Why did you choose this program?
I had previously participated in a semester-long homestay program through my university, and I was interested in participating in a similar experience again. However, I couldn't spend another semester away, so I decided to look into summer programs. Linguistic Horizons was the first program that I found, and any other program I found afterward paled in comparison. There wasn't much money that I would be paying that seemed excessive.
Nicole promised to find housing with speakers of Spanish, find an accredited internship in a Spanish-speaking environment, as well as a conversation course. I was definitely skeptical at first to pay someone to find an internship for me, but in the end, it definitely was worth it; I had to put little to no legwork into finding and applying to a ton of internships like one normally would have to do, a process exacerbated by not being in the country itself and by being in a foreign language.
Nicole was extremely receptive and communicative during every step of the process.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Nicole found housing, an internship, and classes. She provided information about flights, but I found my own transportation to and from Coruna (I was already in Spain before the program). She also provides insurance during the month, and she can arrange to extend the insurance if you are staying beyond the program. There was no food program, but that was not a problem because all living arrangements come with shared kitchens. I decided to cook most days, but I know others who went out to eat often (something easier and cheaper to do in Spain than in, say, the USA).
Nicole also provides 2 or 3 out-of-city experiences. When I was there, she had trips to Porto, Las Islas Cies, Santiago, Madrid, and Barcelona. There was also a day where she took us to a beach near A Coruna where you could sign up for surfing classes or hang out on the beach.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Try to stay away from the English speakers, try to immerse yourself more with the Spanish speakers, if you're going there to learn Spanish. Although it's difficult because many hours are spent in the classroom weekly, and it's instinct to want to stick with people you already know, I really encourage you to step out of that comfort zone and interact with native speakers. This might mean going out to get a drink with your housemates, going to a bar by yourself and talking to anyone you can (making sure that at least someone knows where you're gonna be! be safe about it), or leaving the city on weekends to get a $20 Airbnb a bus ride or train ride away.
There are also car sharing apps like BlaBlaCar, allowing you to get a car ride from usually a native Spanish speaker to a nearby city. I've seen rides going from the west coast to the east coast for about $20 (much cheaper than a train or bus, and much more comfortable!).
Talk to native speakers and take advantage of the freedom you have. Find cheap ways to travel around the country and meet new people -- they are there, you just have to look a little.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
During the week, I had my internship from about 9 am to 3 pm. I would go home, cook something for dinner, and then head to class. After class, I would spend some time on the beach, walk around, or find cute stores to visit.
During my free time, I would look into places that I could visit on the weekend, Airbnbs to stay at, and things to do near those Airbnbs. On Sunday, nearly everything everywhere is closed, so I would usually do my food shopping on Friday if I was traveling somewhere for the weekend, or Saturday.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Initially, I was nervous that I would stay in my room all day and never go out. But Nicole provided enough activities, in the beginning, to really acclimate everyone to the city, and she provided us with ideas on what to do. Having the internship and classes start immediately also got me out of the house pretty often.
Keeping up the inertia allowed me to look up places to go during the weekends and actually go to those places as planned. Everything in Spain is new to a new traveler, so everything is interesting to see. And in Spain, everything is so old -- there's a ton of history and all of it's beautiful.
What was the most memorable experience on your trip?
During the first week, my friends from home had stayed with me in A Coruna. We walked across the entire coast of the beach and found caves, cliffs, walkways along the cliff faces. We spent the whole day walking across the coast and didn't get bored, and it was one of my favorite days in Coruna.
Take advantage of the beach days; in Coruna, the weather is unpredictable.