Alumni Spotlight: Florencia Schinoff

Florencia is a senior at the University of La Verne studying as a Communications major with an Emphasis in TV Broadcasting and a Spanish minor. She is extremely interested in directing, producing, and editing, and would love to someday work on a Spanish related film for TV show.

Why did you choose this program?

Let me just start off by saying that I chose to study abroad not because I wanted to travel and party. I wanted to learn more about the Spanish culture and immerse myself in a place that I knew I could learn the most about Spanish. That is exactly what CIEE's ALA program in Barcelona offered me. They also had some amazing homestay options!

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

They assisted me with knowing flight details, what to pack, what classes to pick from. They also arranged my whole homestay situation.

On my own, I had to arrange my phone situation; I just took an unlocked phone and bought a 4 month plan through Vodafone. I also had to speak with my advisor back home to make sure that all of the classes I had chosen would transfer over. I also had to arrange my own flight according to the information they had given me with dates and times to arrive and leave.

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

Study Abroad with CIEE in Barcelona through the ALA program, and I guarantee it will be life changing if you let it be.

Don't speak English with your friends, and practice your Spanish as much as you can (not just in class)! Don't go to touristy clubs, go to local bars and restaurants. You can experience some of the most magical moments in your life if you allow yourself to truly experience what Spain in Barcelona are all about!

I can also give you some little tips below:

  • Take an umbrella and cloths for three different seasons ;
  • Buy the three-month metro/ferro card (can also be used for bus);
  • Check what trips and activities you will be doing with CIEE for free so that you don't repeat anything and waste money!
  • Pack with the vacuum seal bags because it will save you space and some weight;
  • Don't be scared to talk to your classmates at the university!
  • Don't be shy with your homestay family.

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

An average day for me would be:

  • Wake up/have breakfast (provided by homestay);
  • Take the ferro/walk to class;
  • Class for about 4 hours of the day;
  • Lunch on the CIEE balcony with friends;
  • Walk around with friends in Plaza Catalunya;
  • Go home to nap and do some reading/homework;
  • Wake up and go explore some new sites;
  • Go to a local bar and try the Patatas bravas;
  • Go to sleep late and do it all over again.

That would be a normal day if nothing was going on but on some days of the week, CIEE would have some cool daytrips planned for us where we could go to different cities and learn about the history and art of the region. Here is an example of the short day trips:

and the one long weekend trip we had through CIEE:

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 fears going into studying abroad was not knowing where I am, and being alone. I am the worst when it comes to directions, and I am also an extreme extrovert; I hate being alone. Obviously, going to a country that I have never been to without knowing a single person is really scary. I had never used public transportation before, but I eventually started to learn my way around! I also came to learn that being alone sometimes is not as bad as it seems. You actually get to learn a lot more about yourself!

What was the best thing you experienced abroad?

The best thing I got to experience abroad was this awesome three-day festival called La Mercè that takes place in September. It is this cool cultural art and music festival that has free events all weekend!

In just one day, I got to see at least five different dance performances of different styles, see many different outdoor art exhibits, experience a correfoc (cultural fire parade), follow giant glowing dancers in a parade at Parc de la Ciutadella, and finish the day off with a live Txarango concert on the beach by the water!

Here is a video I made of some of those events: