After Sevilla I'll never be the same again! Past Review

By (Communication and Media Studies, University of Maine - Orono) - abroad from 01/19/2015 to 05/23/2015 with

API (Academic Programs International): Seville - Universidad Pablo de Olavide

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am so thankful that I was able to study abroad. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Going to a totally different country and having to adapt to new customs, food and ways of life pushes and challenges you in ways I never thought possible. I got to discover parts of myself I didn’t think existed and experience life lessons in unpredictable yet moving ways. People may think studying abroad is only full of fun and lighthearted moments, but the obstacles along the way that impact you the greatest. I’ve had to deal with language barriers, getting lost in new cities and pushing myself physically and emotionally like never before. My semester was a never-ending learning experience. Everywhere I went, from within Spain to Morocco and beyond, told stories about its past and present that always left me wanting to more and yearning to find more stories. As the months went on, I realized studying abroad is not about trying to prove a point or behaving a certain way. It’s about uncovering my own story and finding what my future holds. These moments in Spain have rocked me to the core. I’ve always thought of myself as very timid, shy and cautious. I did not think I would ever escape from these labels. Studying in Sevilla has broken me free. Going somewhere new has shown me more than ever anything is possible when I allow myself to get past my doubts, fears and perceptions. This semester will always remind me how much inner strength and determination I have. Whatever life throws at me in the future, my time in Spain has taught me that yes, I can handle it, no matter what. Without study abroad, I would have never realized what I am capable of. Anyone who has doubts about studying abroad should listen to the part that keeps pushing them to say yes. Don’t let your doubts hold you back and let you miss out on what life has to offer. Take a chance because you can do it, and you will be so glad you did.

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.

Most of the classes I took were easy and did not require much studying. They have usually one mid-term, a presentation, a final, and that is it. The teachers loved assigning presentations so be prepared to get a few. The one class that was hard for me was a combined political science and history class. I had never taken a poli sci class before, but also my teacher was not good at clearly stating directions or concepts in class. Stay away from those type of classes and you will be fine.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

API was very helpful no matter what you needed help with. You could email anyone with questions or comments anytime. I don't know what I would've done without their help regarding my insurance paperwork from my hospital visit. They planned very fun excursions and emphasized being there for the students.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with my 70 year old host mom, her 30 year old daughter, and her 40 year old niece along with my student roommate. My host mother was very sweet and made sure we would eat as much as possible, saying we never ate enough. I did not see her daughter a lot and from time to time would talk with her niece. My family worked a lot so we were not very close. I know some families were super close with their students and would do everything together. It really depends on who you get. Be prepared to bicker with your family on food because my host mom would get mad at me when I did not eat my entire plate.

* Food:

The food I had with my host family was very, very plain. I am a picky eater and like plain food, but a lot of times the food was too plain for me. We had tortilla de patata (potato and egg omelete), pasta, pizza, and frozen empanadas over and over again. I got sick of my host family's food quickly. That is something that I had to get used to living with a host family. I would treat myself by getting some gelato or a cookie from the local bakery. All the sweets are very good and the tapas restaurants are delicious. No matter which one you go in you'll be able to find something delectable and cheap. From fried goat cheese to pork sirloin with whisky sauce, you'll be able to find it all.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was very hard for me to integrate with the culture because I am so pale and blonde. Every native of Sevilla is moreno (dark hair, brown eyes, and tan). I did not like feeling like the only blonde person in an entire metro bus or getting weird stares. Socially things were also very different than what I am used to. I am a fast paced kind of person who likes to be efficient, I'm not a close talker, and I'm a very non touchy person. Spanish people are all opposite. After a while I got more used to it as the semester went on, but this area was definitely a big culture shock.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I ended up going to the ER for an allergic reaction (I accidentally ate nuts) and the process was tedious and pretty nerve-wracking for me. People were sticking things into me left and right and not a lot of people spoke English at the local hospital. They didn't understand me when I told them I needed to get in contact with my host family, nor did they completely understand me when I kept explaining to them (in my best Spanish) I was having an allergic reaction. The hospital was very different than American ones and the equipment and management is not as high tech or developed. The paperwork insurance wise was a big headache since I wasn't a Spanish citizen, but it finally got submitted the end of the semester. Anyone with food allergies needs to be really careful because I did my best to be cautious with what I ate, but it can happen to anyone.

* Safety:

Sevilla is a very safe city compared to most other European cities. I felt comfortable walking around even as a very obvious abroad student. People should still make sure and stay in well lit areas when walking around late at night.

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)

I would say I spent around $100 a week, maybe a little more. Sevilla is a reasonably priced city compared to the rest of Europe.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? As long as you don't go out clubbing and drinking every night or shop every week, people should be able to make their money go far.


* 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? Spanish 304
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? Try to get an intercambio! The university will partner you with a Spanish student who wants to learn English, and it is the perfect way to practice. Also, try to speak with your host family as much as you can.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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 city!!
  • The API staff
  • Feeling safe in Sevilla
* What could be improved?
  • The Intercambio Program
  • Food with host families
  • Clear ingredients in bakeries/restaurants!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Make sure to bring medicine for general cold symptoms!! I got sick over four times and I don't usually get sick. Everyone on my program got sick at some point, and that was one thing I was not prepared for. Also, even if you request a non-smoking homestay, someone in the apartment will probably smoke. Everyone smokes there and it is a fact of life. Also, try to bring some sort of sweater for colder weather in case you travel to a country that is not as warm!

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!