Great possibilities and unfortunate events Past Review

By (International/Global Studies., Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/15/2014 to 05/09/2014 with

Boston University: Madrid - Madrid Internship

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself in terms of how I act in different circumstances and difficult situations. I also identified some less adaptable and accepting parts of myself, which helped me see what I need to work on and opened me up to new points of view.

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.

On the whole, the classes were not very good. Two of my classes (art and literature) led students to complain to the administration. In those classes, we learned very little, were treated rudely, and were graded unfairly. My other two classes (Spanish film and my internship internship course) were better.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was friendly, dedicated, and hardworking. There were a number of complaints around the way they handled things such as host family problems, but on the whole they were really great.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The program did a very good job of pairing me with a family that fit my living requests, and which consisted of a great group of people. Unfortunately, my experience with them was not particularly good. I got sick from their food, was underfed, lived in occasionally (granted rarely) unsanitary environment, and not given advance warning before isolated events such as a new woman moving in or having to move out of my room to have the floors redone.

* Food:

I got sick a number of times from my family's food, and my host mom got mad when I tried to discuss it with her. They were also not respectful of my dietary restrictions (I rarely eat meat and don't eat red meat much at all), and fed me meat daily.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My neighborhood was a bit removed, which helped me integrate with the local culture; joining a gym there was particularly helpful. Taking classes at "El Instituto," however, was detrimental to my cultural integration and learning.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I personally did not seek help for my health problems. However, many others did and reported a positive experience.

* Safety:

Overall, the city was very safe. Many students had belongings stolen at clubs/discos and some on busses. I personally had a negative experience with safety (I had a stalker), though that is in no way the norm.

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)

The way the program was set up, expenses should not have been that bad. However, given the fact that my host family did not feed me properly, I had to spend an exorbitant rate.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Communicate as immediately, effectively, and consistently as you can with your host family, and don't be afraid to talk to your program directors. The program may not respond appropriately, (as was the case with my friend), but it will give you a better chance of being more fairly taken care of in terms of your living expenses.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes

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
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?
  • Helpful and hardworking administration
  • Weekend trips
  • Food stipend
* What could be improved?
  • Classes!!!
  • Technological help
  • Host family help
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The lack of diversity; the fact that they recently expanded the program, making it less competitive and changing the character of the people/program in general; the homogeneous and heavy food; how important it is to be very direct and persistent when communicating with your host family.