Years of Learning In Just Four Months Past Review

By (Point Loma Nazarene University) - abroad from 01/12/2012 to 05/05/2012 with

ISA Study Abroad in Valencia, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned an incredible amount this semester, about Spanish, about the culture and history of Spain, about myself, about people in general, and about the world. I wouldn't trade it for anything, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Courses were not academically rigorous, but the constant exposure to the Spanish language (as all classes were 100% in Spanish) was invaluable.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The ISA directors in Valencia were AMAZING. Always upbeat and positive and ready to help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed in a homestay and there was no wifi and the food was quite poor, and it was a 40-minute walk from campus. Despite the drawbacks, I'm glad to have the experience of living in a Spanish home with a family.

* Food:

Food was generally terrible in my homestay.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

By the end, very integrated. I felt like Valencia was my home.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I came down with pneumonia while abroad, and an ISA director took me personally to the doctor in case I needed help translating, and I got medicine right after. It was all dealt with very smoothly.

* Safety:

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)

In Valencia, I didn't have trouble living on a student's budget. The problem was traveling - flights, transportation to/from the airport and hostels, hostels, food, and going out all added up REALLY quickly.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Probably around 20-40 euro per week, unless I was traveling, then it was much more.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't blow it all in the beginning - the money you come with has to last you the whole time! And when traveling, even if you're taking super cheap RyanAir flights, you have to remember that they're usually located far from the city center, so that can be a big transportation cost, and don't forget food and hostel costs too.


* 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

Classes were 100% in Spanish and our host parents only spoke Spanish as well. We were encouraged to use our Spanish in the ISA office all the time too.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
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? 300-level
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 as MUCH as possible, and don't be afraid of making errors. Learning a language is at least 70% confidence and intrepidity. Intercambios are also a great resource - they'll be awkward at first, but are usually worth the practice you'll gain. Also, just listening to conversations around you, and pick up things you hear other people say, especially at places like the grocery store, bars, and restaurants.

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?
  • The excursions
  • The ISA staff
  • The other students
* What could be improved?
  • Homestay food!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The program cost isn't where spending money ends - you need to allow a few thousand dollars for spending money, especially if you're going to travel. Also, I wish I had packed better - I would say students shouldn't pack anything they won't use every week or so. I packed so many extra things I never used and ended up having to throw out. And finally, students should know that if they don't force themselves out of their comfort zone, they won't learn anything and will have no stories to tell! It's all about pushing yourself to try new things, you will almost always be rewarded with a memorable experience and new lessons learned.