AIFS Student in Granada: An Experience of a Lifetime March 11, 2016

By (Teacher Education by Level, Southwest Baptist University) - abroad from 05/27/2014 to 07/18/2014 with

AIFS: Granada - University of Granada and Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I grew as a scholar and a person. I gained confidence and independence, and my Spanish got better. I have memories from that summer that I will have my whole life. It was completely worth it.

Review Photos

AIFS: Granada - University of Granada Photo AIFS: Granada - University of Granada Photo AIFS: Granada - University of Granada Photo AIFS: Granada - University of Granada Photo AIFS: Granada - University of Granada Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I learned so much in my Spanish classes. Since I had had several years of Spanish in the United States, I had sort of hit a plateau of learning here. The Spanish classes in Granada taught me Spanish concepts I had been wanting to learn without knowing it. It took the basic Spanish I already knew and went deeper with it, for example, we learned other ways to say the same thing in order to sound more like a native. In my other class we learned about Spanish culture, then after class we went out and about in the city and saw/experienced in person what we had just talked about! It was great!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The resident directors were amazing. One was an AIFS student in Granada years ago herself when she was in college, married a native, and had been living and working with AIFS in Granada for over 20 years. The other was a native of the city. They were very helpful and knowledgeable. They were always available if we had questions or problems, but they weren't over-bearing. They took us on several cultural excursions around the city and country and had a lot of interesting stories they shared with us that we wouldn't have known if we had just visited by ourselves.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in an apartment with an older lady and two other girls in the program. Julia (our host mom) was pretty hands-off and let us do pretty much whatever we wanted. She was very sweet and it was nice to be able to practice Spanish with her.

* Food:

The food was delicious. Our host mom made huge amounts of food for every meal and it was so good. My friends and I loved going out for free tapas (with the purchase of a drink (even soda)) and gelato almost everyday. I learned in my classes that Mediterranean food is the healthiest in the world, so not only did it taste great it was healthy, too!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

AIFS is a program for American college students, and our classes were for Americans and other exchange students. Therefore, most of our friends and people we interacted with were Americans. AIFS did provide opportunities to meet up with local college students, and we became friends with a couple of girls. We also met and talked to the owner of our favorite tapa bar. The cultural sites and excursions we went on helped us feel more included in the culture for sure.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have health problems there personally, but I knew students that did. We had health insurance through CISI, and the resident directors were always there to help.

* Safety:

As with any country in the world (including the United States) there are wonderful people and dangerous people. It is good to be aware of your surroundings and make good decisions. There wasn't really a time when I felt unsafe.

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

I can't imagine a better program to go with. AIFS provided a safety net, but provided an opportunity for me to spread my wings. and explore in another country. The academics were great, the activities through them were great, they were very personable and knew a lot about Spain and Granada. It's a lot cheaper than a lot of other college study abroad programs, and it is all inclusive. They arrange for us to fly with other AIFS students, pick us up at the airport, and do all the behind the scenes logistics smoothly, efficiently, and professionally. I would absolutely do it all over again with AIFS if I had the change.

Finances

* 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)

Spain (or Europe in general) is not the cheapest place to live. The free tapas helped quite and a bit, and having all three meals provided for (through out host mom) helped, as well. We could have spent less, but we wanted to take the opportunity of being in Spain and travel. I got to travel with friends to Madrid, the mountains, the coast, and by myself to Austria. I have no regrets: these memories were worth the money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around $75, although we had travel expenses some weeks
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try not to buy things you can get in the States if at all possible. Use the money you have to experience the culture instead. If you're in the dorm or with a host family, try to eat there instead of going out and spending extra money. Get to know natives who can often get you cheaper prices on souvenirs and know the (possibly cheaper) nooks of the city that are often unknown to study abroad students.

Language

* 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

We were encouraged to use the language, but since we were all American, previous Spanish experience was not required, and we were all on different levels, the resident directors always talked to us in English. We all had to take Spanish classes, though, and they encouraged us to explore the town and speak Spanish on the streets.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? Upper level college
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? You may want to talk in English/read in English/watch movies in English, but it is really best to speak the host language as much as possible. Go out of your way to meet natives and native college students who can help you with the language. Go to the movies if you can. Go to less known parts of the city/country and speak the language because not as many people know English.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Spanish culture
  • Resident directors in Granada
  • Spanish classes
* What could be improved?
  • More opportunities to practice Spanish
  • Only one student per host family
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It would have been nice to see a example budget from students that have studied abroad in Spain to see about how much I should expect to spend.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.