Challenging, beautiful, full, happy, dream come true. Past Review

By (Spanish Language and Literature., Brigham Young University) - abroad from 08/24/2012 to 11/17/2012 with

Brigham Young University: Madrid - Madrid Study Abroad

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This was the most incredible experience I have ever had. I learned about people living a different way than I do and learning to see the good in their culture and the good in mine in different ways. I am more able to understand my native culture now that I saw theirs. I loved living somewhere rather than just being a tourist. I will always look back on this as a fulfillment of a dream. It was so rich in education and life experience; I loved the architecture, the theatre, the big city, the small village, the community among the church members there, the community of friends from my university that I met. I learned to be more independent and not rely on my parents so much and to pray more. I will recommend a study abroad to ANYONE.

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.

Not very rigorous. Very limited homework; teachers willing and able to help students understand in class. Few but difficult tests, teachers not as willing to meet with students outside of class.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Incredible teachers, directors, class instruction, loved it all. Would have liked a little more availability to meet with the teachers.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

As I came to know my host mom better I felt more comfortable, but at first I did feel a little less than welcome. That was difficult for me; I cannot complain about anything else because she was ABSOLUTELY amazing and I love her! But if at the beginning she had shown a little more excitement at us being there and care about how our trip was and our well being- I was just scared being in a new country and I was tired and I think I needed a little more attention and care than I got haha. She is absolutely an amazing host mom and woman though. Whoever lives with her in the future is very lucky. I love Maria.

* Food:

I was fed very well and free to eat as much as I needed.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

LOVED the host family experience. Would not have chosen to live among other students; I was so much more integrated in this way! And I learned the culture so much more thoroughly.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had a lot of health issues on the trip and I went to Dr. Borras in Madrid and he was amazing! I was able to get the right medical care and same day appointments. HTH was a great insurance to go through and I was able to navigate the pharmaceutical system within my village well. My director helped me find a doctor, but we ultimately went through a doctor that a friend knew and had used within the area and he was an excellent choice. He is American trained and spoke english. I had some friends who went to the doctor during our time there and got weird advice but he used common methods with me and I was very pleased. No prevalent health issues that I know of, or vaccines.

* Safety:

I lived in a suburb of Madrid called Alcala de Henares and it was a VERY safe and wonderful town. I wouldn't have chosen to live anywhere else! I always felt very safe and the people were very kind there. Madrid, the main part, was obviously more worrisome because it is a large city. I was once approached and was almost robbed/attacked (not sure, I got out fast) while in a crowd off of the Puerta del Sol at night. I made eye contact, grabbed my bag, and ran as fast as I could. ALWAYS have a companion or a few.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $60
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Go out there with a budget and knowing who you are buying souvenirs for. Mail was more expensive than I expected, and I highly recommend not scrimping when trying new cultural foods :)


* 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

As a group of girls, we did not use the language enough with each other. I loved having classes taught by natives though and the host family was very encouraging to use the language. I loved being encourage to use it so much!

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 206
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? Make vocab cards of new words you learn; get together with natives you meet to hang out or practice speaking. Don't stay with your roommate all day.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Learning about a place and then seeing it that weekend
  • The host family
  • Travelling with the program throughout the country
* What could be improved?
  • Longer time in Barcelona
  • More organization so we don't miss opening times to see museums etc
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I know now that people are people wherever you go and I did not need to be so careful in the beginning; I was worried I would offend if I used the language incorrectly, etc but that is not a problem. People are kind and love to help me learn and improve.

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.'