Saturday, June 23, 2012

An afternoon in Alcalá de Henares

On Wednesday, after a failed attempt at talking to the woman in charge of the auxiliares program to see if it would still be possible to renew, Gregorio called.  He wondered if I wanted to visit the university in Alcalá de Henares today that we'd talked about checking out some afternoon.  This university has a Master's program I discovered the other week that caught my eye.

The Master is Aprendizaje y Enseñanza del Español como Lengua Extranjera (Learning and Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language) through the "Teach and Learn" program at Instituto Franklin.  The positive is that everyone who gets in has a full tuition scholarship.  (A free Master's degree!  Impossible for me in the states...)  Also, you work as an English language assistant in Madrid (what I do now) for either 18 or 26 hours a week.  This teaching time counts as credits towards the Master, and you also get paid for doing so (though significantly less than I currently make, but still not a bad deal).

The downside to me realizing this program existed only a few weeks ago is that the deadline to apply was in January or February.  So Gregorio and I had talked about going one of these days to see if it was possible to apply late and to learn more about the program.  Although I wasn't really in the mood on Wednesday, I figured since I had the whole day free I might as well check it off of my to-do list.  And who knows, maybe I'd end up eliminating another option by the end of the day.

Gregorio picked me up on his motorcycle around 3pm and we were off to Alcalá de Henares, which lies about 25 minutes east of Madrid.

The woman in charge of the Spanish as a Foreign Language Master was really nice and gave me lots of information.  She said the program was currently full for the fall, but if I wanted to apply now I could try for a spot on the waiting list.  Or I could apply in January for the 2013-14 school year.

It was nearly 5pm by the time we left the university (we'd had to wait for a while when we got there), and neither Gregorio nor I had eaten lunch yet.  We walked to a nearby place and each got a plato combinado, since it was too late to order the menú del día.

No more braces for Gregorio!
After eating,  Gregorio wanted to visit Cervantes's house that sat nearby (Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares).  I remember the house had been closed the only other time I'd come to Alcalá de Henares back in 2010, so I was excited to finally see it.

But the house was closed again when we tried to visit on Wednesday.  So to anyone visiting Alcalá de Henares: If you want to visit Cervantes's house, go before 17.30 because that's when it closes!

Right in front of Cervantes's house is a bench with seated statues of Sancho and Don Quijote.  Since the house was closed, Gregorio and I took some obligatory photos with the writer's famous characters:

Then we walked to a nearby café for some post-lunch coffee/tea called Cafe Renacimiento

The café is situated inside of an old church, which gives it a great atmosphere.  The music was very calming as well.

We originally went so that Gregorio could have a coffee, but when they told us cocktails were 2 x 1 that afternoon we each ordered a cocktail instead (normally 6 euros each).

When we were ready to pay and leave, the woman told Gregorio that it was 2x1 per person.  Es decir, we had to pay for both of the cocktails we'd each had, and now we could each get a free one.

I was ready to go and didn't think I could fit another drink in me, but you can't turn down a free cocktail.  So we each ordered another and stayed a bit longer.

Like I said, I really enjoyed the mood of the café and would recommend stopping by for a coffee if you're in Alcalá de Henares.  (But if they tell you cocktails are 2x1, know that it's per person!)

What: Cafe Renacimiento
Address: c/ Azucena 2, Alcalá de Henares
Note: This summer (2012) they're closed on Mondays.  So check to make sure they're open before you make the short trip out to Alcalá de Henares!


  1. Are you still thinking for applying for the 2013-2014 program?

  2. It isn't on the top of my list anymore, but who knows. I've heard mixed feelings about the program, and figure I should spend some time in another country, after two years in Spain.

  3. Hello,

    I am interested in applying for this program, but I cant seem to figure out how to apply. Can you apply via their website? And what were those mixed feeling you heard. Thanks!

    1. Hi Cindy,
      All of the application details are indeed on Instituto Franklin's website. Click on the Master program in the left-hand panel. Then, many bullet points will appear underneath that particular program in the same blue menu. Select "Application details".

      It's mostly a difference in education styles between the US and Spain, which I experienced when attending the Complutense University in Madrid. Also, I think it's the type of program where you'll get out what you put in, so perhaps some of the mixed opinions came from people who didn't put in as much effort as I would have.

      Best of luck! Which Master are you interested in?

    2. Hi Rebe,

      Thanks for the help! I was able to find it :) I was thinking of doing the Masters in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. Now, I haven't got a good chance to look around your blog, but what was it you did in Madrid? Did you do the Auxiliares de Conversacion? I am trying to decide between these two programs.


    3. I was a student one year, and did auxiliares de conversación another year. Both programs (auxiliares and Instituto Franklin) will give you the opportunity to teach English... the big decision is if you want to be working towards a Master at the same time or not. Looks like a great program - where else can you get a FREE Master's degree and get paid for your "student teaching" time? Best!

  4. Hello,

    I'm interested as well in the Master's program and when I click on that link it tells me access denied.

    1. Maybe they're updating the website or something - the same thing happened to me when I clicked the link today. Check back in a few days?

  5. Hello,

    I am interested in this program but I'm not sure how it will transfer back to the USA. Do you have any insight or maybe know someone who has firsthand experience with the ins and outs of this program? Seems like a great option.

    1. Hi Robert,
      I do know that some have taught in the states after getting this degree, thought it might not have necessarily transferred. As you know in the states, teaching rules vary state to state

      I would recommend taking a look at the alumni testimonials (The PDFs are on the right-hand side from various years). You then have the names of some past students, and could probably find contact info for more information. I'd also recommend emailing the program to see if they could provide you with email addresses of alumni.

      Good luck!