Abbey Road Programs
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Abbey Road Alumni Interviews
Elsa, A., New York: Aix-en-Provence Program
Abbey Road Programs Elsa A. "I chose Abbey Road because it’s priority is for you to speak French and not just to go around sightseeing and being a tourist. I wanted to choose a program that focused on academics more than anything else and that’s why I felt like Abbey Road was the most trusted because the language aspect and true immersion is a top priority…"

What were your top three priorities for wanting to study abroad this summer to France?
My first priority was to become more comfortable speaking to natives because it’s different when you are in a classroom speaking to your teacher rather than speaking to an actual French person. The second thing was getting to be able to experience being away from my parents and becoming more independent. The third thing would be fully immersing myself in the culture because I’ve lived in New York all my life and it was really different to change cultures.

How did Abbey Road Summer Program help meet each of those goals?
Well for the interaction part, we had a lot of time in my French Conversation elective to get out there and speak to people and speak to the group and our teacher so I became really comfortable with speaking French. Living in a residence with two girls was definitely something different as well as taking care of my apartment. As for immersing myself in the culture, I lived there for a month! Going out in the neighborhood, talking and interacting with people, it was definitely very different. You can just tell by walking around that the culture is very different and that the people there are more open and warm than what I’ve experienced in New York.

Now that you are back home for two months, what is it about this experience you feel changed you? (If anything.)
I feel like I’m actually more talkative now because over there I had to talk a lot. Before I left for Aix, I was usually really quiet, but when I got there I kind of opened up and now I’m more social and outgoing. I think that has changed the most.

Do you notice a change in your French at school?
Even though I’m not taking French this year I’m still using it. I am a teacher assistant for my French teacher this year and when I speak to her in French she is just amazed at how much I improved. She is just really impressed!

In your view, how does the location of the program impact the experience? Does it matter "where" in France you go?
I thought that being in Aix was perfect because it was definitely different from being in a city. It was such a small town and I felt like everyone was more of a family and people actually knew each other. The storeowners would take time to talk to you. It was just such a different environment and I feel like everyone in Aix was a family. In New York no one knows each other. You don’t speak to any one when you are walking you don’t say hi and over there everyone says hi even if they don’t know you and I thought that was pretty awesome as well as the whole small town county side town environment.

In the same light, do you think it matters "who" you study abroad with?
Yes. I chose Abbey Road because it’s priority is for you to speak French and not just to go around sightseeing and being a tourist. I wanted to choose a program that focused on academics more than anything else and that’s why I felt like Abbey Road was the most trusted because the language aspect and true immersion is a top priority. [At the same time] It wasn’t just hard work every single day. On the weekends we would have excursions and you get to take a break from classes and also sight see, but at the same time maintain the academic routine and incorporate learning into the fun activities.

How do the activities offered outside of class time contribute to the experience?
There were a lot of activities during the week that were really fun. For example we had French movie night, Fashion Show, French Conversation classes, cooking classes and I just thought it was a great way to improve our French. We also had French only dinners, where we would only speak French while eating dinner. I thought that was the best choice because it forced us to speak with each other and even though it was really awkward at first, it really helped. One of my favorites was spa night. It was a good time to relax and we were able to just get away from all the excitement. We had yoga mats and nail polish and facials and we had a breathing exercise. I was a yoga teacher for five minutes. We listen to classical music and it was really nice and soothing.

How was the group size? Does program size affected the program?
We had 25 students. I feel like if there had been more students, our staff wouldn’t have been able to focus on us individually and they would have a harder time talking to you and relating to you one on one [outside of class]. There were three [French] class [levels] and I thought it was a good way for the teachers to get to know you based on your level and for them to give you individual attention as well. I think this was definitely a key in improving because I got one on one attention from my teacher.

What made you decide to choose a residential immersion program versus a homestay immersion program?
I chose Aix because I thought that a homestay would be something too drastic. I wanted to start out doing a residential program first because I didn’t feel comfortable with my French to be able to go to a homestay. Also, my parents really wanted me to be with a group of students and not just a family that I didn’t know.

Describe the residence life experience
I loved my room! My room had two floors and we each had our own room. It was just the perfect apartment. We had a huge living room and a huge kitchen. Our apartment was usually the one chosen for cooking nights because it was so big. I loved the cooking groups because you get to make authentic French meals while also socializing with the other students and the food was amazing and so French. I also liked the sense of privacy of having your own room, but still sharing common spaces. The residence was in a great location. It was two blocks away from the Cours Mirabeau. I felt really safe because there was always someone at the front desk and we had to have a card to swipe in because the main door was always locked. The security was at a high level.

How were your daily French classes handled?
The classes actually challenged you and pushed you and taught you new words. I also liked that our teachers taught us French slang so we could communicate with the people of Aix without sounding too professional and a little bit more colloquial. The classes were more intensive and our teacher was a native of France and could actually teach us terms not just from a textbook.

How did you like your instructors? Were they personable?
Yes definitely. I thought my French teacher Sophie was very qualified. I think she speaks five languages! She really wanted to challenge us and not just teach us stuff that we knew and she wanted us to tell her what to teach us which was basically French slang and also intensive grammar. She wanted us to kind of dictate how we wanted the class to go and it wasn’t just her that was deciding everything. It was a collaborative effort and I think that way every student got the most out of the class.

Do you think your experience has made you more independent?
Yes definitely. I have never had to wash dishes at home or do my own laundry so all that was really new to me and I feel like when I came back home I didn’t have to ask my parents to do it for me because I would just automatically do it myself because I was used to doing it over there. It helped me grow as a person and I feel like I’m more mature and independent now.
What type of student do you think would really benefit from this type of program?
The type of student who I think would really benefit from this program would be a student that is studious, wants to work on their French or whatever language they are learning and while at the same time have fun and see the beautiful things that their host country has to offer. It has to be both. It can’t just be one or the other.

Sarah P., New York: Aix-en-Provence Program
Abbey Road Programs Sarah P. "I am in my fourth year of French at school and I would consider myself pretty proficient. The French program isn’t as strong as the Spanish program at my school, but I can get by all the same. Back home now my listening skills have especially improved. I can understand my French teacher and I know what she is saying and not many kids do. Also, my ability to speak French improved and my grammar got a lot better because of the activities we did in class…"

Had you ever participated on a study abroad program or sleep away camp before?
This was my first time studying abroad. I had done a sleep away camp for five years and I did a bike trip last summer, but this program was the most different thing I had ever done.

What prompted you to want to study abroad in France and then choose Abbey Road?
I take French in school and really like it. I also went to France on a family vacation two years ago and I wanted to go back with a group of students my age…I did look at a couple of other programs, but Abbey Road seemed the most legitimate and had the most to offer that I was interested in.

