Alumni Spotlight: Tessa Kirk


I am a junior at California Lutheran University! I am studying both psychology and Spanish at my university and studied abroad the spring semester of my sophomore year!

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program for the language acquisition aspect. I was advised that Granada would be one of the better locations to learn the Spanish language. I honestly didn’t know much about the location before I left and I wish I would have cause I would have wanted to go there even more so. I always knew i wanted to go to Spain, but didn’t know where, but I am completely happy with my decision to go to Granada because I have a piece of my heart forever over there!

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

My school and program were both extremely helpful! My school’s study abroad office helps you with all the steps along the way and handle your financial aid for you so you don’t have to be the middle man. My program was very available before I left and also on location. Our resident directors on site were super helpful and answered and questions we had! They even took us to the doctor if we got sick! All I did on my own was plan my trips when I was in Granada the rest was planned by AIFS!

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

I wish I would have known more about the culture and history in Granada and Spain in general. I knew nothing about Spain or the different places and I wish I would have done more research about the country before I left. I would recommend for people going overseas to be open minded about different cultures and try different foods!

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

An average week in this program is class Monday through Thursday and Friday classes once a month. Living in a homestay, you will enjoy every meal with your josh family, so you will go back for each meal!

Breakfast is usually before you head to school, then you’ll come home around 2:30-3:00pm for lunch, then dinner can be anywhere from 8-10pm! There is siesta from 3-5pm, so during that time stores are closed, so it is best to nap, go out for tapas, go for a hike or do homework during that time!

After dinner, is a good time or tapas as well and hangout with friends! You will have quite a bit of free time so make the best of it and see what the city has to offer!

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

A few of my fears were traveling outside of the country and being so far away from my family. I had never left the country before heading to Spain so that was something unknown and unfamiliar to me. As i traveled more and more, I became less and less nervous about traveling and I felt more comfortable traveling.

I am also extremely close with my family, so I was nervous about being away from them for so long. I realized as time went on that being away from my family was a good thing. I appreciated them a lot more when I got back and didn’t feel as dependent on them anymore.

What happens if i miss home?

Do not stay home and wallow! It will not make you miss home less; in fact, it’ll do the opposite. I recommend going out with your friends, talk out your homesickness with them and enjoy some time doing something you won’t be able to do when you go home, because you are going to miss this new place even more when you get home.

Is reverse culture shock really a thing? Yes, yes and yes! I suffered from reverse culture shock when I got back and it helped to have my friends from abroad to talk to and reminisce with them.