Study in Seville

Studying in Sevilla is a very popular option for those wishing to live in the city. There are certainly more than 10,000 students per year who choose Sevilla as their study destination for week, month, semester and year programs. From a private academy to a university or college sponsored course, the options will vary significantly in quality of instruction, accommodations and activities. Choosing a program which works for you as an individual depends on your needs and preferences. From cost to location to living situations you'll need to understand the options you have when deciding. As a former study abroad student in Seville I have some experience, but I'm no expert. I've listed below some things to consider as well as some links to helpful information when deciding. If you are considering studying at a private language school, you may want to check out the new section on Spanish Courses where a list of most of these schools has just been updated.

Topics in this section

Cost of Study Abroad Programs in Seville


This may be this first and most important concern. Your living situation while studying will have some impact on this - will you live in an apartment or with a host family? In a shared flat or alone, a single or double room with a family? Your cost in terms of rent (or monthly housing allowance) and food will vary greatly. Also consider how and where the programs provide instruction. Many will offer classes at the academia or program office itself while others may send you to the University of Seville to study with other abroad program students. Many university or college sponsored programs - the popular year or semester abroad - will offer a combination of some sort: initial orientation classes at first, then a mix of courses at the University and at the program office or centro. So why does this boil down to your expenses? If you take the majority of your classes at the University you will receive more or less the same instruction as many other programs. Now consider that the prices for the programs can range from $11,000 to $25,000 per year (note: it's been many, many years since I was in college so these prices are to give you an idea). So if you study in the same classes for most of the year is it worth and extra $14,000 per year for the facilities? In a few cases it might be, but in most I'd take the $14,000 and spend the summer traveling in high luxury or save it for paying off my college loans. As for the smaller private schools, or academias, you need to consider who will teach the classes and the type of services and facilities which are offered. In your case it may well be worth it to pay an additional sum of money for modern facilities, qualified teachers and good housing.

Student Housing


Housing is one of the most important and perhaps nerve-racking topics for the student. Most programs for university students in Sevilla involve housing with a host family. You may be able to choose a single room (you only) or a double room (shared with another student). You will share space in the house with the people who live there and may have limited access to things like the television and the kitchen. This will likely include a meal allowance which covers all your meals or some of your meals. While they are listed as a host family, the family and reasons for hosting students will differ. Some families consist of a señora only, who perhaps is hosting students as a means of income. In many cases they are very friendly and open, and in other cases you may experience a feeling of being a tenant and less a family member. Some families are actual families: you'll stay in a house with a typical family unit of husband, wife and children. There are many advantages to living with a host family, including practicing the language, learning customs, eating typical Spanish meals, getting advice on life in the city and of course having laundry service. The disadvantages include less independence and privacy because of a meal schedule, rules regarding use of the house and perhaps acceptable times for coming back after a night out. Depending on the program and your length of stay you may be able to change your accommodation to live in a residencia for students or rent an apartment and live a more independent life. This is often with much discussion (and generally not a popular choice) with the program staff. So why do many of the semester and year abroad programs seem to insist on these living situations, at least initially? It provides the student with a stable living situation, often with families who are accustomed to the problems and issues of foreign students. If problems arise the host family can alert the program staff who can then discuss any issues. Think of this as less spying and more a support network to make sure your adjustment to life in a new country goes well. The quality of the houses and families selected may vary greatly from program to program. Some will have different standards when it comes to type of family unit, location of housing, cleanliness and conditions. Yet even those with the best intentions and rigorous standards can misjudge a family, or the conditions and stability of the family can change. Students and the family can also become "incompatible" for various reasons. While not common, sometimes students can be moved to another house if the situation is not working out on either side.

So, there is some getting used to the family housing option. If you are a college student who was living on their own in a dorm or an apartment this will be a loss of freedom. The rules may seem a bit strange and even unfair. You may want to rebel, no? Let's have a little fun and see how you can make your host family mad. I say this hoping you will avoid doing these things below:

  • Come home very late at night on most nights. Use the kitchen or make noise.
  • Complain about the food, or make a lot of special diet requests. Don’t be flexible about what, when and how you eat. Don’t take into account that special needs for your meals may mean a bigger change in the routine of your hosts than you think: they may have to learn new cooking methods, go to a different store 10 minutes outside of the neighborhood to pick up an ingredient.
  • Ask to use the fridge to store your own food.
  • Don’t show up for meals. Give little notice when you won’t be home for meals.
  • Go on a trip without advising your family.
  • Receive a lot of phone calls at the home. Also make a lot of phone calls from their home line. Get a mobile phone so you don’t bother them!
  • Leave the lights on in the room you are not using.
  • Invite people over to study or to hang out.
  • Act as if you have a right to certain things because you pay for staying in their house. You pay for lodging, meals, electricity, laundry and cleaning up after you. You don’t pay so you can dictate every detail of your meals, use the television, phone and all of the common areas of the house.
  • Bring home guests of the opposite sex, especially to spend the night.

