Study Abroad in Andalucia, Spain

The following post contains excerpts from a recent article posted on GoOverseas.com by Zoe Fishman.


Zoe is an Intern at GoOverseas.com who had a love of travel instilled in her from a young age by her parents. She has been known to fall in love with every new city she sees, and immediately begin making plans to move there. She recently spent a semester studying in Córdoba, Spain, which convinced her that significant portions of her life must be spent living abroad. Her travel wish list currently includes Argentina, India, and hopefully an expedient return to Spain.

Drawn by the promise of sun, siesta, and sangria, college students have made Spain an overwhelmingly popular study abroad destination (#3 in our Top 10 Study Abroad Destinations). The opportunity to learn Spanish, to spend a semester in Europe, and to become immersed in a unique culture are just a few of the reasons why students choose to spend a semester in Spain.

While many travelers choose to reside in Madrid or Barcelona, others venture further south, to the autonomous region of Andalucía. The home of flamenco and bullfighting, Andalucía is a place that holds on to many of its traditions, making it unique in rapidly modernizing Spain. So grab a free tapa with your sangria, take in the Moorish architecture, and study abroad in Andalucía!

Andalucían Culture

American college students will appreciate the fact that, while some bigger cities in Spain have abandoned the mid-day siesta in favor of more commercial and tourist-friendly hours, many Andalucían cities continue to mandate naptime. It is this quality of life which students love about the region of Andalucía: no one seems to be in too much of a hurry, the people are warm and friendly, and everyone seems to love life.

Andalucían Culture Shock

This same relaxed quality of life can be difficult initially for American students to adjust to. Nothing (except the trains) is ever on time, and it can be frustrating to realize that no one, from the waiter at a restaurant to your friend whom you planned to meet at 3, is in a hurry to get to you any time soon. As wonderful as the siesta is, it can be an adjustment to avoid planning to accomplish anything between the hours of 1:30 and 5:00 pm each day.

Map of Andalucía

A final, and perhaps most difficult adjustment for some, is the Spanish horario, or schedule. After a small breakfast in the morning, the next meal is not till around 3pm, then follows the siesta, and later in the evening, a small meal around 10pm. If you plan to ir de fiesta, or go out, you will soon learn that Spanish discotecas do not fill up till around 2am. The schedule can be difficult to adjust to initially, but after a short time in Andalucía you will wonder why you ever ate dinner at the ridiculously early hour of 7pm! It will soon become apparent, that, like everything else in Andalucía, a more relaxed schedule simply reflects an appreciation for life.

Safety Concerns

Just as when traveling anywhere, it is important to be aware of your surroundings throughout Andalucía. In general, it is quite safe to walk around, although it is always a good idea to avoid walking alone at night. The primary threat is the occasional pick-pocketer or petty theft, which you can avoid by making an effort not to stand out as an American tourist. Additionally, while female students may be disconcerted by the constant heckling, Spanish men are not dangerous, just more flirtatious and persistent than you might be used to.

Funding

First check your university for available study abroad scholarships. GO! Overseas has annual $1000 scholarships for study abroad. Many study abroad program providers [such as API] also have scholarship competitions and grants. Luckily, Andalucía is far less expensive than other regions of Spain; in fact, you will probably spend considerably less on food and drinks than you are used to in America.

Qualifications

The necessary qualifications to study abroad in Spain vary from one program to another. Some have minimum GPA requirements, and many have minimum Spanish language requirements. Consult each program’s website for specifics. In general, programs are looking for motivated students who are passionate about having a genuine learning experience. Jeramy Johnson notes that API looks for students “who are serious about learning what it is like to live in a different culture, to experience new places, new peoples, and let that experience have a positive affect on them.”

Choosing a Program

This region of Spain is so full of charm, good weather, and stunning natural surroundings, that it is hard to make a bad choice. Your first stop when making a decision should be your school’s study abroad office. Studying abroad with one of your university’s study abroad programs will make it easier to transfer class credit to your home institution. If you don’t find a program that you like, you can try a private study abroad program provider. There are many that will take you to Andalucía, some of which are included in a helpful guide below. As Jeramy Johnson from API explains, “Each student has their own reason for studying abroad. Different programs and locations appeal to and are best suited for different types of students.” When choosing a program, you should keep a few personal preferences in mind. These include:

  • Types of classes offered. Will you be taking classes in Spanish or English? Alongside Spanish, international students, or American students? What courses are offered?
  • Course of study. Do you prefer to take a Spanish language intensive course of study, or would you rather find a program that allows you to take classes to satisfy certain requirements?
  • Immersion. What will be your opportunities for immersion? Will you have a chance to meet local people? Will you live with a family? Will you be in a dorm or apartment environment with American students, Spanish students, or international students?
  • Location. Do you prefer to live in a big city, smaller city, near the beach?
  • Support and advising. What kind of support will you have while you’re there?

Choosing a Location

Within the region, there are numerous options to choose from. The most popular study abroad destinations are Sevilla and Granada, and there are programs in either of these charming cities. There are also study abroad programs in the cities of Málaga, Cádiz, and Córdoba, although your study abroad options will be more limited if you prefer to live in one of these cities.

Cadiz sunset - Sarah Hobson

Cádiz

[GoOverseas selected API’s Cádiz program to highlight due to it’s unique position in Andalucía]

The oldest city in Europe, Cádiz is located right on the pristine beaches of the Atlantic. The winding streets of its old neighborhoods are home to the Carnival de Cádiz, one of the best-known carnivals in the world. As Jeramy Johnson from API says, “Cádiz is an amazing choice for those looking for a smaller, relatively undiscovered location.” If you want to soak up the sun in Cadiz, a good option is Academic Programs International (API), which leads programs at the University of Cádiz.

For more information on API’s other programs in Andalucía, including Granada and Seville, visit the API website.

Special thanks to GoOverseas.com for allowing us to repost portions of this article. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Jeramy Johnson says

    Thank you Zoe for putting this article together. Andalucía has so many things to offer for the study abroad student!

  2. Thanks for sharing this great post Jeramy! I’m glad you guys enjoyed it, and I hope it encourages students to study abroad in other cities in Spain (not just Madrid and Barcelona!).

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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