My experience with Adelante was very mixed, with some positive notes and some negative notes.
I chose to live in the Adelante housing. The location was right next to Puerta del Sol, a great central location with lots of restaurants, shopping, and good transportation links nearby. However, as I was there during the summer, and this summer was particularly hot even by Madrid standard, living without air conditioning was extremely difficult. At one point, I came down with heat exhaustion just from laying on the couch, because the apartment was that hot. To make matters worse, there was an air conditioning unit, but it didn’t work. I asked about it, Eureka, the owner of the apartment about it, and there was no possibility of getting it fixed, so I was left to be taunted by a broken air conditioning, showing that it was possible to have air conditioning there, but yet there was no AC. In short, the Adelante housing is great, as long as you aren’t there during the summer.
The first two weeks were spent at the Eureka language school. I could tell that Eureka is a great school, and I appreciated the organized excursions during the first two weeks of my program. However, the structure of Eureka does not work for students who are there for only two weeks. It is designed for students to study there for months at a time. When I signed up for a program that included intensive language classes, I expected an intensive review of Spanish. Instead, I was placed into a class covering material I learned in high school, with people who were learning the material for the first time. So when I needed 15-20 minutes review per topic, I was instead forced to spend 4 days on it, and covered very little material in the time I was there. On a positive note, being just down the street from Eureka, who served as the landlord for the apartment, made it convenient when I had a problem, such as when the wifi stopped down and I needed them to fix it.
The internship was not what I was hoping for. I am interested in international relations, and was hoping for an internship that would allow me to explore career options related to international relations. I was placed at an NGO that related to my interest in international relations in name only. I worked in their marketing department, which had very little work for me to do, and I also find marketing to be extremely boring and not enriching enough for my interests. I spent many days just scrolling through news site or reading a book, feeling like I was just warming a desk. On the days that I did have something to do, it was merely translating documents to English or making Photoshop projects, bearing little resemblance to the internship that I had hoped for. I found myself in a marketing internship, which was not what I wanted, and I was extremely bored for 4 hours a day for 6 weeks.
This is what the positive element of Adelante comes in: their support. At one point, my frustration with my internship placement led me to email Adelante to ask for advice about how to handle it, and they immediately intervened in the situation. They asked Antonio, the intern advisor, to talk to my boss about it to save me from the awkwardness of talking to her about it myself. When he was unable to reach her via phone, he actually came into the office to talk to her. When she acknowledged that they didn’t have much for me to do, he arranged 2 interviews for me at other companies. Neither of the companies I interviewed with felt like a good match, so I decided to stick with my original company. Although not much ended up improving with internship placement, I really appreciated the support Adelante gave me, and it was nice to know that they tried.
It’s easy to dwell on the negative aspects of the program, but generally I had a very positive experience in Spain, but much of the positive experience took place outside of my class or my internship. It was what I made of it. I knew I wanted to be left with a positive impression of Spain, so I made sure to make it positive, by making friends and spending my time doing the things that interested me, whether that was going to see a movie in Spanish or traveling on the weekend. My Spanish improved exponentially during the two months that I was there. Even though my internship wasn’t perfect, being placed into an environment in which I was the only non-Spaniard improved my Spanish in a way that it could have never been improved from taking a Spanish class. I grew a lot from this experience, growth that I never would have experienced if I had stayed in the US for the summer.