Rollercoaster December 13, 2019

By (The College of New Jersey) - abroad from 01/09/2019 to 04/26/2019 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The experience was definitely worthwhile. I gained a new confidence in myself, I learned how to adapt, and I learned how to deal with living with difficult people. I also have a whole new appreciation for home and being close to my family.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I felt more like I was staying in a hotel and my host mom and host sister were the concierges. I went into it expecting and hoping to be a part of their lives and activities (I requested this in my application) but they didn’t make an effort to include me. I felt like they had no interest in getting to know me as an individual as they never asked me questions about my life or family or anything. My host mom could also be very arrogant and a know it all. She even said it was “una barbaridad” how much I ate before asking me if I gained weight since arriving. Always comparing me to previous students and telling me I shouldn’t be tired because I do nothing. I felt like nothing I did was good enough in her eyes. She was always judging me and telling me my Spanish wasn’t good enough (even though I’m about a C1). The only good thing was the location and food (when she wasn’t portioning my cereal for me to limit how much I could eat).

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We were very isolated with American students. The only way I was able to meet other Spanish students was through Erasmus. I wish there was an opportunity to have taken a class with other Spanish or international students. I probably could have gotten by speaking only a few words of Spanish.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I went to the doctors once and it was very easily accessible. I was able to get an inhaler for just about €6 which amazed me how low prices it was since it costs more like $65 in the US.

* Safety:

The parts I was in felt very safe

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

This is a really great program and the Instituto Franklin staff does an amazing job. The program had so much included in it and I loved that it was in a city but not right in the heart of Madrid.

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)

Hard to say since a lot of expenses (food and housing) were included in program costs so anything additional was my choice

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Without travel, €30-€50. With travel, €250
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If it’s a university town there may be discounts for students (especially Erasmus students)

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 370
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? Strike up conversation with strangers. Make sure you’re with a good host family you can actually practice with.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Instituto Franklin staff
  • City it was in (Alcalá)
  • Excursions planned by el Instituto
* What could be improved?
  • Host family pairings (more attention to what requests are in students’ applications)
  • Integration with Spanish students
  • Reduce isolation of American students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It’s really ok to switch host families.

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.'