Alumni Spotlight: Teresa Urbano Martins

Teresa is 17 years old and from a small town in Portugal. She's now starting 12th grade and wants to pursue Nursing as a career and possibly move overseas after college.

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Why did you choose this program?

This year, I chose to go abroad with ORA because I'd done so before, and had absolutely no complaints. All the staff members were excellently prepared to give the traveler the best experience possible, which was quite important for my parents as to be sure I'd be safe while venturing alone.

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

Because I fit into the 16-18 age group, lunches were no longer provided to us throughout the program, contrary to what happened when I went in the 13-15 age group. Except for a portable computer, all materials needed for the academic part of the course are provided – workbook, notebook, writing utensils, etc. Within the given time frames to complete certain tasks, such as leaving your dorm for breakfast, being in college for curfew, etc., you had to manage your time to what fits you best.

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

The best piece of advice I could give is for students to be properly informed of all of that will happen during your stay and all conditions of it such as curfew, attendance, etc. Another good thing that is good to be aware of is that, no matter how nervous or shy you are on the first day, don't hold back in meeting as many people as possible. Because of their different cultures and backgrounds, they are very likely to teach you things about their origins that you won't be able to find online or in a book!

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

After waking up, you should be quick to get ready to go to breakfast, as to keep to schedule. After that, there tends to be a bit of time off before heading to class, where you'll sit for about an hour and a half, two or three times each morning, with a 30-minute break between each. At lunch, students get in groups and head to town, either to explore new restaurants or to eat from street stands, after which there is either free time or another class, depending on the day. Usually, after dinner at 6 PM, there are three activities you can choose from, and attending one is mandatory. Curfew is at 11 PM.

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

Being from a rather small town, I'd never been 'forced' to meet many new people at once, and the thought of that terrified me for a while before going. By the time I got there, all my fears were taken away when the counsellors welcomed me and showed me to the room where all of the students were meeting, all of them noticeably tackling the same fear I had.

What unexpected thing happened during your stay?

Apart from all the amazing people I got to meet from all over the world, I'm very thankful for all the experiences we went through as a group. These ranged all the way from scavenger hunts (provided by ORA) to going to an escape room (that we found ourselves) and that I would never have done in Portugal!