España: An Experience Like No Other Past Review

By (Finance, Bowling Green State University) for

Instituto Franklin-UAH: Alcalá de Henares - Study Abroad in Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot of my conversational spanish-speaking skill that I now have. Studying abroad really helped me learn the language. It was also a great experience and I got to travel a lot, which I have always wanted to do. I would love to go back!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The educational experience was great! Before I went to Spain, I had only taken classes through the equivalent to Spanish IV in high school but by the end of my one semester abroad, I was fluently conversing with my host parents, professors and other students. The work load was fairly normal to me from that of the U.S. and the teaching methods were basically the same as well. Both experiences were good. The grading system in Spain, from what I can remember is different than the U.S but the professors used the U.S grading scale for us. The professors were really nice and they understood that Spanish wasn't our native language. I was incredibly nervous about taking classes in Spanish but I was able to understand every one very well. They spoke clearly and slowly (or at least slower than what they are used to). If they got speaking too quickly or said a word we didn't understand, all we had to do was ask them and they would slow down or explain the word to us. I learned so much from going abroad. It truly is the best way to learn a second language.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program directors in Spain were great and very helpful with anything we needed. The directors in BG were very helpful and knowledgeable of all of my questions before I went over there. A special thanks is to Nora because I probably bombarded her with a million questions before I went over. She was incredibly helpful and made me feel really good and more relaxed about things when I started to get worried before I left.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My mom and my aunt came to visit me for a week, so while they were there, I stayed with them in a hotel located right by my apartment. As for who I lived with, I lived with another BGSU student, a host mom and her daughter. Her daughter wasn't there very often because she was a flight attendant, but when she was there, she didn't make my roommate and I feel very welcomed. That was the only thing I disliked about my housing situation. It was never bad enough for us to talk to the program directors but we just felt uncomfortable when she was around us.

* Food:

Our host mom had been hosting students for many years by the time I stayed with her. I think she had a good idea of what kind of foods Americans did and did not like, so she tried to make meals that we were used to/would like. However, I wish we would have been able to eat more traditional Spanish meals.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I remember all of the trips we took as a group and I loved going on all of them. We went to the north of Spain and to the south and I couldn't believe how different they were! I am so glad we were able to see all the landmark buildings as well. These trips were a lot of fun.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

All health issues were properly addressed. I did not have any experiences with healthcare, so that is not applicable to me. The local drug stores were a lot different than the ones at home because if you needed to buy some medicine, which I did at one time for a cold, I couldn't just go pick something out myself. I had to tell the pharmacist what my symptoms were, and then she gave me something. There was nothing in my host country that I needed special shots for, prior to arriving there. All safety issues were properly addressed as well. I don't think there were any problems with our students.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

The program ALWAYS wanted us to speak in Spanish. It was required for us to speak Spanish in the classroom and we weren't supposed to be caught speaking English in the hallways of the University. At home, we were allowed to speak whatever we wanted to in our bedrooms but we always spoke Spanish at the table during meals so we could converse with out host mom.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
  • Other

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The professors
  • The learning experience
  • The directors
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Any student who is a spanish minor or major should consider this program. It was a GREAT learning experience for the language. My only words of wisdom would be is not to feel intimidated with your speaking and to speak as much as you can in class, with your american students in spanish, with the native students and with your host family.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Intro to Spanish Phonetics

Course Department: SPAN 3800
Instructor: Sara Galán and Javier's nice
Instruction Language: español
Comments: Throughout the semester, this was my "extra" course. I was sitting in on the class, doing all the homework and everything else that the other students were, just because I thought this class would be interesting and I thought it would help my Spanish-speaking skills. I ended up taking the class for a grade at the end because I did well in it. The class was hard, but it was beneficial to my speaking skills and I am glad I took it.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Composición y Conversación II

Course Department: SPAN 352
Instructor: Mónica García
Instruction Language: español
Comments: The class was a little bit difficult because it was the second composition class that I needed to take and when I was in Spain, I was allowed to take composition 1 and 2 at the same time. Had I taken the first class before hand, I think it would have made it a little easier but regardless, I got through the class ok. I loved Mónica. She was by far my favorite professor in Spain. She explained things so clearly and was very helpful when I needed it. Whenever I was in her class, I always wanted to participate and at that time, I wasn't much of a participator back in the U.S.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Conversación y Composición I

Course Department: SPAN 351
Instructor: I don't remember her name. She was the niece of Javier Blanco
Instruction Language: español
Comments: From what I remember, this class was a little challenging and for some reason, I felt intimidated by the professor. I'm not sure why I felt like this because she was very nice and taught the class very well. I worked hard in that class and it showed in the end with my grade. Spanish composition has always been my weakest, so that's probably why the class was a little more challenging. Overall, it was a good class to take (and I should probably take it again too keep up with my grammar!)
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Spanish Culture and Civilization

Course Department: SPAN 371
Instructor: Javier Blanco
Instruction Language: español
Comments: This was my least favorite course in Spain and my toughest course there too. It wasn't bad because of the instructor, because Javier was really nice, but it's just not my favorite topic. It was also a really hard class because Javier was so knowledgeable with this stuff, that it was sometimes overwhelming to learn everything from him. I ended up not taking this class as a grade so it wouldn't hurt my GPA and I had to retake it again once I got back home.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Boroque y Rococo Arte

Course Department: ATRH 454
Instructor: Mónica García
Instruction Language: español
Comments: This was my favorite course when I was in Spain. Unfortunately it didn't count for my Spanish minor, but I knew that information up front and chose to take it anyways. I am so glad I stuck with it because this was the best course. I learned an enormous amount of information about all kinds of art, buildings, painters, etc. By being in this class, we got to go visit four museums in Madrid and I loved being able to go there with Mónica because she would explain things to us in more depth that we had talked about in class.
Credit Transfer Issues: No