An incredible Spanish immersion experience May 30, 2015

By (The College of New Jersey) - abroad from 01/12/2015 to 04/29/2015 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This program was absolutely worthwhile. I gained intercultural communication skills and improved my Spanish proficiency. Most importantly, I made local friends and became part of a beautiful Spanish family whom I have stayed in touch with.

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.

Challenging coursework, but manageable

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Very helpful and dedicated faculty

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I highly recommend a host family stay. My host family was so welcoming and loving. We still keep in touch!! :) It is such an incredible experience to be fully immersed in the Spanish culture. Be prepared for culture shock and homesickness at the beginning, but you will make it through and it will be worth it.

* Food:

Great home cooked Spanish meals. Also, tapas are amazing and really only found authentically in Alcalá!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living with a host family definitely helped to fully immerse me into the Spanish culture and language. Also, the university offers an intercambio between Spanish and American students. Awesome opportunity to make Spanish friends!! That being said, I also spent a lot of time with my American friends I made in the program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The staff at the university will direct you if you need medical assistance.

* Safety:

I recommend going out with other friends at night in Alcalá. Buses stop running around 10pm and it is much safer to walk with at least one other person. I lived 25 minutes away from the Plaza de Cervantes by walking.

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

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)

Living with a host family really helped me stay on a budget. My only expenses were for traveling!

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make a budget for each weekend trip. Only bring the cash you plan to spend (and a debit card in case of emergency of course) and try to be strict with yourself. Also, book flights as early as you can!! You will save so much money. That being said, leave a couple weekends open so you can explore Alcalá de Henares and Madrid, and in case other opportunities come up!

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

My Spanish improved immensely! I am currently speaking at Advanced Low, thanks to the practice and experience in this program.

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? Spanish 211
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? I would recommend speaking as much as possible to your host family. Don't be shy! :) Also, participate in the intercambio program with Spanish university students. Many bars and cafés also have intercambio nights so look out for those! Great opportunities to meet new people and practice the language.

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?
  • No friday classes- perfect for weekend traveling!
  • Full immersion in Spanish language
  • Opportunities for volunteering and service learning
* What could be improved?
  • Coursework more evenly spread over the course of the semester
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had spent more time in Alcalá de Henares and Madrid. I would have loved to have spent part of Semana Santa (the week long vacation in March) in Spain, instead of traveling. The festivities are said to be beautiful, especially in southern Spain. I also would recommend doing this program alone if possible. It is a great opportunity to meet new friends and fully embrace the chance to find yourself and be independent.

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!