Spanish summer of my dreams Past Review

By (Business and Sociology, University of Notre Dame) - abroad from 05/16/2015 to 07/11/2015 with

Adelante: Madrid - Intern In Madrid

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Living in a country where you must communicate in a non-native language is HARD and brings you out of your comfort zone, in a good way. I had to overcome the embarrassment of not knowing how to explain myself perfectly and deal with some cultural differences that I had never experienced before. I feel like I learned so much about myself and spent a lot of time discerning my future plans. Definitely worthwhile!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

My time in Madrid was wonderful, but what everybody needs to know and what I quickly learned is that your experience abroad depends almost entirely on what you make it. The first two weeks of classes went fine. I was placed in an intermediate class "because I had been taught Latin American Spanish and I could brush up on some basics," but I felt that I didn't learn all that much. The classes were geared towards the people that were there long term, since we spent the whole two weeks going over direct and indirect pronouns during the grammar section. I thought that we would be getting more of an intensive overview of Spanish grammar to remember the main points, but the conversation section was great to learn new vocabulary and get used to speaking Spanish again! After the two weeks of classes, I started out at one company that ended up being a horrible fit, but Adelante quickly helped me to find another placement at IFEMA (Feria de Madrid). It's a huge business, and it was an incredible experience to work at such a big company while still a student. I had a few projects to do, but I also had a lot of downtime where I browsed the internet to kill time. Some of this could probably be attributed to the slower summer season and my short time there, but if I were to re-do my summer I would probably choose something more hands on. I did a lot of Spanish writing, but I feel like I did not get to practice my spoken Spanish as much as I would have liked to.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff at Academia Eureka was great! They quickly addressed any issues and were very welcoming and helpful throughout the experience. A little bit disorganized, but nothing bad.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Eureka housing right next to Puerta del Sol, so the location was PERFECT. I was first put in an apartment with two girls that were staying in Madrid long term to get their masters, but once I got close with two girls in the Adelante program that lived next door, I ended up asking to move into one of the empty bedrooms and got to do so without a problem. I had to buy a few things for the kitchen that I wished had been there since I couldn't bring them home and I was on a tight budget, but other than that and the lack of air conditioning in the (exceptionally unbearable) summer heat, everything was perfect!

* Food:

I cooked my own food and mostly shopped at El Corte Inglés located right behind our apartment building.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I found that there weren't too many opportunities to connect with local Spaniards. I made a few Spanish friends, mostly via the internet. Eureka provided some cultural activities during the week, but I preferred to plan my own adventures and did my best to "blend in."

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I ended up going to the doctor at an English speaking clinic nearby, and everything was covered by my school-sponsored travel insurance plan, which I highly recommend purchasing!

* Safety:

Everybody will warn you about nonviolent pickpockets, but thankfully I did not have any bad experiences with them and that's the only thing I ever worried about throughout my trip. Be sure you are aware of your surroundings and keep your bag/wallet close to you at all times, especially in crowded areas. Even at night, I did not feel unsafe walking around alone. (Just stick to areas where other people are, just in case!)

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

The costs can really add up, especially if you go out for food and drinks and travel around to other cities.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? It really depended on what I was doing
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make a budget prior to your trip


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? College sophomore classes
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Find ways to speak it outside of work/class, like finding Spanish friends!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Other
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Location
  • Support
* What could be improved?
  • Organization
  • Review of internship placements
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Plan ahead more because time flies and money disappears quickly!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.