GoAbroad Interview

Nicole Berry - Founder & Program Director

Nicole Berry - Founder & Program Director

Originally from Southern California, Nicole graduated from San Diego State University’s international business program. After graduation Nicole worked for both startups and large companies in California, Texas and Hawaii. In 2013, she founded Linguistic Horizons. Having been inspired by Peruvian superfoods, she is currently pursuing her MS in holistic nutrition.

What inspired you to found Linguistic Horizons?

I have always been passionate about education, foreign languages, and travel. After several years of brainstorming, I landed on the idea to start Linguistic Horizons. Having studied abroad a few times, I saw a need for true foreign language immersion in study abroad programs. I took the best aspects of my experiences as a student to form new and different programs.

Spain is a popular place to study abroad. What sets Linguistic Horizons apart from other study abroad programs?

True spanish language immersion, networking, affordability, and internship options are our main differentiators.

Linguistic Horizons is the only program provider that sends students to A Coruña, Spain. Because our participants are usually the only English speaking “tourists” in town, our students learn Spanish quickly.  A Coruña is the perfect destination for students who really want to learn the Spanish language, prefer a beach setting and want to have an authentic experience away from the tourist crowd. 

international students in Spain
With Linguistic Horizons students in Spain

Also, our participants come from all over the U.S. and sometimes other countries. So our students will make friends outside their home universities. Between meeting new friends from other institutions, and the option to complete an internship in your field our programs provide valuable networking opportunities.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, our programs are among the most affordable in Spain! Not only are our program fees low; but, the cost of living and going out in A Coruña is much lower than in cities like Barcelona or Madrid.

How do you orient participants upon arrival?

Upon arrival, we run a welcome orientation. Participants have a chance to meet each other for the first time in person, meet our staff and learn about A Coruña. We walk together to the university where classes are given and around town to get comfortable moving around the city. We also help those students who will have an internship navigate the bus system if necessary.

What makes studying or interning abroad so valuable for international students?

Going abroad as a student or intern allows you to experience life in another country. This is a valuable opportunity to improve foreign language skills, enhance your resume, and change the way you look at the world. My belief is that every student should spend time abroad. Experience abroad is a vital aspect of a well rounded education.

When studying abroad, it is easy to fall into a group of international students and only speak English. What is your best advice for someone wishing to immerse themselves in their host country’s culture and language?

This is exactly why I designed Linguistic Horizons programs the way I did. It is crucial that students make an effort to speak the local language every day.  Live with locals, make local friends, do an internship with a local company. Avoid going to destinations where you’ll be among tons of English speakers. Through our programs, we encourage all of these recommendations.

In your opinion, what makes learning a foreign language such an important skill?

By learning a foreign language, you are immediately expanding your networking possibilities. If you can speak Spanish, for example, you can communicate with people in Spain, South America, Central America, and beyond.

Knowledge of a foreign language is crucial to understanding other cultures beyond our own. 

This is also a key way to stand out when it comes time to apply for your first post-college job!

tourist at Machu Picchu, Peru
Hiking Machu Picchu. 

You are already fluent in Spanish. If you were going to study abroad again, where would you go and what language would you learn?

I would go to Brazil to increase my fluency in Portuguese. Then, I would go to Taiwan to learn Mandarin! Finally, I would go to Morocco or maybe Jordan to learn Arabic. I went abroad three times as an undergrad student. I am all about advocating for students to go abroad as many times as possible.

Studying abroad can be both exciting and terrifying. What advice would you give a prospective study abroad student, who has never traveled out of their home country before?

Just do it. You will not regret it!

If you are nervous, be sure to voice that to your study abroad program provider. Ask them about the in country support that will be made available to you. Knowing that you’ll have someone on the other side can be comforting. In the end, both your home country and the world are full of human beings - the good and the bad.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love living vicariously through my students. It’s like studying abroad for the first time over and over again!

How do you use your own international experience in your job?

My international experience, both as a student and later as a tourist, prepared me to start Linguistic Horizons. I studied international business at San Diego State University. Through this incredible program, I spent a year studying business courses taught in Spanish in Spain. That was the ultimate challenge for me particularly because I was not yet fluent when I started my year abroad. After my first semester, I was nearly fluent in Spanish.

international students in Spain
With my students in Spain

I then became the “go to” girl for all the incoming international students from around the world who came to study at my university during my second semester there. Everyone came to me for advice on finding housing, buying a local cell phone, choosing courses, navigating the bus system, etc. Because the international students did direct exchange, they did not have local support.

I unofficially became their local advisor! It was then that I learned I loved helping students navigate life abroad. This experience helped prepare me for setting up our summer in Spain programs. I became an expert at navigating life as an international student in A Coruña through my experience there.

Of course I now use the Spanish skills I acquired abroad to run the programs in Spain and Peru on a daily basis. Living abroad as a student in Spain and an intern in Germany also helped me develop the ability to work across cultures.

students hiking in the Andes, Peru
Hiking in the Andes, Peru!

Do you have any new developments in the works for 2017?

We are expanding the frequency of the Nutrition & Natural Medicine Program in Peru. This program will be offered once in the summer and once over the winter break/January term.  We are also working diligently to add new destinations for immersion programs in other languages.