Incredible Experience in Alcalá de Henares May 23, 2018

By (The College of New Jersey) - abroad from 01/10/2018 to 04/27/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Alcalá de Henares is an amazing city with incredible food, people, and history - the same can be said for the rest of Spain. My professors at IF-UAH are incredible people and accomplished scholars. My homestay experience was ideal. I made two trips alone - one to Santiago de Compostela and one to Valencia - and highly recommend doing so, as I found it very transformative to make these trips alone. Traveling with friends to Barcelona, Toulouse, Paris, and London was unforgettable; doing so to any city, I would say, is also essential.

Review Photos

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

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The professors at Instituto Franklin-UAH are brilliant scholars and wonderful individuals. Assignments were interesting and fair and did not detract from the ability to capitalize on each day abroad.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Antonio made every effort to make it known that he as undergraduate advisor was available to help us at any juncture necessary.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Alcalá is a good-sized city (about the size of Newark, NJ [200,000 people]) that is immersive in terms of the Spanish language and culture but not so overwhelming as to detract from the overall experience from the perspective of the student.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I visited a doctor so that I could have prescriptions filled in Spain instead of having to have them filled in and then shipped from the US. The doctor at the clinic to which I was directed according to the health insurance information provided by IF-UAH was pleasant, I did not have to wait long to see her, and she promptly provided me with generic equivalents of and brand-name prescriptions that I needed. I have them filled a local pharmacy that day. One brand-name prescription that I needed was expensive, but I imagine that that is because a generic equivalent was not available.

* Safety:

I felt safer in Spain than I do in the United States. Cuerpo Nacional de Policía (Spanish National Police) vehicles as well as provincial and local police can be seeing patrolling and walking the streets almost any hour of the day or night. The safety session with CNP that was administered at the beginning of the program was very helpful, and the two officers who lead the session seemed very competent and had good dispositions.

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)

Food and shopping in Alcalá is comparatively cheaper than Madrid and other parts of Spain and Europe. A Madrid provincial transportation card provided by the Consorcio Regional de Transportes de Madrid (CRTM) can be purchased monthly for 20 euro at the Torrejón de Ardoz Cercanías (suburban train) station or at the Atocha Cercanías station in the city of Madrid.

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

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? Spanish 350 - Structure of the Spanish Language (Spanish Linguistics)
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? Listening to Spanish podcasts and watching popular Spanish television shows on Netflix were immensely helpful in this regard.

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
  • International Students
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?
  • Intimacy of professors/classes
  • Immersion in Spanish culture
  • Quality of life
* What could be improved?
  • Planned day-to-day activities in Alcalá on the part of IF staff
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I brought several bags full of personal items (e.g. shampoo, conditioner, etc.) in my suitcase because I was under the impression that it would be easier to do so than to wait until arrival in Spain to purchase these things. In hindsight, it would have been easier to simply wait until I arrived in Alcalá. The Alcalá Magna shopping mall is very close to the Plaza Cervantes, and Alcalá is full of accessible, fairly-priced grocery stores like Día, Ahorra Más, and Carrefour at which I could obtain any personal item or food that I needed. Aside from prescription medications, I would not waste valuable space in your suitcase with standard personal items that can be purchased abroad.

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!