Sevilla: the people i met there made the difference Past Review

By (PSYCHOLOGY., The University of Texas at Austin) for

CIEE: Seville - International Business & Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained more independence. I gained my parents trust in me to be more independent. I learned a lot about myself and my goals in life. I had an extremely difficult time abroad in the best possible way. I made friends that i'll never forget. I had host parents that I sometimes liked more than my own parents. I wish I could do it all over again. Its crazy how much globalization is affecting the world. I was surprised at how much Spanish I already knew, and how much Spanish I had/have to learn.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload at the University of Pablo de Olavida was heavy. I had heard from other kids that at the University of Sevilla, there was very little homework given. I don't know if that's true, but at the UPO, I had lots of homework, however, it is very manageable if you're focused. I liked the grading system there, a 0-10 with 5 and above considered passing. If you're able to get a 5, then you probably learned a significant amount of material. 9's and above are very hard to achieve. My spanish classes were a lot like my American Spanish classes, except that absolutely no English was spoken, and often the Spanish teachers were not very good at English, forcing you to practice your spoken Spanish in order to be understood. Although the classes were challenging, all the teachers I had were extremely caring and concerned for their students, and would go out of their way to tutor and help any one who needed it. The classes i took were also very small and attendance was required, so there was no such thing as just "blending in" and/or missing classes to get by. The classes were all very interactive.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program strongly encourages language acquisition, and gives many opportunities to help you improve your foreign language skills. They provided peer guides to help us get acquainted with the city, but also allowed us to be extremely independent of the program if we so choosed. Attendance was required in all the classes, which helps with keeping focused on your goals abroad, all administrators etc were available through email. We were able to change our homestays easily if we wanted/needed to...and the organized trips to other cities/countries were great and organized very well.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Sevilla is a medium sized city that has beautiful architexture and a great climate in the Spring (although it was raining all the time while I was there!) I had never used a bus system before in my life, but the bus system there was very organized and easy to get used to. I lived in a nice area with a young family: a father and mother in their mid thirties who had a 4 year old son. Meals were provided for us, as well as the cleaning of our laundry and wireless internet. The only thing i needed to settle in was a converter and a local cell phone. The neighborhood was safe, and the city is full of students. My house mate (a girl from the same program who had the room next-door to mine) and I were treated like members of the family. We all has dinner together every night, and so long as we called a few hours ahead of time, there was no problem missing a meal. The host family let us have privacy and treated us as adults when it came to socializing etc. We had awesome discussions about culture and language, movies and politics, and they were extremely fun and open. Their son was extremely charming, and he, too, treated us like family members. I had the best experience i could possibly have had with my host family.

* Food:

My host father was a great cook. Everything we ate was fresh, healthy, delicious, and mostly Spanish.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There were a number of attractions I didn't participate in, however, one that i did participate in was the trip to Morocco. Despite the stomach problems that came with the amazingly delicious food, the Morocco trip was easily my most memorable experience abroad. Our program allowed us to participate in "Morocco Exchange," we talked with local families, women, and college students. We stayed with families and in hostiles; we used the public baths there, went shopping, and learned about Morocco, Arabic, Islam, and third world problems. It was fun, informative, and life-changing.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

They don't have guns in Spain, so I always felt safer walking around. There are pharmacies and hospitals everywhere, and hospital visits are very quick and efficient, much better than most of my experiences in the US.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? no


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish II at university level
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

In Sevilla, most people did not speak English, but many of the students involved in the CIEE program were also translation students who spoke very good English. The peer guides in the CIEE program, therefore, were very helpful for breaking the ice with the Spanish locals, but it takes individual determination in order to avoid speaking English with those who speak it very well. Most of my practice came from speaking with my host family, taking Spanish classes, and going to the Spanish tutor provided by the CIEE program. Also, finding a couple of very good Spanish friends helped me tremendously. I hung out a lot at their houses and at restaurants and bars, and was surrounded by kids my age talking and joking around only in Spanish. This really improved my Spanish comprehension skills and helped me get over my shyness with speaking Spanish. Most native Spanish speakers who were students have, at some point, tried to learn English, so they're very receptive to speaking slowly, and explaining things in simple terms. most of my Spanish acquisition while i was abroad came from these experiences with the host family and friends...but the classes reinforced proper grammar, and provoked questions that I could then discuss with students during our social time. I would suggest forcing yourself to make a good Spanish friends, and trying not to become too attached to American friends you may have met in classes, at home, or as part of the program. Its very easy to escape the challenges of learning a new language, especially if you have another English speaker to do it with!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

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  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't take more classes than you have to. Don't take harder classes than you have to. Try your hardest to become good friends with some one who doesn't speak English. Don't spend every weekend traveling. Let yourself change.The only way to screw up your study abroad experience is if you spend too much time on the internet, too much time with Americans, or too much time at home by yourself.