You participated in Abbey Road’s residential immersion program in Aix-en-Provence, what made you decide to apply to a residential program rather than a homestay?
I didn’t choose the [the homestay program] because I wasn’t ready for a home stay. I would like to participate in one eventually, but not quite yet….I saw [other company’s] programs that offered Paris, but I think the city is too big. I thought Aix would be a good fit. It was like a mini Paris, without all the tourists. I thought it was perfect.

Do you think the residential living experience helped prepare you for that upcoming transition?
Yes. It was the first time I had lived with a roommate and the first time I had had to buy things for myself and do my own laundry and be more independent.

How was the location and quality of the residence?
We stayed in really nice apartments. I was with two other people and I shared a room with one of them. My roommate ended up becoming one of my best friends and it was really nice having a kitchen in the room. I thought it was just going to be dorms with a bathroom at the end of the hall, but every room had its own bathroom. Everyone also knew where everybody lived so you could go to your friend’s room and hang out. One of my friends had a balcony in her room so we would go and hang and sit outside. My closest friends and I from the trip still keep in touch! I thought the location of the apartments was perfect. It was only a three-minute walk to the center of town and we were close to anything we would ever need. I felt very safe living there.

Living in the center of the city is one of the best parts of studying abroad, were you able to interact with the people of Aix? What were they like?
The people [of Aix] definitely knew we weren’t French, but they really were nice and would speak to us in French. [At] the bakery my friends and I went to every morning the lady who owned it got to know us and everyday she would ask us what we were doing and where we were going that day and we would respond to her in French. It was really good practice. I had an overall really good experience with them.

“Academic Summer Program” can mean a lot of different things. In your opinion, what does it mean to say Abbey Road has a structured academic or learning aspect to their programs?
Unlike the other summer programs, you do learn, but not in a school fashion. You are learning and you are having fun and sometimes you don’t even realize you are learning until you are talking about something and realize that you actually know a lot about it. You get so much out of the program, but you don’t spend the whole time in a classroom.

Did your French improve during the course of the program? Did you enjoy working with your Abbey Road instructors?
Yes, definitely. I am in my fourth year of French at school and I would consider myself pretty proficient. The French program isn’t as strong as the Spanish program at my school, but I can get by all the same. Back home now my listening skills have especially improved. I can understand my French teacher and I know what she is saying and not many kids do. Also, my ability to speak French improved and my grammar got a lot better because of the activities we did in class….I am going to take the SAT II and listening for French; this program I think is really going to help. I thought they [the Abbey Road Instructors] all worked really well together. [Our coordinator] who lived in Marseille, really knew what to do and where to go. The other teachers spoke French really well. All the staff was very helpful and they really helped us improve our French and get around the city. They were all just really nice!

What advice would you give to a future Abbey Road Student?
I would say be open-minded and have fun. Really take advantage of the program and the city while you are there. Definitely use all the time you have to be in France and take advantage of the fact that you are there!

Isabel H., New York: Barcelona Program
Abbey Road Programs Isabel H. "This was my first time participating in a study abroad program. I had heard about teen tours before, but my mom brought up the study abroad program with Abbey Road to help improve my Spanish. I was going to be taking AP and I wanted to be better prepared for the AP test at the end of the year. I had also never been to Spain before and I wanted to see what it was like. I also wanted the opportunity to meet other students. Living in the residence in Barcelona was similar to college life... "

What were your main reasons for wanting to go abroad this summer. What were you looking for?
This was my first time participating in a study abroad program. I had heard about teen tours before, but my mom brought up the study abroad program with Abbey Road to help improve my Spanish. I was going to be taking AP and I wanted to be better prepared for the AP test at the end of the year. I had also never been to Spain before and I wanted to see what it was like. I also wanted the opportunity to meet other students. Living in the residence in Barcelona was similar to college life and I wanted to be able to experience that and get a feel for what college might be like. I wanted to stay with other students and I had heard Barcelona was a great city.

Did you set any specific goals for yourself prior to your trip to Barcelona?
I had very few goals for myself before the trip. My main goal was to improve my Spanish, since I am taking an AP course this school year. I also wanted to experience the culture, since I had never been to Barcelona before.

How was it to travel without knowing anyone before hand?
I was actually really nervous because I’m a bit shy when I first meet people. I was scared that other students on the program would already know each other before the trip. In reality a lot of people didn’t know anyone beforehand and we all got really close as the program went on. Most of the students were from the US, but some were from other countries like India and Iceland. I really liked the small group size because we all really got to know each other and could just hangout as a group. I’m actually going to see a few people from the Barcelona program in December!

How did you like the staff?
I thought the teachers were great! They really encouraged us to speak more Spanish and helped us to understand more. My intermediate teacher didn’t speak any English at all so at first it was hard communicating with her, but eventually it became easier and my Spanish came more naturally. Our counselors were all younger and relatable and really easy to talk to. I thought that they all really worked well together.

Did your Spanish improve during the program? Have you or anyone else noticed a difference since you’ve been back?
Yes definitely. My Spanish teacher has noticed an improvement in my Spanish. After I came back home, I was standing in line at the store and the woman in front of me was holding a baby and speaking in Spanish and we ended up having a conversation completely in Spanish. I was able to understand her and actually hold a conversation.

Did you know what “experiential learning” was prior to your trip to Barcelona? How would you describe it?
I had an idea, but I had never experienced it until Abbey Road. I would describe it as not just sitting in a classroom repeating verbs or vocabulary over and over. You don’t stay in a classroom. You actually get out of the classroom and talk to local people and learn Spanish through living in the city and interacting with native Spanish speakers.

Can you describe the residential life experience?
Living in a residence was very different from home. When I’m home I don’t always have to take out the trash or wash the dishes, but once you’re living in the residence, you have to cook for yourself, buy your own groceries, take out the trash, do your own laundry. You have to be very independent. I really liked that aspect. Every week the counselors gave us money for one trip to the grocery store. You would go to the store with the student that you shared your kitchen with. Together you would buy what food you wanted for the week. We did cooking every other night, which was really fun. Learning to cook new recipes and trying new foods was a completely new experience. My favorite recipe was tortilla, which is an egg, and potato dish that can be used for tapas or as a whole dish.

Has anything changed about you since you’ve been back?
I’ve been told I have become more adventurous and more spontaneous.

How valuable was your free time? Were you satisfied with the amount? I loved the free time. At home I can’t drive and I live far from town and my friends house so my parents usually have to drive me. I really liked how I could walk anywhere in Barcelona and since all the students were good friends, we were always hanging out together.

