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  • Locations: Leon, Spain
  • Program Terms: Autumn Quarter
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Information:
sociology italy
 Location León, Spain
Autumn 2017
September 27 – December 9, 2017
 Estimated    Program Fee $7,000
 Credits 15 UW credits
 Prerequisites None
 Program      Directors Randal A. Beam, Katie King
 Program  Manager Katherine Kroeger |
 Application    Deadline March 1, 2017
 Information  Session(s) Thursday, Jan 26, 4:30-5:30 p.m.;
Friday, Feb. 10, 1:30-2:30 p.m.;
Monday, Feb. 13, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
All information sessions are in Communications 126.
  General A robust living-learning program taught at the UW León Center in northwest Spain. Students will advance their knowledge about both Communication and Spanish culture through a series of research, writing and travel experiences.
Where You Will Study
Expenses, Financial Aid, & Scholarships

  Visas This country is part of the Schengen area. Please click here to learn more about important rules and restrictions for foreign visitors to this area.

Program Description

This program, now in its third year, will help undergraduate students enhance their communication and research skills through studies at the UW León Center. León is vibrant city of about 130,000 on the historically important Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route through northern Spain. By train, it is about two hours north of Madrid.

During the program, students will go on field trips to other Spanish cities and towns; write about and photograph travel and living experiences; engage with “pilgrims” from all over the world who are walking the Camino; conduct comparative research on Spanish and non-Spanish media products; learn to speak Spanish (or improve their Spanish if they already speak the language); live with local Spanish host families; and meet students from other countries who also are studying in León.

In addition to a rich academic experience, students will have the chance to gain these important life skills: Practice cross-cultural communication, increase tolerance for ambiguity, strengthen resourcefulness, and learn to appreciate the values and customs of another culture.

Students of any major are welcome to apply, but the program should be of particular value to Communication majors who are interested in nonfiction storytelling, journalism, public relations and other facets of applied communication. Selection will be made based on a written application, letter of recommendation and an interview. There is no language requirement.


León, Spain

Leon 1


Based in León, with brief excursions planned for Madrid, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Astorias-Las Medulas, San Sebastian, and Cuevas del Valporquero. Most excursion costs are covered by the program fee.


Home stays assigned by FGULEM, a language-study center affiliated with the Universidad de León. Assignments based on housing questionnaires that students complete. If a student has an irreconcilable problem with a host family, he/she is relocated within 24 hours. Students have a private room. Host families must have wi-fi that student can access. Each house in which students are placed has fire alarms and smoke detectors.


Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

Communication: Spain is intended for adventurous undergraduate students of any major who want to immerse themselves in Spanish culture through a living-learning program that is based at the UW León Center in northwest Spain. The program has no prerequisites, and there is no language requirement.

Students must be willing to participate in all facets of the program, including taking excursions to other cities, working in small groups on a research project, and engaging with people in León through writing, photography and video storytelling assignments. Students should have access to a smart phone or camera.

Students will live with Spanish-speaking host families, who will provide them a private room, three meals a day, wi-fi access, laundry service and practical support. Students will live within walking distance of the UW León Center and the Centro de Idiomas, where they will take classes. (In rare cases, students may need to take a bus to the UW León Center; a bus pass will be provided.)


15 Credits

Leon Center 3


COM 381-Content Analysis (5 credits)

Students will learn how to conduct a systematic, quantitative comparative analysis of media content. Content analysis is a research method that’s common in communication scholarship. In the course, students will work in research teams to design and execute an analysis comparing media content produced in Spain with that produced in another nation or culture. Students will give a formal public poster presentation of their findings during the last week of the term. (This course meets the methods requirement for Communication Studies and Journalism majors.)

Learning Goals: 

  • How to frame research questions for a content analysis;
  • How to search for studies, essays or news articles relevant to the research project;
  • How to develop conceptual and operational definitions for coding of content;
  • How to develop a code book for quantitative coding of media content;
  • How to code media content so that it can be analyzed quantitatively;
  • How to assess the reliability and validity of coding procedures;
  • How to design and execute an analysis for quantitatively coded media content;
  • How to use statistical software to analyze quantitative data;
  • How to draw reasonable inferences from data analyses;
  • How to design tables to present findings from quantitative content analysis;
Assessment will be based on homework assignments, two exams, project assignments and a public poster presentation.

COM 464-Writing With Voice or COM 495-Special Topics (5 credits)

León is one of the most important stops on the Historic Camino de Santiago, known in English as St. James’s Way, The Pilgrim’s Way and the Road to Santiago. One of the Christian world’s most important pilgrimages during the Middle Ages, this hiking path from the border of France to Santiago de Compostela now hosts more than 200,000 “pilgrims” per year who make the journey for a variety of reasons, including spiritual, religious, health, culture and pure curiosity.

