A Transformational Experience Past Review

By (Spanish, The College of New Jersey) - abroad from 01/22/2015 to 05/22/2015 with

ISA Study Abroad in Granada, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that I am capable of being independent and finding my groove in a foreign place, and that I can not only thrive but enjoy the rewarding yet challenging environment that living away from home presents. I am delighted to have lived for four months with new friends while navigating in a foreign language and learning about new cultures in the process, while being able to study and travel. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world.

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.

Academics does not live up to the quality and caliber set by TCNJ. The professors at large were less invested and the teaching style was less student-based. One professor was outright apathetic. However, I had two or three that were standout and really wanted us to embrace their class while also enjoying a light workload and learning outside the classroom. For example, you did not HAVE to do all of the work for the translation class, but if you were not traveling on the weekends and went the extra mile, it enriched your experience in the class overall.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The ISA staff felt like family at the end of my stay in Granada and they were very helpful in troubleshooting the difficulties that I faced including sending medicine from the United States, a laptop problem, finding barbers, and managing a rough case of jet lag in Madrid. I feel that the ISA Granada staff was genuinely committed to my success and it was noticeable that their ambassadorship set our program apart from others to which my peers belonged.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My Spanish "family" truly is my family, minus the blood relation. I will never need a hotel the next time I go to southern Spain – not only Granada – as I grew close with all of my host mother's immediate family and WILL be visiting them again soon.

* Food:

Fantastic! The cuisine was varied, authentic, and always prepared with concern to what we liked and did not like. My host mother was very flexible but also pushed us to try new foods; I left home swearing I'd never eat fish and came home loving it! Portions could almost be oversized at times.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Met locals, improved my Spanish

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I wound up teaching the translator for all of Granada's international students several words in English, including the term "lightheaded" while describing my condition during an ER visit. No access to clinics. You get what you pay for, but it's very basic – a stubbed toe is only remediated through a trip to the ER.

* Safety:

Granada is pristine and I never felt in danger. It is a friendly city and the program advisors did warn us to stay away from one neighborhood, which I've thus never set foot in.

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)

Visited 9 countries on $5,000 and spent very little of that in Granada given the large concentration of the time I spent there.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $20-$30
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Avoid over-frequenting the clubs and do not go to the tourist traps near the main streets! Your experience will be more cost-effective and authentic!


* 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

I went to learn Spanish, and I did. My host mother didn't speak a lick of English, and my program directors would not address me unless I spoke to them in Spanish (since they knew I could). If necessary, they will speak English with other students but only after trying in Spanish.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? SPA 302 (Advanced Oral Proficiency)
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? Intercambios, homestays, try to interact with friends/peers in target language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Freedom
  • Experiencing authentic Spanish culture in numerous regions and cities
  • Support from our program directors
* What could be improved?
  • Integration with existing students living in Granada
  • Academic rigor
  • Quality of instruction
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It's challenging to communicate with people in the United States. Some medicines that I take/need are not available in Europe but are at home. It's important to investigate and understand your options before you set off.

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

English-Spanish Translation I

Course Department: CLM
Instructor: Dr. Adolfo Sánchez Cuadrado
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Challenging and supportive; Profesor Adolfo was always willing to answer questions and gave us a lot of supplemental work to practice.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Producción Oral y Escrita

Course Department: CLM
Instructor: Sra. Carmen Ruiz Arroyo
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Not well clarified, no structure, slow-moving; didn't get to interact as much as we could have. Professor made inappropriate and sometimes condescending comments. Did not get much out of this class.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Diversidad de español en el mundo

Course Department: CLM
Instructor: Dra. María Rosa Torres Domínguez
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: I love linguistics, and so does Rosa! This class had a lot of theoretical knowledge backed by examples that clearly support the class instruction. I loved the interactive focus that targeted the improvement our oral and written Spanish. Occasionally disorganized, but a wonderful class.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Imagen de la mujer en la literatura española

Course Department: CLM
Instructor: Dra. Lola Fuentes Gutiérrez
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Professor was absent a total of 7 times and did not assign work. She is quite bright and passionate, and very kind. There was no flow to the class and not a lot of room for disagreement, even though the professor encouraged it.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Cultura islámica en España

Course Department: CLM
Instructor: Dra. María Ángeles Navarro-García
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: All lecture. The city tour of Arabic Granada was fantastic and Profa. María Ángeles was humorous, but she did not give enough opportunity to participate.
Credit Transfer Issues: