Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Conners


Why did you choose this program?

I chose ISA because this particular program had a partnership with my school's study abroad program. It also seemed like they were highly organized as far as walking you through the application process and providing support here as well as abroad.

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

The program provided a lot of support as far as having a contact in the United States and making sure you had all of your papers in and providing host family information before starting the program.

There wasn't a lot to organize on my own thankfully, I just had to respond to any questions they had or choose options related to the host family.

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

While I only studied abroad for five weeks that summer in Granada, Spain, I would say take advantage of your program as much as possible. If they offer excursions, those are great opportunities to have guided experiences in other cities.

In my program, we started in Madrid and Toledo before continuing to Granada at the beginning of the program. However, they offered a weekend in Sevilla in addition to one other option. While those opportunities are great, also don't be afraid to go out on your own.

One weekend, a bunch of us in the program went to the beach for a day, which required navigating to the bus station and purchasing tickets. A smaller group of us also went to Cordoba one weekend.

There are so many options for seeing the country beyond your host city, so go out and explore!

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

The summer program was fairly laid back. There were typically one or two classes earlier in the day, then it was time for lunch/siesta, usually between 2-5.

Not everyone had evening classes, but I did as well as several others in the program, and my class was around 6:00pm. Dinner is typically served 8:30pm-9:00pm, so much later than in the U.S., but that also meant that night life started later as well.

On any given night, you might finish dinner around 10:00pm and if you choose, venture out with friends around 11:00pm or midnight, but that was considered early in Spain.

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

I was most afraid of the language barrier. While it was a challenge with my skill level and I had many times where locals didn't know what I was saying/asking, it was a huge learning experience.

I also took the opportunity to sign up for an intercambio, so I met up with a local student who was learning English. She would converse with me in English and I would respond in Spanish. It was awesome! Plus, she took me to local places I might not have seen otherwise and we talked about the differences between our cultures.

What was your favorite experience in Spain?

My favorite experience, while there were MANY favorite experiences, was taking the opportunity to go paragliding. It was terrifying, and we really had to trust the group we paid to take us, but it was worth it and changed my life.