Note that all families are of course not the same. So a lot of this is relative, so to speak. Still, expect the following situation, which while very limiting, will set your expectations low and you will be much happier. It is so important to remember that you are living in another country and to be flexible. It is also very important to remember that you don’t feel you have the right to certain things because you are paying for this service. The family makes plenty of sacrifices in their lifestyle so you can stay with them. You must respect that. What you have a right to and what you don’t have a right to living with your host family:

  • Don’t expect the right to lounge around on the couch and watch television.
  • Don’t expect kitchen privileges such as use of the fridge and cooking equipment.
  • Don’t expect to be able to take multiple showers during the day, or to take long showers.
  • Don’t expect use of the telephone on a regular basis. You do not have the right to receive phone calls or make phone calls regularly.
  • Don’t expect heat or air conditioning. Heat is much less common in Seville. Air conditioning may be limited to room units which don’t cover the whole house.
  • Do expect them to wash and dry your laundry
  • Do expect them to clean and provide bed linens and towels.
  • Do expect a regular meal schedule, but don’t expect it to be based on what works best for you in every case.

Housing options tend to be much more flexible when you are studying with a private academia in which the age of the student and purpose of study covers a wider spectrum. In these cases the academia needs to provide a variety of alternatives to attract clients, from living with a host family with meals included to more independent options such as a hotel or an apartment. In these situations you will be better able to dictate your living conditions according to what you're willing to pay.



You're likely coming to Seville to have fun but you want to study as well, right? There is a big difference in the quality of the academics as well as course topics in these programs depending on a number of factors: your language level, agreements with a local university, credentials of the professors, course offerings and course credit. A quick review:

Your language level

Study options will depend on your ability in Spanish. No matter what your level you can likely find a program which will take you. If it's a college or university sponsored course you will generally need to have taken some Spanish classes ahead of time. The number of classes you need will depend on the program. A few programs require no previous Spanish and you can take your classes in English while you take a basic Spanish course. Almost any academia will take you no matter what your language level is. They offer several tiers of course work depending on the ability and are quite used to people coming with little knowledge of the Spanish language.

Agreements with a local university

This can be very important in terms of your interaction with Spanish students and the number of classes available to you. As stated above many programs have an agreement with the University of Seville where you can take classes especially designed for foreign students. In some cases you may also be able to enroll in the regular university classes. In this case the course work will be much harder but you will truly experience the Spanish university system as well as be able to mingle with more Spanish students. Some programs do not have agreement with a local university so students may attend all of their classes in the program facilities. While there is some advantage to having all instruction in the same place, the daily academic interaction will be limited to those in the program.

Credentials of professors

Especially important if the program does not have an agreement with a local university is to know what experience and credentials the professors have. Like in the U.S., many professors are studying for their PhD. In some cases they will already have them and may have years of teaching experience in a university or college. Most of the time you will be taught by native speakers, which is very important if you are in Seville to learn the language. Yet some programs will have less qualified teachers or they'll have less experience. Some of them are quite good - they have natural teaching ability and enjoy working with students from other countries. But it is important to check out who teaches the classes if you plan to get the full benefit of studying in Seville.

Course offerings

As mentioned before the option to take classes at a local university can greatly increase the number of classes you can select. As well some study abroad programs give you the opportunity to specialize your studies. Language and culture are perhaps the most common offerings. Options to study history, business, science, art, dance or cooking may be a available in different levels, so it's important to understand if the program offers a certain concentration of course work in your areas of interest. A highly rated or credentialed program which is known for it's language program may not be as good for you as a smaller outfit which concentrates on history, business or art.

Course Credit

Very important if you are studying for college credit is whether your course work will be accepted at your home university. This varies from school to school and depends on the agreement your University may or may not have in place with the program in Spain. For instance, some universities will have a contract with a program and will pre-certify the classes so you will have no problems transferring the credits. Other schools will run the program itself in Seville, in which case the classes are considered a part of the regular university course offerings. In the case that your university does not have an agreement it is generally up to you to check to see beforehand if they will accept credit from the program. Even then you may be required to provide a syllabus or course outline or other documentation so academic advisors or departments can match the course in Spain with an equivalent at the home university. What the program can provide you in terms of course descriptions and other materials is important in this case.

Cultural Activities in Seville

Actividades culturales

Almost every program will offer some cultural activities to compliment the course work. Typical are visits to museums and monuments, generally with a guide or professor who will provide historical and cultural background of the places or exhibits. Other cultural activities in Sevilla could be the opportunity to attend a Flamenco show, dance classes, cooking classes or intercambios. The last is perhaps the most important. An intercambio is a language partner - native speaker - who will help you learn the language. In turn you may spend time with them practicing their English so you both benefit from exchange. A good program should offer you opportunities to meet Spanish students or speakers as a way to learn not only the language but the culture. In some cases you may become better friends and perhaps go out on the weekends to socialize with other Spaniards. This is probably the best way to get adjusted. Other cultural activities often involve day or weekend trips to other towns in Andalucia. Granada and Córdoba are perhaps the most common trips for the university programs. Other destinations such as Cádiz, Ronda, Madrid and Salamanca may be included. The trips, intercambios and cultural visits in Sevilla all add value to your experience and may influence the price you may be willing to pay.

