I chose this program because I had been taking Spanish classes in school since my elementary years. I was most comfortable with Spanish language and felt more confident about speaking it rather than going to a country where I did not speak any of the languages. I also had been learning a little bit about Spanish culture in class and I found it so interesting and beautiful and I loved their lifestyle and their sense of community, as well as their music.
Claire is an ascending junior in high school. She had never been out of the country before going to Spain.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The Experiment of International Living pretty much helped me with everything. I was helped throughout the whole entire application process, which was thankfully not as complicated as I thought it was going to be.
I also got to do an in person interview with an EIL employee, as well as attend an in person pre-program orientation that really helped me prepare for my trip.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Don’t doubt yourself. Not even for a second. Embrace the new place, the new possibilities, and the new people. Branch out and form bonds with not just your leaders and your group (although that’s very important) but also with any one else you meet on this trip. Don’t be afraid to try out your language skills, but also don’t be afraid to truly be yourself. These people will accept you for you and it’s a really special opportunity.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average day would consist of getting up, having breakfast at the hotel (unless you’re staying with a host family at that time), then getting ready to spend the day out and about doing activities, including visiting museums, churches, temples and gardens.
Meal times included local restaurants with your group and their leaders, or the opportunity to split up and venture out on your own to find food or just visit the local shops. Every day was filled with cultural immersion that opened ones mind and allowed them to learn in a much more personal way.
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 how long I felt like I was going be gone and how I would have to stay there, even if I didn’t like it or didn’t get a long with my group. But that fear entirely went away after a couple days because of how incredibly beautiful the country was and especially because of how awesome and kind my group leaders and my group members were. Without each and every one of them, I know the trip wouldn’t have even come close to how amazing it was and how happy it made me.
Is there something you would have done differently?
If there was something I would’ve done differently, I would have practiced much more Spanish before going, and while I was there in Spain, I would have tried even harder to communicate with the locals and broaden my own understanding of the language. That definitely would have helped me become even more closer with the host siblings, who were very fun to be around.