Sevilla: The Greatest City in Spain! Past Review

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

CIEE: Seville - Summer Language and Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
So worth it!!! I'm almost fluent in conversational Spanish, and I appreciate Spanish culture so much more. I loved everything about it!

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 only took Spanish classes, so I know that my experiences differ from many of the other students' educational experiences because they took non-language focused classes. We had several assignments that required us to interview our host families or random people in the community. Our teacher basically forced us to get a little uncomfortable and speak Spanish with strangers. Although that sounds scary, I'm really glad that I got that experience. I became more comfortable speaking to Spaniards, especially when I needed help with something or when I met new people at night. The classes are taught entirely in Spanish, but they teach it in a way that you understand. I went into the program knowing barely any Spanish, and I still felt comfortable in a class that was taught entirely in Spanish. My teacher was very accustomed to teaching American students that were beginners. You learn to constantly practice what you learn in class, and you realize toward the end of the program that you are way more fluent then you thought. Their teaching style is very effective.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration is extremely well organized, and they are so helpful. If you needed literally anything, they would help you. The entire staff speaks English, so if you needed help with something, they could tell you in both English and Spanish so they made sure you understood. They connected us to several opportunities in the community, from playing on soccer teams, to meeting Spanish students, and to volunteer work. They were the best resource for housing issues, educational issues, and questions about free time. They were absolutely wonderful!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I felt that safety in Sevilla really wasn't an issue. It's not like other European cities, where you're always overly cautious about holding onto your purse. I would advise to always leave your passport at your host family's house, and always carry a copy on you. At night, if you can walk home with a friend, that's the best way. Sometimes you do end up walking for a few minutes by yourself, but I never felt in danger. Find out who in the program lives near you! There are several meeting points that you can meet up and walk together. If you can't walk home with someone for the majority of your walk, and it's nighttime, always take a cab (and learn your street address in Spanish!). There are plenty of cabs at night. I lived about 15 minutes to class and anywhere from 10-45 minutes from nightlife. There's nightlife in every neighborhood, so depending on where you're going, that's how far you're going to walk. Get used to walking, because in Sevilla, 30 minute walks are considered normal! When I arrived at my home stay, my family was so great! They were very welcoming, and wanted to help me in any way possible. My host sister went with me to get get basic toiletries and a cell phone. She showed me around the neighborhood, so I knew my way home and where to buy the necessities. The house had internet and several fans. I got my own room and bathroom (very rare in Sevilla) and sheets and a dresser were provided. The only complaint that I had was no air-conditioning in the whole house (very common in the bedrooms, most houses only have air conditioning in the main room). I was also a little different because I lived in a house--most families live in apartments. Another strange thing was that my host family never ate as a family because they all had different schedules. I ate by myself several times, but it didn't really bother me. Most families, however, at as a group.

* Food:

Make sure you specify what you do and don't eat. They won't be offended if you tell that exactly how you eat. My host mom asked me in the beginning what I like and don't like/allergic to. Expect very small breakfast and very large lunches. You also eat very late (lunch around 3 and dinner around 10). It's easy to get used to though. If you're eating out, be sure to check out some of the tapas bars. My favorites are in Plaza Nueva and near Plaza de la Encarnacion! If you can, find a good paella place--there are several around La Catedral.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There are travel programs set up by CIEE every weekend, and they are so much fun! They are included in your program fees, so you should definitely go! There are also optional planned cultural events every week, and you can sign up for them. They give you suggestions about nightlife, restaurants, tourist sites, etc. You have nothing to worry about! It's so much fun!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I always felt safe in Sevilla. There are very low crime rates (close to none) in the areas that the housing staff places you in. I always walked with friends or took cabs at night. Always carry a map! Getting lost already makes you feel less safe, and getting lost is very common. Never carry your original passport or excessive amounts of money on you. My family provided me with a key, and our house felt very secure.

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--everything was worth every penny!!


* 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? I never took a college-level language course before I left.
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Random Spanish people on the street, my host family, friends, teachers, etc. Basically everyone! Sevilla is very traditional compared to other Spanish cities. I absolutely loved it. You actually get a "real" Spanish immersion. I barely knew any Spanish going into the program, and I came out almost fluent. The only people in Sevilla that really know English are the people who work at most of the tourist sites and many of the local students. None of my friends, including myself, that stayed with host families had families that spoke English.

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

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Home-stay
  • The staff was so well organized and helpful
  • Small classes (7-10 students) with other Americans
* What could be improved?
  • I actually can't think of anything!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Always carry a map, travel as much as you can, speak Spanish as much as you can, meet the locals, party like the locals!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Beginning Spanish Language (Espanol Elemental)

Course Department: SPAN 1010 SESU
Instructor: Luis Recio Diaz
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Luis was fantastic! He is great with American students. Many of the language exercises felt like they were repeated a million times, but it was so worth it. You learn the Spanish that you use the most in everyday life. For example, we learned all the grammar and vocabulary needed for asking for directions on the first week of class, because he knew those phrases would be the most common we would use during our time in Sevilla. He was definitely right! I think I asked for directions at least once a day! Luis knew it was important to be able to have everyday conversations with Sevillanos, so he gave us the tools we needed to do so. Taking the beginner class first definitely helped me for the intermediate class during the second half.
Credit Transfer Issues: The Beginner Spanish class only comes in as variable credit (3 credits), and not any Spanish credit. If you're looking for Spanish credit, you may have to start in the intermediate class and take advanced during the second half.
Course Name/Rating:

Intermediate Spanish Language (Espanol Intermedio)

Course Department: SPAN 2010 SESU
Instructor: Luis Recio Diaz
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: It was great continuing with Luis during the second half of the program. Since we already knew his style of teaching, it was easy to continue onto the intermediate level. The grammar became a little bit more challenging, but we learned quickly through repeated exercises. We do a lot of practice aloud with partners in class, so it helps when we are speaking to native Spanish speakers. He's a really great teacher!
Credit Transfer Issues: No, the class transfered into UT as Spanish 312L credit. Both the intermediate and advanced classes from CIEE transfer into UT as Spanish credit.