Health & Safety
Emilia's life changing three months in Madrid
Submitted by Emilia Hovestadt - New Braunfels, Texas | February 09, 2017
Why did you decide to study and intern abroad?
I have always had a passion and extreme interest in what life is like in other countries. After graduating from Texas State University in May of 2016, I wasn't quite ready for the working world, so I figured there wouldn't be a better time to fulfill my curiosity and find an opportunity to live abroad.
Why did you choose BEST Programs package?
After about two months of trying to find a program I came across Best Programs. In all honesty the first thing that stood out to me was the affordability of the program. Every other program I came across was out of my budget, so when I found Best Programs I was taken back by the price. After a few email exchanges the owner of the company, Jill, gave me call. We chatted for almost an hour about why I wanted to join the program, why I wanted to go to Spain and so much more. My original idea was to go to Barcelona, but after talking to Jill and telling her that one of my main goals was to improve my Spanish, we decided Madrid would be the best place for me. Once I chatted with Jill I was confident and beyond excited that Best Programs was for me!!
What makes the program you participated in so interesting?
What made Best Programs stand out to me was the inclusion of attending a Spanish school at the beginning of my time in Madrid. Prior to my three month stay in Spain my Spanish was...okay. I had an understanding of conversation, and could kind of get by, but I was in need of help. The two week corse I attended at Academa Contacto help me tremendously with practicing my basic Spanish, and helped me really get down the basics. Once I started my internship at Grupo WorkandLife was when my Spanish really improved. I was challenged on a daily basis because I was the ONLY English speaker in the office. At first this was very intimidating and honestly really hard. But after a few weeks of working my Spanish improved from barely being able to have a full conversion to talking almost fluently.
What is the best thing about your program that future participants need to know?
Since I was the only student in Madrid for the program I was forced to get out on my own and meet people. I've always been a very social person, but I was very intimidated by the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone in order to find ways to meet people. Going to Madrid on my own and not knowing a single soul was the best thing I could of ever done for my self. I feel like I have gained a great sense of independence and confidence that I would have never found if it wasn't for Best Programs.
What’s one thing you would have done differently?
One of the perks of working with Best Programs was not worrying about finding a place to live because the housing program was there to help me find a place to live. I orginaly was offered a flat to live in with other students but after some irrational thinking I freaked myself out and decided that I wanted to live with a host family. At first I thought this would be a great idea because I would be really immersing myself in the Spanish culture, however I quickly learned that living with a host family wasn't what I thought it would be and learned from my mistake. Thankfully because of the housing program I was able to move into a student flat after about a month And it ended up being the best decision I made because of the people I met!
Now that you’re home, how has the experience abroad impacted your life?
Before I even departed from Madrid I knew my stay in Spain was not enough time. I started searching for a way to come back before I even left Spain. Once I arrived back home a friend of mine, who is an English teaching assistant I had met traveling in Mallorca, let me know that the Balartic islands were hiring more English teaching assistants for the Spring. I sent my application off and two weeks later found out I got job!! I leave to return to Spain in three weeks and more excited than ever. Returning home was been wonderful - visiting with friends and family. But my time in Madrid opened my eyes to a new world. Best Programs provided me with my first opportunity and experience of living and working abroad and I wouldn't be where I am today without my three month experience in Madrid!