Alumni Spotlight: Christine Uribe

Christine is a Texas educator, traveler, and blogger. She graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2013 and currently teaches in Texas. When Christine is not teaching, she is planning her next trip or writing on her blog, Grateful Gadabout.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose Greenheart Travel's Teach in a Homestay Program because I was specifically looking to combine my two passions: teaching and traveling. As a teacher, I am always looking for opportunities to travel during my summers off. After a week of researching, I found Greenheart and was very interested in spending my summer in Spain. The cultural exchange aspect of the program appealed to me the most. In exchange for 15 hours of English lessons, my host family would provide meals and a room for me to stay in. This program was the perfect fit for me and my time frame.

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

Greenheart Travel provided me with an ample amount of support. My program manager was incredibly helpful and answered all my questions. I was given access to lesson plans and an online community of alumni and newcomers. On my end, I had to make sure to communicate with my host family. The more I communicated with my host mom, the more I knew what to expect and what my family was expecting of me. In addition to this, I had to make sure I booked my flights.

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

Living with and getting to know a family is such a rewarding experience, but it also can present its challenges. Everyone's living habits, schedule and diet are different. Don't be afraid to ask questions and make sure to know what your family's expectations are for you. This will make your time with your family go much smoother.

Communication is the KEY!

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

It varies from family to family which is why I feel it's important to be flexible and open-minded. The expectation my host mom had for me was to converse with her two daughters as much as possible; she wanted them to solely focus on English conversation. Again, it varies from family to family.

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 think my biggest fear was that of the unknown. This experience was my first solo trip and the longest time I was going to be away from my family and friends. I wasn't sure if I could do it, if I'd get homesick, or if I'd be lonely. I wasn't sure if I'd get along with my host family or if I'd simply be able to navigate my way in a new city on the other side of the world. What helped me overcome this fear was learning to change my mindset and focus on taking each day, one at a time. It wasn't easy at first, but slowly I learned to appreciate each day as it came. Creating a list of goals and activities for each day helped me to direct my focus as well.