I studied in Alcala de Henares for the month of June, 2018. Alcala is the home the famous writer Miguel de Cervantes. The city is very proud of this and named a plaza, multiple streets and buildings after him. They have made his home a museum, and it happens to be in the heart of the city. Our campus was also very close to a lot of businesses and restaurants as well as the Plaza. Alcala was a forty minute train ride to Madrid. This was very convenient because Madrid was a nice day trip for shopping or going out to eat.
I chose to come on this trip because it was a great opportunity, and I knew some other people who were also going. If you are someone like me who gets nervous in environments that are unfamiliar, this is a great way to study abroad. I would advise knowing the language well before taking this kind of trip. I had only taken two semesters of Spanish before I went and it was difficult to travel around by myself. I will say that being in Alcala, an area with less English speakers, I was really forced to practice my Spanish. Also, my host family did not speak any English at all which made for some really broken conversations. Because of this, I was not able to become close with my host family which was very disappointing. I believe that becoming close to them would have made my trip a lot better because I would have felt less uncomfortable in my temporary home.
Other than an awkward living situation, my trip was fantastic. I met a lot of people who I will keep in contact with and became close with my professors. The professors want you to have a great experience and provide the best opportunity to insure that it will happen.
Chandler Shelton-Swenson is majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Criminal Justice. She participated in a faculty-led trip to Alcala, Spain through the Spanish Department in June, 2018.
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