BU Madrid: Summer Internship Program (An Honest Review) Past Review

By (Health: Science,, Brandeis University) - abroad from 05/17/2015 to 07/10/2015 with

Boston University: Madrid - Internship Program, Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned (however corny it may sound) that I can do whatever I put my mind to. If I can master the art of communicating in a foreign language with people who often don't speak (much) English in both social/casual AND professional environments, I can do anything.

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.

3/3.5 stars. The program was not necessarily academically rigorous in the intellectually difficult sense, more in the "there's so much work that I don't have that much time to really enjoy this wonderful city" sense. So I guess in that way it would be considered intense (depending especially on your internship, of course, as that takes the majority of your day/week). My internship was not as easy/relaxed as others noted theirs to be, so I felt frustrated at having this wonderful opportunity to experience a really incredible and vibrant city but being too busy (or exhausted) to do so to the extent that I would've wished. That was the biggest (and quite affecting) downfall of the program for me. But with the exception of this and one class that I did not enjoy, everything else about the program, the city and the people was amazing.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Loved them all. They were nice, open and helpful.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I specifically asked for someone who didn't smoke but was given someone who did anyways. Granted, I did have the option of changing (they gave this option to everyone in the program) but at that point I had already moved in, figured it would be difficult for the BU Madrid administration to find another person who could handle my dietary restrictions (I keep Kosher), and I had gotten used to the environment, the commute to school and my internship, and my host (who other than the smoking was a wonderful person) so I decided to stick it out. I just felt that it would've been a hassle to move. So I guess, partially/to that extent, that I can't completely complain/it was my fault/on me.

* Food:

Spain's food (even despite my dietary restrictions) was good. I enjoyed myself. That said, I did miss spicy things (they don't really eat them there)!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Spaniards (or at least madrileƱos) are super friendly and made me feel at ease. But, granted, I was still a foreigner and only there for 2 months so how socially/culturally integrated could I really get?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I can only speak on health care from what I learned through my health-related internship. I did not have any personal experiences/problems. My friend did get bronchitis but she was treated just as well as she would've been in the U.S. Also, no vaccines prior to the trip were necessary.

* Safety:

I never felt, at any point, unsafe in the city (by myself or with others)--and I did walk two or so blocks home from the bus at 4AM. The only time I ever felt kind of uncomfortable was, interestingly enough, more around inebriated foreigners. Just be as safe as you would in any city in the states. Don't be stupid, don't walk down sketchy-looking alleys by yourself intoxicated, etc. and you'll be fine. Regarding pickpocketing (as that was a major concern for me for most of the beginning of my time in Madrid), at first I kept my wallet (a change-purse really with my debit cards and some cash) close to my person by putting it at my hip where my pocket was, between my jeans and my underwear (so even if someone bumped into me, they weren't getting anything). But as I grew more familiar with the city, I was comfortable keeping it in my bag (it has a pocket near the top, closest to my head). I have an iPhone and although they aren't nearly as common as they are in the U.S. (everyone has Androids instead), it wasn't stolen as the program originally led me to believe it would be. I listened to music almost every day at some point on the train, holding it out in my hand instead of my pocket. Although I wasn't robbed, that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. You just have to be aware/observant of your surroundings (even people asking for directions/help). Don't leave your valuables in public where you can't see them. I don't know if this is what helped but I did my best not to stick out too much, to do what the locals did so I wouldn't seem like an "easy American target".

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? It definitely varied per week (especially if I was traveling) but the amount that BU suggests to bring was perfect for me.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget. Don't feel the need to drop 20 euros on a discoteca. There are plenty out there/other venues that are cheaper/free and just as (if not more) fun.


* 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? HISP 167
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? Practice with the other students! If you really want to improve/get fluent, don't become comfortable/"take a break" by using English with them. (Also, even if you're having difficulty explaining an idea (which will of course happen for non-fluent speakers), don't turn to English for help. Do your best to push past the difficulty and frustration and explain around it in Spanish. It'll really help with improvement).

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • Madrid & its culture
  • MadrileƱos
  • Students
* What could be improved?
  • EUSA Internship (don't try to box people in internships they don't like/want because YOU want them there)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? http://spainkate.com/common-slang-expressions-in-spain/