CEA Madrid: Unexpected Adventures and a Beautiful Culture Past Review

By (Belmont University) - abroad from 09/12/2017 to 12/21/2017 with

CEA CAPA Education Abroad: Madrid, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a ton of things being abroad. I gained a greater appreciation for cultures, traveling, and language as a whole. It was incredibly worthwhile because I got to see how other education systems work and how even just simple cultural differences of the lifestyles here.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The University of Antonio Nebrija was challenging for sure. I was enrolled in the Spanish Language and Culture Program and I took all of my classes in Spanish while I was at Nebrija. The professors were excellent. They were enthusiastic about teaching and really wanted us students to learn our Spanish and practice our speaking. I always felt comfortable asking them questions and they were always accommodating with any issues I had. The school itself is clean, the classrooms are nice and up to date. I was hoping for a gym I could use on campus, as that is something I am used to at home. The only thing I would change would have been the organization of the school itself. Picking classes was a bit stressful. When we all had to go to the school to get our schedules, some people had schedules and some people didn't have one at all. I also only had 6 options for classes, and i had to take 5, so i was stuck with certain times etc. The other issue that was frustrating was the organization of classrooms. Multiple times in the semester another class would take my class' classroom and we would have to move to another room. This happened a lot and was very frustrating because it took about 20 minutes out of our classtime and it happened about 4 times in a row.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Amazing! CEA's program administration was diligent, helpful, kind and extremely available. I always felt informed and cared for my whole trip.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was AMAZING.. Stayed in a 8 person apartment in a beautiful, family friendly area. Always felt safe, especially because we had a doorman so nothing was every suspicious. The apartment itself was nicely furbished with couches, balcony, tables, desks, lamps, washer, dish washer, plates etc. it was AMAZING. We also had people help us clean our apartment weekly which was very helpful!

* Food:

Food was EXCELLENT. There are so many options for restaurants in Madrid from tapas to burgers to healthy places to ice cream places to gelato to doughnuts to just intricate new things! Madrid is perfect for foodies and has so many options for every type of food! Also the grocery stores have awesome produce!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated with the local culture. Due to the location of my apartment, it really helped acclimate me to the lifestyle and culture. My doorman only spoke spanish so it was very fun to practice my spanish with him and he also always loved talking to my roommates and i about cultural things going on, holidays etc. CEA also helps you feel integrated with the culture by taking you to dinners with typical local food and other excursions

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did have an experience with Madrid's healthcare as I actually had an appendectomy two weeks into my program and I also got an infection after the appendectomy. My program was very helpful with this situation as they helped email the hospital with appointments and such. Due to the urgent situation I had, I had to go to the ER. I was there by myself at first but then i had a friend come by to be there with me. The hospital had translators on staff at all times so they were able to communicate what the doctors/nurses were saying and vice versa. My program also visited me during my time in the hospital and always checked up on me. The local healthcare system was very different from what I was used to at home in many ways. Their ER was more open, in the sense that I actually had my blood taken in front of like 5 other people, whereas the US you have a private room. Other differences of the healthcare system was that I think the US is a bit more efficient with their protocol and medications. When i had an infection, I had to stay in the hospital for a week and after my surgery, I was in the hospital for an additional two days. In the US, this process would be a bit quicker. Also, i had instances where the nurses were constantly switching my IV's which was quite irritating. Lastly, even though there were translators present at the hospital, there were still things that were getting misinterpreted. This was the most frustrating thing for me because I was trying to tell the nurses something but then it would get completely flipped through translation. All in all, the US has a very efficient healthcare system so it was frustrating, BUT Madrid was great in the sense that my healthcare insurance covered the cost of everything and anything i had to pay for ie medications, was paid for. Overall, you're taken care for with the healthcare here and it all will be fine, it may not be what you're used to but that's all part of the cultural aspect!! There were no prevalent health issues in Spain and i did not need any vaccinations for this program, other than hepatitis A and B, but hopefully you have those by now!

* Safety:

Madrid is a very safe city however there is the issue of pick-pocketing. Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with this yet, but i have had many friends who have. It's all just about being smart. I always keep my purse in front of me and i tuck the zippers into the purse so it isn't easy to open. There are many tricks you come up with as you go, but it's not something to freak out about, you just have to be cautious. It can happen anywhere: grocery store, clothing store etc. Always be aware. Other than that madrid is quite safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Madrid is a beautiful place to go abroad! If you're trying to improve your Spanish, GO TO MADRID. The classes help so much and you're fully engulfed in such a beautiful culture and you will learn SO MUCH!!!


* 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)

it all depends on what you're doing. it gets pricey with buying tickets to travel and going out to dinner, buying food etc.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? depending the week. but probably average $200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? 1. Buy plane tickets early- this way you get them cheap and don't spend 300 euro for a round trip 2. Split household items with roommates like dish soap, laundry detergent etc 3. only buy things at the grocery store that you need. you can always go back. but buy minimal things


* 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

Every day during classes my professors always required us to speak spanish to our classmates. All of my courses were in spanish so we had to practice it. If you didn't, they of course would be upset but they just kept reminding us. CEA encouraged us also to try to use the language, especially if you were studying it/staying in a home stay. They always greeted us in spanish, but if we weren't comfortable yet, we could reside to english.

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? Intermediate I
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 speaking with your roommates or like me your doorman. Also every time you go out to shop, eat or whatever, speak spanish with the workers because they like to help others learn the language and you learn more things trying to speak it, rather than just speaking english.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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 people
  • The excursions
  • The cultural integration
* What could be improved?
  • getting schedule of excursions/classes early
  • being more integrated with local students, rather than just americans
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would have known before this program that being afraid is normal. There's so many unknown parts to going abroad and it's okay to not know every single thing. Stepping into something unknown and scary is difficult and you never know what the future holds, but going abroad is such an incredible experience and i wouldn't trade it for anything.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.