Alumni Spotlight: Abigail Waters


Abby has participated in many travel abroad programs through various companies and her home university. She studies Spanish language and global communication at the University of San Diego.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose to participate in the CIEE GAP Seville, Spain program because I knew I wanted an experience that was separate from both High School and University. It was the perfect balance between academics and cultural immersion.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I was in close contact with the program director throughout the application process, but I did most of the application and planning process on my own. It was beneficial for my organizational skills.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

A piece of advice I would give to someone going on this program would be to embrace the host culture. Seville has some of the most wonderful people, food, and culture.

As tempting as it is to leave every weekend and travel, definitely make some time to get to know the city.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

On average, Seville GAP students attend an intensive 4-hour Spanish course in the mornings, and spend the afternoons free. Each student has the opportunity to eat three meals a day with their host family, which provides a perfect opportunity to learn and practice Spanish.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

I was afraid of not doing everything that I wanted to. However, just living in the moment and "doing what Spaniards do" taught me that truly living in a culture and being "local" is what contributes to an authentic experience abroad. So, take that siesta if you wish!

Describe the different feelings you experienced upon arrival and upon departure?

I was incredibly excited, but also nervous and anxious about meeting my host family and getting adjusted.

The other students on my program were from all different walks of life, which made the approach to our experiences unique in their own way. This common experience made us bond quickly.

When I left, I remember crying uncontrollably with my host mom, and this was when I knew that this experience had changed my life.