Did you like the length of the program?
When I was looking at Abbey Road, four weeks seemed like a long time and when I first got there I was really nervous. It just seemed like a really long time to be living with all these people I didn’t know, but by the end I really wish the program had been longer!

Overall, did the program live up to your expectations?
Yes it did. I am definitely going to try and go on another study abroad trip during my next summer break or maybe my summer before college. I would definitely go to Spain again.

What advice would you give to someone going on this program in 2013?
I would tell them to be open with new things and a little bit adventurous. To be friendly with everyone and try all these new things and really try to experience the culture, it will only enhance your experience.

Nicole W., New York: Barcelona Program
Abbey Road Programs Nicole W. "There were five programs that we found, but we felt that Abbey Road would be the best. We didn’t want it to be the typical teen tour. I was going to be a senior in high school and I wanted to get more out of this experience than just what a teen tour would provide. It was really the safety aspect that made us choose Abbey Road. My parents were so happy about that. We also wanted it to be a cultural immersion experience. "

What made you decide to look into study abroad this summer? What drew you to Abbey Road?
I knew I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be allowed to study abroad. I spoke about it with my parents and after some thorough research we thought that Abbey Road was perfect for me. They let me go and I’m so happy that I did it! There were five programs that we found, but we felt that Abbey Road would be the best. We didn’t want it to be the typical teen tour. I was going to be a senior in high school and I wanted to get more out of this experience than just what a teen tour would provide. It was really the safety aspect that made us choose Abbey Road. My parents were so happy about that. We also wanted it to be a cultural immersion experience.

Did the program meet your expectations?
Yes it definitely did. I was expecting a lot from the program, but it went above and beyond my expectations.

Did location matter? Why Barcelona?
Yes. I have always wanted to go to Barcelona. I love the fact that it’s a bigger city and there are a lot of beaches. I wanted to be somewhere where everyone spoke Spanish. The only downside of Barcelona was that they spoke Catalan, which is their version of Spanish, but everyone knows regular Spanish so it ended up working out just fine. I [also] chose the Barcelona program because I also wanted a pre-college experience over a homestay. For me personally, I was going to be more comfortable living in a residence with other students than living with a family I didn’t know.

What goals did you set for yourself? How did Abbey Road help you meet each of those goals?
By the end of the program I wanted to be able to have conversations completely Spanish, no Spanglish and I really did accomplish this. I was able to communicate with the locals and the counselors. The Spanish classes that I took were really helpful because they weren’t your typical Spanish classroom classes. The class took your learning into the real world of Spain. We were able to go out and apply what we were learning and I really appreciated that over a regular classroom setting. I also wanted to be able to manage myself as I would in college like budgeting my expenses. I wanted to be able to provide for myself.

How the residential immersion aspect of the program?
The residence was perfect for what we were dealing with. The kitchen was really nice. There was even a bathroom in my room! I really appreciated having my own space and that’s another reason I chose this program. I’ve never lived in a dorm before, but when I showed my parents where I was living they told me it was the nicest dorm I would ever get to experience so I felt lucky. The location was good. It was close to two metro stations and there was a taxi station just down the road. I really liked the food! I ended up having a really big appreciation for Spanish food by the end of the program. I’m not a seafood person and by the end of the program, I ended up loving seafood. I think the staff took us to the right places to have lunch and dinner. When we had to find food for ourselves we were able to very easily. I also like how we got to cook for ourselves. I learned how to cook authentic Spanish cuisine.

How would you describe the average student on the program?
The students on my program were all very intelligent. A lot of the [rising] seniors, we would talk about where we wanted to go to school and what we wanted to study. Everybody was really motivated and just above and beyond what you would expect for the average student. We all taught each other new things. We studied together and learned new study habits. Everyone was just really smart.

Which elective class did you take? Did you have a favorite class activity?
My elective was photography. I had purchased a big digital Nikon camera a few years ago and I didn’t really know how to use it. My photography instructor Sarah ended up having the same exact camera. She taught me how to take wonderful pictures and I learned a lot in that class. One of my favorite activities in class was when we went to the market in Las Ramblas. We had to buy certain foods off a list we had been given for lunch that day. We had to communicate with people at the market.

Have you or anyone else noticed an improvement in your Spanish?
My Spanish has definitely improved. I had been taking Spanish for so long and when I first got there I thought I knew a lot and that I would be able to communicate. However, I found it to be really difficult at first. To be able to find the right words in my head and be able to match them from English to Spanish, but by the end of the program it became almost effortless. I knew what to say and how to say it and I was able to read the menus and speak to waiters and people in the metro station. I was pretty much almost fluent in the language by the time I was done. There was a month in between the end of the program and the start of school and I didn’t really speak any Spanish. I thought it was going to be hard to go back to speaking Spanish, but as soon as I walked in to my classroom and my teacher was only speaking in Spanish, I understood everything she was saying. All of my friends were so impressed and really it’s because of the four weeks I spent in Barcelona.

How did you like the staff? How do the instructors compare to those you’ve learned from in the past?
I loved all the staff on my program. They were all so nice and they liked to have fun with us and be safe. They taught us a lot and I really appreciated that. They were all wonderful. I think my instructors are obviously a little different than the instructors I have back home. They really took our learning outside the classroom and into the real world of Barcelona where I learned show much more compared to traditional teaching methods.

Do you think it’s important for students your age to study abroad?
Yes I think it’s very important. I had never been to Europe before and it’s so different from the United States. I think it’s important to be educated about the rest of the world from first hand experience. It’s so important to know not only where you are from, but the rest of the world as well.

Has anything about this experienced changed you?
I matured a lot when I was away for the four weeks. I was by myself. I learned how to make new friends and in fact I still talk with my friends from Barcelona every single day. I think that’s so neat that didn’t know anyone and I came home with twenty new really good friends. I grew up. I didn’t know anyone; I didn’t know how to use the currency. By the end of the program I really learned a lot about how to manage for myself, meet new people and be more confident.

Did you have any major fears before the program?
I think a major fear was the language barrier. It was hard for me to speak at first. Also the currency was a little scary. I have never been used to anything but the dollar bill.

Does group size matter? How would the experience been affected if the program was double the size?
The size [25] was a great thing about the Abbey Road program. I think it was manageable and we all really got to know each other. In a bigger group I don’t think we would have been able to bond as well as we did.

Do you have a favorite memory from the trip?
Montserrat. It was beautiful. The whole environment, being able to see the older parts of Barcelona and the markets. They had cheeses, candies and cured meats with this beautiful mountain in the background. It was really at that point that I realized how lucky I was to be there and be a part of this program.

What advice would you give to someone going on the program in 2013?
I would tell them to be open-minded and not expect anything and just be surprised when you get there. If possible speak to some of the other kids going on the program before hand. I didn’t know any one and some of the students had talked before hand and I think had I done that it would have made the first few days more comfortable.

