The Hidden Gem on the Costa Blanca October 11, 2019

By (Susquehanna University) - abroad from 01/06/2018 to 05/26/2018 with

Spanish Studies Abroad: Alicante - Semester, Year or Summer in Alicante

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was incredibly worthwhile. During my time abroad, I realized that I didn't know as much as I thought I did and it made me re-evaluate how I see myself as a student.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The best part about the courses I took was probably the professors. They really took the time to make sure you understood what was going on and could get the most out of the course. The course selection was interesting and transferred easily back to my school. The university receives a lot of international students and they like to put all of them into one building on the other side of campus which meant I didn't see as many Spanish students but I did get to meet a lot of really cool students from other countries!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site staff was absolutely amazing! They really put in the extra work to make sure each student is doing well and enjoying their time in Alicante. I got sick and the assistant Resident Director personally walked me to the doctors office and made sure I was ok. They're really nice and are willing to help you with anything you may need, whether it's some chocolate or help with your courses or a restaurant recommendation.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mom was laid back and, while she had her rules, they were never stifling. I was free to do what I wanted, I just had to make sure she was aware of where I was. The food was delicious and she let me into her family. I got to play with her grand kids and we joked around while watching Wheel of Fortune together. I had no doubt in my mind that I was always safe and well looked after and I heard nothing but good things about the host mothers of the other students on my program.

* Food:

Her food was absolutely amazing, whether I was eating at home or eating out in the city.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While the onsite staff tries their hardest to integrate you into the city as much as possible, Alicante attracts a lot of international students, a large number of whom come from the United States; it's kind of hard to not fall into the habit of just speaking English. However, most people there will speak Spanish instead of the local dialect (Valenciano) which is helpful for trying to practice.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

When I needed to go to the doctor, the onsite staff personally escorted me to the on campus doctor's office and then waited with me until I was done. It was a little annoying trying to get my prescription just because the pharmacy hours didn't fit well with my personal schedule due to siesta but it was very easy to get my medication once I arrived at the pharmacy.

* Safety:

I've never felt more safe in a city. It's size makes it very easy to navigate but also small enough where no walk you take will be longer than ~20 minutes. There isn't really a lot of crime in the city so it was safe at all hours of the day and night.

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

I feel like there aren't many study abroad companies that will give you the same type of care and experience. Since Spanish Studies Abroad is so small, they have the time to focus on each student individually and I like that feeling of being taken care of during my entire time abroad.

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)

The program provides you with all your meals so you're never spending much on food unless you're having issues adjusting to the Spanish style of eating (lunch at 2pm, dinner at 9pm). My biggest expense was probably transportation. Since the university is outside of the main city, you're using at least 2 trips a day, if not more for independent adventures.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About 60 euro a week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Check your bank before you go to see if it's cheaper to withdraw large amounts of cash at a time or just use your card; sometimes international atm fees are cheaper than the international fee for swiping your card.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
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? 310
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? Don't be too shy to speak to native speakers because your Spanish isn't great; you'll never get any better only speaking to the other American students on your program.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • 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
  • Professors
  • Onsite Staff
* What could be improved?
  • Application System
  • How to contact when traveling
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I paid more attention to my bank and how to set up my finances before going abroad.