How I Chose My CIEE Program

Programs for this blog post

Liberal Arts

By: Amelia Asfaw

To be completely honest, I had a lot of trouble deciding where I wanted to study abroad. I knew I wanted somewhere in Spain to practice my Spanish, but there were so many options. All the cities looked so cool, and all the programs had slight practical differences between that I couldn’t understand. I was overwhelmed. 

I want to emphasize that this is simply my process and how I decided what I wanted, not necessarily what you should do. Because I really understand being stuck and overwhelmed and not knowing, and I remember looking to blog posts on how to make this big decision. I just hope this can help you decide what’s best for you.

From my study abroad experience, it was important to me that I improved my Spanish and learned more about the Spanish culture. Additionally, I go to a small school in a small town, so I wanted to experience going to school in a bigger city. And I wanted a mix of everything – attractions, nightlife, things to do, restaurants, and the ability to travel easily (an airport).

First, I narrowed the list of study abroad options to Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Valencia based on availability of study abroad programs and the size of the city (I googled “Size of Spain cities”). Then I eliminated Barcelona because I wanted to focus on learning Spanish, and there they speak both Catalan and Spanish. 

sevilla plaza de espana abroad

Read More: The 6 Best Places to Learn Spanish Abroad

Then it got tricky. Next, I focused on the fact that I wanted to immerse myself in the Spanish experience. I eliminated Madrid because I felt I (personally!) would feel overwhelmed by the metropolitan aspect and wouldn’t feel like I’m in a uniquely Spanish city. 

So, it came down to Valencia and Sevilla. I began looked at specific programs and seeing if any programs worked with my college. I found Sevilla had a lot more study abroad options and I liked knowing it was a popular place to study abroad. I also liked Sevilla’s historical aspect because I felt like that would really help me learn about and experience Spanish culture. 

Next, it came down to deciding which program. There was CIEE, IES, SSA, and so many options that seemingly offered the same benefits. I honestly chose CIEE because it seemed to be the biggest organization, I heard good things, and I wanted a program that knew what they were doing. I am so happy I did. I have met people from other programs, and I can say with certainty that CIEE was the right choice. 

And honestly, I just committed. I didn’t let myself second guess my decision because I knew anywhere, I picked I would enjoy. It is very important to trust your gut feeling and make sure you are the one making the decision.