As my semester in Alicante will soon be coming to a close, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my experience thus far. When first thinking of studying abroad, I was undecided which of the programs in different locations around the world would be best for me. Initially, I had not been fully introduced to all that Alicante had to offer. Being from a big city like New York and living within a large student population at Penn State University, relocating to a less crowded place where I might have the chance to develop more personal relationships was very appealing to me. My decision turned out to be the right one and has provided me that opportunity and much more.
Alicante, a small city located on the coast of Spain, is every study abroad student’s dream. With its beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery and friendly people, you can find a bit of paradise right outside your door each day. I never dreamed that after school I’d be able to sit on a beach with my friends taking in the sun or hike the Castillo de Santa Bárbara (with our self-made charcuterie platters) to watch the sunset. CIEE Alicante also offers, and encourages, the unique opportunity of living with a host family. This has helped give me a perspective of Spanish culture that I never been exposed to. Sometimes being introduced to a challenge that may seem intimidating and uncomfortable at first can prove to be a very formative and enjoyable experience. "Mi Familia" has been so warm and caring and made me feel right at home here in Spain.
Though there are many places to see and things to do in Alicante, there are also lots of interesting places nearby. If you are looking for a weekend getaway, there are interesting cities and charming towns just a tram ride away. You can take a train to Madrid or Barcelona and you are a short (and often inexpensive) flight to many exciting European capitals. When choosing a study abroad program, it is important to consider what you’re looking to get out of it. For me, developing my skills in a foreign language and being receptive to and becoming familiar with a new culture were paramount goals. Getting to meet and live with locals and foreigners from many different walks of life was what I valued and found most enjoyable. Alicante fulfilled my hopes and dreams for a study-abroad journey that has been an incredible adventure that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I will always be grateful to "The City of Light" for welcoming me and giving me so much to remember her by.