This may be this first and most important concern. Your
living situation while studying will have some impact on
this - will you live in an apartment or with a host family?
In a shared flat or alone, a single or double room with
a family? Your cost in terms of rent (or monthly housing
allowance) and food will vary greatly. Also consider how
and where the programs provide instruction. Many will offer
classes at the academia or program office itself
while others may send you to the University of Seville to
study with other abroad program students. Many university
or college sponsored programs - the popular year or semester
abroad - will offer a combination of some sort: initial
orientation classes at first, then a mix of courses at the
University and at the program office or centro.
So why does this boil down to your expenses? If you take
the majority of your classes at the University you will receive
more or less the same instruction as many other programs.
Now consider that the prices for the programs can range
from $11,000 to $25,000 per year (note: it's been many, many years since I was in college so these prices are to give you an idea). So if you study in the
same classes for most of the year is it worth and extra
$14,000 per year for the facilities? In a few cases it might
be, but in most I'd take the $14,000 and spend the summer
traveling in high luxury or save it for paying off my college
loans. As for the smaller private schools, or academias,
you need to consider who will teach the classes and the
type of services and facilities which are offered. In your
case it may well be worth it to pay an additional sum of
money for modern facilities, qualified teachers and good
Housing is one of the most important and perhaps nerve-racking
topics for the student. Most programs for university students
in Sevilla involve housing with a host family. You may be
able to choose a single room (you only) or a double room
(shared with another student). You will share space in the
house with the people who live there and may have limited
access to things like the television and the kitchen. This
will likely include a meal allowance which covers all your
meals or some of your meals. While they are listed as a
host family, the family and reasons for hosting students
will differ. Some families consist of a señora only, who perhaps is hosting students as a means of
income. In many cases they are very friendly and open, and
in other cases you may experience a feeling of being a tenant
and less a family member. Some families are actual families:
you'll stay in a house with a typical family unit of husband,
wife and children. There are many advantages to living with
a host family, including practicing the language, learning
customs, eating typical Spanish meals, getting advice on
life in the city and of course having laundry service. The
disadvantages include less independence and privacy because
of a meal schedule, rules regarding
use of the house and perhaps acceptable times for coming
back after a night out. Depending on the program and your
length of stay you may be able to change your accommodation
to live in a residencia for students or rent an
apartment and live a more independent life. This is often
with much discussion (and generally not a popular choice)
with the program staff. So why do many of the semester and
year abroad programs seem to insist on these living situations,
at least initially? It provides the student with a stable
living situation, often with families who are accustomed
to the problems and issues of foreign students. If problems
arise the host family can alert the program staff who can
then discuss any issues. Think of this as less spying and
more a support network to make sure your adjustment to life
in a new country goes well. The quality of the houses and
families selected may vary greatly from program to program.
Some will have different standards when it comes to type
of family unit, location of housing, cleanliness and conditions.
Yet even those with the best intentions and rigorous standards
can misjudge a family, or the conditions and stability of
the family can change. Students and the family can also
become "incompatible" for various reasons. While
not common, sometimes students can be moved to another house
if the situation is not working out on either side.
So, there is some getting used to the family housing option.
If you are a college student who was living on their own
in a dorm or an apartment this will be a loss of freedom.
The rules may seem a bit strange and even unfair. You may
want to rebel, no? Let's have a little fun and see how you
can make your host family mad. I say this hoping you will
avoid doing these things below:
- Come home very late at night on most nights. Use the
kitchen or make noise.
- Complain about the food, or make a lot of special diet
requests. Don’t be flexible about what, when and
how you eat. Don’t take into account that special
needs for your meals may mean a bigger change in the routine
of your hosts than you think: they may have to learn new
cooking methods, go to a different store 10 minutes outside
of the neighborhood to pick up an ingredient.
- Ask to use the fridge to store your own food.
- Don’t show up for meals. Give little notice when
you won’t be home for meals.
- Go on a trip without advising your family.
- Receive a lot of phone calls at the home. Also make
a lot of phone calls from their home line. Get a mobile
phone so you don’t bother them!
- Leave the lights on in the room you are not using.
- Invite people over to study or to hang out.
- Act as if you have a right to certain things because
you pay for staying in their house. You pay for lodging,
meals, electricity, laundry and cleaning up after you.
You don’t pay so you can dictate every detail of
your meals, use the television, phone and all of the common
areas of the house.
- Bring home guests of the opposite sex, especially to
spend the night.
Note that all families are of course not the same. So a
lot of this is relative, so to speak. Still, expect the
following situation, which while very limiting, will set
your expectations low and you will be much happier. It is
so important to remember that you are living in another
country and to be flexible. It is also very important to
remember that you don’t feel you have the right to
certain things because you are paying for this service.
