Exponential growth curve of awesomeness! January 02, 2019

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/27/2018 to 12/22/2018 with

CIEE: Madrid - Liberal Arts

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Best/most important experience I've had so far.

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 had an incredible educational experience. I had the opportunity of immersing myself in a different educational style, one I will describe as more independent and less structured. I mainly took classes in both the Business and Hispanic Study Department of UC3M, in which the only resource was the communication and relationship between the student and the professor. My professors were always there to help when in confusion, but it was different than what I'm normally used to at Brandeis University, where there are many other resources when in need of academic help like BUGS, Teacher Assistants, The Writing Center, the lists goes on. However, this experience helped me to better communicate with professors in general. The intensity and academic rigor, I would say, was more challenging in the Business classes than in the Hispanic Study classes. The Business department was structure the same way as at Brandeis, a program where critical thinking, team work and leadership are crucial to learning growth. However, the Hispanic Study department was less challenging than at Brandeis because I didn't really had the opportunity to put in writing my arguments and analysis about what I learned throughout the whole semester, like I normally do at Brandeis with midterm and final papers. This method in specific normally gives me the time to connect and put in words what I found most interesting and thought provoking about the topics covered in the course. However, the evaluation system used at UC3M was mainly test/exams, which was a different approach when it comes to hispanic studies subjects.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Very friendly and helpful staff. Each and everyone of them helped me get through this experience.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in an apartment with other people from my program. Loved the independence of living without a host family. The apartment itself and location were the best factor. Anything needed was at walking distance. Also, staff was responsive when we had any issues with the wifi connection or heating system.

* Food:

Food was the amazing! I lived in the apartments so I mostly cooked for myself and ate outside most of the times.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated with the local culture, to the point that I made more strong connections and friendships with people from Spain than my program. This was due to the fact that I also had an internship where I met locals on a daily basis. Also, because I took trips every weekend with Spanish travel agencies where I also had the opportunity of meeting people from all around the world, not just locals.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Fortunately, I didn't experience any severe health issues, but I did went to my local pharmacy to get some medicine for the flu.

* Safety:

Madrid it is a very safe city for the most part, however, there's a pick-pocketer issue.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I love the staff and the people of my program, but I was expecting more of it. I feel like there was a lack of diversity in the program, to the point that sometimes I feel like I didn't fit in. However, this opened up the opportunity to break the bubble and meet locals and other international students. Next time, I would probably pick a more diverse/ prestigious program.

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)

It was not very easy to live on a student budget because the currency was in euros and I had to prepare/buy 3 meals per day, pay for transportation, personal and travel expenses.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $150-$200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Stick to the budget and make sure you're tracking everything spent.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
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? I'm a native speaker and also study hispanic studies/literature
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 had the opportunity of practicing my Spanish with both locals and people in my program. The best ways to practice is to use it with your peers on a daily basis and participate in class.

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

  • 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?
  • Program Staff
  • Weekly Excursions
* What could be improved?
  • Trips
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more about the experience of living with a host family.

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!