To be honest, studying abroad was not initially my idea. One of my best friends implanted the idea a few months before we went through with the decision. I was driving down the highway on a random afternoon and thought “I’m gonna go to Spain.” I called Brianne and she did not believe me. I decided to just be adventurous and head to Spain and experience Europe for the first time because I am young and because I could.
Why did you choose the Athena Study Abroad’s Spain program?
I chose the Athena Spain program because it was quite affordable, and because it offered a program in Sevilla, which was where my friend and I wanted to go.
What makes the Athena’s program in Seville so interesting?
The program just looked so appealing because it involved living in a house and having a smaller institution teach you at a higher level (for me it was all about a smaller community, to make it easier to meet people from all over the world).
What is the best thing about your program that future participants need to know?
The communication of the Athena staff and future participants is great (prompt and thorough!).The actual program in Sevilla is so much fun! The CLIC school I was studying at has weekly events set-up for students and they also offer weekend getaways (which are not included in the Athena package, but are extremely affordable. They also make it easier to meet more people).
What’s one thing you would have done differently?
I would have attempted to cook more at the house we were staying at to save money, so I could have travelled to more places. My friend and I spent too much money eating out at restaurants, and looking back now, we could have balanced it a bit more.
Now that you’re home, how has study abroad impacted your life?
I talk about my experience all the time. It is awesome to say “I lived in Spain for a month and a half,” and can call Sevilla my second home. I brag about being in Sevilla and how fun all of it was - even at times when I was lost and walking in the scorching heat! Haha! I loved every second and it will never leave my mind.
What is one thing you wish you knew before studying abroad?
Before going abroad, I wish I had known to save more money than what I took with me. I feel now, looking back at it, that I stopped myself from trying a few things due to a lack of money. When I got back home I was broke, but it was totally worth it. If you want to experience your time abroad to the fullest, save as much money as you can, think about not spending as much before you leave, and know that it will pay off by the memories you make while abroad. I know it may sound corny, and perhaps you have heard this too often, but studying abroad will truly change you and it will always stay with you.
How has studying abroad changed your perception of the world?
Studying abroad truly changed my perception of the world, by making me want to be more engaged with what is going on out there, besides the superficial aspect of just visiting pretty sites or places.
When studying abroad you connect with so many cultures, and learn so many different lifestyles and philosophies, that you cannot help but go back home with a completely new outlook on your own life.
I visited Sevilla, and I came back with a new attitude of still wanting to study and be successful, but never letting that get in the way of truly living life and doing what you love. It is not fun doing all work and not having time to disconnect and enjoy life.
What is your most memorable moment from your time abroad?
My most memorable moment from studying abroad would have to be when my friend Brianne and I took a taxi from CLIC school to our house. It was an insanely hot day in Sevilla, and as we were getting close to our neighborhood we decided to ask the taxi driver to drop us off down the street. We got out and quickly realized that we had mistaken the neighborhood and we were in the wrong place. We sort of panicked for a little bit, and began walking to find a familiar street. I want to say we walked aimlessly for at least an hour. We were sunburnt by then, and getting a little irritated, when we finally had the guts to approach a Sevillano and ask him where to go.
We walked in circles for a while until we found the back alley that led to our Infantes house. We burst into laughter, from the hysteria and heat I think, and were in tears of happiness because we had finally found our house. That was when it hit us both, this had become our home. We ran into the house and turned on all the fans we could find (and had terrible tan lines hahaha), but it was all worth it. That memory will always stay with me.
Cinthya was a literary studies major from University of Texas at Dallas when she decided to study abroad. During the summer before her senior year, she studied abroad in Seville through Athena Study Abroad. She chose to go to Seville based on her increasing attraction to Spain, and she was able to share the experience with one of her best friends from home. Cinthya now works as a human resources manager in the hospitality industry.