The family makes plenty of sacrifices in their lifestyle
so you can stay with them. You must respect that. What you
have a right to and what you don’t have a right to
living with your host family:
- Don’t expect the right to lounge around on the
couch and watch television.
- Don’t expect kitchen privileges such as use of
the fridge and cooking equipment.
- Don’t expect to be able to take multiple showers
during the day, or to take long showers.
- Don’t expect use of the telephone on a regular
basis. You do not have the right to receive phone calls
or make phone calls regularly.
- Don’t expect heat or air conditioning. Heat is
much less common in Seville. Air conditioning may be limited
to room units which don’t cover the whole house.
- Do expect them to wash and dry your laundry
- Do expect them to clean and provide bed linens and
- Do expect a regular meal schedule, but don’t
expect it to be based on what works best for you in every
Housing options tend to be much more flexible when you
are studying with a private academia in which the
age of the student and purpose of study covers a wider spectrum.
In these cases the academia needs to provide a
variety of alternatives to attract clients, from living
with a host family with meals included to more independent
options such as a hotel or an apartment. In these situations
you will be better able to dictate your living conditions
according to what you're willing to pay.
You're likely coming to Seville to have fun but you want to
study as well, right? There is a big difference in the quality
of the academics as well as course topics in these programs
depending on a number of factors: your language level, agreements
with a local university, credentials of the professors, course
offerings and course credit. A quick review:
Study options will depend on your ability in Spanish. No matter
what your level you can likely find a program which will take
you. If it's a college or university sponsored course you
will generally need to have taken some Spanish classes ahead
of time. The number of classes you need will depend on the
program. A few programs require no previous Spanish and you
can take your classes in English while you take a basic Spanish
course. Almost any academia will take you no matter
what your language level is. They offer several tiers of course
work depending on the ability and are quite used to people
coming with little knowledge of the Spanish language.
Your language level
Agreements with a local university
This can be very
important in terms of your interaction with Spanish students
and the number of classes available to you. As stated above
many programs have an agreement with the University of Seville
where you can take classes especially designed for foreign
students. In some cases you may also be able to enroll in
the regular university classes. In this case the course work
will be much harder but you will truly experience the Spanish
university system as well as be able to mingle with more Spanish
students. Some programs do not have agreement with a local
university so students may attend all of their classes in
the program facilities. While there is some advantage to having
all instruction in the same place, the daily academic interaction
will be limited to those in the program.
Credentials of professors
Especially important if
the program does not have an agreement with a local university
is to know what experience and credentials the professors
have. Like in the U.S., many professors are studying for their
PhD. In some cases they will already have them and may have
years of teaching experience in a university or college. Most
of the time you will be taught by native speakers, which is
very important if you are in Seville to learn the language.
Yet some programs will have less qualified teachers or they'll
have less experience. Some of them are quite good - they have
natural teaching ability and enjoy working with students from
other countries. But it is important to check out who teaches
the classes if you plan to get the full benefit of studying
As mentioned before the option to take classes
at a local university can greatly increase the number of classes
you can select. As well some study abroad programs give you
the opportunity to specialize your studies. Language and culture
are perhaps the most common offerings. Options to study history,
business, science, art, dance or cooking may be a available
in different levels, so it's important to understand if the
program offers a certain concentration of course work in your
areas of interest. A highly rated or credentialed program
which is known for it's language program may not be as good
for you as a smaller outfit which concentrates on history,
business or art.
Very important if you are studying for college
credit is whether your course work will be accepted at your
home university. This varies from school to school and depends
on the agreement your University may or may not have in place
with the program in Spain. For instance, some universities
will have a contract with a program and will pre-certify the
classes so you will have no problems transferring the credits.
Other schools will run the program itself in Seville, in which
case the classes are considered a part of the regular university
course offerings. In the case that your university does not
have an agreement it is generally up to you to check to see
beforehand if they will accept credit from the program. Even
then you may be required to provide a syllabus or course outline
or other documentation so academic advisors or departments
can match the course in Spain with an equivalent at the home
university. What the program can provide you in terms of course
descriptions and other materials is important in this case.
Almost every program will offer some cultural activities
to compliment the course work. Typical are visits to museums
and monuments, generally with a guide or professor who will
provide historical and cultural background of the places
or exhibits. Other cultural activities in Sevilla could
be the opportunity to attend a Flamenco
show, dance classes, cooking classes or intercambios. The last is perhaps the most important. An intercambio is a language partner - native speaker - who will help
you learn the language. In turn you may spend time with
them practicing their English so you both benefit from exchange.
