Jaylene Valentin - 2017 Program Participant
What inspired you to go abroad?
I decided to go abroad because I've always had a passion for travel. I love making new memories, meeting new people and stepping outside of my comfort zone, especially in other places outside of my city! Also, I had heard such good things about PINC International and couldn't pass up an opportunity to be a part of the legacy!
Why did you choose PINC International?
I came across PINC International online on an internship website and was instantly interested. I sent over my resume and within hours, I received an email from the founder. Turns out, she was from my home city and was super kind and accommodating! Before even signing up, she set aside time to meet my mother and I for coffee to talk about the program and that really put us at ease and made me feel super comfortable going abroad for the first time. She was super passionate about the program and when she spoke about PINC, we could really tell how much time and effort she puts into every program. And well, the rest is history!
What was your favorite part about Madrid?
What I loved the most about Madrid is how similar it is to my home city, which is New York (it still has its unique differences, however!). The diversity in its people made me feel right at home, the fashion made me feel like I was walking the streets of Manhattan, the food is delicious, the people there are super friendly and of course the nightlife we couldn't get enough of! Haha.
What made your experience abroad unique?
I think the one thing that sets PINC International apart is that you leave with more than just memories of Spain. You leave your time abroad with a new sisterhood. I believe PINC International not only does a great job at getting its students culturally immersed in a new country, but it does an even better job in building networks and friendships that last a lifetime. Every night was like a huge sleepover for us girls. We did everything together from waking up in the morning, to going to class to going out at night together. You start off as strangers who are roommates and within a short span of just two weeks, you become sisters. It's been so incredible having friends from all over the United States that I can now visit whenever I need a break!
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
PINC International provides 24/7 onsite city coordinators. The city coordinators are girls who have previously done the program so they already know all the ropes. The girls guide you through the city, show you how the subway routes work, inform you on all the hotspots for food and nightlife, and are there whenever you have any questions or concerns. One of the girls even lived in my apartment so I felt super comfortable my entire time abroad!
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
If there's one thing I would have done differently, I would have signed up for the 8 week program. I noticed so much growth within myself in two weeks alone, I could only imagine the impact the 8 week program would have had on me! I decided to go with the two week program because it was my first time going abroad and at first, two weeks seemed like just the right amount of time. It was a long enough time to get accustomed to living on my own, but also not too much to the point where I would get homesick (which I can't say I did). However, in all actuality, I felt as soon as the two weeks was coming to an end, I was just starting to get close to all of the girls, starting to feel like a local and really getting comfortable with my Spanish and living on my own. The good thing is, PINC International isn't going anywhere and the founder is always willing to welcome former students into new programs so hopefully PINC International right week internship program is in my near future!
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
I participated in the two week immersion program so a typical day for me started off with Spanish classes in the morning (typically two hours, at most). The girls in my apartment really appreciated sleep so we would always sleep in and make breakfast at home, as opposed to going out for breakfast haha. For the entire two weeks, we had an itinerary planned for us. Most of it was optional but typically the immersion group opted to follow the planned schedule. The itinerary usually included cultural activities such as museums, cultural restaurants, parks and other attractions, so after Spanish classes we would all regroup and go out for the day. After that, we would usually go back to the apartment to shower and change our outfits and head out for the night! Sometimes that meant just going to grab burritos and margaritas, other times we were hitting up the hottest clubs in Madrid! And the next morning we would do it all over again!
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
During our free time, we loved going out to eat! We also loved going shopping at Primark and Bershka. When in Barcelona, we loved going to the beach because we didn't get to go while in Madrid! My roommate and I also really enjoyed just staying home and cooking. Sometimes, we would stay home and make a nice meal (with vino of course) and just watch Netflix in our room. We also loved just simply taking walks around our building late at night, just laughing until our stomachs hurt and we couldn't laugh anymore. We also really loved taking naps, I have to be honest.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
Our accommodation has to be one of the best parts about my time abroad. I loved that we had our own apartments. We had our own kitchens which was perfect because my roommates and I loved to cook. We also had a washing machine in our apartment which really came in handy! The rooms were the perfect size, especially considering we were out and about most of the time! The building was right on the corner of a 24 hour market/deli which was perfect if you needed to go out and grab something late at night. There was also a full grocery store and a bank down the block which was also very convenient. The train was two blocks from our apartment so it was super close and we felt extremely safe coming home late at night!
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
One thing every participant should know is that you WILL have PINC withdrawals! I can you tell you right now, there is not a day when I don't miss being abroad with the girls! We created the best memories together that I will cherish forever (and some that I would like to forget, however I can't!). We still have a Snapchat group chat that we use every single day. Also, just for future reference you should know that the trains in Madrid stop running at 1:30 a.m. Late nights at the club will have you taking your heels off to run to catch the last train. Don't ask me how I know this!
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
My time abroad has definitely impacted my life in many ways. In one way, I now have a huge network of not only professionals but lifelong friends. Two months after returning home from Madrid, one of my roommates came to visit me in New York City. We shared a hotel room and I showed her around New York. It was like living in Spain all over again! Another benefit of PINC International is having a fantastic program to add to your resume, as well as a new language! Whenever I go on interviews, interviewers are always immediately drawn to PINC International! It's a great conversation starter and I can never say enough about Spain! I can't wait to go abroad again!
Would you recommend PINC International to others? Why?
I absolutely recommend PINC International to any female who is over 18, loves to travel and wants to grow personally and professionally. I cannot say enough good things about PINC International. PINC will forever hold a special place in my heart. Without PINC I wouldn't be the girl boss leader that I have grown to be, I wouldn't have the confidence that I walk around with today and I definitely wouldn't have the support system I am so appreciative for.