Montevideo: Fun & friendly country, lacking exchange program Past Review

By (Spanish, K-12 education, Nebraska Wesleyan University) for

ISEP Exchange: Montevideo - Exchange Program at Universidad Católica del Uruguay

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Don't get me wrong, I loved Uruguay and the people there. I think if I had gone to a University other than Universidad Catolica, I would have loved it even more. My host family made the experience more than I could have hoped for, helping me improve my Spanish, get around, and explore other countries. Just ranking the school, I'd probably give it 1-2 stars, ranking just my family and friends, I'd probably give it a 4-5. After my experience abroad, I am now considering an International lawyer rather than teaching. The poverty I saw during Community Work really struck me.

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.

The workload was what I expected being an exchange student. Although there are classes specifically for exchange students, I would recommend taking at least one with the general student population. The teachers seem to care a lot more about the students success and it feels more like a school setting rather than mandatory sitting and listening. The educational system in Uruguay has classes starting as early as 8am and classes that start as late as 9pm or 10pm. As an exchange student, all my classes were between 130-6.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There is no exchange student program. When you first arrive, you meet up with all the exchange students for 2 or 3 days of get to know each other activities. The program leaders fly through the important information (bus passes, signing up for classes, etc) and so if you don't have a host family to help you, you're out on your own. The head of the advising is not friendly and even rolled her eyes at me after asking a question about finals. If you are very independent, this may be your place. My expectations were not met, but this could be due to the strong program at my home university.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

Eat with your host family to save money. Otherwise, pizza is really cheap. Chivitos are really expensive.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The students at the University are often busy and I must say I didn't have a single friend from Universidad Catolica. Through my host family I met some of the nicest students (from other Universities) and spent a lot of time with them. I would highly recommend staying for a major holiday. I stayed for Christmas and it is such a cultural experience I am really glad that I did. The only cultural event planned by my University was a field trip to their "State Fair". That field trip was a lot of fun.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The safety of Montevideo is one of those things where you will be just fine if you follow common sense. I lived an hour away from the University and often arrived after dark, walking 10 minutes from the Bus Stop to my house. I never ran into any problems. However, Ciudad Vieja (the Old City) should be avoided at night and areas near the University aren't somewhere I would prefer to walk alone at after the sun set.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Be prepared to travel. There are websites such as pluna air in which you can find cheap tickets. Use buses and fairies whenever possible. Clothing is very expensive in Uruguay.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced Spanish Grammar
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

LIVE WITH A HOST FAMILY. I learned all my Spanish at home, speaking with my host mom, dad, brother, and friends. The best way to learn is to practice and be prepared to make mistakes. Most people in Uruguay speak some English but if you keep speaking Spanish to them, that's how they will respond.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Host Family
* What could be improved?
  • The Exchange Program as a whole
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Montevideo is a great place to study if you are looking for a relatively big city without the congestion and danger of large cities such as Buenos Aires, Rio, etc. If you are farily independent, this program could be for you.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Cultura de Uruguay

Course Department: Clase de Intercambios
Instructor: ?
Instruction Language: Espanol
Comments: This class is one that I would not recommend taking. It is a history course that focuses all of its time on Artigas and no time on modern day culture. The teacher does not go out of her way to help students out, and expects students to be able to guess what will be on the assignments/finals. There were field trips, but only to art museums and places I probably wouldn't have gone to by choice. The teacher often answered her phone during class, leaving in the middle of presentations to hold a conversation. I never participated because the opportunity didn't arrive beyond group presentations.
Credit Transfer Issues: Still waiting for transcript
Course Name/Rating:

Arte I

Course Department: Communication
Instructor: Bianchi
Instruction Language: Espanol
Comments: This was my favorite course by far. I am not an art person and just took this class to fulfill a GenEd at my home university. The teacher seemed to care that we learned the material and used a variety of powerpoints, handouts, essays, readings, etc to make sure we grasped the info. Although this was a class with locals, it is the class that I received my best grade in. I would highly recommend his class, especially if you need a patient professor.
Credit Transfer Issues: Still waiting
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Clase de Intercambios
Instructor: ?
Instruction Language: Espanol
Comments: This is your typical Spanish class. Grammar was covered through reading exercises and lecture. It was a long class (2.5 hrs/day, twice a week) but it did clear up subjunctive a little bit.
Credit Transfer Issues: Still waiting
Course Name/Rating:

Literatura de Uruguay

Course Department: Clases de Intercambio
Instructor: ?
Instruction Language: Espanol
Comments: This course was difficult, but something that I feel I took something away from. The teacher spends the majority of the class lecturing over the reading that was sent for homework. Take this class if you want to improve reading comprehension, but be prepared for lots of homework readings in both Spanish and the Charrua language.
Credit Transfer Issues: Still waiting for transcript
Course Name/Rating:

Trabajos communitarios

Course Department: Trabajos sociales
Instructor: ?
Instruction Language: Espanol, Ingles
Comments: I would highly recommend taking part in the Community Service aspect of Catolica. The opportunies range, but I went to an elementary school in a poor barrio and taught english to 7-9 year olds. It really was a life changing experience.
Credit Transfer Issues: Still waiting.