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My experience with Abbey Road Programs in Cadiz – by Jessie B.
by Student, Jessie B. , New Jersey

What drew you to Abbey Road? Had you ever done study abroad before?

This was my first time going to Europe or even out of the country! I have always had a passion for Spanish and I have been taking it since the second grade. I really wanted to do something this summer that would help me improve my Spanish especially since I was going to be taking AP this year. I have always wanted to go abroad, but Spain was my number one choice so I started looking at programs that offer classes in Spain.

This summer I was looking to improve not only my conversational skills but just improve my Spanish overall. I wanted to feel more confident in holding conversations with people and also I wanted to experience a new culture and a new way of life. I was really trying to be open-minded and try new things and I definitely accomplished that. I tried a bunch of new foods and did new activities.

  What did you get out of this experience? Did it live up to your expectations?

 My summer in Cadiz definitely lived up to my expectations. I would say I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did. I not only got to experience a new culture but the fact that I got to actually live the way a Spanish family lives. You learn about the culture in school, but the fact that I actually got to live it made it so surreal and the experience very impactful.

Have you or anyone else noticed a difference in your Spanish since you’ve been back? Noticed a difference in your Spanish?

My Spanish has improved hands down. I feel like my ability to speak Spanish improved the most, but there was also a general all-around improvement in my ability and I’m really noticing it this year in AP.

Aside from your Spanish, has this experience changed you in any way?

 I’m more open to new things and different types of culture.

Was there a good balance between the classes, activities and free time?

 One of the main reasons I chose Abbey road was because I loved the balance between the classes, group activities and free time. I like how we were in class for the morning and in the afternoon we got to choose how we would spend the rest of the day. I think the program as a whole was very well organized.

How were your daily Spanish classes handled? What types of activities did you do?

I was in the advanced class. In the morning we would usually learn about the history, art, or culture of Cadiz. Sometimes we would learn different vocabulary and then we would go out into the city and use the new vocabulary we had been learning that morning and incorporate them into our conversations with the local people of Cadiz. We would sometimes have the task of interviewing locals.

For example, if our vocabulary topic of the day was leisure activities, we would ask locals what there favorite things to do are and what part of the city they recommend. This kind of learning is very different than what I’m used to backing home. It’s a lot more interactive and we actually got to use what we were learning in a real-life situation.

How was your program staff?

 I loved the Abbey Road staff! They were all very welcoming and open and down to earth. If any student had any questions or concerns they were always willing to help us out and I really appreciated that. They were very personable and kind and I felt like I could go to them for anything.

Why did you choose a homestay program?

 I knew that I stay in a homestay was the best way to improve my Spanish. I wanted to live in a house where only Spanish was spoken and I felt that if I did dorms I would only speak Spanish when I had to. My host mother didn’t know any English so I was forced to speak Spanish and I think that’s one of the major factors that helped me improve my Spanish skills. It was definitely a shock at first not to be able to speak any English, but after the first couple of days, it just came naturally.

Tell me about your homestay mother.

My homestay mom was Rosa and when we first arrived she was very excited that we were staying with her. She really wanted us to go out and experience the real Cadiz. She really tried to immerse us in the culture. She made us all these traditional meals. She always made sure we were accommodated and she was very nice. I loved that when we were eating dinner or eating lunch she would always blast Spanish music and start dancing.

Do you have a favorite memory from the trip?

The evening activities were probably some of my favorite memories. Not the optional evening activities, but the planned group activities when we were all experiencing new things together as a group. I thought they just brought us all really close together.

Tell me something you know now after doing this program, about the Spanish Culture, City of Cadiz or people of Cadiz that the typical traveler would not know.

Something that shocked me when I arrived there was a lot of times when we would be heading back home for curfew there were tons of kids still playing in the plazas and their parents would be there talking with each other. There weren’t even getting ready to say goodbye. It was very interesting to observe the change in culture. It’s not something I see here at home.

 What advice would you give to a student going on this program in 2013?

 I would suggest to anyone interested in going that they be open-minded. By going to Cadiz you are stepping into a completely different way of life. It’s an adjustment and can take a few days to get used to, but once you do it’s so hard to leave. It’s important that they don’t take anything for granted because it’s over in the blink of an eye. Also, take lots of pictures.