Spain: Redefines and Rewards You! Past Review

By (Business Administration Management / Marketing, University of Kentucky) for

UFV Madrid / Universidad Francisco de Vitoria: Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Everything was fantastic, even the challenges. It all helped me to become the person I am today. I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

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.

The workload was relatively light compared to the United States. One thing to be careful about is the Final Exam for each class; in Europe, many classes have the majority of your grade weighted heavily toward mid-term and final exams, so start studying a bit early for finals! Also, the course registration process is a bit confusing since they give you a very large book with odd visual displays of class schedules, so make sure that if you get confused, ASK your advisers for assistance so that you don't accidentally register for a course in one language that has the same name as a course you wanted to take in another language. Most of the professors are great, and they genuinely care about students, so feel free to voice your concerns to them. Also, make sure that if you take a course (completely in Spanish) that you can not only speak in Spanish but UNDERSTAND it well; I had no trouble, but I had several friends who had to drop courses due to difficulty with different accents...just listen to Spanish-speakers talk on tv or some form of audio before you go overseas if you wish to take courses in full Spanish.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The University class scheduling process and trip-planning seemed a bit unorganized to myself and some other American students, but in the US we are accustomed to things being perfectly organized and laid out months in advance, whereas the norms in Spain were much more relaxed, just stay calm and don't worry through the process, it all works out fine. The International Office at UFV was absolutely amazing; they were so helpful and active in the students' experience. For example, they threw a big lunch party for us for Thanksgiving so that we wouldn't miss the big eating traditions from home!!! The only thing I really didn't like was the bus ride out to the University, but hey, it just so happened my housing assignment was in a nice Northeast part of Madrid and the UFV is West.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was given adequate room space, bathroom/shower facilities, good meals, and wireless internet access. The only things I had to buy were toiletries, lunch, plugin adapters and other small things. I was about 15 minutes away (by the Metro, your lifeline to travel in Madrid) from the closest clubs and Plazas, but I had about a 45 minute to 1 hour bus ride to the UFV once I got off the Metro in the mornings. My host mother treated me like a true son, and you will find out QUICKLY that Spanish mothers do not believe that you have the capacity to be full after a meal! In general, they constantly want to feed you, so don't be shy to say "no" or "I'm full" when they offer more and more food. They may act disappointed or complain that you don't eat enough, but inside they are overjoyed whenever you eat and they just want to ensure your happiness!

* Food:

There is a great deal of Pork served in Spain, and sandwiches (bocadillos) are very popular for lunch. Eating out can get quite expensive, but over time my taste buds became very bored with so many sandwiches during the day. Many dishes are also quite bland compared to American food, and if they claim something is "spicy" it is no where near as spicy as Mexican cuisine. What to try: croquetas (fried ball of cheese or cream with bacon or some other filling), Pulpo Gallego (octopus from Galicia...amazing), Cochinillo in Segovia or mid-northern Spain(young pig...don't get grossed out, it's incredible), Paella (rice/seafood dish), Tapas (snacks to go with wine or another drink during the afternoon/night)...and anything in Andalucia (south of Spain)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Go to Las Fallas in the Spring, or any major event for Spanish holidays. Go see the bullfights (corridas) at the Plaza de Toros!!! See the Alhambra in Granada, the Palacio Real in Madrid, the Catedral in Toledo, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the city of San Sebastian in the north, and go on every trip you can with the UFV, ESPECIALLY if the normal guide, Mario, is leading the trip...much fun!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Keep wallets in FRONT pockets, do NOT leave bags unattended, and just stay aware. Violent crime is EXTREMELY LOW, but Madrid has had excellent pick-pockets for several centuries. Overall health and safety were a non-issue.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

While many people did speak English, it was extremely beneficial to know/speak Spanish. I was able to practice Spanish with my teachers, fellow students, advisors at my Spanish University, host family, and people in general. I used Spanish every single day, from buying things to in-depth discussions in class. It can seem daunting, but if you take your time and try your best, the Spanish people are willing to work with you; most people will be thrilled that you are making the effort to speak the language, so they will deeply appreciate it and try to assist you. My only regret in this area is that I didn't spend more time with Spanish students, but in the UFV's defense, I didn't attend all the events they offered for exposure to their students.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Keep in contact with your ASA advisor--even while abroad--they can help you out with almost anything. Above all else, BE OPEN!!! You must be willing to meet new people (making friends quickly and early on can help a ton) and explore/try new things. You will not be told exactly where to go to buy things or how to get the passes for the buses/metro, so get a group of friends to help, ask your host family or your university advisers. It might occasionally get stressful, but the experience WILL make you better, and you will be more willing to take on challenges in the future!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Intermediate & Advanced Cultural Immersion Course

Course Department:
Instructor: Maite
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Maite was possibly the most amazing teachers I've ever had. The month-long intensive language/cultural immersion course taught us all so much with a FUN teaching style yet rigorous curriculum. It was invaluable to my experience abroad, and I cannot stress how much about Spanish culture that I would not have learned without it. It really helped to set me up for travelling to different locations and knowing the cultural norms and what was fun and exciting to do in Madrid as well as the rest of Spain!
Credit Transfer Issues: Be aware that European credits are called ECTS and they are higher in number than typical "hour" credits in the USA. Luckily ASA took care of my credit transfers and I didn't have to worry at all, but if you choose another program, BE SURE to consult both your home University and your Education Abroad program to clarify courses/credit in advance.