JIYOUNG SIM- Through Tufts-Skidmore Spain there are four different ways that you can earn credits. You can take program classes at the program center, take classes at University Autonoma of Madrid or University of Alcala de Henares, do an internship for credit, or take an extracurricular class for credit. You can choose not to take any class at one of the two Spanish universities but many students take one or two classes at the universities. I am staying in Madrid but am taking two classes at the University of Alcala. I am taking International Trade and Globalization II (International Trade Theory) from THE Economics Department and Differential Equations and Numerical Methods from the Math Department.
The classes I am taking at the Spanish colleges are very different from the classes I usually take at Skidmore. It might differ depending on what class you take and which department you are in, but the two classes I am taking at the University of Alcala are largely lecture based, and there is almost no discussion in class. The evaluation is based on two or three exams and there are no homework or quizzes. So the exams are very important. You can ask one of your classmates to be a tutor for you and it is very helpful to get a tutor because they can share their notes with you and answer any questions you might have as you study for the exams.
If you are taking more than one class at the university or you are worried about having to take courses in Spanish, taking a course in English could be a way. The universities offer some courses in English. But you might not be able to find a course in English. I wanted to take one in English and one in Spanish, but I could not find one in English for my major. In that case, you can also think of taking one with the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grade option. If you are taking the course for your major, make sure you check with your department chair first to see if you can earn major credits with S/U courses. I am taking one of the two courses I take here with S/U grade option.
When you are planning your course schedule here, I advise you to be aware that you will not get into all the classes you wanted to get into. So choose several classes to get approved before you come. Also, if you are planning to take courses at University Autonoma of Madrid, be aware that it is harder to change classes than at University of Alcala and especially that it is very difficult to change department. I was planning to take classes at University Autonoma but I was only signed up for some Econ classes and none of the Math classes I got approved. So I ended up taking courses at Alcala and had to get courses approved again.
Another thing to be aware is that you will be spending a lot of time commuting, especially if you live in Madrid and take classes at Alcala like me. It takes an hour and half for me to get to classes and I go there three times a week so it’s 9 hours a week commuting. My recommendation is to try fitting your classes in no more than three days a week so you won’t have to go to the university so many times a week and spend more time on road.