A turning point. Past Review

By (Spanish Language and Literature., Western Washington University) - abroad from 08/28/2012 to 05/24/2013 with

API (Academic Programs International): Granada - Universidad de Granada

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I knew I wanted to study abroad since I was 16. I just didn't realize what it would be like at all. Speaking Spanish with locals really taught me to stand up for myself, because it wasn't always easy to communicate about what you wanted. You have to be firm until you're understood. I saw eleven countries while here, 26 cities. You can't express that experience.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

In Granada, I found two options to study; either through El Centro de Lenguas Modernas (CLM) or in La Facultad, which means you'd be directly enrolled in the University of Granada. While la Facultad presents classes as hard as back home (and even harder due to the language element), the CLM is very 'take it as you like'. I enjoyed this because it meant I only needed to study about two or three hours a week. Also, there were no Spaniards in my classes, and few foreign students (Japanese, German, Swedish, etc). Most of the European study abroad students will only take classes at the Facultad. Just be aware of what you want.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program directors I had during my time here, Carmen and Curra, are absolutely amazing. They are kind, open, talkative, and professional. I loved having them there for excursions, questions, and just hanging out in the office.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

First semester I lived in a host family. While they were great, I spent little time with them (they were very busy with work etc) and in the end I decided to move out and into a 'piso' because I would have more freedom. I loved my piso. I spend a lot of time with my Spanish roommate, get to cook for myself, and have people over whenever I want.

* Food:

Spanish food is great.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Like I said, the CLM is very English-speaking and I did not feel integrated at all there, except the fact that my professors spoke Spanish. What has made me feel most integrated is living in my piso and speaking Spanish with everyone in the house and spending time with my roommates.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program API is great, they will go with you to the doctors (helpful if you're nervous about speaking Spanish with the doctors). I went to the doctor a couple times for basic stuff, and honestly found it frustrating compared to what was back home. The language barrier is apparent. The doctors that I went to did not explain your sickness, they would simply write you a prescription for some pills and point you to the nearest pharmacy. It's not my favorite system. However, all of the people are very kind.

* Safety:

Granada is very safe, especially in the center of the city. It is a live city of students, so there will be people on the streets until 1am. If you're walking back from the bars at 3am or the clubs at 6am, use common sense if walking alone, but I didn't hear or have any safety problems. If men catcall, just ignore it and they'll leave you alone.

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 downside is that the euro is right now considerably stronger than the dollar, so while you might not seem to be spending that much, the money in the bank account goes faster. If you watch that, it'll be okay. Granada is one of the cheapest cities in Spain to live in (compared to all the other cities I went to, it was much cheaper) so that's good.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About 30 euro, but if you travel/buy clothes/go out a lot you can spend much more, around 120 euro.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Look for deals on flights, buy flights and bus tickets round trip because they give you a discount. If you bring your student card you can get into a lot of museums free. Sleep in hostels, not hotels. Buy tapas, not actual dishes, because you can get a couple rounds, get just as full, and pay less. Don't buy alcohol in the clubs.


* 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

My directors and I always spoke together in Spanish.

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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had completed a high intermediate/low advanced course.
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? Watch movies, tv, read books, write in Spanish, take notes in Spanish in class, and most of all, speak in Spanish with everyone whenever you get the chance. If you make American or European friends, you probably won't speak much/any Spanish with them (most Europeans have good enough English that they prefer to speak that with you). So if you're really looking for an experience in language, make Spanish friends.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Speaking Spanish
  • The freedom and indepence
  • Chance to travel with new people
* What could be improved?
  • Host family
  • Integration into Spanish community
  • CLM classes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It's hard to integrate yourself into the community. The language barrier I felt even once I considered myself fluent. You have to think constantly. I wish I had known that, because I think I would have been more committed to my volunteering jobs in the beginning, because now I realize it was a way to have much more contact on a regular basis.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'