Alicante: A life-changing semester in Spain Past Review

By (Spanish and Psychology, Boise State University) - abroad from 01/15/2012 to 05/18/2012 with

USAC Spain: Alicante - Spanish Language, Linguistics, European, Mediterranean, and Gender Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experience abroad was absolutely worthwhile. I gained a deep appreciation for communication, and I learned how to express myself in a foreign language. I also learned a lot about myself and gained a new sense of identity, especially in relation to independence and lifestyle choices. I feel like I acquired more tolerance and understanding after my semester abroad, and I am so grateful to have had this experience.

Review Photos

USAC: Alicante, Spain - Spanish Language and European Studies Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I was enrolled in the Track II Spanish Language course series, which was the intermediate level. After the program, I was at an advanced level, and I consider myself conversationally fluent. Having 3 hours of Spanish class Monday through Friday was intensive, but my professor was one of the best professors that I've ever had because she made the material interesting and she pushed us to always expand our knowledge.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Luis and Sylvain were absolutely wonderful-- they are some of the most caring and helpful people that I've ever met. They organized an abundance of events and field trips for students, and they checked in with me weekly to make sure that everything was going well.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living in a homestay was great because it helped me to immerse more fully into the Spanish culture. My host mom cooked delicious Spanish meals, and I was also able to interact with my host brothers by playing board games with them. I highly recommend living with a family!

* Food:

Spanish food is deliciosa! Living with a host family was great for learning more about the foods that Spaniards eat on a day-to-day basis.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There were many opportunities to become integrated into the local culture. I had an intercambio language exchange partner, I tutored a doctor for English, and I also made several local friends-- all of these helped me to understand the culture more fully. I encourage anyone to take advantage of opportunities like this, and I wish that I would have done even more to become integrated into the local culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

My program was very attentive to health care concerns. I didn't have any incidents, but I know that students who did have incidents were cared for in a timely and effective manner. Luis and Sylvain always checked in to make sure that everyone was feeling well and to offer assistance if anything came up.

* Safety:

Alicante is very safe, and I never felt uncomfortable or in danger. It is still important to pay attention to your surroundings, but Alicante is generally pretty friendly and safe.

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)

Food and drinks are cheaper in Alicante than in the US, so I was easily able to live on a student's budget while there. It is important to monitor your expenses and not go crazy with money, but with the right spending habits, I think that this program is affordable for all students.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $35
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Only use ATMs to pull out large amounts of cash in order to avoid frequent exchange charges. Also, only bring out the exact amount of cash that you want to spend at restaurants and bars. This way you don't get caught up in the moment and overspend your budget. Buy bus passes with more trips on them because that will also save you money in the long run. It is important to understand the exchange rate between euros and dollars so that you know what a good deal is and when you are getting ripped off.


* 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

The professors and administration always encouraged us to speak Spanish, and they always offered a Spanish option for tours during field trips and excursions so that we could practice even more. They also encouraged us to speak Spanish with the other Americans in the program.

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? Spanish 102
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? I recommend living with a host family and making local friends. Interacting with people on a daily basis in Spanish helped me to learn more vocabulary and to practice my speaking skills. It also gave me a chance to apply what I was learning in the classroom, which made the knowledge stick with me even more. Also, don't be afraid to speak with as many people as you can because just doing your best will go a long way. People will just love that you're trying, and they will understand when you make mistakes.

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?
  • My Spanish classes
  • The city
  • The staff and friends that I met
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I would have known more about getting around the city of Alicante, but that knowledge came with time so it wasn't a huge deal. It just might have been helpful to do a little bit more research before I left.

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!