This was my first time studying abroad. When I signed up to take AP Spanish I knew that I wanted to improve my Spanish speaking skills and I knew I wanted to go to Spain. I wanted to really be immersed in the culture and learn the language and learn about where I was staying to make everything worthwhile. My friend Mark and I went together and our moms were really involved in the search. They had this convention with all these different summer programs and they got a lot of different information. We wanted to find a program that offered a good balance of independence, learning, excursions, and a homestay. Abbey Road seemed to have everything that we were looking for.
During the program my Spanish has definitely improved. Ever since the 9th grade there hasn’t been any English spoken in my Spanish classes and my experience this summer being so exposed to Spanish has really helped a lot. In the south of Spain they have these tough hard accents and I think exposure to that has really helped. The classes we had during the program were quite different from what we have been doing back home, and this is another reason why I chose Abbey Road. I was able to spend an hour and a half in the classroom and an hour and a half talking to people and finding things, which was a more engaging way of learning. When you’re actually exposed to what you are learning it’s a totally different experience.
The teachers and the program coordinators were amazing, especially Chris [the program Director]. During summer programs there are always certain situations that happen and I think he handled them really well. The staff always had a positive attitude and was open to hearing suggestions. They taught us that you can have so much fun by learning the language or about the culture. The whole experience was just so personal that anything that I felt I needed people were always there to help out or if I wanted to do a certain thing they would make time to do it. And it wasn’t just during the program that the staff was really great, even before the program started the staff was helpful. I could contact anyone in the program and they were willing to talk to me.
Mark and I were staying with Rosa, an amazing and such a typical Spanish mother. Rosa had three sons and a granddaughter so there was always family around. It was never quiet which was perfect and exactly the experience we were looking for! It was such a great homestay experience. We always had the option to go out to eat, but we always ate at the house because we loved the food and we loved hanging out with the other boys at the house. Rosa mainly made Spanish food, but sometimes she would try to make something more American for us.
Experiential learning is something that Abbey Road really takes pride in. It’s a great thing because even though you sign up for classes you want to take you really just want to be spending time in the city and making friends. When you mix classroom learning with cultural immersion, it just makes the whole thing more enjoyable.