Madrid: the only college semester I'd classify as 'fun' Past Review

By (Spanish Language and Literature., Point Loma Nazarene University) for

CEA: Madrid, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Now I work in the non-profit field with primarily Spanish-speakers. Studying in Madrid was probably the only college semester that I would call 'fun' so I suppose it was the redeeming aspect of my four years in the Spanish department. As for traveling, my semester in Madrid taught me that living abroad is much better than taking a vacation. I have since moved to Dublin, Ireland and plan on a future move to either Barcelona, Santiago de Chile, or maybe even Bangkok.

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.

Took classes in the Hispanic Studies program at la Universidad Complutense Facultad de Filosofia y Letras. It was the way everyone told me college was SUPPOSED to be (i.e. attendance not counted, grading based on final exams, studying on your own time, etc) and I loved it that way. Had some trouble getting credit as the semester was shorter than my home university's but they assigned me a term paper to make up the difference. Excellent!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program directors took us to great spots, gave us good hints for socializing with Spaniards, and ran on a very Spanish time schedule--which worked out great.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

As sweet and hilarious as she was, our house mother was a horrible cook. We practiced Spanish at home by watching Jose Andres during meals and hoping to god she would learn some tips. Also worth mentioning: I was a vegetarian at the time and there are zero vegetarian options in Spain on a student's budger. Ham is everywhere and in everything. Most Spaniards will lie to you and say it is 'small pieces of tomato' if you find the ham in their food...unfortunately, this little quirk applied not only to restaurants but also to our house mother.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living abroad is a social experience more than anything and I made the best of it. As for cultural events, the highlight was probably seeing FC Barcelona play Real Madrid in an exhibition match. At the time I got to see Beckham, Zidane, and Ronaldo on the same field. Does that date me?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Madrid is safe unless you count public urination as a health hazard (I dont anymore!). CEA gave us a good intro talk about pickpockets and I guess I learned to be more aware of my surroundings.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I was placed in classes with Spanish students and other international students studying Spanish. In the home I stayed, I had two American roommates and a house mother, who although nice, was not very talkative. At least we watched lots of Spanish TV during meals to brush up on our listening skills. I was forced to speak Spanish about 80% of the time.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Social outings in Madrid
  • Meeting Spaniards
* What could be improved?
  • Schoolwork transfer
  • Food fit for vegetarians
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Be prepared to drop classes--in all seriousness. The best education abroad is not found in a classroom.