Leah Brown is a 24-year old law student from Dallas, TX.
Why did you choose this program?
CIS Abroad provided me with the opportunity to go overseas post-undergrad. I graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2015 with a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and English minor. I had been working full-time for almost a year after I graduated college but felt stifled and unfulfilled. I was in the process of applying to law school and sensed I needed to truly isolate myself in order to determine if I was making the best decision for my future. I've always wanted to learn Spanish and felt the only way to do so would be to immerse myself in the culture. I've always had an affinity for Barcelona and had traveled there in the past so CIS Abroad was a dream come true. I received an internship tailored towards my unique interests and skills.
I met the most amazing group of people through the CIS Abroad program. We formed a family and explored Barcelona and beyond. Every day was a new adventure and I truly thank God for such an amazing experience. I was also afforded the opportunity to take Spanish courses that were instrumental helping me learn the language. I loved the classroom atmosphere and the commitment to my success.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The program assisted me with securing housing, an internship tailored towards my interests. I was enrolled in an intensive Spanish course based on my level of experience. CIS Abroad provided me with a weekly guide on activities in Barcelona which was helpful. I had to organize my flight, meal plan, and budgeting while in Barcelona. I did not participate in the weekend trips besides to the Cava museum. I traveled to London and Granada on my own.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Prior to going to Barcelona, I wish I would have budgeted my funds better. In order to pay for the trip, I acquired credit card debt. I could have avoided utilizing credit cards if I would have planned better and in advance. I would have researched more scholarship opportunities. I would have been able to see more had I planned more prior to going overseas.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
During the first week of the program, we do not have classes which give us the opportunity to explore the city. Once classes began I would go to school for approximately 2-4 hours. We were placed in a classroom setting that truly facilitated me in learning Spanish. Classes ended around noon and from there I went to my internship for approximately 6-8 hours. After my internship ended I was free time to do whatever I wanted. The weekends were filled with endless opportunities to explore Barcelona and countries nearby.
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 that I would not make friends. I was scared I would get lonely while in Barcelona and immediately regret my decision. However, I was partnered with a group of amazing individuals who became like family. I can be a bit introverted at times so I focused on being more open. The more time I spent around my assigned group and meeting locals the more I grew to love Barcelona and view it as my home.
How do you travel on a budget and make the most of you experience?
Barcelona is filled with fun adventurous things to do that cost very little. Barcelona has the beach, mountains, and parks if outdoor recreation is your favorite past times. There are hundreds of museums to visit and some are free on Sundays. You can never be bored in Barcelona.