Uruguay: Adventures and Independence Past Review

By (Exercise Science & Spanish, 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?
Studying abroad was definitely the most challenging experience of my life. However, it was also one of the most beneficial things I have ever done, because I learned so much about myself and gained confidence in my capabilities to speak the Spanish language and complete tasks independently. You can not find a better way to completely push yourself outside of your comfort zone (initially, this was scary to me but was definitely worth it in the end) and experience a new culture. Although my host institution wasn't all that I had hoped it would be, I did survive and I worked with other exchange students to accomplish all of my goals while abroad. Learning about another culture in a classroom is one thing, but experiencing it for yourself for an entire semester (or year) is attaining an entirely different understanding. I have become a more well-rounded individual after having studied abroad. I have already presented to numerous organizations across the state of NE and I look forward to sharing my experiences and what I've learned from them in the future!

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.

It was definitely more of a learning experience in the sense of life lessons and expanding my cultural understanding of a global society. The differences in the educational system between NWU and UCU are unbelievable! UCU was more disorganized, involved less inquisitive thinking, and used a different grading system. I am not saying that these things are negative, because as an exchange student, I did not need to focus all of my time and energy on my schoolwork. It was a nice break from my general workload at NWU and since everything was in a foreign language, it was usually challenging enough.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The study abroad staff was not accessible and did not make the students feel overly welcome in any particular setting. It was never a specific negative experience, but overall I did not feel very comfortable asking them for assistance.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

Make sure to mark your dietary preferences on your host family selection form. I was paired with a family that ate very nutritious meals and that was what I requested.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt as though any social and cultural experiences I wanted to have, I was required to search and do so on my own (with other exchange students). UCU did not have any program to assist exchange students in traveling or even cultural experiences within Montevideo. Outside of our Culture class, we did everything on our own, without the host program's guidance.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Montevideo is a large city. Naturally, all normal safety precautions should be kept in mind while traveling or exploring the city. Never travel alone at night. Avoid provocative clothing or anything to attract attention if you're a female. (Try to blend in!) I never carried a purse or rode the bus alone after dark.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you live in a host family, take advantage of meals with them and you'll save a lot of money because eating out is expensive. Also, walking saved me at least (the equivalence of) $4 US dollars each day. (When you're there an entire semester, that adds up!)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 202
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Practice with your host family - just conversing at dinner each night will help more than you can imagine! Gain confidence ASAP because you'll be thrown into everyday situations where you need your conversational skills and being intimidated only makes things worse. You've got to get into it sometime... start from day 1!

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

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Allowed for independent growth while encouraging new experiences.
* What could be improved?
  • Participation and assistance of the host institution.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Uruguayan culture is very different from that of the United States. Since the host institution does not provide as much assistance as others in terms of travels, opportunities, and group activities - it provides the opportunity for growing in one's independence! I became much more confident in handling situations on my own or working with groups of other exchange students to organize travel plans, daily adventures, etc. To students interested in studying abroad: I would definitely recommend personally contacting any NWU student (present or graduated) who has already studied at the institution of interest because that truly is the best way to get ALL of your questions answered and you know it will be honest responses!