Facilities and Support

Facilidades y apoyo

The Program offices or centro can make a difference in your experience. The offices can serve a variety of purposes such as a meeting place, classroom, library or more and more importantly a place for internet access. If internet access is very important to you ask about the number and type of computers in the offices or the ability to use your laptop. Inquire what types of books and materials are available to you for studying. Find out about the office hours and staff - how many people are working for the program and what types of positions do they have? How long have they been on the job? What services and support are available for students for medical and academic issues? The offices and the staff offer a support network while away from what is familiar, so understanding their capabilities and resources should always be a part of your initial investigation of what program is best for you. Most programs also include medical insurance which will cover you during your stay. It's important to understand your coverage if you have any pre-existing conditions or are on any prescription medicine. In the case of prescriptions most programs will tell you to try and bring enough medication to cover you for the duration of your stay. In the case of a longer stay you should inquire ahead of time about arrangements for your prescriptions.

Location in the City


Location is everything, right? Not always, but it is important when considering where you will be studying in Sevilla. The good thing is no matter where you're located, Sevilla is pretty easy to get around by bus, walking or taxi. If you plan to study in an intensive course - 2-4 weeks - I think the location of the program is a little more important. In this case you'll be spending a significant part of your day in one area, and to maximize your free time it's nice to be in the center if you want to enjoy the sites and all the movida of Sevilla. But whether you study for months or a few weeks if your location is further from the center you may miss out on some things you want to see. Now this is fairly subjective - living in Triana, Los Remedios or somewhere else will give you a different perspective and you will experience a different Sevilla than in the center. In Triana for instance you might see more of everyday life and that can be a definite benefit. Also consider that the housing is generally convenient to the program offices, so where the program is located will often influence your neighborhood while in Sevilla. Notice I say generally, because while more often than not there are program standards for distance the student may have to travel it's not uncommon to have a few housing options which are 30-45 minute walk each way to get to class.

Finding a Study Abroad Program in Seville

Encontrar un programa

For a year abroad program probably the best place to start is your university or college. Many have a study abroad department which organizes programs for students. Others offer programs through the department which is best suited to the subject - ie: a Spanish or Romance Language Department may handle the study abroad programs for language in Spain. The business school may offer another program with business course work. In the case of a state school that runs it's own abroad program (and where you are a resident) you may be able to study without paying much more in tuition than you do for a normal school year. If the programs do not meet your needs you still have plenty of options. Many other university and college programs allow anyone attending another university apply for their own programs provided they meet the requirements. You can also do it on your own and find a privately run company or academia which may have requirements or may accept just about anyone.

Below is a list of programs in Sevilla with web sites so you can choose which is best for you. Links go directly to the Sevilla pages when possible. Keep in mind some universities and schools may have agreements with local language institutes already established in Sevilla. Soon I will divide up the listings by type: year and semester abroad, summer and month long programs.

Texas Tech
St Mary's
University of Florida
University of North Carolina
Northern Illinois University
Trinity Christian College
Universidad Pablo de Olavide
Baker University
Wells College
Hollins University (through CCCS)
Sweet Briar College
SUNY - New Paltz

Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA)
Instituto San Fernando
International Studies Abroad
Academic Studies Abroad
World Endeavors
A2Z Languages (through CLIC)
Di Bruno Brothers
Launguages Abroad
Institute for International Studies
TEFL International
Academic Programs International
Adelante Abroad

First Step World
Center for Cross Cultural Studies
Giralda Center
Don Quijote

To locate all sorts of programs I recommend the following websites which cover the globe. You may want to study in Sevilla but there might be something out there that just grabs you, so check out all the options! One note for some of these pages - they work on an advertising model so sometimes the places you see first are simply the ones paying for that exposure.


Culture Shock

Choque del cultura

Learn about culture shock and be prepared to deal with it. Everyone at some point goes through this, whether they're here for a few weeks or a few years. Everyone will also go through it a little differently. One thing I will absolutely guarantee is that you will miss home at one point or another, and don't expect it to go away for good after you've been here for a while. There are various signs or symptoms of culture shock, one big one that stands out is questioning the way they do everything here. I'll soon add some more symptoms to this page, but for now here are a few links with more information on culture shock and reverse culture shock (re-entering your home country)

A Solid Overview of Culture Shock
General Symptoms and Helpful Solutions
Take the Shock out of Culture Shock
Reverse Culture Shock
Readjusting when you go home


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Spanish courses in Sevilla

Editor: Jeff Spielvogel
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