Kelsey Hopkins

With the help of Cultural Embrace, Kelsey volunteered abroad in Antigua, Guatemala for the month of July, 2013. She is 21 and a senior, Community Health student at Worcester State University in Massachusetts. Kelsey is passionate about building and living in strong, healthy communities.

Why did you decide to study abroad with Cultural Embrace?

Meet Kelsey

Kelsey: I chose to study abroad with CE because their programs are affordable. Before I had applied, I called CE with some questions and they were super helpful and friendly. Their willingness to answer my questions helped solidify that I would travel through them. Throughout the whole experience the staff, primarily my program coordinator Caroline were available and supportive. The day before my trip, Caroline called me to answer any last minute questions. The next day, she even called my school in Guatemala to let them know that my plane was delayed. It was this support that made CE the only choice for my volunteer abroad experience. During my stay, a CE recruiter was also visiting Antigua and she made the effort to meet up with me and connect about my experience.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Kelsey: My month abroad solidified my desire to work and live abroad. Internet access and wifi in my host family’s house made it really easy to communicate with my family and friends in the United States. My trip was a small trial run of what life would like away from my family and I know now that with the help of technology I won’t actually be that far away. There is something so comforting about knowing that I will be able to live anywhere in the world, but still be just a Skype call away from my family at home.

Kelsey enjoys beautiful Guatemala

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home

Kelsey: My days were fairly structured with Spanish classes in the morning and volunteering in the afternoon, but in the spirit of summer vacation I took Salsa classes in the evenings. While I could do this at home, it just isn’t the same feel as being taught to dance, in Spanish by a local while living in the country. I also had the opportunity to practice my new dance moves with my host brothers and at the many bars in Antigua. My Salsa lessons and getting to know my dance teacher were some of my favorite experiences in Guatemala!

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abrod:

Kelsey: Choco bananos and tortillas were two staples of my Guatemalan diet. While tortillas are a relatively simple food, I definitely can’t buy fresh, hot, corn tortillas from my neighbor in Massachusetts. And chocolate covered bananas were my go to, favorite snack and while I have tried to make them here, the chocolate just isn’t the same. They grow and make their own chocolate in Antigua and I have a feeling that I will never be able to reproduce that goodness here with my store bought chocolate. I also loved the variety of vegetables and their affordability at the market. I was so fortunate that my host mom cooked with lots of fruits and vegetables including peruleros and avocados!