One Super Spring in Spain Past Review

By (Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Baylor University) - abroad from 01/11/2015 to 05/14/2015 with

Saint Louis University Campus in Madrid / SLU-Madrid

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself during the semester. I learned how to really get into another culture and experience living in a completely new environment. I found a new sort of independence and self-confidence to handle most any situation without relying on my parents. I made friends in the oddest places and was extremely blessed to meet them. It was absolutely worthwhile and really gave me a new perspective on my future goals.

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.

Overall, SLU-Madrid is a great program if your aim is to combine studying abroad with the flexibility to tour around Europe. Some courses were less rigorous than their equivalents at Baylor, but most others were on par.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

SLU-Madrid does an excellent job of ensuring everybody can have a positive study abroad experience. Since it primarily caters to study abroad students, it was easy to make the transition over and receive the specialized support that study abroad students need. However, the application process can be a bit unorganized. I had my housing assignment bungled multiple times, but in the end got matched with an awesome family. SLU also had to overnight my application documents to make my visa appointment.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

SLU-Madrid has chosen a great set of host families (and host grandmas) for their study abroad students. I was thrilled to make a genuine connection with my host family; however, I have heard of instances when students did not match well with their family. Do be honest when describing your preferences on the housing forms and communicate early and often with your host family and SLU to avoid these problems.

* Food:

The food on-campus is Spanish-style cafeteria food with the typical on-campus markup. It's alright if you are in a rush, but don't ignore the restaurants and markets around campus.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

As the only student living with my host family, I had the opportunity to be a part-time Madrileno. Speaking Spanish really helps you to move beyond the basics and towards getting to know Spain on a personal level. If you don't speak Spanish, I would really recommend taking a course at SLU while you are here because your opportunities to immerse yourself in Spanish are unmatched by any US program. Spaniards on the whole are night-owls, so be prepared for late dinners and even later celebrations!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Your SLU-provided Sanitas insurance is extremely useful. No co-pays to see a physician and cheap prescriptions make getting well in Spain rather inexpensive. Dr. Borras, the 'university physician', speaks English fluently and was relatively easy to obtain an appointment with. He is really helpful and I highly recommend him if you do get sick. If you are allergic to pollen/dust, beware that Madrid's air can be nasty in the springtime.

* Safety:

Madrid, by and large, is a safe city; however, this is not a substitute for being unaware of your surroundings! I have walked through the center of Madrid at 4:30 in the morning without incident, but there are areas to avoid at night (e.g. the AZCA plaza). Before going anywhere, ask your host family and Madrid friends about any danger zones. Theft at clubs and bars does happen, so keep your irreplaceable items at home. Theft has also been an occasional problem on-campus, don't leave your laptops and backpacks alone. As a guy, I have not been harassed, but several girls have shared instances of verbal harassment while walking in Madrid. Pay attention to the safety information that SLU will give to you during orientation.

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)

Since I chose to pay for the half-board housing option, the only meal I had to pay for was lunch. Food in Madrid can be as cheap (11 euro 3-course lunches) or as expensive (10 euro mixed drinks at certain clubs) as you like. Be mindful of your budget before you go out to the clubs!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 80 euros, conservative estimate
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? 1. If you are clubbing, watch for specials on drinks, covers. 2. Try to get a checking account that doesn't charge for currency conversion and foreign ATMs (e.g. Charles Schwab). 3. If you want to try the 'fancier' restaurants on a tight budget, many of them have stands/food trucks at MadrEAT, which is a monthly food truck festival/concert at AZCA plaza behind the El Corte Ingles on C./ Castellano. (Yes, this same plaza turns into a no-go zone at night, but is safe during the day.)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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
  • International 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?
  • Host Family
  • Location
  • Classes Offered
* What could be improved?
  • Application Process
  • On-campus Technology
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had brought fewer clothes and some more 'spring' clothes. I over-packed for the winter weather and was not prepared for the heat of spring. However, I was glad I brought a good winter jacket and thermals.

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!