Alcalá de Henares: A city of growth and a city for you. January 24, 2018

By (Baldwin-Wallace University) - abroad from 09/04/2017 to 12/21/2017 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to embrace the challenge of each day and find a way to conquer it. I realized that I won't have any days that I can simply turn on auto pilot and just live. I needed to find new ways to live every day and for a while that was frustrating, however I eventually realized that this situation wasn't permanent and eventually one day would come where I would miss having these challenges thrown at me daily, so why not embrace them now?

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

I was fortunate to have a host father that was a very good cook, so if this review is sent back to Alcalá, I would just like to tell my host father that the food was always very good, or "la comida siempre fue muy rica"

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I went out of my way to find places to connect with the local culture, but I do think the university can offer more ways to connect with locals, whether that be tutoring opportunities, sports or events around town. Alcalá has a ton of stuff going on all of the time and I think the university can publicize those events a bit more.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didin't have any major health problems while I was there, and I also did not have any friends that complained about the health care while abroad. I just don't have much of a basis to form an opinion on this.

* Safety:

Alcalá is a very safe city overall, there is a definite police presence and there were very few incidents where I even needed to question whether or not my safety was compromised.

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

Overall, I truly had a great experience abroad and cannot imagine going through another program. I have been given multiple opportunities for my future that I would not have if I didn't go through this program. I was given the support I needed to succeed and the opportunities to grow on a daily basis, and for that I am thankful.

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)

I am financially stable/smart, so this wasn't difficult for me. I just wish I had given myself more to work with in terms of finances, that's all.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 20 to 30 euros a week, if that. I didn't go out and eat a lot and that helped me save a good chuck of money.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Do not feel obligated to go out and buy coffee or churros con chocolate every day/week. Just because the locals are always drinking coffee and hanging out at bars all the time doesn't mean you have to either. There are other, cheaper things that locals do that you can do as well.

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

I needed to use my spanish everyday in class and at home, and for this I am very thankful because my language skills improved greatly.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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 Language 202
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? Go find locals and talk to them. Get a conversation partner. Do things that don't allow you to revert to English when you don't know what to say or how to say something. Locals will gladly help you out if they see that you're trying. Unfortunately, the best way to practice is to simply go and speak, to make the language a relevant part of your life.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

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?
  • Host home
  • Proximity to Madrid
  • Opportunities to connect with locals.
* What could be improved?
  • Activities with fellow program students
  • Clarity with grading scales
  • Access to free printing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Honestly, there's nothing that I wish I knew beforehand that I know now. I apologize if that isn't helpful, but hear me out. I went in with as few expectations as possible and only wanted to rely on what was being presented to me on a daily basis in Alcalá as well as my past experiences in Europe. It was a great combination of being aware and being clueless, and I felt that I grew the most because of this combination/balance.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'