Beautiful Seville, not-so-beautiful program Past Review

By (Spanish Language, Literature, University of Wisconsin - Platteville) - abroad from 01/14/2015 to 04/30/2015 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?
My time abroad was definitely worthwhile. Living in another country was a phenomenal experience. I loved Europe more than I can put into words. I spent a month traveling around Europe after the program ended by myself, and that was probably the best month of my life, at least so far.

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.

The classes were mediocre. While the professors are native Spanish speakers, they don't teach at a collegiate level. The tests were a joke and didn't have you apply any knowledge, but merely regurgitate some of it. Also, tests didn't clearly state what all you were supposed to include, so you'd get points off for seemingly nothing. A perfect example is the Artistic Monuments in Seville course, which would be a great class if the professor had some structure to it, waited for students to get to whatever he wanted to talk about, or was clear about what he wanted for his essay-style exams. In my opinion, if you're going to take points off of an essay, you should have a rubric stating what you want in the essay and list what the student was missing. Also, there are no official textbooks, but merely copies of random materials they believed fit the course, and a Wikipedia article is not a good source for a fake textbook. Also, their "intercambio" program is a joke; there were supposed to be 26 or 27 Spaniards at our first intercambio event. There were 4 for 31 students. They didn't try to help facilitate it beyond that either.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The secretary is very helpful. Elena, the guide for student activities, is also a wonderful woman and very helpful. Other than that, the rest of the staff was so-so.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host mom. She's truly an amazing woman. I'll try to keep in contact with her as much as I can. She cooked good food, washes clothes and sheets weekly, and even took care of me when I was sick. My roommates were okay; we never became good friends, but got along well enough.

* Food:

Just be aware that Spanish food can be kind of bland. I enjoyed what my SeƱora cooked, and there was always fresh fruit for us, but it can be a bit repetitive. Also, be aware that you only get toast for breakfast.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was surrounded by Spaniards, but they don't make much of an attempt to get to know you, so you kind of have to force yourself into their friend circles, so to speak. Other than that, you can get plenty of authentic food, drinks, visit sites, etc.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I only got sick once and my host mom helped me get better. I had nothing serious happen.

* Safety:

Seville is very safe. Every street's lite up at night and I never once felt in harm's way. I did get pick-pocketed in Madrid though, so you just have to be careful while traveling.

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)

You basically control what you spend. You get meals throughout the week, so if you go out and drink or go to expensive places on the weekend to eat, that's up to you. Same goes for traveling, etc. If you wan tot make it happen, you just have to budget for it.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Drink with friends outside of bars/clubs and it will be much cheaper!


* 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 took all Spanish classes and used Spanish because I wanted to, but you could go to this program and not learn hardly anything and still be fine.

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? Upper-level literature courses
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? Keep a note in your phone that you add new words to. Then you can go through them and review them to improve your vocabulary and colloquial language skills.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • living in Europe
  • my host family
  • cheap wine
* What could be improved?
  • course structuring
  • intercambio program
  • mandated WiFi at host family homes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I wouldn't be studying with locals and I should have brought peanut butter and eaten more Mexican food before I left.