An enriching and teaching experience I will keep with me forever. June 05, 2016

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/13/2016 to 06/01/2016 with

CIEE: Madrid - Liberal Arts

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained knowledge about a different culture, independence in traveling and seeking out events that interested me, as well as life experience in my personal life. It was beyond worthwhile.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was set up with a pretty unconventional living situation which had its perks (i.e. more independence), but it lacked a familiar feeling I was looking forward to experiencing while abroad.

* Food:

Spanish food is incredible and great for a pescetarian like me!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Through many cultural activities I was able to learn about Spanish culture as well as interact with locals.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any severe health issues and whenever I'd get sick I would go to the local pharmacy.

* Safety:

Hands down the safest I have ever felt in a major city. Madrid is so unique in that it is generally very safe to walk around at most areas of the night. In certain areas of Madrid, it is more likely you will get cat-called (especially at night), but it had not gone further than that. While I never had any issues, the only incidents my peers experienced involved pick-pocketing on metros and crowded areas.

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

It was wonderful in terms of full cultural and language immersion!

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)

Madrid, despite being the capital, is pretty cheap to live in as the food and clothing is quite cheap.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $60
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you are planning to go out to eat, instead of falling into over-priced, average quality tourist traps, do your research for good and affordable restaurants! Invest in experiences rather than things (your suitcase will thank you in the end as well).

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

Participants signed a contract that we would speak Spanish all of the time with each other.

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? 198-level
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? Making Spanish friends and going to community events.

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Language requirement to always be speaking Spanish.
  • The weekly cultural activities that allowed me to learn and discover more about my host country and culture.
  • That it allowed me to take direct enroll classes at my host university.
* What could be improved?
  • More check-ins to ensure student welfare.
  • Better host family options.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That there will always be opportunities to come back and reconnect, and to not dread goodbyes.

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Spanish Language--High Advanced Level

Course Department: Hispanic Studies
Instructor: Fatima Iglesias
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: This was a very well-taught and challenging course that helped me learned the colloquial Spanish of Madrid and cleaned up my grammar.
Credit Transfer Issues: Although I am a Hispanic Studies Major I will only be receiving general credit for it since the Hispanic Studies department won't be accepting this class for my major requirements.