Student Interview: 4 Week Winter Volunteer Program
Michaela is currently studying Psychology and Spanish Language and Literature at her University in Minnesota,USA. She came to Valencia with her university group for a four week intensive Study Abroad Program with Euroace that included a Spanish history course (in Spanish) and a Volunteering program in the local community.
What did you like best about Valencia?
I liked Valencia a lot, it is a very walkable city, that’s not too busy or hectic. I love the endless cafes, shops and chill out areas. It also feels very safe to live here.
Have you noticed an improvement in your Spanish skills after the the Euroace Spanish course?
Yes I notice a very big improvement, mainly that I am much more confident to speak in Spanish. I liked the classes and the teaching style, the teachers motivated everyone to speak and to participate in the classes, I found it very useful to review grammar as well. Also, my volunteering program was with a social focus and this gave me the chance to practice my Spanish with the local community.
Can you tell us a bit more about your volunteering experience?
I was working in the afternoons at an NGO, a community center where people in need can come for support or just hang around. I met people from all backgrounds and ages – teenagers, people who are unemployed for a long time and seek a way out of the situation, foreigners and immigrants. My role was to help the organization with writing their presentations in English, to help people improve their English as well as just talk to them to offer advice and counseling. In many cases, I had to actively use my Spanish in those conversations. It was very rewarding to get to know the stories of so many different people and to be able to help. We also gave out food to the homeless people on the street.
You stayed with a host family in Valencia. Can you tell us more about this experience?
My stay with the host family helped me a lot to get to know the culture and cuisine of Valencia. It also helped me improve my Spanish language skills. At times I found it challenging because we communicated only in Spanish, it was hard to explain certain things about my food preferences and this caused a bit of miscommunication.
What advice would you give to other students coming to Valencia on a Study Abroad program?
Do your research in advance, research about everything – what the lifestyle is like, what are the main points of interest in the city, how people communicate, etc. I found the lifestyle in Valencia and the US quite different, for example, people give two kisses when they meet no matter if they are close friends or they meet for the first time, this was a bit confusing for me when I experienced it for the first time, I did not expect it!
What extra activities did you take part in?
I went to the Language exchange once a week in a local pub, I met lots of local people and students from all around the world. I joined the excursions to Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, and a few local towns in the Valencian Region – such as Peñíscola and Xátiva. I enjoyed seeing so many new places and meeting many different people.
Would you recommend Euroace to other students who would like to volunteer or learn Spanish in Spain?
Yes, I would gladly recommend Euroace as a Spanish language school, for the intensive classes that are very interactive, students get lots of opportunities to speak and practice. Besides the classes, I really liked my volunteering experience, it was just the right match for me, having the opportunity to speak to and support people from different backgrounds and trying to overcome difficult life situations.