Maggie B., New Jersey: Barcelona Program
Abbey Road Programs Maggie B. "I was a bit nervous because I had never been away from home for so long and I was going to be in a different country than my family. I felt really reassured though that it was going to be a good experience. I had a lot of information about the program from the staff and the website. It was more of an excited nervous and not a bad kind of nervous!"

Your trip to Barcelona with Abbey Road was your first study abroad experience, what made you decide you wanted to study abroad? Why Barcelona?
I had been looking into it and talking about it with my family for about a year and we decided that I was old enough to go this year. Also, I’m talking Spanish and learning the language and thought it would be a great opportunity to improve my language skills. I was a bit nervous because I had never been away from home for so long and I was going to be in a different country than my family. I felt really reassured though that it was going to be a good experience. I had a lot of information about the program from the staff and the website. It was more of an excited nervous and not a bad kind of nervous!

You chose the residential program to interact with and meet new people; did the living situation help you accomplish this goal?
It was perfect! You had your own space, but you also have a roommate connected by the kitchen. It was really nice if you needed time to be by yourself and work on something or if you wanted to hang out with other kids. Also, I thought the apartment was a lot nicer than I expected. There was air conditioning and it was just really functional which I hadn’t quite expected. I thought the location was really good too. It was in walking distance of a lot the main areas. Or, there was a metro stop really close by if where you wanted to go wasn’t within walking distance. I felt completely safe during my stay. They had a security guard watching the door at all times and they had cameras set up as well.

Over the course of the program you took Spanish Language daily and Digital Photography three times a week, did you enjoy the classes?
How did they compare to your classes back home? I loved the [Abbey Road experiential] classroom environment. We got to go out into the city and weren’t stuck in the classroom all day long. I also liked that classroom learning incorporated site seeing. The program wasn’t study, study, study all day long. We got to go out into the city and see the different monuments and sites, which we learned a lot from. Spanish [class] was very different [from my class in school.] It was much more conversational than I was used to which I liked because for me a lot of times I can write well in Spanish and get my ideas out on paper, but then when I have to talk it’s a lot harder. I also liked that we got to go out into the city and do surveys and talk with native speakers. I really enjoyed photography as well because we had specific assignments, but we had a lot of freedom to be creative. I had never taken a photography class before and I thought the class was a good starting point for me. I thought the professors were all really knowledgeable and helpful.

Did your Spanish improve during the program?
Yes. I definitely think it did. This year in Spanish class I’m already noticing that I’m more confident and am more able to speak up in class. I am more sure of what I’m saying than I have been in previous years.

Are you glad you chose a program that incorporated daily learning over a purely travel program? What were the benefits for you?
Well there is definitely a lot of learning involved on the program. We had one or two classes’ everyday, which for me made it an academic program and not just a tourist program. I had heard of people who had gone on previous programs [through other companies] where they had just gone to site see and they weren’t there to specifically learn a new language or new skill like photography. You get so much more out of a program like this! Also, outside the classroom we learned so much about the different aspects of Spanish culture that also contribute to making it an academic program.

You have mentioned the great group dynamic in Barcelona and that you made a lot of new friends. How would you describe a “typical student” on the program?
I thought that most of the students were enthusiastic about going to different sites and seeing new things. I found that everyone on the program was really nice and easy to get along with and fun to hang out with. There were definitely more girls than boys on the trip. I thought there was a good mix. We all hung out together and there wasn’t a separation or anything like that. There wasn’t anyone that I felt like I couldn’t hang out with if I wanted to.

Do you think it’s important for teenagers your age to study abroad? How did this experience impact you?
I think it’s important to have cultural awareness and to be aware of other cultures and not just what you are used to. I think that studying abroad is the most effective way to gain that kind of awareness and to see how other people live and their values in life. It’s just such a great way to learn about others and yourself. I had an unforgettable experience and I made amazing friends that I’m still in touch with and plan on keeping in touch with them for a long time. It was such an amazing experience and it changed me so much as a person; [it] made me more aware and improved my Spanish.

What advice would you give to a future Abbey Road student?
I would tell them to take every opportunity that they can. If they have the opportunity to do something cool and interesting to take it and just try to immerse yourself as much as possible. This program is so amazing and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Jason Y., California: Barcelona Program
Abbey Road Programs Jason Y. "It is just such an incredible program! I have heard of other students my age participating in different programs and I felt they didn’t get the same experience that I did [with Abbey Road.] The first year…I had never gone away from home before, but they made me love it. I knew I wanted to travel again because I had such a great experience with Abbey Road. I love the freedom that Abbey Road gives you and I knew that this was the program that I wanted to do for a second year in a row…"

You went on the Western Civilization program through Abbey Road in 2010, what made you decide to travel abroad a second time with Abbey Road?
It is just such an incredible program! I have heard of other students my age participating in different programs and I felt they didn't get the same experience that I did [with Abbey Road.] The first yearÉI had never gone away from home before, but they made me love it. I knew I wanted to travel again because I had such a great experience with Abbey Road. I love the freedom that Abbey Road gives you and I knew that this was the program that I wanted to do for a second year in a row. The [Abbey Road] staff is also great. They know exactly what they are doing every day. This past summer, [before] I went on the Barcelona program I received an excel sheet of our schedule planned out with what activities we would be doing about twenty days before I even left home!

Initially you were interested in participation on another traveling program through Abbey Road, what made you decide to sign up for the residential program in Barcelona?
Well, I take Spanish in school and I have been taking it for five years and I wanted to experience the Spanish culture. I have heard that Barcelona is an amazing city. When I went on Western Civ. there were about 25 students on the program and I thought that was the perfect number because I was able to bond with everyone and I still talk with them. I chose the Barcelona program because even though there were more students and you stayed in one city it, seemed to match up with Western Civ. the most. Looking back, I had just as good of an experience in Barcelona as I did on Western Civ., if not better.

In Barcelona you lived in a student residence. How were the accommodations?
I was beyond happy with it [the residence]. There was full ac/heater. I had a room with a desk, my own bathroom and shower. There was a sliding door that led to the kitchen with a full sink and table and then another sliding door that led to my roommate's room. It was way nicer than I was expecting. There was a pool on our roof and there was also a technology room. The set up was beyond incredible!

You were one of the few students who did not take Spanish Language as your daily major. What classes did you take?

I took digital photography [as my daily major] because I love photography and thought Barcelona would be an amazing place to take photos. I also took [Art History and] Architecture because Barcelona is world renowned for its architecture.

