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Study Abroad Blog

Being a Student in Spain

I have been studying abroad in Madrid for just a short time and it already has been one of the biggest cultural learning experiences of my life. Being a student in the United States is very different from being a student in Spain. There are so many things I didn’t know about the academic system in Spain and what being a student would be like here.
 Spanish version of the quad
 Students hanging out, conversing and learning from eachother

I am int the Spanish Language & Culture program here in Madrid. When I first enrolled with CEA, I was allowed to pick my classes beforehand, kind of like priority registration online. When I arrived in Madrid for orientation, I took a placement exam for Spanish to see where my knowledge of the language and my level of speaking. The exam composed of an actual test plus an oral conversation. A few days later, the program met with professors and advisors from the university and get our schedules and test results. I am taking 5 courses from Monday to Thursday all taught in Spanish: Spanish Language, Conversation and Composition, Discover Spain, Art in the Prado Museum, and Problems in Grammar in the Spanish language. My classes are with international students from places like China, Korea, London, Norway and you do find some Americans in your classes. It’s fun because we are all in the same boat: you’re abroad, have no idea what we’re doing, and trying to learn the Spanish language.
 Typical classroom
 before class starts

The classes in Spain are definitely different from the US. The average class size is very small. A lot of my classmates are in all my classes because we are all in the same program. This is something I have really liked because then each class has a familiar face and if we need help on something, we have each other.
 Familiar faces, rainy days
 international buildings

Classroom rules and expectations are also different. In Madrid, you cannot yawn or stretch during class nor can you get up and leave to go to the bathroom in the middle of class out of respect. I found this odd at first because you can easily do this in the U.S. The other thing is that in Madrid you only have class Monday to Thursday and classes are 1 hour and 20 minutes long, but at my university in the US, we have class Monday to Friday and each day varies how long the class will be.

Being a student in Spain is an incredible experience: it's different, unique, cultivating, and also challenging. You're experiencing something so culturally different from what you're used to and it's really fun to see how education is all over the world.

Lauryn H. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger in Madrid, Spain. She is currently a Senior studying Exercise Science at Belmont University.

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