A Great Semester in Alcalá Past Review

By (Spanish and Iberian Studies., Agnes Scott College) - abroad from 01/05/2009 to 04/30/2009 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I had already lived abroad several times but never in Spain. After leaving Alcalá, I was so comfortable with the language and people that I studied abroad again, this time in Madrid. After graduating I pursued a Masters in Madrid and have been living in Spain for 5 years. Had it not been for the program in Alcalá (and most importantly our group leader Cristina's help and guidance) I doubt I would have accomplished everything that now really shapes who I am as a person.

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.

Just the right balance. Interesting coursework but still left us with time to explore.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Very helpful and engaged administration.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Six years later, and they're still my Spanish "family." Perfect living experience.

* Food:

My Spanish "mom" was a great cook and really wanted to make sure I was comfortable.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Our group leader arranged outings for us to meet locals. All of us left Alaclá with at least a few great Spanish friendships.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

If we needed medical attention, either our group leader or her assistant would accompany us to the doctor. The clinic they took us to was excellent and there was absolutely no hassle or reason for concern.

* Safety:

Alcalá is a small town with plenty to do. It is very safe and was the perfect place for a bunch of young college kids to explore.

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)

Absolutely no problem with finances. Food was taken care of. The most money spent was on trips I decided to take alone with friends.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Less than 50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Look for budget airline tickets. There's a lot to see in Spain. Take advantage of it. Don't spend all your money going to other countries. Spain has a great train system and cheap domestic flights. Get to know the country you're living in before embarking on a "blitz" of Europe. You can eat cheap with many restaurants' "menú del día." A set price for two courses, dessert and a drink.


* 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

We were highly encouraged to use Spanish at all times although ultimately it lies in the hands of the students to insist that Spanish is used between them. Surround yourself with students who actually want to improve their language skills and don't spend your valuable time abroad speaking English.

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? 400
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? Seek out Spanish friends. Set up language exchanges with locals (intercambios). If you have a host family, engage with them. Be curious, ask them questions and share details from your life. It isn't a hotel. Just as they want to make you comfortable in their home you should be transparent and make them feel comfortable with you.

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

  • 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?
  • My group was awesome. Still keep in contact.
  • my host family. Still visit them all the time.
  • Cristina. She was there for us 100%
* What could be improved?
  • honestly nothing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I felt well prepared beforehand, so nothing really.

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!