Alumni Spotlight: Isabel H.

What were your main reasons for wanting to go abroad this summer. What were you looking for?

students enjoying a meal in Spain

Isabel: This was my first time participating in a study abroad program. I had heard about teen tours before, but my mom brought up the study abroad program with Abbey Road to help improve my Spanish.

I was going to be taking AP and I wanted to be better prepared for the AP test at the end of the year. I had also never been to Spain before and I wanted to see what it was like. I also wanted the opportunity to meet other students.

Living in the residence in Barcelona was similar to college life and I wanted to be able to experience that and get a feel for what college might be like. I wanted to stay with other students and I had heard Barcelona was a great city. 

How did you like the Abbey Road staff?

Isabel: I thought the teachers were great! They really encouraged us to speak more Spanish and helped us to understand more. My intermediate teacher didn’t speak any English at all so at first it was hard communicating with her, but eventually it became easier and my Spanish came more naturally.

Our counselors were all younger and relatable and really easy to talk to. I thought that they all really worked well together. 

Can you describe the residential life experience?

Isabel: Living in a residence was very different from home. When I’m home I don’t always have to take out the trash or wash the dishes, but once you’re living in the residence, you have to cook for yourself, buy your own groceries, take out the trash, do your own laundry. You have to be very independent. I really liked that aspect.

Every week the counselors gave us money for one trip to the grocery store. You would go to the store with the student that you shared your kitchen with. Together you would buy what food you wanted for the week. We did cooking every other night, which was really fun.

Learning to cook new recipes and trying new foods was a completely new experience. My favorite recipe was tortilla, which is an egg, and potato dish that can be used for tapas or as a whole dish. 

Did you know what “experiential learning” was prior to your trip to Barcelona? How would you describe it?

Isabel: I had an idea, but I had never experienced it until Abbey Road. I would describe it as not just sitting in a classroom repeating verbs or vocabulary over and over.

You don’t stay in a classroom. You actually get out of the classroom and talk to local people and learn Spanish through living in the city and interacting with native Spanish speakers. 

What advice would you give to someone going on this program?

Isabel: I would tell them to be open with new things and a little bit adventurous. Be friendly with everyone and try all these new things and really try to experience the culture, it will only enhance your experience.