Alumni Spotlight: Cristina Cisneros

Cristina Cisneros is a senior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) where she is enrolled in the Liberal Arts College, and is majoring in English.She studied abroad in Madrid, Spain during the 2017 Spring Semester through her university's program USAC and participated as a blog post contributor about her travels and experiences there.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it was the one connected to my university's international programs' office, and my study abroad advisor had tons of information about the process of applying to study abroad through USAC and had a plethora of knowledge regarding particular scholarships that would help aid me in affording to go on my program.

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

My program provider/university assisted me with the application process to study abroad through USAC, advising me on what scholarships to apply for, advising me on revisions to send in my best possible scholarship essay, as well as an orientation program before traveling abroad with other students planning to study abroad the same time as you. So I met other program participants of Madrid from UNLV through our orientation. During orientation we went over culture shock before and after our program, safety measures, how to go about securing your visa, and how to secure your travel accommodations with as a group.

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

My one piece of advice is to not be afraid to explore and travel on your own. Even though I made friends in my program and a few friends with locals, most of the time I spent abroad I went exploring the city on my own and planning excursions to special events and places around town.

It can be scary at first but it is also rewarding because you get to visit the sites that made you decide to study abroad for me that was the Museo de Traje: the Costume Museum of the History of Clothes and Fashion in Madrid, and visiting jazz clubs such as Sala Clamores, Cafe Berlin, or El Plaza where you can enjoy a copa: drink while listening to live music, and could end up seeing a flamingo dance performance like I did in Cafe Berlin.

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

The average day/week as a participant of this program is wake up early to use the metro to get to the stop for your host university Universidad de Rey Juan Carlos to have your schedule of classes probably around 3 or 2 each day. Then you'll have a break for snack and after your classes you can catch a lunch in the school cafeteria or travel on your own to a menu del dia at a restaurant of your choosing. Get your homework assignments done then the rest of the day is free to explore your host city and you can either plan to have dinner with your friends or with your host family. Just let your host parents know beforehand so they have time to prepare your dinner.

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

My biggest fear was living on my own and not knowing the language completely. My host family living arrangements helped me in some of those aspects because my host mom really tried her best those first few weeks to show me the main parts of the cities, suggestions on where to eat, how to use the metro, and obviously she only spoke Spanish to me so I was forced to learn new vocabulary and to converse in Spanish everyday.

What is your favorite aspect of Madrid?

I would have to say the night life there is so much to do like visiting friends for some cafe con leche and churros, nightclubs called disco tecas if those are your thing, and my absolute favorite activity to do was visit different jazz clubs for some live music with a glass of sangria. I also loved visiting the theatre at various sites to see performances like a classical ballet Swan Lake, classical concerts at a student discount, and seeing a Spanish Opera called La Villana as well as seeing the street performers. As well as the fabulous sight seeing at famous spots such as El Templo de Debod.