation site on time, as CIEE may fine individuals who are late.


In order to prepare for study abroad, all participants are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to required orientations provided by CIEE prior to departure and on-site. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

All study abroad participants 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. All participants will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to the student once enrolled. Any question regarding this component can be directed to:

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by Aubree Compton and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Aubree will provide the date and time for this mandatory in-person session during the application process.

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