Why did you choose this program?
I chose CIEE in high school because my older brother used the program to study abroad in France and had a wonderful experience. When I was applying to study abroad in college, I knew I wanted to use CIEE again because I had such an extraordinary time with the program. I made so many friends during my first time abroad, that it was a no-brainer I would choose CIEE again for my college experience.
I feel like CIEE offers so many things such as different classes, excursions, and cultural exposures that really enabled me to learn Spanish quicker and become apart of the Sevillan community.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
CIEE assisted me with everything I could have imagined! CIEE had on site staff in Spain that would support me in any mental, emotional, or physical assistance that came up. Not only that, but before going abroad with the program (both times) they provided info sessions and orientations.
I felt I had all of the information that I needed prepared by CIEE before I left the United States, and when I actually landed in the country, there were 3 days dedicated to orientation, so we all felt confident entering the Spanish community.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would say the largest piece of advice I could give is: remember, homesickness is normal! You may feel homesick at times, especially during holidays, but remember you are only abroad for a short amount of time, and you should take advantage of your city! Join activities, talk to people, explore!
I feel like it is easy to get caught in the moment of missing home, but when I started to have that feeling, I would meet up with friends or walk around Sevilla. I would talk to my parents and friends from home occasionally, but I really put effort to dive deep into the culture. I took many classes offered in my town, and I joined a local gym!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
During both programs with CIEE an average day consisted of meals with my host family, school, some homework, and exploring the city + participating in extracurricular activities such as cooking, pottery, and dance classes and hanging out with friends.
Once my schoolwork was completed, often times me and my friends would go to a park and sit and talk. My spanish friends would show me new Spanish songs, and we would make plans for the weekends.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear going into the program was that I was not going to make friends. However, I think being a foreigner is a great conversation starter! So many classmates of mine introduced themselves and I began to hang out with them all the time. Do not be afraid to ask people questions or start a conversation!
When I first met my friend Javi, he made fun of my accent and I was mortified. Little did I know he would become my best friend on the program. I talk to him every single day, even now, and every time I go back to Spain we see each other and laugh about memories. I can not believe I have known him 6 years!
What was your favorite memory abroad?
My favorite memory abroad was being able to attend the Feria de Abril in Sevilla, Spain. The Feria de Abril is a huge tradition in the south of Spain and I had the opportunity to eat traditional foods, dance, and dress up in a flamenco dress. My friends helped me pick out a dress and invited me to their caseta (little tent) where they introduced me to their families and friends.