Incredible semester abroad - CLA rocks!!! February 26, 2018

By (Goshen College) - abroad from 01/08/2018 to 06/09/2018 with

CLA: Guanajuato - Liberal Arts & Culture Semester

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was so worthwhile. I learned how to adapt to a different culture, how to be independent and overcome difficulties, and I learned so much about myself. When you study abroad in another country you realize how big the world really is and how you fit into it. I also had the opportunity to meet not only Mexicans but exchange students from all over the world. Meeting students your age from different countries gives you the opportunity to not only learn about different cultures but also realize the similarities we all share.

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.

My classes were interesting and enjoyable and the professors were very supportive. Some classes were more rigorous than others, but I believe that, as it is with any class, you get out of it what you put into it. The best part is the CAADI. The CAADI is this awesome free student resource in the languages faculty where you can go to practice whatever language you are learning. You can have conversations with native speakers, get help with grammar, and learn about culture. There are also audio books, games, and all sorts of useful learning resources.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The director is very professional and resourceful, but also lots of fun! Great on-site administration.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My housing was amazing.. It had such good vibes, there was so much space and it was always really clean. I lived like a princess in Guanajuato.

* Food:

My host mom's food was incredible. I hope to take back a book of her recipes to the United States so I can make them at home.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The cultural integration was awesome. The director is Mexican, and was born and raised in Guanajuato, so she has all sorts of cool local connections, and the program has a very authentic feel.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

All students are automatically given international health coverage and are made fully aware of the policy and what it includes.

* Safety:

Of course you should take the precautions that you would take in any city, but I have never felt scared or in danger in Guanajuato. It is calm and peaceful, and there are usually lots of people outside, many of whom are fellow students.

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

This program is awesome! It is new and fresh, and catered to young people. I am so happy to have found this program - it is a jewel in the midst of many study abroad programs, and one of the few still available in Mexico!

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)

Considering that you already have your room and board paid for, there are very few expenses that you HAVE to pay. Public transportation is very affordable, and CLA gives each student 10 taxi vouchers. The main things you need money for are going out for fun and souvenirs/presents .

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I would say 300 - 400 pesos, which is about $20
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't bring your whole wardrobe, but bring a good amount of clothes that you like (after researching the weather, of course). I planned on buying a lot of clothes when I got here, but it was harder than I thought. Unless you really like shopping for clothes, I would say to bring them along. When studying abroad you don't really feel like spending your money or time on looking for clothes. Also making a budget is always a good idea.

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

Fabi (the director) always speaks to the students in Spanish, and encourages the students to always speak in Spanish as well.

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? Spanish in America (University of Barcelona) and Contemporary Spanish Theater (University of Barcelona). Both very difficult 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? Yes - ALWAYS speak in Spanish. Even with other people from the United States, even with other people who speak English. The only way you will improve is if you speak in Spanish with everyone you meet in Mexico and not just in class. Your progress will slow down significantly if you speak in English (not counting communicating with people in the U.S of course)

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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The director
  • My host family
  • The cultural and language immersion
* What could be improved?
  • Class selection process
  • More information about things to do in the city and the surrounding area
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Can't think of anything! A lot of things you just need to find out along the way