Alumni Spotlight: Justin Stein

Justin Stein is from Houston, Texas, and is currently a law student at The University of Texas at Austin. Before starting law school, he spent three months with API in Madrid, Spain. He enjoys traveling, politics, and Spanish.

API Madrid alumni

Why did you decide to study with API?

Justin: I initially decided to study abroad with API because they offered a quarter-long program in addition to a semester-long one. Since I knew I had four months to spend abroad, I liked the idea of studying for three of those months, and then having a full month at the end to travel around Spain and the rest of Europe. I could tell even before my experience that API was an incredibly flexible program that could be tailored to my specific needs. I wasn’t forced to conform to any cookie-cutter standard program.

What made this experience unique and special?

Justin: The study abroad experience was unique for several reasons: the small, intimate nature of our program (which resulted in a great level of personal attention from the staff) and also because of the level of immersion it provided into Spanish culture.

Some of the study abroad programs in Spain are massive! People might be in a program with up to 200 people in one city. API isn’t nearly as big, as there were about 40 people in Madrid with me. The small nature of the program meant we had so many great opportunities that others didn’t have—to take trips with our program, attend cultural events, and receive quick help whenever we needed it from the staff members. The staff sat down with us individually to craft our class schedules and to address any concerns and questions we had. I doubt the larger programs are able to offer such personal help abroad.

Student in front of statues

API also places a huge value on cultural immersion. Unlike anyone I know who has studied abroad, I actually lived in a Spanish dormitory in the heart of Madrid. I wasn’t surrounded by Americans all the time, but rather by people from all corners of Spain. I was amazed by the cultural differences seen in each region of Spain, the result of thousands of years of history. I studied Spanish at Spain’s premier public university, surrounded not by Americans, but by students from around the world: Brazil, Greece, Germany, China, and Japan, to name a few.

Like I referenced earlier, API was also unique in the trips they provided within Spain, and also in providing us with cultural events to attend every week or every other week. As a group, we’d see Spanish movies on Gran Via, go salsa dancing, and learn how to make delicious paella.

Students in Madrid

How has this experience impacted your future?

Justin: The experience has already impacted me. My Spanish improved dramatically, and I made Spanish friends with whom I am still in touch. I have been interviewing with law firms in Texas for summer internships, and they are thrilled to see that I have studied abroad and speak some Spanish. Interviewers constantly ask about my experience there.