Wouldn't Do Syracuse Study Abroad Programs Again Past Review

By (Psychology, Trinity University) - abroad from 01/15/2016 to 10/21/2016 with

Syracuse University: Madrid - Syracuse University in Madrid

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I got to know the Spanish culture, explore both Madrid and other major European cities during the semester. Travelling was really were I ended up enjoying myself the most. Host families were a pain as well the classes. Studying abroad is definitely worthwhile. Studying abroad with this program is not.

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 classes were not challenging at all compared to what I am used to. They were not well organized and burdensome.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The ladies that worked in the office were kind and considerate. They were helpful when I needed to change host families and very considerate of my situation. At times they could be too accommodating, allowing for deadlines and requirements to be very flexible. This, however is characteristic of administration in Spain in general.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had the absolute worst host family which I managed to tolerate for two months. My host mom would yell at me regularly, making passively rude comments towards me specifically rather than my white roommate. She was openly racist against blacks, and didn't treat me, a Latina, any better. She and her husband fought all the time which was more than distracting when trying to get work done. Overall, those two months were a horrible experience. My second host family were much better people. They treated me with respect and made a lot of attempts to include me as much as they could into the family. I would say that about half of the people I knew in this program switched host families over the course of the semester or decided to stick it out. It was rare to hear of someone who truly liked their host family.

* Food:

It was very nice to have both breakfast and dinner included in the program. The food itself was amazing. However, breakfast and dinner in Spain are the smallest meals, leaving the largest meal of lunch for us to figure out. We were strongly suggested to miss as few meals at home as possible which made going out and exploring in the afternoons difficult because dinner was at nine.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It would by far be easier to integrate into Spanish culture if you are a white American that fits the stereotype. Otherwise much effort has to be placed in following sociocultural rules in order to avoid negative experiences with people. Because of the bad economic situation that Spain is in and the issue of immigrants from Africa and Latin America, general perceptions of people fitting this outward look are not well received.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any issues with health care in Madrid. I never got sick enough to have to search out care. This program had a nurse who we could go to that would then refer us out as needed. The process was pretty simple.

* Safety:

Pickpocketing is an issue in Madrid especially in the night time or on the metro. I had a friend get her passport stolen on the way to the airport on the metro and various people get phones stolen on nights out. Besides that, Madrid is a very safe city. The police regularly patrol around the popular parts of the city.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

The classes were not well organized and they didn't really teach me anything beneficial. The class I took at UAM was the most challenging but wasn't part of Syracuse Madrid itself. We were not well prepared for how different Spanish University classes were to US classes. There were some major mixups with registration into UAM. All but two of the students who began classes at UAM dropped by the end of the semester. The program was significantly more expensive with the UAM add-on and not very worth the investment with the limited variety of classes that fell into the Philosophy department at UAM.


* 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)

Spain itself isn't that expensive, however eating out for lunch every day adds up quickly. Being the capitol of Madrid, the restaurants available tend to be pricier. Overall, I would say that it is definitely doable.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About 100 Euro
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat food from local grocery stores and consider bocadillos which tend to be cheaper and more filling.


* 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

The use of Spanish was strongly encouraged throughout the program

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
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? Advanced Grammar
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Make Spanish friends! Not only do you have more of an incentive to use the language, they also show you a different side of the city.

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?
  • The length, from January to late May
  • The activities offered by the program
* What could be improved?
  • Quality of host families
  • Quality of the classes offered
  • Organization regarding UAM classes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Madrid and Spain as a whole are still very traditional places especially compared to other developed countries. Racism, sexism and other prejudices associated with antiquated thoughts are still very salient in Spanish society.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.