Studying Abroad in Spain Changed My Life February 11, 2020

By (Bethel University) - abroad from 08/29/2015 to 12/12/2015 with

Centro de Estudios Hispánicos de Segovia (CEHS): Semester Programs

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
So much. I learned how to be more independent, including finding my way around new cities by myself. I learned how to navigate another culture, including becoming pretty proficient in the language. I also learned to appreciate all the things that were different from home that I both liked and didn't feel as comfortable with. I feel like there's so much I learned from my study abroad experience that will continue to come to me over the course of my life. I truly feel as though it was life changing.

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.

Classes were all delivered entirely in Spanish to provide an immersive environment. In addition to classes, a large portion of our educational experience included site visits to different Spanish cities, including guided tours of art museums and Spanish cathedrals led by our onsite program director. All professors other than our onsite director were native Spanish professors.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

All of our courses were seamlessly integrated with our home universities, requiring no transferring of credits. All courses went very smoothly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Absolutely loved my host family (host mom and host sister) while I was there! I continued to talk and catch up with my host family several years after having returned home and still check in every now and then on social media. Could NOT have asked for a better host family situation!

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My perhaps only complaint of our program was that we felt rather isolated from the community in our host city. We were supposed to be meeting with other Spanish university students in a language exchange program, but this did not quite go as smoothly as everything else. Acknowledging as well that our group was a bit hesitant to engage as well. This is one area that I think improvements could be made, however, they may have! My study abroad experience was 5 years ago!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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

Absolutely! I loved my study abroad experience, and it was definitely a turning point for me in both my college career. Coming back from Spain feeling confident enough in my language skills to say I was fluent (by American standards, in the US) was really encouraging that my Spanish degree was worth it. In addition, I would say that I have gotten many jobs in the last 5 years almost solely based on my ability to fluently speak Spanish, which influenced the trajectory of my career. In addition, my host family experience was nothing short of amazing, and it was so great to truly feel at home in another country.

Finances

* 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 of our meals/housing were covered in our standard study abroad tuition, meaning that we only had to cover meals out, travel, etc. I felt as though I could be pretty liberal with going out to coffee, meals, etc. and still did not spend as much money as I was anticipating. Travel of course depended on seasonal prices and specifics, but I was still able to travel quite a bit with money I had set aside specifically for that and did not end up exhausting my small travel budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? probably only about 20-25 euros, or about $30/week on average?
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would definitely budget a certain amount of money for fun things, dinners out, travel, etc. prior to your trip, just to give yourself some extra funds to work with. I know that I had saved up $1500 for the whole semester as my fun/travel money and did not even spend that entire amount. I would say that it pays to do a little research on your fall/spring break travel plans and try to stay in hostels/AirBnBs to save on housing costs when traveling and to travel in groups so that it's possible to split housing costs. Also, I would encourage study abroad students to eat as many meals as possible with your host families when in your home host city, as those are usually included and I felt as though it helped me feel more at home and form better relationships with my host family as well in addition to cutting costs.

Language

* 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! This was a good thing for me. I was really excited to be learning Spanish and working on it all the time. Our onsite director would remind us constantly to be speaking Spanish, especially when we were on our walking tours of new cities, museums, etc. This was something I really took to heart, and I felt as though it paid off. I returned home feeling fluent enough in every regard to put it on future job applications after graduation. I felt confident enough partway through the semester to call a customer service number in Spanish and converse with the person in Spanish, and I felt comfortable enough to have normal conversations with others in Spanish. I currently work primarily with Spanish speaking populations and have put "fluent in Spanish" on all my job applications since this study abroad experience due to the ways we were pushed to use the language.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 300 level Spanish classes
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? I would say that you really just have to push through and force yourself to stay in the language as much as possible. For me, I think the biggest thing was that I would make a point to talk with my host mom during all our meals, which in Spain amounted to a minimum of 4 hours a day between lunch, dinner, and the set up and clean up afterwards. This really helped because she would help me learn new words, sometimes finish sentences for me, which gave me a feel for how to say things, and we would just generally talk about all kinds of things. I think forming relationships with your host family and other peers in your study abroad experience will provide good intrinsic motivation to stay in the language!

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?
  • Host Family Experience
  • Segovia - our home host city
  • Emphasis on Language Skills
* What could be improved?
  • Language Exchange with Local Students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Honestly, I appreciated being able to go into the program without a lot of expectations. It really freed me up to fully experience everything I did without assigning any value or having any specific hopes to get out of it.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!