Some useful information when planning your trip:
A map of the Madrid metro should be useful when figuring out your location to the tapas reception as well as the bus departure: Visit the website here
Click here and can help you with any questions like museum timetables or other tourism questions you might have for before and after your program.
Click here for Daytrips and Regional Package tours.
For current affairs in Spain, please check either El Mundo or El Pais Both are leading newspapers in Spain. Unfortunately, only one of them has an English version! The International Herald Tribune is the English-language newspaper of choice in Madrid. Other than that, I would just consult your preferred news source of choice for background info on current events in Madrid and Spain.
To help you pack just right for the weather, please Click here
NOTE: Be aware of pickpockets anywhere you go, specially the main touristic areas. Madrid is not a dangerous city, but the more careful you are the better!