Even though it is a cliché, Spain changed my life May 21, 2019

By (Smith College) - abroad from 01/25/2019 to 05/26/2019 with

PRESHCO: Study Abroad in Córdoba, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained new friends, a new family and new Spanish capabilities. I learned how to calm down, enjoy life and destress. It was totally worthwhile and I would recommend this program to anyone and everyone who wants to practice Spanish and have a great, fun time abroad.

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.

I didn't think the courses were very rigorous or intense (which honestly I didn't mind--It was really nice to have time to explore the city and pursue my out-of-classroom interests for a semester). I would say I learned a lot from all my classes but I mostly just used them to improve my spanish language skills rather than learning in the actual content areas of the class. For example, my classes in the education department helped me improve my Spanish vocabulary and comprehension but didn't teach me much I didn't know about education.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There was quite a bit of disorganization! All the women who run the program are incredibly caring and sweet to talk to but when it came to getting things done (giving us access to university moodle/emails, course matriculation) things got done very slowly and required us to ask many times to get things done. We also have to handle almost every communication with our professors ourselves (explaining what PRESHCO is, the requirements, organizing what we will do for our final projects, etc.) and I wish PRESHCO helped more with that. But I always knew if I needed help I could come to them and they would do their best to help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mom is one of the most incredible women I've ever met. She was so welcoming, accepting, generous and caring. We developed an incredible relationship where we shared parts of our lives over meal times. She gave me a great amount of liberty and free time, never asked me where I was going when I left, knew I had a girlfriend (LGBTQ+) and was completely accepting of it--she met her and they really bonded--seriously an incredible human that I feel lucky to now have in my life and will definitely stay in contact with her after the program is over. She even offered to let me stay with her if I ever come back to Spain!

* Food:

My host mom was an incredible cook who changed her diet to pescatarian to accommodate me! The food was healthy, delicious and introduced me to typical spanish dishes as well as food I was familiar with. She always asked if I liked what she made and in the (rare) occasions I didn't, she always offered me something else. She also purposefully bought things (avocados, mandarin oranges, coffee, etc.) she knew I liked frequently! Really the best situation I could have hoped for.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was completely welcomed in by my Spanish classmates! The first day of class they helped me find groups for presentations and communicate my schedule requirements with the professors. I met a lot of people I can now call my true friends and will miss them when I leave for the US.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had no problems with healthcare but was told if I ever did that Encarni, one of the women in administration, would accompany us to the doctor or pharmacy for whatever need.

* Safety:

I rarely ever felt unsafe in Cordoba! Only a few occasions at night men would make comments to me and my friends while walking home from a bar or club (but as someone from NY, this happens 20 times more often where I am from than it does in Cordoba) and I always knew I could call a taxi if I had to!

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

I would absolutely do this again. I had a life changing experience, the opportunity to travel and meet people all while practicing Spanish is something I couldn't have done without PRESHCO.

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)

We had host families who fed us and did our laundry so I had no necessary daily or weekly expenses. I paid for a gym membership because I wanted one but if I couldn't afford it it wouldn't have been necessary. The program also gives us a lot of money for "cultural reimbursements" I believe it was two payments of 135 euros each. That can be used for any travel within Spain or anything you think counts as a cultural experience.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 0-5 euros per week (for coffee if I got it)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? This program was incredible for budgeting. Honestly I don't understand why it isn't more popular for students who don't want to spend much during study abroad. There are multiple trips to various parts of Spain where we stayed in nice hotels, ate fancy meals and did cultural activities (museums, tours, etc.) all paid for by the program. Every meal we had independently during this time we were given money to pay for. And then on top of that you get the reimbursements for cultural activities which basically means any activities you want to do during the semester in Spain. All the money is dealt with on a prepaid debit card the program gave us so it was super easy to use.

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

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? a 300-level seminar
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? Make friends! Don't be shy during class because it is a great place to meet people. Then invite them to hang out with you outside of class and it all goes from there. PRESHCO also has lots of events to help us mingle with Spanish students. And when you're with your host family (which you should try to be as much as you can! I would recommend not missing many meals with them) speak/listen as much as possible. Spending time with people who knew no English was honestly the best way to improve since I couldn't cheat

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
  • Americans
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?
  • My host mom
  • The opportunities to meet local students
  • The orientation trip!!!
* What could be improved?
  • Letting us know what is happening before it happens (a little disorganized with this)
  • Communicating with UCO professors on our behalves
  • The scheduling of the PRESHCO classes (more variety in hours)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how much I would love it because it would have saved me a lot of the stress I had while I was packing!

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'