I had an amazing experience but the program was complete garbage. Past Review

By (International Studies and Spanish, University of Wisconsin - River Falls) - abroad from 01/14/2015 to 05/01/2015 with

UW-Platteville Education Abroad at the Spanish-American Institute of International Education (SAIIE)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned more about myself and what I want from any future experiences abroad. This program was not worth the money.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I found the educational experience to be completely unsatisfying. The university itself was small and unprofessional. Resources were limited, there was poor internet. The "textbooks" we were given were rarely utilized and mostly consisted of content plagiarized from Wikipedia. The professors were not available for help. Most courses were taught in complete lecture style, which is claimed to be a European trait but as the university if made for and taught exclusively to Americans who are trying to gain language skills, opportunities to speak the language should be made more common instead of nearly non-existent. I was never academically challenged during this program. Grading was completely arbitrary and there was little accountability held of the student's or the professors performances.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

On-site administration of the program was a joke. The program staff consists of people who are either related or have been friend their entire lives. They are helpful as long as your problem has nothing to do with the teachers, programs, and any of the faculty. I found the secretaries to be the most competent. Elena leads the cultural activities and she is by far the most intelligent and capable staff at SAIIE. They will care for you and help you navigate Spain the best that they can but if you need to know anything more than where some good restaurants are they are pretty unreliable. Friendly nice people but not good for much else.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I enjoyed my housing situation. We lived with a senora and her daughter. There were no small children and the senora generally left us to conduct our lives how we pleased. I did not like that I was living with other American students because that leaves you speaking much more English than you ever should when trying to learn a language. I would have much preferred my own housing or to live with only Spanish speakers.

* Food:

Loved the food. The hardest part was adjusting to the different eating schedule as meals are more spread apart. Food was provided by our señoras from Sunday dinner to Friday lunch. On the weekend you have to fend for yourself. You will never find anything more than toast for breakfast and no restaurant starts making anything else until after 1 p.m. I was hungry very often.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This program completely failed with cultural and social integration, they successfully false advertised much more contact with natives than actually occurs. The university is all American students, there is no natural or organic contact with locals. In your home stay you live with Americans and so are again speaking English with them. Even though the program organizes "cultural activities" you are always with the other Americans and speaking English with each other. The intercambio program is a joke as you are never actually put into contact with natives in a natural way.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never needed any assistance for the health other than an occasional cold. Over the counter drugs are cheap and doctor visits are as well and easy to schedule. They will help you with appointments and finding the right medicine you need. Spain as a country is very well put together in regards to health care.

* Safety:

I felt safe in general. As a woman I walked alone late at night without any problem. My biggest complaint is the gender violence and sexism that is a terrible problem in Spain. I avoided going out to clubs and bars because everyday I had gone before I was harassed by Spaniards and disrespected. As a woman you can be expected to be stared at and hissed at as well as touched. They don't seem to understand the word "no."

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


* 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)

It was extremely difficult for me, it is not the Spain is incredibly expensive and would be very manageable for other student's. My family personally lives below the poverty and so it was difficult and I was responsible for all my expenses and received minimal financial help from my family. It was difficult not being able to have an income.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 50.00
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan ahead as far in advance as you can. Don't buy things you don't need. Save as much money as you can. Plan for it being much more expensive than you anticipate. If you have to choose between going to the bar and going on a trip, go on the trip.


* 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

I could have survived without ever learning any Spanish or really using it at all since we were so isolated from the culture.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I have been studying Spanish since High School and all through college. I also lived abroad for a year in Colombia, where I only spoke Spanish and had a huge opportunity to learn and use the language. I am a legal translator as well and honestly spoke more Spanish at home than I ever did in Spain.
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? You get back what you put in. You need to put yourself out there. Speak as little English as possible. Get away from the Americans. Don't talk to your family or friends back home, I'm serious. Have minimal contact with them and social media because a semester may seem like a long time to you, but it is not. Seek out local music, pop culture, watch movies. The hardest part will be learning colloquial Spanish and the only way to learn that is to get out there on the streets and expose yourself to the culture as much as you can. Practice thinking in the language, try writing your journal in Spanish. Anything and everything you can do in the language, do it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • Elena who lead the cultural activities
  • Program trips
  • Courses in Spanish
* What could be improved?
  • The Faculty
  • The exposure to the culture
  • More Speaking opportunities!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would have known how much false advertising they were using. They completely mislead the students and how the program was set up. I left the program feeling robbed and lied to.

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Artistic Monuments of Sevilla

Course Department: History
Instructor: Reda
Instruction Language: Spanish or English
Comments: It was not challenging. Field trips were taken nearly every day but the on-foot instruction was poor and he did not teach to all students and instead gave information to only sections of the class. He was poorly prepared, the information in his textbook copied from Wikipedia, he was rude and unclear with his expectations. Assessment was made through 3 exams and one final paper/project and he was completely unavailable to clarify his expectations.
Credit Transfer Issues: Whether this course transfers for you or not you will be forced to take it as a required portion of this program. You may choose to take the class in either English or Spanish but he will utilize both languages regardless.
Course Name/Rating:

Women's Literature

Course Department: Literature
Instructor: Sule
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: It was not challenging, her book was copied from Wikipedia, she did not use the location or make relevant connections to our location. She seemed intelligent enough but her she prepared only to the extent of reading the textbook aloud to us. I attempted to participate in class as I would in my home institution but was given incredibly limited opportunities to. A literature course should provoke students to think and develop ideas for themselves as well as support their ideas with content from the given text and historical context. Instead she simply wanted you to regurgitate the information and opinions she read to you during class. It was an awful experience. I received and A in the course but was very disappointed in the class and especially the teacher.
Credit Transfer Issues: This class will transfer for me, but most likely will not for future students as I've informed the Spanish Department of the poor quality of the course.
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Language
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: This course was intended to push students to reach out and meet natives and make connections with them. Instead we were given four papers to write, all that were possible to complete without speaking to a single native. It was a one credit course, and is also a required course in the program. It was more or less a complete joke as we simply had to write 4 "essays" with about 300 words each. No one held us accountable in our "coursework" there was no in class work done or interaction with your instructor in regards to the course.
Credit Transfer Issues: It will transfer as an elective and nothing more.
Course Name/Rating:

History of Latin America

Course Department: History
Instructor: Pepe
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: It was a content heavy completely lectured based course. It was not challenging but it was interesting. Pepe was very good at relating the history we were learning about Latin America to Spain and Seville in specific. He was knowledgeable and well prepared. I participated as much as I was able to with the lecture-based teaching style. We were assessed through three exams and one paper/final project that we presented at the end of the semester. It was a good class but it covered far too large of a time period to be fully comprehensive.
Credit Transfer Issues: This course will transfer for me and I do recommend it to other student even though my fellow classmates enjoyed it less than I did. He will expect you to relay the information on the tests using the same organizational structure he used to teach the content. Follow the outlines he gives you.
Course Name/Rating:

Spanish 401

Course Department: Spanish
Instructor: Lole
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: It was challenging at time as we covered advanced grammar concepts and a lot of material over the semester as it was a six credit course we had to attend everyday. I felt it was helpful and relevant. It was the class I had the most speaking opportunities and I really enjoyed the professor's efforts to engage us with the language. I participated very frequently, as did all my other classmates. We were assessed through essays and exams throughout the semester. We had occasional homework but they were very simple exercises that were easily completed and did not count towards our grade but were helpful because with grammar practice is essential.
Credit Transfer Issues: This course will transfer for me.