Alumni Spotlight: Abigail Wedding


Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I wanted a full immersion program in Spain. I was looking for a city, but not a big city like Madrid. This program offered me a homestay, classes in Spanish, and a beach city. I also chose this program knowing that I would come in not knowing a single person. Additionally, this program seemed to give me opportunities to grow personally and academically.

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

I am the first person from my university to come to Alicante for a semester abroad in over 10 years. I organized everything myself. I had to write a letter as to why I wanted my university to approve this program for me. Thankfully, they did. Even though I did all of it on my own, it was not overwhelming as the CIEE main office was extremely helpful.

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

There will be ups and downs. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows. You will have bad days and good days, but you will learn a lot in those days.

People usually say "Well, you are abroad, nothing can be bad", but you will have days all you want to do is be in bed or go home. It is necessary to remind yourself that if you push through, you will have a good day. With traveling, you will have issues, but everything will be ok.

Abroad is an incredible experience, but it is important to know there will be hard times.

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

There are 3-time slots of the class a day. For me, a typical Monday included waking up around 9 am and taking the tram to CIEE. I start class at 11.

After class, I would take the tram home and eat comida (lunch) with my host family. I would then go rest for about an hour in my bed. Usually, after a nap, my friends and I would go to the beach, shop, go to a cafe or go grab a tapa. I would return home for dinner at around 9 pm.

Class is 4 days a week and we have free time whenever we aren't in class. Depending on the week, I would leave to travel for the weekend on Thursdays.

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

I had 2 really big fears coming into my abroad experience. One, not knowing anyone, and, two my Spanish not being good enough since I had taken a year off. I very quickly overcame my fear of not having friends because, in reality, a majority of the students did not know each other. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly. I also learned so much Spanish in the first two weeks that my worry went away. I realized that you are automatically better when in a culture that speaks the language you are learning.

What was it like traveling and navigating a new city alone?

I had the opportunity to travel to other cities in Spain and countries in Europe. For the first, I was traveling to airports in foreign countries alone. It was a big learning experience. I learned to be ok with asking for help.

I also learned how to use public transportation in the cities because it was faster and cheaper. At first, it was difficult, but I used apps and asked for help when needed.

I think traveling is an important part of abroad to learn how to navigate a new city.