Alumni Spotlight: Brooke Venturella


Brooke is an aspiring world language educator who plays the flute and loves Zumba! Her motto for language learning is: "The best way to learn is to live where it's spoken."

Why did you choose this program?

I chose CIEE because I knew I wanted to go to Alicante, and my university works with CIEE Alicante. The website was super fun to explore, and I had heard good reviews about CIEE from Study Abroad alumni.

CIEE also had so many programs to choose from, and I liked the timeline of the Spain Study Abroad. I wanted to be abroad during the same months I would be in school back at home, so I could be home for summer.

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

My university provided me with excellent advisers who helped me narrow down my Study Abroad choices. On my own, I just needed to fill out the applications and choose where to go. Once I got accepted, CIEE was very organized, telling me what things to turn in on my account, and sending me emails to keep me accountable.

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

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. I learned this from one of my amazing ESL Professors last summer, and I have used it as my mantra my whole time abroad.

You will face many changes coming abroad, fun and difficult, and the more open-minded you are, the better you'll be.

Going abroad for a whole semester is longer than you think. It won't feel like vacation everyday because you'll get into routines and will have bad days! Try everything, and don't be afraid to fail. Being abroad makes you more independent and can literally change your life if you let it.

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

An average weekday begins when I wake up in the morning and make my bed. After this, I will go to the kitchen and make breakfast – chocolate peanut butter oatmeal. I take it back to my room to relax and listen to music. Shortly after, I will work on homework or go to class.

After class, I like to watch Netflix in my bed, go for a walk, get a tea with friends, or do some shopping. I then return to do more homework, and will eat dinner with my family around 9 to 9:30 PM. After that, I like to watch some TV with my host parents, and then go to bed!

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 honestly didn't have any fear at the beginning. I was ecstatic to leave the comforts of home for an adventure abroad. I did, however, struggle a lot with being homesick, more than I had anticipated.

It was really hard at times, wishing I could just hug my mom or take my dog on a walk. However, thanks to technology, I was able to Face-time my family often, which helped. I would also keep myself busy, so that I didn't sit around thinking about it all day.

What is one thing you were glad you brought with you?

I'm really glad that I brought with me abroad physical photos of family and friends. It may seem small, but I taped them to the wall in my room, and on days where I was feeling homesick, I looked at the pictures of my loved ones, and then they didn't seem so far away. Bringing at least one memento from home can make your abroad experience feel more comfortable.