The course will introduce students to this unique phenomenon and its impact on the local community with an emphasis on the way in which communication, in all its different guises, plays a role. The instructor will guide students through a series of writing and communication projects focused on some aspect of the Road -- whether it is profiling one of the pilgrims, analyzing the Spanish Tourism Ministry’s promotion of the Road or working with a local business to understand how it promotes its services to pilgrims. Students will have the chance to learn a variety of communication skills, such as nonfiction storytelling, PR and strategic communication, photography and visual storytelling. Depending on their focus, students will receive credit as either COM 464 or COM 495.

Learning Goals: 

  • How to research story or project ideas
  • How to prepare for and carry out interviews
  • How to listen and evaluate information in the context of a different culture and language
  • How to identify target audiences and shape content development to connect with them (with emphasis on written skills)
  • How to use mobile technology to gather data and multimedia content for story telling
  • How to package and present story elements (text, images, sound, video, graphics)
  • How to use social media to promote stories and create conversations with interested readers
  • How to evaluate legal and ethical considerations in story telling
Assessment plan: Weekly writing assignments (articles, blog posts, proposals, one story or project pitch, ad campaign pitch); 50% of grade. Practice constructive and professional peer reviews of writing assignments; 25% of grade. Demonstrate ability to assess and act on feedback effectively (listening skills + analysis + action); 25% of grade.

SPAN 199 (5 credits)

Intensive Spanish language course. Students are placed at an appropriate level depending on their knowledge of Spanish. (No knowledge is assumed.) Instruction is provided through the Centro de Idiomas, which is affiliated with the Universidad de León. Students will take part in field trips to help develop their understanding of Spanish and Spanish culture.

Learning Goals: 

Students learn to speak or perfect Spanish for everyday situations and improve their ability to function successfully in Spanish-speaking countries.

Program Directors & Staff

Randal A. Beam, Department of Communication, Program Director

Beam is a professor in the UW Department of Communication, where he has taught courses on content analysis, mixed-methods research, the mass media and journalism. He is co-author of an award-winning book on American journalists and communication professionals, and he currently is conducting research on how the news media write about suicide and mental illness. Beam, who speaks Spanish, has traveled extensively in Spain. This is his second time as director of the Communication: Spain program offered through the UW León Center.

Katie King, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, TA/Instructor

King is a journalist, literary translator and digital media executive whose 25-year career includes reporting as a foreign correspondent in Latin American and launching digital news websites as a global Reuters media executive. She taught digital journalism at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and worked on an innovative new Master in Journalism degree for Cardiff University in London before returning to her native Seattle where she is now completing her PhD in Hispanic Studies at the University of Washington, with a focus on literary translation. King has lived and worked in Spain, Mexico, Panama and Brazil and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. She is the recipient of the University of Washington Department of Communication Hall of Fame Award.

Leon Center 1

Program Expenses

Cost: $7,000

Estimated Program Fee of $7,000, the UW Study Abroad Fee ($350), airfare, food (about $5*/day), UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money.

*three meals a day are included in the program fee

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,300* roundtrip

*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
Non-Refundable Study Abroad Fee $350 October 13, 2017
Program Fee Balance $7,000 October 13, 2017


There are a variety of scholarships available to help fund your study abroad experience. Visit the Global Opportunities page for more information and application deadlines.


To be eligible to study abroad, all program participants must attend an in-person pre-departure orientation facilitated by the Study Abroad office as well as your program-specific orientations, offered by your program director.

You must register for orientation through your online study abroad account in order to attend scheduled orientations. You can visit the Orientation section of our website to view the current orientation schedule.

Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.

Leon Center 2

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions might not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office.

Financial aid and most scholarships are disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you prior to your departure. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed at the start of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare, health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you are making plans.

Revision Request

In some instances you may qualify for an increase in your financial aid award (typically in loan funds). Check with the Financial Aid Office about your options. To request a revision in your aid, you will need to submit the following paperwork to the Financial Aid Office:

  1. Revision Request Form
  2. Budget of student expenses for your program: The UW Study Abroad Office will upload this budget to your study abroad account after a signed contract has been submitted to the UW Study Abroad Office. You can request an unofficial copy of this budget by emailing

Visit the Finances section of our website to learn more about disbursement, revising your aid package, short-term loans and scholarships.

Application Process

The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, one recommendation from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.


UW Study Abroad is not responsible for obtaining visas for study abroad program participants. The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. You can do so by calling the consular offices of those countries or checking the following website:

Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. You can check the following website to find contact information for the consulate of the country you will be visiting:

For non-U.S. citizens, the procedures that you will need to follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.

Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation for this program, contact Disability Resources for Students at least 8 weeks in advance of your departure date. Contact info at


$350 of the total program fee and the $350 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable and non-revocable once a contract has been submitted, even if you withdraw from the program. Students withdrawing from a program are responsible for paying a percentage of the program fee depending on the date of withdrawal. More details about the withdrawal policy are included in your payment contract. No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun. The date of withdrawal is considered the date (business day) a withdrawal form is received by the UW Study Abroad Office. Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing by completing the following steps:

1. Provide notice in writing to the Program Director that you will no longer be participating in the program for which you have signed a contract and accepted a slot.

2. Submit a signed withdrawal form to the UW Study Abroad Office, 459 Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.