Studying in Spain - Challenges and New Experiences Past Review

By (Spanish Language Teacher Education., University of North Dakota) for

Eastern Michigan University: Avila - Eastern Michigan University in Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This study abroad experience had its rough spots, but overall it was an amazing experience. I grew both as a student of Spanish and as a person. Now I'm more curious about other cultures, and hope to travel abroad again in the future. As a teacher-in-training, I will be able to put my study abroad experiences to work in my future classrooms.

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 was reasonable. I was placed in the upper intermediate level, which was a pretty good fit. We met four hours a day/five days a week for six weeks. The grading was a little harsher than in the US, and our teachers didn't explain the grading system to us beforehand, so we were temporarily confused about the meanings of the final grades. Otherwise, I learned far more per class day, than I learned in a week in the US.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Spanish program itself was excellent, but the accompanying American faculty member had to return to the US for an family emergency, and her replacement didn't arrive for two weeks. We were given the name of the Spanish head of program to contact if needed; but were not given her office number, phone number, or email address, just her name. I feel this situation was poorly handled by the American instructors, but the Spanish program members did their best to remedy the situation.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a wonderful time staying with my "host mom" while I was in Spain. I want to recommend to others in this program to speak up right away if they're placed with a disrespectful host family. Others in my group unfortunately experienced religious and personal harassment from their host families. Don't let one rotten person ruin your study abroad experience. Let someone know right away and make sure you're removed from that family. Most Spaniards are wonderful people who are very willing to share their time with you, so I highly recommend studying abroad in this country.

* Food:

My host mom was an amazing cook! I was surprised to discover how popular ham is in Spain, but the seafood was delicious.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Ávila is an old city with a lot of history. My favorite "field trip" was our day trip to Segovia. The cathedral was amazing, and hands-down my favorite building in Spain. My group also visited Segovia's famous castle, and climbed the tower stairs to the top -- quite a view!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

We enjoyed free health care if needed while we were in Spain. However the paperwork which proved our right to healthcare was given to us without explanation in the middle of class. I had to ask our accompanying American faculty member what the paper was for, as she apparently didn't realize we needed an explanation. I was fortunate enough to never require health services while abroad, but it was reassuring to know I could get help if needed. I felt reasonably safe throughout my entire stay in Spain. Cities like Madrid and Toledo have higher tourist traffic and higher crime rates, so I recommend taking precautions, but I never felt unsafe during my stay.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

The program required intermediate Spanish skills, which we used to comunicate with most everyone. Our host families, teachers, and conversation partners all spoke Spanish with us. Many of the younger people in the city spoke decent English and did our assigned conversation partners.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Ávila is a amazing city and a great study abroad experience! The program has its flaws, so don't be shy about asking for help. In general, the people of Spain are wonderful, so don't let a few bad experiences spoil your stay. Speak up if there's a problem with your housing or classes, and get to know the other students in your program. I recommend this program, and hope that this experience brings a lot to your life.