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CIEE CIEE

CIEE Summer Language + Culture in Alcala de Henares, Spain

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    10

June-July 2015 Study abroad experience

It has been almost two years since my time abroad, and I still reminisce about various memories from my experience on an almost daily basis. I cannot stress how thankful I am for my decision to study abroad. Although I would advise students to study abroad longer than a month or two, this program is a phenomenal way to obtain a study abroad experience if it is not possible to spend a semester away. By living with host families, taking fascinating classes taught in Spanish, and living in the outskirts of Madrid, you can have an incredibly fulfilling study abroad experience in a short amount of time.

After living with a host family and taking classes taught in Spanish, you would be surprised at the amount of Spanish you learn – even after a month. I had taken many Spanish classes in high school, but due to my major, there was only room in my schedule to take one college-level Spanish class my freshman year. I studied abroad two years after that Spanish class, so I was nervous about having to communicate with a host family and even more nervous about taking classes in Spanish. However, my Spanish skills returned quickly and I enjoyed watching myself improve. It was a satisfying moment when I realized I was able to start having more in-depth conversations with my host family and other Spaniards because of my speaking abilities. There is something fulfilling about having conversations with people that otherwise could not have occurred if you did not learn their language. Because of memories like these, I would highly recommend studying in a country that speaks a foreign language.

I also gained a deep appreciation for Spanish culture and its history. In my classes, we learned about a multitude of historical events and the famous pieces of art that were created in response. The incredible thing was that, right after learning about these important events and artworks, I could take a train into Madrid to visit landmarks where these historical events happened and to see the art in person, at the Prado or Reina Sophia, that was just discussed in class. Being able to go physically see what we had just learned about gave me an appreciation for Spanish art and history that would be nearly impossible to obtain from learning about the same topics in the United States.

The last part of the program I want to mention is that it also allows students to travel. Classes are only Monday through Thursday, and therefore, students can have 3-day weekends to explore other parts of Spain, or Europe. Madrid is a 35-minute train ride away and you can easily find a bus, high-speed train, or plane to wherever you desire.

This program truly is great for learning about and living in the Spanish culture, as well as improving your Spanish in a relatively short amount of time. Because of those opportunities, in addition to numerous other travel and social memories, I could not be more grateful for my time abroad with this program.