By now you are an expert student of the Abbey Road Experiential Learning Method, what did you enjoy most about this learning style the instructors use?
The classes were incredible. We would wake up at a reasonable time and during photography instead of staying in the classroom the whole time and talking about the lens and the photo process, our teacher would take just a few minutes to tell us what she was expecting us to do that day and what we should be looking for and then send us out into the city. She would always encourage us if we saw something that wasn't exactly what was assigned that day to still just go for it. Then we would meet back up a couple hours later and upload our photos and start the editing process, which was also really fun. The freedom that she gave us allowed us to be more creative, we were rarely in the classroom. Also, with architecture instead of learning about the place before we went there, our instructor would tell us where we were going and we would learn about it onsite as we were looking at it or even while we were taking a tour inside. The amount of time we put into the classes was the perfect. The classes put us more into the culture and we could explore more. I have never taken a photography class before. I take a lot of photos at home, but the teacher was really able to show me that you can have fun while learning. [She] showed me she really had a passion for learning and teaching which I had never really experienced in my classes back home. It made me want to learn more.

So, I guess it is safe to say that you liked the Abbey Road staff?
Yes, they were incredible and all of them were so knowledgeable about what they were teaching. They knew about the architecture, the history, and the culture. They didn't take us to American touristy places, but to little shops and local restaurants and instead of getting the main things on the menu they would order us different things that we wouldn't necessarily try on our own. Also, my photography teacher knew everything there was to know about photography.

Even though you didn't take Spanish, did your Spanish improve?
Yes. I wasn't that confident speaking Spanish the first week or so, but even if you don't want to speak it you are forced into learning and without even knowing, you become near fluent in a month. I wasn't even taking Spanish, but just by being there and going into the local cafes and beaches and asking people for directions and questions and just forcing yourself to learn with a bunch of people that want to learn too. The other students on the program who were fluent in Spanish really helped too. I could ask them how to conjugate certain verbs or how to ask someone a certain question; they were always willing to help. The local vendors were also really nice and willing to talk with you. They loved American tourists. I never had a bad interaction with any of the locals. Even if you bumped into someone on the street, they were really nice about it.

How did the staff handle organization and the daily schedule? What about student "free time"?
I thought it [the program] was incredibly organized. The staff always knew what they were doing. There was never a time when they were wondering what our next activity should be, it was always planned. The staff had incredible communication. They were also always happy and really positive. They just had really good attitudes. The amount of free time differed from day to day depending on how many classes we had. We had plenty of time to rest, shop and explore. The days where we had almost no free time were some of the best days I had! I think our guides did a really good job of allowing us to have a lot of free time. They also asked for our advice and feedback. They would ask us how we thought the program was going and how they were doing and about what we wanted. They weren't just set on one plan. They really wanted our input.

Do you have a favorite memory from the trip?
Yes I do. It was the last week of the program and we were all by the beach and someone on our trip had been researching bullfights. There was actually no plan to go to a bullfight during the program. We started talking about it and we asked one of our counselors if we could go and we ended up going later that day. There were 13 of us that went and just by asking, the staff found one that was close by and got the tickets. Just being at an actual bullfight, in Spain, is a memory I will have forever.

What advice would you give to a future Abbey Road Student?
Definitely be open to try all new things. Also, don't be scared to ask a stranger for directions or try the duck at a random hole in the wall restaurant (it ended up being the best food I had ever had)!

Debbie B., New Jersey: Cadiz Homestay Program
Abbey Road Programs Debbie B. "The classes were definitely different and this is another reason why I chose to participate on Abbey Road. The learning experience wasn’t completely in the classroom. The experience was a complete language immersion class. So I would be able to spend an hour and a half in the classroom and an hour and a half to talk to people and find things and that was a more engaging way of learning. It was very different than spending 45 minutes in the classroom, even if it’s about culture, which is very interesting. When you’re actually exposed to what you are learning it’s a totally different experience..."

What drew you to Abbey Road? Had you ever done study abroad before? What were you looking to get out of this experience this summer?
Well, this was my first time studying abroad. When I signed up to take AP Spanish I knew that I wanted to improve my Spanish speaking skills and I knew I wanted to go to Spain. I knew I didn’t want it to be one of those typical teen tours I had seen. I wanted it to be a real learning experience and really be immersed in the culture and learn the language and learn about where I was staying to really make everything worthwhile. It was my idea and my parents were really supportive and we did so much research! My friend Jessie and I we went together and our moms were really involved the search. They had this convention with all these different summer programs and they got a lot of different information. We wanted to find a program that offered a good balance of independence, learning, excursions, and a homestay. Abbey Road seemed to have everything that we were looking for.

Have you or anyone else noticed a difference in your Spanish since you’ve been back?
My Spanish has definitely improved. I haven’t noticed one specific thing, but in general it just comes more naturally. I understand more vocabulary than I did before. Ever since the 9th grade there hasn’t been any English spoken in my Spanish classes and my experience this summer being so exposed to Spanish has really helped a lot. This year my teacher speaks very fast and she doesn’t stop to ask us if we understand. In the south of Spain they have these tough hard accents and I think exposure to that has really helped.

How were your daily Spanish classes handled? What types of activities did you do? How do they compare to your language classes back home?
The classes were definitely different and this is another reason why I chose to participate on Abbey Road. The learning experience wasn’t completely in the classroom. The experience was a complete language immersion class. So I would be able to spend an hour and a half in the classroom and an hour and a half to talk to people and find things and that was a more engaging way of learning. It was very different than spending 45 minutes in the classroom, even if it’s about culture, which is very interesting. When you’re actually exposed to what you are learning it’s a totally different experience. Our class size was great too. There were 10 or 11 of students and the teacher, who was awesome.

Can you describe the Abbey Road staff and instructors?
I felt that all of them were amazing. Chris [the program Director] especially. On summer programs there are always certain situations that happen and I think he handled them really well. He always had a positive attitude and open to hearing suggestions where people wanted to go and what people wanted to do or eat. He was really fun and could relate to all of us. All the other directors and staff were great. They taught us that you can have so much fun by learning the language or about the culture. The whole experience was just so personal that anything that I felt I needed people were always there to help out or if I wanted to do a certain thing they would make time to do it. For example a few girls wanted to do belly dancing and they found a belly-dancing teacher in Cadiz and we had a class. The staff just made such an effort to respond to everyone’s personal needs. And it wasn’t just during the program that the staff was really great. Even before the program started the staff was helpful. There were a few times when my mom and I would get a little frantic about certain things like packing and I could immediately talk to Barbara Student [our Admissions Representative] or she would put me in touch with someone else who I could talk to. I could contact anyone in the program and they were willing to talk to me.

Can you tell me about your homestay family and your roommate and how that experience was?
In the beginning Jessie and I were staying with an elderly couple and they were really nice and hospitable, but there were just these little problems and it wasn’t working out for us. We talked to our Director and the people who set up the homestay and they didn’t want our homestay to negatively affect our experience, which wasn’t a bad one at all, but they immediately got us a new family. We were placed with this woman, Rosa and she was amazing and such a typical Spanish mother. Rosa has three daughters and a granddaughter so there was always family around. It was never quiet which was perfect and exactly the experience we were looking for! We were having a good time before, but the switch [to Rosa] dramatically changed our experience. It was fantastic! It was such a great homestay experience. We always had the option to go out to eat, but we always ate at the house because we loved the food and we loved to hang out with the other girls at the house. Rosa mainly made Spanish food. Sometimes she would try to make something more American for us, but it never really tasted American, but the overall effort she made to make us feel comfortable was just incredible.

Do you have a favorite memory from the Program?
I think probably the second night of the trip. We had a group dinner and then after we went to the Cathedral area and we were still getting to know our way around the city. We were wandering around a little bit and we found out way to the Cathedral and this huge plaza. It was only the second night so we were looking for things to do and there was this huge concert and it was so much fun. There was music and dancing and everybody in the city just seemed to have congregated to this plaza. It was a great start to the program.

How did the staff handle student feedback?
The first time we did an evaluation [our first week], I remember writing I wanted more planned activities. Then, there were some students who [said they] wanted more free time. Our Director Chris definitely took everyone’s wants in to consideration and he came up with a lot of optional evening activities like runs along the beach, or there was this funky tea room a lot of kids liked to go to. He just really tried to come up with fun new ideas and make sure there was something for everyone.

Did you understand what experiential learning was prior to your trip to Cadiz? How did that approach to learning impact your experience?
Yes I think I did. I think (experiential learning) is something that Abbey Road really takes pride in. It’s a great thing because even though someone will sign up for classes they want to take in whatever summer program they are on when you finally arrive, you really just want to be spending time in the city and making friends. When you mix classroom learning with cultural immersion, it just makes the whole thing more enjoyable.

Jessie B., New Jersey: Cadiz Homestay Program
Abbey Road Programs Jessie B. "My summer in Cadiz definitely lived up to my expectations. I would say I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did. I not only got to experience a new culture, but the fact that I got to actually live the way a Spanish family lives. You learn about the culture in school, but the fact that I actually got to live it made it so surreal and the experience very impactful..."

What drew you to Abbey Road? Had you ever done study abroad before?
This was my first time going to Europe or even out of the country! I have always had a passion for Spanish and I have been taking it since the second grade. I really wanted to do something this summer that would help me improve my Spanish especially since I was going to be taking AP this year. I have always wanted to go abroad, but Spain was my number one choice so I started looking at programs that offer classes in Spain. This summer I was looking to improve not only my conversational skills, but just improve my Spanish overall. I wanted to feel more confident holding conversations with people and also I wanted to experience a new culture and a new way of life. I was really trying to be open-minded and try new things and I definitely accomplished that. I tried a bunch of new foods and did new activities.

What did you get out of this experience? Did it live up to your expectations?
My summer in Cadiz definitely lived up to my expectations. I would say I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did. I not only got to experience a new culture, but the fact that I got to actually live the way a Spanish family lives. You learn about the culture in school, but the fact that I actually got to live it made it so surreal and the experience very impactful.

Have you or anyone else noticed a difference in your Spanish since you’ve been back? Noticed a difference in your Spanish?
My Spanish has improved hands down. I feel like my ability to speak Spanish improved the most, but there was also a general all around improvement in my ability and I’m really noticing it this year in AP.

Aside from your Spanish, has this experience changed you in anyway?
I’m more open to new things and different types of culture.

Was there a good balance between the classes, activities and free time?
One of the main reasons I chose Abbey road was because I loved the balance between the classes, group activities and free time. I like how we were in class for the morning and in the afternoon we got to choose how we would spend the rest of the day. I think the program as a whole was very well organized.

How were your daily Spanish classes handled? What types of activities did you do?
I was in the advanced class. In the morning we would usually learn about the history, art, or culture of Cadiz. Sometimes we would learn different vocabulary and then we would go out in to the city and use the new vocabulary we had been learning that morning and incorporate them in to our conversations with the local people of Cadiz. We would sometimes have the task of interviewing locals. For example if our vocabulary topic of the day was leisure activities, we would ask locals what there favorite things to do are and what part of the city they recommend. This kind of learning is very different than what I’m used to back home. It’s a lot more interactive and we actually got to use what we were learning in a real life situation.

How was your program staff?
I loved the Abbey Road staff! They were all very welcoming and open and down to earth. If any student had any questions or concerns they were always willing to help us out and I really appreciated that. They were very personable and kind and I felt like I could go to them for anything.

Why did you choose a homestay program?
I knew that I staying in a homestay was the best way to improve my Spanish. I wanted to live in a house where only Spanish was spoken and I felt that if I did dorms I would only speak Spanish when I had to. My host mother didn’t know any English so I was forced to speak Spanish and I think that’s one of the major factors that helped me improve my Spanish skills. It was definitely a shock at first not to be able to speak any English, but after the first couple of days it just came naturally.

Tell me about your homestay mother.
My homestay mom was Rosa and when we first arrived she was very excited that we were staying with her. She really wanted us to go out and experience the real Cadiz. She really tried to immerse us in the culture. She made us all these traditional meals. She always made sure we were accommodated and she was very nice. I loved that when we were eating dinner or eating lunch she would always blast Spanish music and start dancing.

Do you have a favorite memory from the trip?
The evening activities were probably some of my favorite memories. Not the optional evening activities, but the planned group activities when we were all experiencing new things together as a group. I thought they just brought us all really close together.

Tell me something you know now after doing this program, about the Spanish Culture, City of Cadiz or people of Cadiz that the typical traveler would not know.
Something that shocked me when I arrived there was a lot of times when we would be heading back home for curfew there were tons of kids still playing in the plazas and their parents would be there talking with each other. There weren’t even getting ready to say goodbye. It was very interesting to observe the change in culture. It’s not something I see here at home.

What advice would you give to a student going on this program in 2013?
I would suggest to anyone interested in going that they be open-minded. By going to Cadiz you are stepping in to a completely different way of life. It’s an adjustment and can take a few days to get used to, but once you do it’s so hard to leave. It’s important that they don’t take anything for granted because it’s over in the blink of an eye. Also, take lots of pictures.

Katie D., Kentucky : Cadiz Homestay Program
Abbey Road Programs Katie D. "I definitely have become more comfortable speaking Spanish. Even in my AP class now I notice a difference. My teacher and other people that speak Spanish have even noticed. They say that I seem more comfortable speaking and that it’s easier for me. I also became so close with my roommate and we became such good friends. I have seen her twice since I’ve been back. I feel like we are going to be friends for a really long time. I loved my host mom and I hope I will get to see her again one day...."

