Amazing overall experience, but terrible school. Past Review

By (The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 09/02/2015 to 05/20/2016 with

Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid: Madrid - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to get out of my comfort zone and to not compromise my goals. I could have been friends with other American students but I went out of my way to make as many international friends as possible. Now I have connections in almost every European country and Australia.

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 classes were taught very simply but when it came to the exam they were given as though we were being taught at a much higher level. The grading scale is also not proporionate to the US. For example, an 8/10 in Spain is a great grade, equivalent to roughly an 85-90 in the US. 10 is usually unattainable although 100s are given in the United states, not lightly but they are given. Although some professors are great, the majority are not.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I often got incorrect information, specifically regarding my visa.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I sought out housing on my own and wound up in the city center with 4 othe international students. I paid 450 euros and I had a great experience.

* Food:

Spanish food is not my favorite but Madrid is so multicultural that you can find just about anything.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Unfortunately, the majority of exchange students at UPC were from English speaking areas (Australia/UK/US) so integrating with the Spanish youth was difficult. The Spanish students at the school were not all too interested in getting to know exchange students so one had to go out of their way to meet Spanish people.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had one hospital experience and while it took awhile it was very thorough and I was helped throughout the process by hospital staff.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe in Madrid. Walking alone as a female at 4am was not worrying so long as you stick to the main roads. There are people out at everhy hour of the night so if you're in the center you will almost never be alone.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I would go and teach English or become an Au Pair instead. The program screwed my GPA because of the grading system and the poor university system. However I would still do a study abroad if it was my only option to stay abroad for so long. While I was not pleased with the academia portion, the rest of the experience was incredible.


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 30-70
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make your own food. And go to bars not clubs. Drinks are cheaper and there is no cover. Only stay at hostels with kitchens so you can save money when travelling.


* 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? 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? 611D
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 to language exchanges. Watch shows and movies and read everything you can in that language. I started reading Harry Potter in Spanish and it really helped.

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

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • The city and Spain in general
  • Ease of travel. Flights are so cheap.
  • Amazing friends were made
* What could be improved?
  • More realistic expectations
  • Better partner school
  • Improved website
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew about the poor quality of school so I could have waited and gone without studying abroad. My GPA suffered but not because of my lavk of dedication but because the overall teaching and grading system was so poor. I would have much rather saved my money and gone out there on my own.

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.'