City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco


City College of San Francisco has been a leader in Study Abroad education since 1985. Thousands of CCSF students, faculty and staff, students from other colleges and universities, and citizens of the Bay Area and beyond have participated in our programs.



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Yes, I recommend this program

Madrid is a magical city and I still talk about it to this day. Aside from going to all of the museums, staying out at bars until 4AM, making great friends from around the world and eating great food, I traveled throughout Spain every weekend and was amazed by the culture and beauty of the country!! Flights are easy and affordable throughout Spain so it was easy to go during the weekends when I didn't have classes. Spain has so much to offer and I grew and matured so much from the experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Better communication with housing families.....breakfast and lunch were supposed to be provided daily and our breakfast was always very very light and I ended up having to spend money on breakfast and lunch every day so that got pricy.

Also, perhaps fitting all classes in 3 days so students had more days to travel and explore.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Studying Abroad in Madrid was one of the beSt decisions of my life!! Studying abroad gave me a whole new perspective on life and the other cultures around me. The housing, school, food, and social life of Madrid are all amazing. My favorite parts were being able to walk everywhere so I could see something new everyday, and trying new and exciting foods. Studying abroad is worth the money and time. I recommend it to everyone, especially programs for Madrid, Spain!!

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Yes, I recommend this program

This trip will be a memory for a lifetime. Definitely one of the most worthwhile experiences during my time as an undergraduate. Every college student should make study abroad a priority and what better place to do so than Madrid - a lively welcoming city with endless restaurants, parks, bars, and places of historical interest to explore. I hope to return to Spain someday but in the meantime I get to smile remembering how much fun I had with my study abroad peers during our time there. Not only is this trip exciting and enjoyment filled but on top of this looks great on resumes and applications. Spanish is an excellent language to study because it is beautiful and spoken world wide but also because it is highly marketable in the U.S. So do something for your personal and professional development all in one go. You won't regret it. I know I didn't ;)

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Yes, I recommend this program

I had been recommended this program by my sister, who did an ACCENT program in Florence probably 12 years ago. She had an amazing time and met a really diverse, interesting group of people, so I followed in her footsteps and signed up for the Madrid program. Even before it began, Jill Heffron was really communicative with me via phone & email in the process of planning/enrolling, and eased any nerves I may have had about enrolling into an external study abroad program (I attended USF, and they didn't have a Madrid program that met what I was looking for). The semester before, I attended a USF program in Oxford, England, and didn't have a great experience, due to the people in my program, the lack of immersion I felt in the city, and the classes. Therefore, I was hoping for a better experience in Madrid, and knew it would certainly be much different.

Fortunately, I had a really great & memorable experience-- I was housed in an amazing modern & clean apartment in the Embajadores neighborhood near Madrid's city center, Sol. I saw other participants' living situations and all the apartments were very different and impressive. From the start, my roommates were easygoing people who came from different school backgrounds.

My classes were a mix of Spanish classes at Universidad Complutense and other Spanish culture courses at a building (conducted in English) which held classes for our program & other study abroad programs. I took a test to be placed into the correct level of Spanish classes, and I thought it was the right amount of challenge for me. The teachers were great at Complutense too-- engaging and had big personalities. What I loved the most was the chance to take classes with other international students outside of my program. I was in classes with people from Brazil, China, and Morocco, among others. I enjoyed having another way to socialize and find my own way outside of the program. Additionally, the experience of being at a Spanish university was great! So fun to see how Spaniards socialize, and I still think about the tortilla de patatas bocadillos that I'd order from vending machines at lunch.

The classes conducted in English were a bit challenging to succeed in, I thought, since the tests on the material didn't always match up to what we had learned, and a lot of weight was put into the final essays and test. Of course, I'm sure the professors and course formats have changed over time. I took an art course (taught by a Spaniard, as well) and a Spanish history course, both of which were amazing for the chance to visit El Prado.

As for the socializing and the trips, I really enjoyed the age range of the program participants. Everyone seemed to be at different stages of life, yet we became very close and I continued to meet up with friends from the program in San Francisco after it ended. Just recently, a photo from a trip during the program I had posted to Facebook resurfaced as someone had commented, reminiscing on how fun it was. I think in a lot of ways I didn't know what to expect, but my overall experience exceeded my expectations and today I think fondly of those 3 months.

Throughout the program, I felt safe and supported by the ACCENT staff if there was ever an issue. They planned optional weekend trips, a few of which I attended and had a great time. For me, the best part was the new friendships I made and the side trips we planned and made on our own (memorably: Lisbon, Portugal; Grenada, Spain; Germany; Barcelona, Spain).

Spain is amazing! :) I recommend 150%.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I decided to study abroad in Madrid on a whim; I was nearing the end of my community college career and was looking for something fun to do so I signed up through CCSF. I was so happy that I took the plunge and completed the program. Not only did I have a wonderful time exploring the beautiful city of Madrid, I was also able to travel around the rest of Spain and even into parts of Europe, with ease. The program staff are incredibly helpful and accommodating and make themselves available for any reason. I also learned a TON through the program. Though there is ample free time, the professors and students at Universidad Complutense take education seriously and push you to acquire the knowledge. It was so cool... Just thinking about it brings back so many memories.. Ahh take me back!!

P.S. The Metro system in Madrid is top notch and truthfully one of the things I wish we had in America.


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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Jill Heffron

Job Title
Study Abroad Coordinator
Jill Heffron has been the Study Abroad Coordinator at CCSF for over 20 years, and she has no idea where the time has gone! Prior to working for CCSF, she spent a year studying in France, a semester in China, and a summer in Mexico. She also taught ESL in Spain, where she loved her students, but had a boss who was the definition of "loca".

What is your favorite travel memory?

About ten years ago I had the opportunity to travel with a group of Brits, Scots, and Aussies to Morocco. I loved both the country of Morocco and the group I traveled with. One of my favorite memories of the trip was riding a camel in the desert and then eating dinner in tents under the stars. Another was going to a restaurant so hidden in the mountains that we had to leave the bus behind and hike the rest of the way in the pitch dark. The chef was not expecting such a large group, and the food took forever to cook, but the restaurant owner's friends appeared out of nowhere and spent the evening playing live music and dancing with us to keep us entertained.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

My life has changed so much! I've gone from thinking of myself as a well-traveled, slightly older sister, to being the same age as my students' parents. This has definitely given me a different perspective and helped to relate to both my students who are excited about going abroad, and to their parents, who have concerns about having their son or daughter so far from home.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

There are so many. My students have met their future spouses abroad, changed their majors and their life directions, or found a job and stayed overseas after studying abroad. One of my favorites though is the student who refused to speak a word of Spanish with me before going abroad, but when I went to visit a month later, she wanted to speak only Spanish and refused to speak a word of English!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

That's tough! I would love to go on our summer study abroad program to Cuba, because the instructor is amazing and has deep ties to Cuba, particularly in the world of music. If I could get a full semester off though, I would sign up for our Semester in Rome and Florence. I love Italy, the food the culture, the art, architecture and way of life. The language is so beautiful. I studied it at CCSF for two years and my dream is to spend enough time in Italy to become conversant...

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I am my team! Working at a Community College means you are chief cook and bottle washer, receptionist, hostess, waitress and bartender! I am lucky to have wonderful student workers who help me with the day-to-day administrative work, and their enthusiasm and ideas, but keeping the program going despite budget cuts, administrative changes, problems with the economy and issues overseas all fall to me. No matter what, I still believe in the power of studying abroad to change people's lives, build bridges, and expand both our own horizons and those of the friends we make along the way.