What drew you to the Cadiz Homestay program? What were you looking for?
I definitely knew I wanted to study abroad and I was looking to go to Spain. I had a college counselor helping me look for programs and I was really excited that it all worked out. With the Cadiz program, I just liked the combination of being able to take classes while being in a Spanish city surrounded by Spanish speaking people and being able to live with a family. Both my parents had a homestay experience when they were in high school and they really enjoyed it. Abbey Road just seemed like an amazing program and it had everything I was looking for. The website and the brochure looked amazing. The timing and everything just worked out perfect. The experience was everything I could have wanted!

How would you describe the “typical” student on the program?
There was a lot variety. There were students from all over the country. Some students had been abroad before. Some were just learning the language and others had just taken AP. Everyone was really nice. You found your friend group, but everyone got along so well that you could talk to anyone. We had a great size. Everyone knew everyone and you didn’t feel lost in the crowd.

Overall, what did you gain from the summer study abroad experience?
I definitely have become more comfortable speaking Spanish. Even in my AP class now I notice a difference. My teacher and other people that speak Spanish have even noticed. They say that I seem more comfortable speaking and that it’s easier for me. I also became so close with my roommate and we became such good friends. I have seen her twice since I’ve been back. I feel like we are going to be friends for a really long time. I loved my host mom and I hope I will get to see her again one day. I wrote her a letter when I returned home. She is so just sweet and such a special person.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time spent with your host mother?
Yes. She is currently in the process of learning English and is taking language classes online. My roommate and I would try to help her by translating objects around the house. She would point to them and we would tell her the English word and she would say it over and over again and she had so much trouble with her pronunciation, but her attitude was amazing. She would try the new word over and over again and we would all laugh together.

How was the balance between structured activities and free time?
I really thought there was a good balance between freetime and our structured group activities. I was able to hang out with my homestay family, or go to the beach, or go shopping or out to a restaurant. I really liked the structured activities as well. It was during these times where we would get to participate in things we wouldn’t necessarily be able to by ourselves or would have never even known about if it hadn’t been for the program.

Describe your Spanish class. How was it different/similar than your Spanish classes in school? How did you like your instructors?
We had Spanish language class every morning and we would learn grammar and different vocabulary words for about an hour and a half. Then we would leave the classroom and actually go out and talk to the people of Cadiz. We would incorporate the words we had used from our earlier lesson in the classroom into our conversations. This is something I simply cannot experience back home. My instructors were awesome! I had the same instructor for my language class and my Spanish culture elective. They were easy to approach and all very helpful. They all spoke Spanish fluently.

Did anything change significantly about you during the month in Cadiz?
This experience definitely pushes you out of your comfort zone. I didn’t know anyone there I didn’t really know how it was going to be. Also, the confidence that I have now not only in speaking, but the fact that I know I could do something like this again in college and everything will be okay.

Do you have a favorite memory from the trip?
Euro Cup finals. It was Spain against Italy. The group went to this one plaza where everyone hangs out and there was this tiny TV and there were so many people crowded around it decked out in Spain gear. Everyone was really excited and so passionate about the game. When they won there was music and dancing and so much positive energy and pride. I feel like that’s something that’s so unique to Europe. Here in the US we have football and I feel like it creates a lot more walls than it does bring people together. Just to see all these people routing for their country was an experience I’ll never forget and was lucky to be a part of.

Did you know what experiential learning was prior to the start of your program? How would you describe it to a fellow classmate?
I had a pretty good understanding. I would define it as learning in a real life situation like how we did with our classes. The best way I can describe it is that you go out and wing it. You learn as you go along. You figure out what is right and wrong in the moment and you have the best people teaching you in the best kind of learning environment.

Emily R., Arizona: Cadiz Homestay Program
Abbey Road Programs Emily R. "I have a greater appreciation for the Spanish culture and my own culture. I have more confidence in myself as a learner and I am more adventurous now than I ever thought possible. I feel I can travel with no problem now. In my Spanish Class at school, my teacher has noticed that I speak Spanish with more confidence and I have retained the accent from Cadiz. I am going to college next year and my main interests are Spanish, other languages and Biology. I definitely want to study for a semester abroad and that is due to my month in Cadiz..."

Initially you were considering a study abroad/volunteering program in Latin America, what made you decide to travel to Spain with Abbey Road instead?
Initially I looked at the program [program name removed] because this was about Volunteering in Latin America. But I was attracted to Abbey Road’s program in Cadiz because of its safety and security. I [wanted] a program where I could increase my ability to speak Spanish and understand the Spanish family life. I was also looking forward to making new friends and meeting new people on the program.

Who would you say is the "typical" teenager on this program?
I think the typical teenager that traveled on this program is dedicated and hard working. Everyone seemed to be focused in class even when there were outside distractions. We all wanted to have fun after class. Everyone was very easy to get along with!

What surprised you the most about your new friends?
I was so surprised how quickly we became very good friends. Since I never went to sleep away camp, I was worried about that, but by the end of the program it was so hard to say goodbye. I tried my best not to cry at JFK [airport].

You mentioned that your main goal was to improve your Spanish. How did the daily Spanish class help you improve?
The first part of the morning Spanish class was comparable to my Spanish class in Tucson. The second half of the class, however, was really unique. We would go outside and see the sights of what we had just learned about in class and we would speak to the locals. We really took advantage of being in the city. [In the afternoons] I had Spanish Conversation and Culture where I learned so much about Cadiz’s traditions. I learned about the Latin Church and we visited the cathedral. The class was conducted all in Spanish. We would ask locals questions. Even if I used strange vocabulary words in my conversations with the locals, they were always patient and willing to help.

Did anything change significantly about you during the month in Cadiz?
Yes, I changed. I have a greater appreciation for the Spanish culture and my own culture. I have more confidence in myself as a learner and I am more adventurous now than I ever thought possible. I feel I can travel with no problem now. In my Spanish Class at school, my teacher has noticed that I speak Spanish with more confidence and I have retained the accent from Cadiz. I am going to college next year and my main interests are Spanish, other languages and Biology. I definitely want to study for a semester abroad and that is due to my month in Cadiz.

Tell me something you know now after doing this program, about the Spanish Culture, City of Cadiz or people of Cadiz that the typical traveler would not know.
I now know about the people of Cadiz and their accent. They take out the “S” altogether and they don’t pronounce the letter “D”. Like if you say the word: helado (ice cream), they will pronounce it: helaō. Another thing is that everything in Cadiz starts so late. Dinner is late and curfew is at a later time. Even little kids run around the city at midnight!

