I <3 Madrid July 23, 2019

By (Columbia University) - abroad from 01/07/2019 to 05/31/2019 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Madrid

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Language experience is crucial. Living abroad (not just traveling) is a really weird experience and puts everything in perspective. Traveling experience was so awesome.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were challenging and intellectually stimulating, especially since all were in Spanish. That being said there was plenty of time to travel and experience the culture without being too concerned with classwork. I traveled most weekends and went to many cultural events in the week and I felt well equipped for my classes. What matters is the final!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff at the Sede Prim are really great. They really do care about you making the best of your experience abroad and are happy to offer help for both academic and personal problems.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

What's great about the Middlebury Program in Madrid is that there is a huge variety of housing options. I loved that I got to live in an apartment independently, and my friends who lived in home-stays and residences loved their options too. The only problem is the apartment search for those who choose it can be stressful, but it doesn't last very long.

* Food:

Food in Spain is delicious and cheap.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I took 2 classes at the local university, Universidad Autonoma, which really helped me feel integrated. I also lived in an apartment with two Spanish girls. I would socialize with Spanish people when I went out, but most of my close friends were also American. It can be difficult to integrate into the culture, especially since we're only abroad for a couple months. I feel lucky to have gotten the experience I had, even though it wasn't totally immersive, it's really up to the student and their willingness to take risks socially.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Super easy to get health care! The doctor I went to was very fancy and nice. All covered with the required international insurance.

* Safety:

I felt so safe in Madrid. It's important to be careful, it is a big city, but I used to go for walks by myself at night in my neighborhood a lot.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Madrid is the best city ever for study abroad (cheap, fun, and close to european travel destinations) and the language aspect is the #1 reason I wanted to study abroad, which is all this program is about. The other kids in the program were great too. I made some really great friends I hope to stay in touch with for a long time.

Finances

* 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)

Easily! As long as you're aware of it, Madrid is a very affordable city. My rent was 450 Euro, and you can get lunch easily for under 5 euro. What gets expensive is traveling if you choose, but staying Madrid for cheap is easy. I cooked for myself, generally groceries were around 25 a week, for context.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I think on a spendy week I could spend about $100 a week, but usually it was closer to $50.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you can, cook for yourself. That definately makes costs go down, but isn't always possible in home-stays. Plan trips as much as you can to make sure you're getting the best price and not getting scammed, and cook at home when traveling too. Just be aware of what you're spending. Like I said, Madrid is really inexpensive for a European city. It's easy to go out a lot.

Language

* 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

We signed a language pledge, technically you're not allowed to speak English throughout the whole course of the program.

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? An Advanced Content Class in Spanish
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 Spanish as often as you can with as many people as you can. It's easier said than done, but it's OK to look like an idiot and make mistakes. Guaranteed, your Spanish is better than most American study abroad students, and people will be impressed with your effort and want to help you, not embarrass you.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Language
  • Madrid (city)
  • Travel
* What could be improved?
  • Diversity of other students in program
  • Better integration techniques into Spain
  • ?
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Traveling is really exhausting. As cool as it is to be in Europe and an hour away from all these amazing cities, taking time to rest and make connections in the city you're living in should be valued too.