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Spanish Studies Program Instituto Franklin- UAH in Spain

10 Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

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Abroad in Alcalá de Henares

People study abroad for many reasons, and my main reason to study abroad was to get away from my normal every day routine and experience something different. Alcalá de Henares was the perfect place for me because I got the feel of a "small" Spanish town right outside the vast city of Madrid. The Instituto Franklin was also a perfect fit for me because even though the courses pushed me in my Spanish, they also were relaxed enough to where I could do other things and enjoy being abroad. The nightlife in Alcalá was very fun and there was always something to do whether it was walk around the plaza or get tapas on Calle Mayor. I also loved that we walked everywhere, even though the city is very accessible to public transportation. I also liked living with a host family because you got more of a feel for typical Spanish culture, including the slang, popular foods, and typical day to day life, which is very different from the American way of living. All together, this study abroad experience was amazing and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to study abroad in Madrid, but wants a town that's not quite as hectic!

10 Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

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An Unforgettable Experience

I had the time of my life in Alcalá de Henares. I came with the intent of perfecting my Spanish, and was able to immensely improve through classes taught in Spanish, living with a Spanish host family, and participating in the "Intercambios" program (practicing Spanish and English with a native student). I got exposed to the culture mainly by spending time with my host family and Intercambios partner. Instituto B. Franklin also took students on cultural excursions to cities such as Toledo, Cuenca, and Segovia. There are a wide variety of classes and subjects to choose from that introduce you to Spanish culture, history and language. The institution provides an orientation to get you familiar with the city, transportation, and even takes you to Madrid. One thing I would have liked to see is more opportunities to get involved in the local community. I would have loved to make more Spanish friends but I found it difficult to do so, because I was around Americans constantly during class. The one thing I highly recommend is staying with a host family - this is the richest part of the experience and something not to be missed.

8 Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

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A Great Life Experience

The best part about this program was being able to live with a host family. It was crucial in my learning Spanish and bringing more clarity and the relevance of the things I was seeing during my time in Spain and learning in my classes (history, language, film, culture). The home cooked food was great, most of the time. The program accommodates students from all over the United States and had nice field trips to several cities including Cuenca, Toledo, and Segovia. I took classes with only Americans, but if your Spanish is good enough, you can enroll in classes with other Spaniards. The teachers I had were super lenient and nice. It seemed like they did not have much expectations from the students. Sometimes, they seemed to have more important things to do than teach. A lot of the times, students seemed to have more important things to do than stay in class. Still, my Spanish improved tremendously, considering I knew very little at the beginning. I also learned a lot about geography, more than I did of U.S. geography.

I signed up for a conversation exchange buddy from the university, but she never appeared and I was never assigned another one. So, I looked for one myself.

I had to be very proactive to get to know the community—I ended up talking to many of my neighbors and strangers in Alcalá, which goes to show the community is very safe at certain times of the day. Alcalá has a lot of immigrants and foreigners.

The social life is depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend. You can be great at making Spanish friends (I found it very hard) and learn more Spanish with them. I also know many students, including myself, who traveled to other cities and other European countries as well. There are many bars in Alcalá and the city of Madrid is about 45 minutes away from train. In Madrid, there are a lot of shopping, galleries, museums, disoctecas, cathedrals and historical sites to explore. The hardest thing about the program for me was the culture shock of being in a different country and being around my classmates (other Americans) that had rather different backgrounds from me. Things seemed to be very different and very similar at the same time.