Best four months of my life Past Review

By (The College of Wooster) - abroad from 01/10/2016 to 05/07/2016 with

IES Abroad: Madrid - IES Abroad in Madrid

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned about Spanish culture while reflecting on my own culture. I also learned a lot about myself and gained confidence while traveling alone and with friends. I grew so much from this experience.

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.

Overall the classes were much easier than I was used to, but I didn’t want to spend all my time studying so it was a welcome change. The IES staff helped us find any books we might need for our classes. I highly recommend taking the art history class in the Prado Museum, it was my favorite course by far and I will always remember what I learned about Spanish artists.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

From the moment we arrived in the airport the program directors were there to help us transition. They learned our names immediately. They were helpful in making changes in my class schedule. They were welcoming and a great resource to have!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host mom and one other girl from my program. We had our own rooms and shared a bathroom. Our conversations over meals dramatically improved my Spanish and it was nice to have a local to ask advice about travel, restaurants, etc.

* Food:

The food in Spain is amazing. As a vegetarian, I was worried before leaving that I wouldn't have many options, but I easily found things to eat! My roommate was also vegetarian so our host mom always cooked us vegetarian meals. At any IES abroad events they always had a vegetarian option for us, as well as for other students with dietary restrictions or allergies.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Staying with a host mom helped me feel more integrated.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

When I needed a Doctor's appointment they were so helpful; a program director scheduled it for me and emailed me directions of where to go! Then she checked in a couple days later to see how I was feeling. All IES students have CISI insurance that covers most medical costs.

* Safety:

Madrid is such a safe city, just watch out for pick pockets. Always have a purse that zips and keep your phone somewhere zipped up.

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)

Keeping a budget for yourself is important. Spent the most money on meals and drinks.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Track how much you're spending, and on what, and make your priorities. I knew wanted to travel so I would spend wisely at the clubs or find a cheaper restaurant so I would still have enough money for plane tickets! Planning and buying tickets ahead of time can help reduce costs too, because the closer to a trip the more expensive the tickets will be.


* 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

The staff always expected us to speak in Spanish, but ultimately it is up to you how often you speak in Spanish and how hard you try to improve.

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? 300 level literature course
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Speak with native speakers as often as you can.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • Helpful program directors
  • Weekend excursions
  • IES planned events in Madrid
* What could be improved?
  • More intercambios with Spanish students
  • Different times for classes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I wouldn't speak in Spanish 100% of the time, but that's okay because my Spanish will still improve. That the program staff know so much about Madrid and about traveling that they can answer any and every question I have.

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!