Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, so finding the perfect type of program is essential. There are a variety of exchange types, and I hope this guide will help you discover which one would be perfect for you.
If you are looking to do a direct exchange programs, ISEP offers the most options for undergraduate students, whether in Spain or across the world. A direct exchange program allows you to study directly in a university abroad. Often, they require you to already have studied the official language of the country for at least 5 semesters at university-level. It is recommended that you have at least with a B1 (intermediate) level of Spanish if you are wanting to do an exchange in Spain.
Direct exchange in Spain is especially great for students who are majoring or minoring in Spanish Language and Literature, and they are looking to put a capstone on their studies. It is a great way to become more comfortable speaking the language. This can be quite an intensive type of study abroad program, and it requires a lot of focus and studying. If you are looking for the challenge though, there are more than enough benefits doing direct exchange.
This option is also great for those who have their degree offered in English in a Spanish university. I have seen universities with degrees such as engineering or business administration instructed in English. This can be a great way to study abroad in Spain, even if you are not studying Spanish in university.
By doing direct study, you will have to become accustomed to the Spanish university system.
Learning Center Programs
You can find “learning center” programs are offered by ISA and CIEE. I would say that these programs are great for everyone. They have learning center program options for those at all Spanish language levels, as well as those who are not studying Spanish at all.
Learning center programs are not directly study in a Spanish university, even though the center may be supported by a Spanish university. They are specifically catered to international students.
Courses in Spanish
In learning center programs, courses are offered in either Spanish or English. If you are a Spanish major or minor, learning center programs are wonderful, as they provide intensive language and culture courses in Spanish. This is great for students who are looking to take Spanish courses for major or minor credits, but are not quite ready to leap in direct university studies.
The level of Spanish needed for courses can vary. Students will typically take a Spanish level test to determine which courses they would be most successful in prior to arrival.
Learning center programs, in general, are great because the courses are structured like American university courses, where you have several assignments throughout the course and two or more exams that make up the final grade.
Courses in English
There are also learning center programs where all the courses are offered in English. If you are looking to study abroad in Spain, but are not studying Spanish, then these courses can be the most beneficial. This could be a great way to complete outstanding general education requirements, but being able to complete these courses outside of your home university.
If you have a major or minor in addition to Spanish, such as history, art history, political science, economics, then courses in English at a learning center can be beneficial. It allows you to combine both of your areas of study together, by being able to take a class regarding the history of Spanish or Spanish business.
If you are interested in studying abroad, which type of program would you most like to go abroad on and why? For students who have been abroad before, what kind of program did you do your studies with, and what did you like or dislike about it? I would love to hear your responses in the comments section below.