Because I was looking for a shorter program due to a summer job beginning in early May back at my home university, I stumbled upon the Spanish Studies Program with Spanish Studies Abroad in the beautiful city of Alicante, Spain. The city itself is located on the Mediterranean coast and has tons of charming, gorgeous little pueblos just a short train ride away, which allows for not only fulfilling day trips to exotic-looking locations, but also a day trip that fits right into your budget by using your tram pass that takes you to class daily and spending maybe a euro on another train. Your host mom even packs lunch and you can be back in time for dinner! If you don't want to travel, there's a beach just a hop, skip, and a jump from your home stay along with all the shopping you could imagine, bars, and wonderful cafes like my favorite, Canada Cupcake. I did not hear a single complaint about home stays from anyone in my program and I don't have a single one except I wish we lived closer and I could visit now! As for the ladies in the program, my only complaint is the same: that I miss them and wish we could visit! I have grown up in a very creative environment and am a performing arts major, so one difficult adjustment for me was the lack of opportunity to play instruments. These ladies looked high and low for a place where I could express myself musically and when their search came back fruitless, one of the wonderful ladies went so far as to offer her very own guitar to me! I was very impressed with that and though I declined, the sentiment was touching. My professors were equally concerned about our adjustment process and constantly checked in with us to make sure we were well-adjusted and enjoying our time abroad. One professor I had for most of the semester was named Santiago and he was by far the best professor I have ever had. He taught us new vocabulary to express ourselves better, only spoke in Spanish but made sure we understood every single word, and checked in with us one-on-one to discuss our plans for our vacations, weekend trips, and to hear about our adventures. Last but not least, I was lucky enough to have saved enough and lived frugally enough in Spain to be able to visit 14 countries! That included meeting family I had in Paris and Germany. I did most of this by train over our long spring break and backpacking through Europe is an experience I would not trade for anything. However, every weekend I did travel somewhere else as well. I visited the beautiful Barcelona, San Sebastian, Madrid, Mallorca, and Bilbao in Spain (along with the little nearby pueblos I mentioned earlier). My program also had free trips to the castle in Alicante, Granada, and Valencia! This program was truly a blessing to my life, gave me the opportunity to see a large portion of Europe, and gave me the support and confidence to travel (alone at times) to see what I wanted to see. I would highly recommend this program to anyone.
My pictures were too big to upload, but if you're interested, here is a link to a file in my Google drive with some pictures https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByMQbxPrHXO0WlpwWjkzWUVqb3M