Alumni Spotlight: Emily Laituri


Emily is a third-year student at Cal Poly In San Luis Obispo, California studying to be a teacher. She loves to dance, travel, and spend quality time with friends and family!

Why did you choose this program?

I choose USAC San Sebastian because it looked like an established program that has been successful for many years. I also heard a lot of positive things about USAC specifically for being very efficient, and on the less expensive spectrum. As for San Sebastian, it was very easy for me to pick the location because I love smaller cities, and it is right by the water which was something that initially caught my eye. I love going to the beach and swimming in the water. Once I found out they had a surfing class, I knew that San Sebastian was the place I was going to study abroad!

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

The application was all on my own, however USAC was very efficient with letting me know my next steps without making me feel overwhelmed. Once I was accepted into the program, they helped me with deciding which housing would best fit me, (an apartment or homestay) along with all my other questions I had. They were quick to email me back and I felt as if they truly cared for my success! Their website is also very efficient and user friendly!

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

Prepare for the best time of your life! But actually, don't pack too much, especially if you plan on traveling afterwards. Try to practice the language of that country as much as you can there because it is the best way to learn. Make the most out of every single day because the moment you leave, you'll wish you did so much more! Lastly, if you have any bit of desire to go abroad, find a way to make it happen! You will grow so much as a person by just experiencing a new culture, and being somewhat on your own.

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

An average day would be you wake up in your apartment or homestay and go to school for about 3-4 hours. I took a Spanish class, however, some of my friends took a Psychology class. The professors are amazing! Then, after you are done with school, you have the rest of the day to explore the beautiful city. I would usually go to the beach, or go hiking, or shopping! Then, three days a week, I would have my surfing class and it was the highlight! The instructors were so friendly and really good at teaching! It was so nice to be out in the water and learning to surf in one of the most beautiful places!

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 unknown, and whether or not I would like being so far from home. However, once I got to San Sebastian and met all of the other students in the program all that was left was pure excitement! Not once did I miss home, I only missed my family and wished they could have come out to visit me! Luckily, I was in the same program as my good friend so that made it easier to adjust, but even if I didn't know anyone I still would have had an amazing time!

Should I go abroad? Should I travel on the weekends? Should I do a semester or summer program?

I could go on and on answering questions and convincing people to study abroad. My answer will always be YES! This was the most life-changing experience I have ever had. Not only did it help me become more independent, but it opened my eyes to a new world that I was unaware of. I had the privilege to travel on the weekends in my program but also for a month afterwards to 9 different countries and it was amazing.

I only did a month program but wished I would have done a longer program. I tried to make the most out of the short amount of time but there is more I still wanted to do. Overall, it is based on who you are and what you are trying to get out of your time abroad! I loved going in the summer because I didn't have to miss any time back at my University in California, and it gave me a lot of time to travel afterwards. However, a semester would have been nice because you have more time in your host city but maybe less time to travel far away on the weekends. So, do whatever you need to do to be successful and happy, just make sure you do it! :)