Madrid: Not life changing-but still amazing Past Review

By (Business, International and Global Studies, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/15/2015 to 05/22/2015 with

Boston University: Madrid - Madrid Internship

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The most important thing I gained from this trip was improving my language skills

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes at the UAM are very hard, the internship class is not a joke either, I worked harder in my semester abroad than I ever did in my home university.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff is so nice, but I felt as if there was some tension and favoritism shown to the level two students. I wish the level 3 travel stipend was larger-- we barely had enough to buy our metro pass, while other levels had money left over

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host family! They were a little far from the city center but that ended up being perfect for me because I did not go out very much

* Food:

I loved the food that my host family made, and I enjoyed going out and eating in Madrid as well. Its a very affordable city! I enjoyed trying lots of new foods and I hardly missed my american 'comfort foods' at all

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I had a hard time making spanish friends, I feel like this is because I was the only international student in my UAM classes. It was very lonely considering most of the Spanish students also commute to the campus there was not a hip place to hang out and meet people. I feel like I am much more cognisant of the culture, I worked and got to interact with my bosses and they fielded many of my questions about Spain and its beautiful culture. My family also helped me a lot with learning and meeting people. One of the best resources for learning about Spanish heritage and history was the seminar on 'EspaƱa contemporeana' with Estela. She is one of my shining memories of my semester abroad.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Healthcare in Madrid is very different than in the US. When you are feeling sick you go to the farmacia. They are just like doctors and after you tell them your symptoms they will mix you a pill and its like magic! I got sick a lot because its new germs that my body was not immune to, but I would go to the pharmacy and be feeling better a few hours later. I regret not bringing boxes of the "wonderdrug" home. However my mental health went unchecked for the length of my stay. I was battling depression and has no access to counseling which was far from ideal

* Safety:

While Madrid is a generally safe city, the pick-pocketing is real! YOu have to pay close attention to your belongings when you are on the metro or in crowded areas! Ladies bring a cross body bag that zips all the way closed and guys do not put your wallet in your back pocket. Keep your backpack pressed against the metro wall or pull it to the front of your body. Almost everyone I know in my program was pick-pocketed once, but I was never. Its just about being aware of your things and aware of others.

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)

Madrid is a very affordable city, also when you live with a host family they provide you with most of your meals. Most of my spending went to clothes and buying my metro card. Clothing of course being a reflection of my lifestyle.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? It ranged depending on if we traveled on the weekend--but ~ 25Euro
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I taught English and made 40euro a week which was often more than I was spending-- I made money on study abroad ;)


* 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

all of my classes were taught in spanish, my host family didnt know english... If you didnt know spanish you were probably not on this program

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? 6th level college course (106b at Brandeis)
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Don't be afraid to make a mistake--don't worry about your accent. Practice practice practice! Talk to everyone you see, they encourage you and help you more than you imagine!

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • The BU planned excursions
  • My host family
  • My internship
* What could be improved?
  • Give level three kids enough money to buy their metro card fully
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A better way to find meaningful friendships