Since I was young, I've always wanted to go to Spain, and being near or in a large city was important to me. The University of Alcalá partners with my school, and with this program, I was able to go with other students and a Butler professor, which made me a lot more comfortable about being abroad.
Razi is a second-year student at Butler University. She studies Political Science and International Studies. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going on walks, and public speaking.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The University of Alcalá's staff assisted in housing, transportation from the airport, excursions, and of course classes and credits for my home institution. If I didn't participate in this program with my school, I would have had to organize my own flight and transportation to the airport to leave.
I organized my own personal expenses, such as public transportation and a phone plan.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Take advantage of every opportunity. This program had several free excursions that they went on throughout the semester. There were some I went to, and others that I did not. Later on, I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunity to go on excursions with this program because I gain more insight on monuments, churches, and landmarks in comparison to going alone or with friends.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Classes are from Monday to Thursday, and they start at 9:30 am and end by 2 pm. The class schedule was probably one of my favorite parts of this program. With all of my classes, I went to school by 10:30 am, and I left by 2 pm. I was at 12 credit hours.
There's the opportunity for job shadowing, volunteering, and even internships, which I took advantage of while abroad.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was living with a host family.
I was a little worried about my safety, acceptance, and living situation. I was worried that my living style would be too different than theirs, but none of those the case at all. I overcame it by not forcing a relationship with them, but and talking to them as friends.
This quickly built a great relationship with my host family, and while I still understand other student's fears of the unexpected regarding host families, talking with them and making an effort to not feel like a stranger is what makes the difference.
The education system of Spain (and what I was told, Europe) is very different in comparison to the United States. There are not many assignments and very few tests. The few tests (midterm, final, final essay, etc.) count for the majority of the student's grade.
This was difficult getting used to, knowing that a single test could hurt or help your grade significantly, but it allowed me to experience a different kind of successful educational system. With my program, there weren't many student organizations to join or school sports, but the university tried to supplement that with football games and different activities throughout the semester.