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ISEP at Universidad de Murcia: Spanish Language and Culture
While Spain may conjure romantic images of flamenco dancing, bullfights, and siestas; it also has much more to offer. From Moorish castles to cutting-edge architecture, and Roman ruins to cosmopolitan cities, Spain is a country that embraces its rich history while constantly striving for the modern, and a culture with an insurmountable passion for life.
The University of Murcia is a public university. It was founded in the 13th century and has almost 30,000 students. The university is devoted to providing higher education to the public. Murcia has 4 campuses: La Merced (in the center of Murcia-Arts and Law), Espinardo (five km north of the city-Education, Industrial Relations, Social Work, Veterinary Med., Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Fine Arts, Computer Science, Economics and Business, Philosophy, Mathematics), Medicine and Health Sciences (11 km south of the city-Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Physiotherapy) and San Javier (45 km east, in the sea-side-Sports Science). Public transportation from the city to the campuses is available.
Students going to Spain must be independent, self-reliant, and able to handle ambiguity, as acclimating to the Spanish university system is challenging. A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.
Languages of Instruction
Fall 2018: Early-September to mid-December
Spring 2019: January to May
All dates are tentative and may change. ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.
To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:
- Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
- Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation.
- At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date.
- Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
- Minimum GPA of 2.75.
- Language Requirement: A minimum of 4 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program.
- Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in application, even if native speaker
Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost.
ISEP Direct Language & Culture chance of placement for US students is generally Excellent.
A true wedge among the Mediterranean regions Murcia is the product of a crossing of civilizations throughout its history: Muslim, Castilian and Valencian-Aragones have all left their traces in the city. Situated in southeastern Spain, Murcia has a Mediterranean climate with very little rainfall and enjoys more hours of sunlight per year than most Spanish cities. Its fertile soil, bathed by the Segura River, has provided the nickname for which Murcia is known: the Orchard of Europe. Two seas are located in the region: the Mediterranean Sea and the Mar Menor are tranquil and warm all year.
Founded in 1915, the University of Murcia is a public comprehensive university located southeast Spain (45 km away from the Mediterranean sea) in the vibrant and historical city of Murcia. It has a lively student population and strong academic departments in fields such as Modern Languages, Business, Education, Law, Chemistry, Computer Science and Veterinary Medicine. More academic information at this link
ISEP Direct Language and Culture: a semester program in Spanish Language & Hispanic Culture. Two sessions (September-December or January-May). Students may follow this program with another semester of regular university courses.
ISEP Direct semester: Spanish Language and Culture
Consists of several classes focusing on Spanish Language and Culture including:
Introductory Pre-Session Language Course with other international students (30 hours)
ISEP Direct Language and Culture Introductory Pre-Session Course (30 hours) ISEP Direct Pre Session Course Description
Geography and History of Spain (45 hours)
Politics, Society and Media (45 hours)
Art and Music (45 hours)
Spanish Literature (30 hours)
Written and Oral
Spanish Language (45 hours fall semester, 60 hours spring semester)
On arrival, students take a language placement test and may be divided into two groups according to their level of proficiency. The program consists of 300 hours of language study. Download course descriptions above.
Please note: courses in the Language and Culture program are taken with other international students, not Spanish students.
Language Courses: Students participating in the Spanish Language and Culture Semester have Spanish language courses built into their curriculum.
Pre-Session: A language pre-session is included in ISEP benefits, please see above for course description.
Universidad de Murcia, like many European universities, is in the process of implementing the European Higher Education System through the Bologna process (switching to four-year undergraduate degrees for many fields). Due to this, course descriptions may be limited in certain cases.
Study Habits and Learning Styles
Your professors will expect you to take thorough notes on the lectures. In the Spanish university system, learning from lectures is emphasized over learning from a textbook. Note-taking and following lectures may be a big adjustment. You will find that after a few weeks it all becomes much easier. If necessary, you can ask to borrow notes from a classmate for some of the first lectures. Many Spanish students take great pride in their notes and often rewrite them to have them neatly organized.
