Studying abroad anywhere in the world is an amazing experience. You get to live in a new country while studying at the same time. I decided to come to Madrid in Spain because I wanted to further my education in Spanish and I wanted to live in a city atmosphere (an added bonus: I got to come with my friend Kaitlyn). Luckily for Spanish students who want to study abroad, the Spanish department at Lycoming College has a good relationship with a school called Estudio Sampere. The best thing about Sampere is that they have multiple schools in Spain, Ecuador, and Cuba, so Spanish students have a wide range of possibilities. After 14 weeks of studying abroad in Spain, I can see why Lycoming decided to partner with Estudio Sampere because the schools do have a lot of similarities along with some differences.
Estudio Sampere is a really interesting school to study at because the student body is very diverse. First, many of the students are from different parts of the world as well, such as Germany, Sweden, Belgium, France, Madagascar, and many more. Having multiple people from all around the world in one class is amazing because this allows the students to share their cultures. Second, there is a wide age range within the students. I have met people between the ages of 18 and 60 from all different places in their lives. Some have jobs, some have kids, some just moved to Spain, and so on. Third, it’s very inspiring to know that a majority of these students are not here to receive credits for a university, but they’re there to focus and learn the language of Spanish. Having that kind of atmosphere inspires others, like myself, to put in effort and enjoy the language as much as they do.
The biggest difference between Estudio Sampere and Lycoming College would have to be the scheduling of classes. For example, I am not taking four classes at the same time, like a normal college student would at Lycoming. Instead, to receive 16 credits, my schedule is based on how many hours I attend class. This means that every week I am required to have 24 hours of class time, and that includes going to classes, extra activities, and day trips. For starters, I attend class for three hours a day either in the morning or the afternoon (depending on the schedule for that week). If I have my regular classes in the morning I will go to class starting at 9am to 10:30 and 11am to 12:30pm. This allows the students to have a half an hour break in-between classes to get a coffee or eat some breakfast if they need! The schedule difference is also structured around the culture of Spain and that they eat at different times. Lunch is from 1-3, so we have a break time for the afternoon classes too.
While the class schedule might be different, the class structures are very similar to Lycoming’s Spanish classes. Our classes at Sampere are based on conversations, just like at Lycoming. For example, one time in class we watched a movie called “El Laberinto del Fauno” which is a movie that is considered a fantasy movie but also takes place during the Spanish civil war. You might be wondering why would we ever watch a fantasy movie, but the truth is that it is to learn new vocabulary. It’s just like in class at Lycoming when we have to talk about a random subject, such as recycling. It’s all to learn new vocab and phrases while also expanding your knowledge about culture or things in our daily lives.
After that I attend two Clase Tematicas a week, which are extra classes on different topics revolving around Spanish culture or grammar such as a class on Miguel Cervantes or La Guerra Civil Espanola. These classes are always at 12:45 in the afternoon, so no matter if your class schedule is in the morning or afternoon you can still attend. During the week we also go with the school on trips in the late evenings such as going to a museum (such as la Reina Sofia), a flamenco dancing show or out for drinks at a bar or a mercado. Going to a mercado (market) with your classmates and professors is always fun because at mercados there are different stations with authentic foods, where you can try any kind of Spanish tapa (like pulpo, aka: octopus!).
Then, to add even more hours, we take a day trip every other weekend to a city close to Madrid. Through Sampere, I have visited Segovia, Toledo, and Ávila. They have also taken us to Palacio Real and El Escorial. The school trips are not every weekend, which allows Estudio Sampere’s students to travel on the off-weekends if they want! The weekends I don’t have school trips I have visited Valencia and Barcelona in Spain, and then Paris, Morocco and London. That’s Estudio Sampere wants their students to explore Europe and North Africa as much as they can! They’ve helped me multiple times to find a bus to a certain location and they have printed out my plane tickets.
All in all, Estudio Sampere has been a blessing to my education. While at Sampere I have experienced a lot of places within and around Madrid while studying. I’ve also been given the opportunity to travel all around Europe and North Africa! I get to come home this semester not only better at Spanish but also more cultivated as a person. Thanks Lycoming College for introducing me to Estudio Sampere!
Want to learn more about the study abroad programs at Lycoming College? Come to campus and ask a student for yourself!