Montevideo: A great place to learn Spanish August 10, 2019

By (Amherst College) - abroad from 02/27/2019 to 07/14/2019 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Montevideo

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a sense of independence, a better world perspective, and a lot of good memories. It was definitely worthwhile, and I want to go back.

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.

I took classes at the Universidad de la República, the public university in Montevideo. Most classes were about as challenging as the courses in the US, especially because they were entirely in Spanish. The school certainly had less resources than US institutions, but the level of teaching was about the same. I really enjoyed my subject matter and found school to be helpful in terms of Spanish immersion as well because I had to read and discuss the subject matter in Spanish.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site directors of the program were excellent. They were always looking out for the students but also giving us enough room to be independent. They were also super knowledgeable about Uruguayan culture and could answer almost any question I had.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The homestay family was lovely. I really enjoyed spending time with my host mother, because she was also into literature and music. She always was friendly and ready to talk to me in Spanish or involve me in family activities. She also knew how to speak English in case of emergency.

* Food:

As a vegetarian, there are not too many great options for food. My host mother was a very good cook, but when I ate outside of the house, my options were limited.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Uruguayans are not necessarily out going. You usually have to be the one to initiate friendship, which can be hard with a language barrier. As a result, many of my friends abroad were people from international backgrounds.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

n.a.

* Safety:

In the context of South American cities, Montevideo is fairly safe. There is a large middle class. There are stories of people being robbed, but I was never in a situation where I felt threatened. There can be a lot of homeless people in the streets, so at night it is probably better to walk in groups.

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

I might research programs a little more, but I really enjoyed my time in Uruguay. I learned a lot in my university classes and improved my Spanish. I also gained insight into Uruguayan culture and was able to visit other countries in South America as well.

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)

2.5 Uruguay is the most expensive country in Latin America, but if you budget well, it is not too bad.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy food from grocery stores and markets. Wait until the last month or so to buy souvenirs.

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 took a language pledge to only use Spanish. I stuck to it, and only used English for family phone calls. I also changed my phone and computer into Spanish to help with immersion.

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 college
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? Try to limit the amount of English you hear/see on a daily basis. Listen/ watch music, podcasts, and TV in Spanish. Limit social media if it is in English.

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

  • Local Students
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?
  • Less stress than American culture
  • Learning in and out of the classroom
  • Yerba mate
* What could be improved?
  • More students on the program
  • Longer orientation
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had made a list of sites I wanted to see (I made one about halfway through the semester). Then I could plan my weekend time better.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!