Tuscaloosa, Hollywood, and Disney World have a child- it's called Sevilla. Past Review

By (Birmingham-Southern College) - abroad from 02/01/2017 to 05/13/2017 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned the value and importance of not talking a lot. While studying abroad, I learned that verbal communication, while a precious gift, is not always necessary. I also learned that I can live a simpler life. In Europe, people do not seem to as frequently have these Texas sized, huge personalities, massive tracts of land, and incredibly busy lives as we do in America (no shame to those who fit the aforementioned description, though). It allowed me to more seriously contemplate the implications of scaling back on my high levels of self-promotion and consider adding more contemplation and silence to my life. Too, I was inspired by the importance of family in the Spanish culture. Being in Spain made me want to consider my role as a son, brother, brother in law, and cousin more seriously. This whole experience was worthwhile. I wish I had done it sophomore year so that I could study abroad twice. I loved being in Sevilla. I really wish I could now do a semester in Madrid.

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 professors were fantastic. What a wonderful academic experience it was.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were so helpful and were great about emailing us pertinent information, responding to any and all of our inquiries, and they were friendly to us in the office. They would stop work just to chat with us.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in to residencies. At first, I was placed with a woman who smoked, and I had requested to be placed with a non-smoker. However, when I talked to the program, they promptly found another house for me and moved me quickly. Spanish Studies Abroad quickly fixed its mistake and accommodated to my original request of living in a non-smoking household.

* Food:

The food was good. I did not get as much much meat as I would have liked, though. Then again, I could have told my host-mom that I wanted more meat but I never voiced my carnivorous dietary propensities to her. Therefore, I ought not hold this against the program or her.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I met some locals. Most of my friends were either Americans I met through my school or European Erasmus students/Americans who I met through the local church I joined. However, I chose to spend time with these people- so I met few local Spaniards. I will say- Spanish Studies Abroad did a wonderful job encouraging us to meet locals as well as provide us with social opportunities for us and our local conversation partners. I wish I had chosen to meet more locals.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had to go to the dentist once, and SSA was super helpful. Soraya even accompanied me to the dentist.

* Safety:

I felt safe overall. However, once I was in Parque Maria Luisa one day sitting on a park bench talking with an old man. We were practicing Spanish and just chatting. During the conversation, he reached his hand over and touched my upper leg with sexual intent (after telling me that he regularly comes to this part of the park for sexual encounters with other men). I neither appreciated nor liked the way in which he touched me. In fact, I was offended by it and found it a bothersome intrusion to my body that violated my sense of privacy. I would have liked to have known that this certain part of the Parque Maria Luisa is unofficially a meet up spot for homoerotic behavior. Had I known that fact, I would have avoided this part of the park and not been touched in this way.

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

I absolutely loved SSA. What a tremendous program. The classes were great, the weekend trips were great, the students were great, the staff were great. I LOVED it. My friends in the program loved traveling internationally, nationally, and staying local. They were smart, enthusiastic about the coursework, ready to practice Spanish, and open to learning about Sevilla.I felt like the students who studied here really knew the Spanish language well and sought to improve. The vast majority of students came from small liberal arts colleges, much like Birmingham-Southern. So, we were prepared to engage in class discussions. What a marvelous program!!!!!! I would also recommend students check out ISA (Institute for Study Abroad) and TCC (Trinity Christian College). ISA is bigger than SSA, yet smaller than CIEE. My friends who did ISA absolutely loved it. ISA students seem to get out and travel internationally a whole lot, too. It seemed to draw more large state school students. I did know a lot of students at ISA who took English based classes at UPO, a local university. If a student who does not speak great Spanish and is interested in business wants to come to Sevilla, he or she ought to consider studying with ISA and taking business classes at UPO through ISA. TCC, or Trinity Christian College, is a unique program catered to Christian students that allows students to study a different part of the world both alongside and through their protestant Christian worldview. The students I met in this program were perhaps not the ones who would delve into the nightlife and bar scenes as much, but these students seemed passionate about the local culture and the few I met seemed to love Spanish in the same way that my SSA cohorts did. I wish I had at least been aware of this program from the start- though I do not have one iota of regret about choosing Spanish Studies 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)

Since all of my meals were provided through the homestay, I was able to save money. I did travel some, which was quite expensive. But if I had not traveled, I would have saved money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 30 Euros for food, 80 Euros on travel average per week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy flights far in advance so that they are cheaper. Also, consider traveling more locally because you'll be able to save money that way.

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

They were adamant about us using Spanish. I loved it.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? SN 320
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? Though it may be awkward or tiring, try to talk with your host family a good bit. Also, rather than feeling shame for not being "fully integrated into local culture, fluent in the language, or immediate best friends with your host family and conversation partner," just try to learn and improve bit by bit. Rome was not built in a day. It is better to not compare yourself, your language ability, and your relationship with your host family to that of your peers. Such comparison, for me, bred envy and robbed me of some joy. There are going to be some students whose host families talk with them 1.5 hours each night over fine wine and great food, and others who leave microwavable meals out for you and let you eat alone. Jut remember that relationships can be tricky and take time to foster. Yet, overall, push for more conversation with your family.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • N/A
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • Wonderful classes
  • Passionate professors
  • interested and intelligent students
* What could be improved?
  • get more guys in the program
  • n/a
  • n/a
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? There are not many men in the program. Then again, because there were so few guys, I had really close bonds and sweet friendships with my dude friends who were in the program. I wish I had known how awesome the program is, too, so that I could have not been nervous. Gosh what a great program SSA is. I recommend it fifty times out of fifty.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.