Amazing Opportunity-Spanish Language Immersion! Past Review

By (Bradley University) - abroad from 01/11/2013 to 05/24/2013 with

Central College Abroad: Granada - University of Granada

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The biggest component was the language-I used Spanish all the time and probably could have even used it more! It was SO worthwhile! I learned so much about myself, about Andalucian culture, and about the language itself.

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.

I was in the Language and Culture level and enjoyed the classes I took in art history and civilization and culture a lot. The required grammar class was a bit tedious because Central College's tutor Jose was amazing! His on the side course was very helpful for reviewing grammar but also learning the native slang. All classes at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas are primarily with American students, though.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Veronica is fantastic. It's clear she's been doing this for a long time and she is always ready and willing to help her students in any way, however she will push you to get out of your comfort zone, which is just what students need! The rest of the staff including Jose were great as well.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a home stay, which was what I wanted and the only option for Central College students. I was really looking forward to living with a family that would incorporate me into their daily life and help me practice the language. My host mom really kept to herself and didn't offer much as far as cultural immersion. We spoke Spanish together, but she lived alone and didn't interact with us a whole lot, which was disappointing. By the end of the semester, she still did not remember my name. I would have liked a home stay with a different family who was more interactive, or even an apartment shared with other Spanish students.

* Food:

Food at restaurants and tapas at bars were excellent! I loved trying the olive oil and wine of the region, as well as the middle eastern-influence in food and Moroccan tea. My host mom's food was not good at all though...she did not abide by the dietary restrictions my roommate had despite countless times explaining it to her. She tended to fix whatever was cheapest, i.e. white bread, frozen pizza, pasta, etc. instead of native Spanish food which was what I had hoped for.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Whenever I went out at night or shopped in stores by myself, I felt very integrated. I used my Spanish language ALL the time! I do wish I was more integrated with Spanish students and looking back, wish I had taken the opportunity to participate in volunteer work while abroad in Granada. The opportunity is there, you just have to act on it. Intercambios through the university were great, though! We were paired with a Spanish student from la Universidad de Granada, and the cultural activities we did together were great.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any major health issues myself, but went to the hospital with my roommate. She was able to communicate well, the hospital was easily accessible, clean, and gave her the prescription she needed. There are also farmacias on every corner and it's not hard to get over-the-counter medications if you need them. It was a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish when getting a medication!

* Safety:

As in every country, always be aware of your surroundings and don't travel alone at night. In Granada, you'll pretty much walk everywhere as it's not a huge city, so walk with friends. I never had anything stolen during my semester and only ever felt unsafe if I was walking home extremely late, so I always made sure to have someone with me.

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)

All meals are provided by your host mom, so ideally you shouldn't have any expenses outside of travel, personal items, and any additional snacks and drinks you choose to have. I spent more on food since I wasn't a huge fan of my host mom's meals.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan a budget ahead of time


* 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 the time! All classes were 100% in Spanish and my host mom didn't speak English at all. The only times I used English were when traveling out of the country on my own trips and when I talked with my American roommate and other Americans in my 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? Junior-level college Spanish
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? You'll have to use it in class and at home with your host family, but since you're mostly with American students, you'll want to engage with more Spanish students if possible. I recommend joining a local group, getting involved with volunteering, doing an internship, or even just spending more time with your assigned Intercambio partner!

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
  • 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?
  • Resident staff
  • City size and location
  • Excursions and planned activities
* What could be improved?
  • More local student integration
  • Better advertised volunteer opportunities
  • More inclusive host family
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I should have taken the lead more on what I wanted my experience to be. I wish I had stepped up and gotten more involved with local students and volunteer organizations. I also wish I would have said something about my homestay and been switched to one that would better suit my needs for involvement in the culture and language.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.