Before working with Spanish Studies Abroad, Jillian was living and working in Madrid, Spain as an English Teacher and a Tour Guide. She studied abroad in Seville in 2014, where her love for Spain and learning languages began. Now, she travels to different universities in the US to spread awareness of different study abroad opportunities in Spain and Latin America.
What is your favorite travel memory?
My (most recent) favorite travel moment was in Puerto Rico, where I spent a day scaling cliffs, exploring caves, canyoning, and zip-lining.
At some point, our tour group took a lunch break in a tucked away chamber in the middle of the cave system. It was lit by a hundred little candles and we were surrounded by stalagmites that were hundreds of years old. It was such a surreal and unique moment, having a nonchalant lunch somewhere underneath the earth with other strangers around the world.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I've gotten to grow so much since starting my job with Spanish Studies Abroad! This has been my first full-time job in the states, and overall I think I've become a more responsible individual and have improved essential skills such as time management, organization, and interpersonal skills. Thanks to this job, I've also become much more versed in Latin American culture and history and have learned the ways that the use of Spanish varies from country to country.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
My favorite story is of a student, Maria, who studied abroad in Spain and got the opportunity to meet their extended Spanish family! Maria's extended relatives were so excited that she was in Spain that they threw her a huge "family reunion" party, fully equipped with traditional Spanish cuisine and music. Maria said that although she had never met her relatives in person before, they welcomed her into their home as if they had known her their whole lives.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I would go on the Integrated Studies program with my company because I believe that is the one that would best help me perfect my Spanish and push me out of my comfort zone (which is one of the reasons that we all study abroad, right?).
In this track, students enroll directly in a few courses that are taught by local professors and attended by local students, an awesome way to integrate yourself into the city that you're living in! I also love that this program provides students with free tutors on campus as well as local "speaking partners".
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
What makes my company unique is it's true dedication to the acquisition of the Spanish language and integration into the local culture.
In almost all of our locations, students are actually required to live with local host-families, which students end up being grateful for since it's such a unique experience. We also have a "Spanish-Only Policy" on-site, so even when students aren't with Spanish-speakers, they are practicing amongst themselves!
I'm proud that my team is always willing to go the extra mile to accommodate students and institution contacts.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
It is so important to have a passionate team behind a company. If the employees believe in what they do and perform their work with intention and excitement, I think that makes a huge difference in the end product. On the flip side, I also believe that fostering a positive and motivating work environment plays a huge role in the overall success of a business.