A good program should offer you opportunities to meet Spanish
students or speakers as a way to learn not only the language
but the culture. In some cases you may become better friends
and perhaps go out on the weekends to socialize with other
Spaniards. This is probably the best way to get adjusted.
Other cultural activities often involve day or weekend trips
to other towns in Andalucia. Granada and Córdoba
are perhaps the most common trips for the university programs.
Other destinations such as Cádiz, Ronda, Madrid and
Salamanca may be included. The trips, intercambios and cultural
visits in Sevilla all add value to your experience and may
influence the price you may be willing to pay.
The Program offices or centro can make a difference
in your experience. The offices can serve a variety of purposes
such as a meeting place, classroom, library or more and
more importantly a place for internet access.
If internet access is very important to you ask about the
number and type of computers in the offices or the ability
to use your laptop. Inquire what types of books and materials
are available to you for studying. Find out about the office
hours and staff - how many people are working for the program
and what types of positions do they have? How long have
they been on the job? What services and support are available
for students for medical and academic issues? The offices
and the staff offer a support network while away from what
is familiar, so understanding their capabilities and resources
should always be a part of your initial investigation of
what program is best for you. Most programs also include
medical insurance which will cover you during your stay.
It's important to understand your coverage if you have any
pre-existing conditions or are on any prescription medicine.
In the case of prescriptions most programs will tell you
to try and bring enough medication to cover you for the
duration of your stay. In the case of a longer stay you
should inquire ahead of time about arrangements for your
Location is everything, right? Not always, but it is important
when considering where you will be studying in Sevilla.
The good thing is no matter where you're located, Sevilla
is pretty easy to get around by bus, walking or taxi. If
you plan to study in an intensive course - 2-4 weeks - I
think the location of the program is a little more important.
In this case you'll be spending a significant part of your
day in one area, and to maximize your free time it's nice
to be in the center if you want to enjoy the sites and all
the movida of Sevilla. But whether you study for
months or a few weeks if your location is further from
the center you may miss out on some things you want to see.
Now this is fairly subjective - living in Triana, Los Remedios
or somewhere else will give you a different perspective
and you will experience a different Sevilla than
in the center. In Triana for instance you might see more
of everyday life and that can be a definite benefit. Also
consider that the housing is generally convenient to the
program offices, so where the program is located will often
influence your neighborhood while in Sevilla. Notice I say
generally, because while more often than not there are program
standards for distance the student may have to travel it's
not uncommon to have a few housing options which are 30-45
minute walk each way to get to class.
For a year abroad program probably the best place to start
is your university or college. Many have a study abroad
department which organizes programs for students. Others
offer programs through the department which is best suited
to the subject - ie: a Spanish or Romance Language Department
may handle the study abroad programs for language in Spain.
The business school may offer another program with business
course work. In the case of a state school that runs it's
own abroad program (and where you are a resident) you may
be able to study without paying much more in tuition than
you do for a normal school year. If the programs do not
meet your needs you still have plenty of options. Many other
university and college programs allow anyone attending another
university apply for their own programs provided they meet
the requirements. You can also do it on your own and find
a privately run company or academia which may have
requirements or may accept just about anyone.
Below is a list of programs in Sevilla with web sites so
you can choose which is best for you. Links go directly
to the Sevilla pages when possible. Keep in mind some universities
and schools may have agreements with local language institutes
already established in Sevilla. Soon I will divide up the
listings by type: year and semester abroad, summer and month
Pablo de Olavide
University (through CCCS)
- New Paltz
Experiences Abroad (CEA)
Languages (through CLIC)
for International Studies
First Step World
Cross Cultural Studies
To locate all sorts of programs I recommend the following
websites which cover the globe. You may want to study in
Sevilla but there might be something out there that just
grabs you, so check out all the options! One note for some
of these pages - they work on an advertising model so sometimes
the places you see first are simply the ones paying for
Learn about culture shock and be prepared to deal with
it. Everyone at some point goes through this, whether they're
here for a few weeks or a few years. Everyone will also
go through it a little differently. One thing I will absolutely
guarantee is that you will miss home at one point
or another, and don't expect it to go away for good after
you've been here for a while. There are various signs or
symptoms of culture shock, one big one that stands out is
questioning the way they do everything here. I'll soon add
some more symptoms to this page, but for now here are a
few links with more information on culture shock and reverse
culture shock (re-entering your home country)
Solid Overview of Culture Shock
Symptoms and Helpful Solutions
the Shock out of Culture Shock
when you go home