Not exactly what I expected, but incredibly worthwhile! Past Review

By (Kinesiology: Exercise Science, California State University - Long Beach) - abroad from 01/19/2012 to 05/18/2012 with

Adelante: Seville - Semester, Summer and Intern in Seville

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained confidence and independence and knowledge about the world I live in. I learned a lot more about the history and culture of Spain, which was incredibly interesting to me. I have met and formed relationships with people from all over the world, some of which I truly believe I will stay in contact with long-term. So yes, it was absolutely worthwhile.

Review Photos

Adelante: Seville - Semester, Summer and Intern in Seville Photo Adelante: Seville - Semester, Summer and Intern in Seville Photo Adelante: Seville - Semester, Summer and Intern in Seville Photo

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.

The workload was challenging but reasonable. Assignments included worksheets, papers, presentations, group projects, etc. Thus, assignments were fairly similar to those found at my home university. And there were also midterms and finals, just like at home. Grading was similar - challenging yet reasonable. For the most part, the teachers didn't mess around, meaning they took the classes, subject material, and assignments seriously, yet still made the classes remarkably enjoyable. I found that the teaching methods seemed to be a little more interactive and participatory when compared to my classes at my home university; there were more discussions and basically more participation required/involved. Every class I took here included participation as a significant part of the final grade of the class. All in all, I feel as though the teachers definitely recognized the fact that we were abroad, meaning we weren't SOLELY there to study (also wanting to travel, etc.), and they respected/understood/encouraged that, but they also expected our involvement, attendance, participation, and effort towards our studies. With that said, the international center allowed us 3 absences in each class for the entire semester; any more than that for a particular class meant an automatic drop in your final grade for that class. This was very reasonable to me. I was very impressed with the structure of the international center at my university abroad.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The host country director for my program was AMAZING. She is from America yet has lived in my host country for about 15 years I think and completely knows what she's doing. She was always available to me WHENEVER I needed her guidance, assistance, help, etc. On top of that, she was very proactive; what I mean is that she was always forwarding me emails with opportunities to get involved in tons of different ways, whether it was going for a hike with locals, taking dance classes, going to the theater, volunteering, etc. Thus, she presented me with tons of opportunities to experience the culture without me having to ask her!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My program completely arranged my housing for me. All I had to choose was whether I wanted to be closer to the university or the city center. And they did an AMAZING job. I am SO PLEASED with my host family. At first, I was rather intimidated, especially since my language skills were not very well-developed. As a result, I kept more to myself and felt more like a client than a part of the family. However, once I got more settled in and got over my fears and anxieties, I grew to appreciate, value, and fall in love with my living situation. They honestly treated me remarkably well. I was given 3 meals a day (included with the program cost), and my host mom was an amazing cook, and really put effort into what she made us. She and her daughter were very busy most of the time, but as long as I made the effort to talk to them and spend time with them when I had the chance, I found I got to know them pretty well and really enjoyed their company. Plus, it allowed them to get to know me better and I think they appreciated my interest in getting to know them. In addition, my neighborhood was ridiculously safe. I almost NEVER felt uncomfortable walking home at night, no matter what time of day or night it was. Plus, my housing was in an amazing location--right next to the metro (which I needed to get to school), and in very close walking distance of the city center/nightlife. It was also right next to a beautiful park, which was an awesome place to go to in order to relax or walk the dog (another huge plus!!) that lived in the home. And, I didn't need to buy anything to settle into the home. Sheets, towels, hangers, etc. were provided. So nice!

* Food:

Dietary restrictions were definitely accommodated if needed (I didn't have any, but some others who stayed in my home did, and my host mom was VERY accommodating!). The quality of the food was EXCEPTIONAL. My host mom knew how to make things healthy (usually), but still made them taste incredible! Plus, the food was so authentic and typical to Spain, which is EXACTLY what I wanted! And the quantity was incredible as well. Most days I didn't have to eat much more than what I was fed by my host mom; if anything, she sometimes gave us too much food haha!! If in Seville, go to Cien Montaditos on Wednesdays, go get tapas (anywhere), eat pastries, get cafe con leche, get chocolate con churros, eat gofres (esp. at Cafe de Indias), get ice cream at Rayas, eat paella, eat gazpacho...and whatever else you can discover ;)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My program itself didn't arrange any cultural events, field trips, etc. However, my host university did. We went on 2 field trips (one to Italica and one to Cadiz). The host university also set up a ton of events to help us get to know and form relationships with our fellow Spanish students; these included sporting events, Spanish and English tables (where both the Spanish and exchange students get together at the school cafeteria for an hour, eat tapas, and speak either Spanish or English while getting to know each other), Spanish-style dance classes, etc. They also set up an "intercambio" program in which every exchange student was given the opportunity to be paired with a Spanish "intercambio" (a Spanish student) that they would be able to hang out with throughout the semester and who would help them learn as much as possible about the culture; it went both ways, however, so the exchange student could teach their intercambio a lot about their own culture as well! I have to say that living with a Spanish family, however, probably allowed me to experience the Spanish culture the best, at least the culture within the home. And like I said earlier, the host country director was incredible at presenting us with opportunities to get to know and integrate ourselves within the culture as much as possible.

* Safety:

Safety was honestly NEVER an issue. At least not where I ever spent time...not near my home, not at the university, and not in the city center. I felt remarkably safe in Seville. My host country director did say that there are SOME areas of Seville that we should stay away from, mainly at night, but those areas were pretty far away from anywhere I was ever spending time.

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)

Because my program included rent and 3 meals a day, I really didn't have much of any expenses. I really only spent money on transportation, going out, and traveling. And even those expenses were pretty minimal.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Roughly 40 euros/week, but more if I was traveling.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If your meals are included in your program cost, EAT AT HOME!!! My host mom was an incredible cook, which was a huge plus, and she also served very well-sized portions. Thus, if you go out, go out for drinks or dessert more often than for meals. Also, take public transportation (not taxis) if/when possible. And lastly, take buses for local day trips and planes for further travel destinations (in other words, don't take trains if you have the option, unless you have a Eurail pass of course). Buses are usually pretty easy to get tickets for without doing so that ahead of time, but if you want to find cheap flights, I recommend looking for flights as early as possible. Oh, and stay in hostels, not hotels!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Honestly, the best way to improve your language skills is to USE the language as much as possible, whether you know if what you're saying is EXACTLY correct or not. Participate in class, leave your home, talk to people who live in your city/are fluent in the language, ask questions when you're unsure how to say something or what something means, etc. The international center at my university abroad had an "intercambio" program, meaning they paired you up with fellow "non-exchange" students from the university, essentially students who were from that country. You were given each other's contact information and then it was up to you to contact them, meet up, and essentially hang out as much as possible during the semester. This was an INCREDIBLE program, and a GREAT way to improve your language skills. Also, the host language was pretty much definitely needed in most daily interactions; in other words, most people did not speak English. As scary as this can seem, it's extremely to your benefit!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • The independence I was given.
  • The host family.
  • My host country adviser.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more about the Spanish culture in general before going on this program; in other words, I definitely experienced some culture shock.