Learning is done more independently than you might be accustomed. You are expected to do substantive reading and studying outside of class. Aside from the assigned reading and class work, the professor may also suggest a supplementary list of books pertaining to the course topic.
You should have access to computers at the university to complete your assignments. Commonly, each faculty or center has its own computer lab for student use. During busier times of the year, it is likely that you will need to reserve a computer ahead of time.
Interaction with Professors
Spanish professors often do not deal directly with students. If you have questions or problems, it is up to you to arrange a meeting with the professor either before or after class or by setting up an appointment. Office hours may also be available for consultation.
You may be assigned a professor or other staff member to serve as your Academic Tutor while in Spain. You should consult with this person with any questions regarding registration, courses etc. You may always contact your ISEP Coordinator if you are unsure who you should consult.
Exams and Grading System
Depending on the type of classes you take, you will generally have tests and papers with a final exam at the end of the course. Form and organization are important in presenting written work. Check with a Spanish student about correct form so that your assignments will be properly presented. Make sure that your grammar and sentence structure are correct; have a native speaker check it over if necessary.
Final exams are typically given at the end of the semester and will include materials covered in class throughout the semester. It is important to keep up with your coursework, as it’s difficult to “cram” a semester’s worth of studying into the period before the exam. The format for written and oral exams may vary from class to class.
It will be important for you to check with both your home and host ISEP coordinators to ensure that your grades will be recorded in Spain and the credit transferred to your home institution. Although your host coordinator in Spain will help you in this matter, it will be your responsibility to make sure your grades are recorded. Be forewarned that if you choose to depart the program early, it is your responsibility to make any special arrangements in writing with your professors.
Please review country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.
Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.
Our Volunteer Service offers a wide range of opportunities for community and university service. More information can be found here.
The University of Murcia offers modern facilities and boasts the Experimental Science Support Service, two extensive libraries including a European Documentation Center, as well as many specialized institutes dealing with different aspects of the scientific and humanistic world. The university also has a great number of sports facilities including sports halls, football and rugby fields, aerobic and weight rooms, tennis and squash courts, a climbing wall and an indoor pool. Students also have access to computer labs in many buildings and a wide variety of cultural and extra-curricular activities.
A full day orientation takes place the day after arrival. Sessions will cover administrative issues such as registration, academic system, internet access, stipend, legal status within Spain, and tips for avoiding the culture shock. Exchange students whose mother tongue is not Spanish follow a 30 contact hour Spanish language course before regular classes begin. This course is charged free since it is included in the program benefits. Welcome Week includes a guided city tour, visits to city museums, Tapas Night, Beach Day and an International Welcome Party.
ISEP Direct semester: Spanish Language and Culture:
Airport pickup is included in ISEP Benefits. The University will provide arrival directions with the acceptance packet.
International students have many opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities as there are more than 30 student organizations available. The International Relations Organization (IRO) brings together international and local students during the International Welcome Week at the beginning of each semester for social activities and travel. Our “Buddy Program” for international students matches each new international student with a local student during the first weeks of the program.
The ISEP Direct Spanish Langauge and Culture Program includes full orientation, welcome week activities, and a weekend trip to cities in Southern Spain (examples: Granada or Sevilla).
Housing and Meals
Students live in shared flats with other students in the city. A stipend will be provided to cover housing and meals. Sharing a flat with other local or international students makes the experience of living abroad even more interesting. Also the fact of having their own kitchens make easier the daily living since students do not depend on the schedules of the university restaurants.
For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.
Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 semester:
Lake Forest College Tuition
Program fee (estimated)
Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College
ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application
*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award.
Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)
Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.
Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.
Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.
Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php
You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.
Experiences of Former Students
WHAT PAST STUDENTS HAVE TO SAY
“The ISEP program at my University in Murcia set me up in an apartment with people from Spain and elsewhere. The assistance and help they were always ready to give made it all the better. Murcia es lo mejor!!”
Jason Otterstrom, 04-05
Read a story by an ISEP student who studied abroad at Universidad de Murcia.