Valencia: The Overlooked Gem of Spain Past Review

By (Political Science and Spanish, Marietta College) for

ISA Study Abroad in Valencia, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to have fun while in Valencia. I never realized how much I truly loved adventure and learning new things about a different culture before my study abroad experience. There were so many times that I would see someone doing something strangely and think to myself, "well, that's one way to do it." There is a completely different world outside of the United States and I was fortunate enough to discover and live there for four months of my life. Now that I am aware of this, my life has been changed. I will now being teaching in Spain for at least one year after I graduate and will hopefully be able to set up a life in Spain. I truly left my heart there.

Review Photos

International Studies Abroad (ISA): Valencia - Spanish Language and Literature Photo International Studies Abroad (ISA): Valencia - Spanish Language and Literature Photo International Studies Abroad (ISA): Valencia - Spanish Language and Literature Photo International Studies Abroad (ISA): Valencia - Spanish Language and Literature Photo

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.

Overall, the academic experience was positive. I would say that the professors knew how to teach American students. The problem that I had was that the teachers catered to us. If I had known that I would be in a classroom that was just like being in America, I would have just stayed in America. I was ready to experience a change in the atmosphere in the classroom, and I was not able to truly grasp how Spanish academics differ from that of the academics in the United States. The work load was basically non-existent. This allowed for plenty of free weekends to travel and free nights to go out and experience the culture first-hand.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Plaza Honduras, a student neighborhood right by the university in Valencia. My host mother was very understanding of our schedules, made great meals, and was eager to help in any way she could. I lived with an American roommate and we were both in the same program. Our room was spacious (this is a relative term because apartments in Spain are very small) and my host mom always kept the apartment very clean. The night life is cheap and decent in this student area of Valencia, but it is about a ten-minute cab ride from Barrio de Carmen, which is where the real partying happens. The good thing about where I lived, was that "botellón," which is a huge gathering of college students pregaming outside of the university was right by my house. So, on Thursday nights (the only night where botellón is technically acceptable), I would go to this pregaming party, get discounted "entradas" for the clubs, share a taxi with others going to the same club as me, and then split the cab fare. It was a pretty good deal.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I think that this was the best part of my program. Our orientation was in Madrid and Toledo, and we had excursions to Barcelona and Granada. Our program cost was only $8,900, and everything but lunch and dinner were covered (breakfast was provided by the hotels).

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe in Valencia. You just have to be smart. You're in the third largest city in Spain. It doesn't feel like it, but you are... so you have to be careful. The only thing that you really have to be aware of is pickpocketing. Just keep track of your bag or keep your wallet in your front pocket, and you should be fine. The program directors made it very clear what to be concerned about and how to address the issues. They also provided us with their phone numbers so that if at any time we felt unsafe or uneasy, we could call them. I don't believe that anyone had to use it.

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?

Most of the students in my program stayed in a home stay. This component of the program was the most useful in language acquisition because it forced the students to speak the language daily in order to communicate various needs with the host family. My Spanish improved significantly because I took the opportunities that ISA provided me, such as "intercambios" with locals and my host family to practice. Within our program, we spoke to each other in English. There was a "rule" in the ISA office that no one could speak English... but it was not enforced and I really only heard English being spoken there.

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

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program will be rewarding if you put forth the effort. There are plenty of opportunities to make locals friends, to go out and have a good time, and to truly acquire the language. A student who is outgoing and knows how to have a good time would benefit the most out of this program. Valencia has so many amazing cultural activities, that someone who does not enjoy "going out" or someone who would rather sit inside than explore would not enjoy the program.