A unique experience to really live like a madrileño! Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 09/08/2016 to 12/20/2016 with

Boston University: Madrid - Madrid Internship

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was incredibly worthwhile. I learned a ton about Spanish culture from all my classes, from wandering the city/country, from living with a host family, from interning in a Spanish work environment...the list can go on! I also gained independence as I figured out how to navigate a foreign country on my own. Not to mention my Spanish skills greatly improved, which will serve me well in future careers.

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.

The courses for this study abroad program were not very rigorous, which was a big change from my home institution. It felt like at times I was not challenging myself. However, I learned quite a lot despite the minimal work - which I found awesome. My courses were not related to my majors/minors at school, but rather to Spain and Europe, and I was able to learn so much about the region I was studying in, while also having course visits, speaking in Spanish, etc. I came out with a ton of knowledge that I absorbed purely for the sake of learning, rather than for a grade, my career, etc., which was an invaluable experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had an amazing host family that treated me like one of their own. I deducted half a star only because host families aren't for everyone. I loved it and am so glad I did it, but I know that if given the opportunity to study abroad again in Spain, I would like to have a little more independence with my own apartment with students.

* Food:

A little difficult if you don't eat pork like I do, but that's Spain for ya! Honestly, there's so much food in Madrid - and your host family cooks local cuisines for you, too!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I went outside of the program and joined a local synagogue as well as a Madrid-based hiking group, which really increased my immersion. My internship and host family also contributed a lot and I'm really grateful to have done these tracks. Other students joined sports teams in the area, church groups, etc. I would have preferred to study in a more Spanish environment with other students, rather than an American institute, but I still felt like I got the Spanish experience through other mediums.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did get a cold a couple times, as do most people, and Madrid has about 1 pharmacy every block, so getting medicine was not an issue. While I didn't need to go to the doctor's, other students did and they were treated quite well, from what I heard.

* Safety:

I'm deducting half a star only because pick-pocketing is known to be an issue in Madrid, although I did not experience it. Other than that, Madrid felt incredibly safe. I was able to walk around late into the night and not feel in any danger, especially because there are many other people on the streets as well since madrileños stay up late. Public transportation is incredible, clean and safe as well. I did not once feel like I was in any danger.

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

I don't think I would want to do the internship component again, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy my program or the internship. I personally felt that living, studying and working in a foreign language all of a sudden was quite a lot, and I would have liked to lessen my load a little bit.


* 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)

Frankly speaking, BU helps a lot with finances because you get a weekly stipend for dinner on the weekends, plus a stipend for your bus pass, in addition to reimbursements for certain events. Also your host family is required to feed you M-F, which is free of charge. But realistically, it's Spain. The food is great, drinks and nightlife cost money, there is a ton of shopping, etc. Those activities cost extra.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try to eat with your host family for most meals, especially lunches!


* 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

We had to come in with 5 semesters of Spanish. Our internships were in (mostly) Spanish, our living situations were fully in Spanish, and the majority of my classes were taught in Spanish.

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
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? Listen to Spanish music and look up the lyrics to understand the meaning! It'll also make it more fun to sing along :)

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?
  • We had a few group excursions and our program financially supported a lot of our activities through reimbursements
  • Having a host family made this experience incredibly personal and unique
  • It gave the perfect amount of leeway so that I could do my own activities outside of the program, while also enjoying what the program had to offer
* What could be improved?
  • The internship component felt a little unorganized and the internship class felt unnecessary at times
  • It was hard to meet people on the program at first because we were in homestays, so a more solid group orientation would be nice
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Before going on the program, I was stressed because I didn't know what I was getting myself into. The Spanish are much more of a last-minute kind of people, and that extended to how much about the program I knew before actually going to Spain. I really just knew about my internship and homestay and about some classes I selected way ahead of time, but I didn't know how my schedule would be, what my internship requirements were, etc. Once I got to Spain, it all fell into place and I quickly got accustomed to the Spanish lifestyle. It's all about taking it easy, not fretting and knowing it'll all work out!

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.'