Alumni Spotlight: Carly Barello


Carly's a 10th grader in high school who loves to learn and travel. She is hardworking and enjoys experiences that get her to get out of her comfort zone!

Why did you choose this program?

My family and I chose to do my trip abroad with Sol Abroad because of the well-established and professional program they have set up.

The website is extremely helpful with details of the excursions, activities, and academics involved in the trip. Every step of the program is detailed on their website, as well as testimonials of those who have gone on the trip to the location!

Overall, the website was very valuable to my discission and research to choosing SolAbroad.

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

Sol Abroad does an AMAZING job; every step of the way through the trip was organized and flowed quite smoothly. Once signed up for the program, a few weeks in advance, the schedules, and more helpful documents are sent through email. You're then able to see all the plannings of excursions throughout the few weeks.

In the first week, there is a meeting that covers all the basics (your host family is also there to always help). Overall, Sol Abroad, and the director, Priscila, was there to assist and provide help EVERY step of the way!

The only things that we would have needed to organize on our own were our own mini excursions in the city, not a part of the program. Still, our host parents were always willing to assist us by giving advice or additional places to go. My host family was kind enough many times to drive us to places! Taxis are also fairly inexpensive as well.

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

What I would recommend is to do at least some minimal research on the city and jot down a few points of interesting destinations! Additionally, I wish that I could've done a bit more exploration throughout the city in the first weeks, especially after school. Many times, after school, a group of us would walk to the market or around the school. The school is in an easy walking distance from the main center of the city!

Don't be scared to go exploring at night! Of course, you should never go alone, but with other students/your roommate, but simply walking in the main center of the city at night is wondrous. I definitely recommend this or even going out to eat.

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

On weekdays, I would start my day by getting up early, around 7 to get ready, then around 8 we would eat breakfast with our host family. By 9, we would be at school in class until about 12. Then we would have the choice to spend the rest of the day freely, walk back home to eat lunch with our host family, or on many days an excursion as a group.

On weekdays, some days after school, we would have a mini dance class or mini-group trip! Usually on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we had our main excursions. The excursions on either Saturday, but usually Sunday, were day-long excursions! Some of the places we went on these days include Teotitlan del Valle, Hierve el Agua, Monte Albán, Santo Domingo, and many other mini-adventures! Make sure to get plenty of rest before because it can be very tiring.

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 definitely understanding and how my Spanish would improve in the three weeks.

I had a lot of nerves leaving my parents, and the long plane rides, but fortunately, I was met up with my roommate in Texas! Other students apart from Sol Abroad were also on the flight, helping to calm my nerves. My nerves weren't completely settled until after the first week, but there isn't much to do about it.

After a week, it is easy to get comfortable, and the nerves wear off. I'd also been a bit nervous about my roommate, but I love her so much - we still have kept in touch! For my fear of understanding, it was quite challenging for me at first, but all you can possibly do is try your best!

It is completely natural to be nervous about the trip as well as the language aspect. Throughout the trip, I was nervous to voice my Spanish, but what I've learned and now regret is speaking as much Spanish as possible!

Take advantage of the trip! Don't be too shy - NO ONE is judging!

Is there any other advice for prospective travelers?

Let me say, this trip was one of the BEST things that have happened in my life! There isn't a day that passes that I don't think about the experience and the people apart of it.

Go to Mexico ready to go, get excited! Mexico is absolutely incredible: phenomenal food, kind, welcoming people, beautiful markets, streets, and shops! Don't get too caught up in thinking about how there is 'only 3 weeks': just get out there, explore, learn, have fun!