Amanda K., New Jersey: Cadiz Homestay Program
Abbey Road Programs Amanda K. "I loved my free time! We would go to the beach during siesta even if it was just for 1 or 2 hours. We would get paella and go shopping or we would stay home with our host families and talk. In the beginning my roommate and I went home during siesta and spent a lot of time resting and talking with our homestay family. As we got closer to the end of our trip we wanted to explore the city more and do as much as we could before out time was up in Cadiz..."

What drew you to the Cadiz Homestay program? What were you looking for?
I wanted to really soak up the culture of Spain, so I believed that actually living in Spain and with a homestay family was the best option. I also wanted to meet other kids and Abbey Road was a great tool in helping me achieve that. I [also] really wanted to immerse myself in another culture and truly learn about their different way of life. By going on Abbey Road I did just that. I had a few expectations going into [the program], but by the end… they were completely exceeded. I loved my homestay and am actually planning on visiting them next summer with my roommate from Abbey Road! I also left the program with amazing friends that I talk to almost everyday.

What was the most unexpected thing you enjoyed about the Cadiz program? Did it live up to your expectations?
I really enjoyed the housing. I heard that Cadiz was hot and the houses very small, but I went with an open mind. The house I lived in was adorable and there were nights that we were freezing if the windows were left open. I told my mom that I would love to do another Abbey Road Program next summer. Before the summer, I was so immersed in my school year that I couldn’t wait for school to be over. When I got to Spain, I fell in love immediately with my roommate, my host family, and the other kids on the program, and of course Cadiz. …I loved every aspect of the program.

Tell me something you know now after doing this program, about the Spanish Culture, the city of Cadiz or the people of Cadiz that the typical traveler would not know.
Everyone in Cadiz is extremely friendly. Anyone would be pleased to answer your questions or open a door for you. They are a very hospitable people and are extremely affectionate. Their customary greeting involves two besos (kisses) on your cheeks; far different from our American handshake. The people native to Spain are also very liberal and do not get so stressed as easily. They do not work as much and have breaks in the middle of every workday called siesta. They do no make as much money, however they are content with their lives and are very happy.

Who would you say is the "typical" teenager on this program?
The teens in Cadiz were all people I could be friends with. There was such a wide variety. Everyone had something interesting about them and we all wanted to learn and explore the city of Cadiz. They were good people. We were all different and yet we were all the same.

How valuable was your free time? How did your time management change from the first week to the end of the program?
I loved my free time! We would go to the beach during siesta even if it was just for 1 or 2 hours. We would get paella and go shopping or we would stay home with our host families and talk. In the beginning my roommate and I went home during siesta and spent a lot of time resting and talking with our homestay family. As we got closer to the end of our trip we wanted to explore the city more and do as much as we could before out time was up in Cadiz.

How was it as a teenager to travel with professional teachers/instructors? Were they personable?
The staff was really nice and so much fun. They had their rules, but they gave us free time and reminded us to be cautious. One of my favorite places was the Teteria (Arab tea house) where we would go and have tea and great conversation with our teachers and friends. They were all so great and were able to explain and answer any questions that we had involving the Spanish culture. We were all able to connect with them on a friendship level as well as a teacher-student relationship.

Describe your Spanish class. How was it different than or similar to studying in school?
The Spanish class in Cadiz was unlike no other Spanish class that I have ever taken. In my Spanish class in New Jersey we learned about the history of Spanish cultures and the geography of the countries. I was not so intrigued in this course because I wanted to learn information that was applicable to my everyday colloquial Spanish. However, in Spain we learned vocabulary that benefited us for a normal day in Cadiz. We also learned about the culture, however we were not sitting in a hot, stuffy classroom learning from textbooks. When we talked about culture and vocabulary, we would actually venture into the streets of Cadiz and speak with the local Spaniards about their everyday lives. The rest of class would be held outside on the Cathedral steps. It was a great learning environment and everyone was extremely intrigued because we did not feel forced to be there.

What was your elective class?
My elective was Digital Photography and it was great. We went to plazas and photographed flowers and people where we utilized the many techniques that we just learned. Most students in the class had the big professional Nikon cameras while three other students and I had small canon point and shoots. Of course our cameras were not able to perform as many functions as the professional cameras, however our teacher made us feel very welcomed and took time to teach us the different aspects of our particular cameras. I got a great feel for photography.

Did anything change significantly about you during the month in Cadiz?
Boy did I change. At first, when I came home, I was speaking in Spanish and thinking in Spanish. I know my Spanish is a lot stronger now because I had to speak Spanish to my homestay family and I did most of the talking because my roommate was shy. I also feel that I became more independent. I never traveled without my parents to a foreign country. I had butterflies before I left and once I got to Spain I wanted to stay there forever. My host family provided me with a whole different view of the culture. I feel like Cadiz is my second home.

Do you feel the program met your expectations? Would you participate on another Abbey Road program or recommend it to a friend?
I loved every aspect of the program. I told my mom that I would love to do another Abbey Road Program next summer. Before the summer, I was so immersed in my school year that I couldn’t wait for school to be over. When I got to Spain, I fell in love immediately with my roommate, my host family, and the other kids on the program, and of course Cadiz. Yes, I would recommend this program.

What advice would you give to someone about to participate in this program?
I would tell kids to go with an open mind and do not go with a friend or family member. This experience is about finding yourself and becoming independent. If you have a security blanket such as a friend or sibling you won’t test yourself as much and you won’t learn as much about yourself and the culture. It is your time to go and make your own friends and your own experiences.

Nayelly D., Texas: Chris Meyer Scholarship Recipient, St-Laurent-du-Var Program
Abbey Road Programs Nayelly D. "Coming back home, this trip makes me want to do it all over again it and to be more involved in programs like this and encouraging people to do the same. I have a better understanding of the people I met and I have a more open view of the world now. Also, this program has really helped me want to discover more parts of the world. I’m wondering what my next adventure in life is going to be. There is so much more to be discovered and I want to learn as much as possible..."

What drew you to Abbey Road’s homestay program in St-Laurent-du-Var, France?
Well, I knew that I wanted to study abroad in France. I had been studying French for four years and it was the end of my senior year. I wanted an experience that would help me become more independent and that would help me exercise what I had been practicing for the past four years. I also wanted to throw myself out there, into a totally different environment that would help me be more prepared as I step out into future. I really wanted a diverse, yet enriching experience.

You were awarded the full tuition Chris Meyer Memorial Scholarship for your outstanding achievements in the French Language, what advice would you offer to students seeking similar opportunities?
I think everything starts in classroom. It’s in the classroom where you discover passion and what you want to pursue. So be proactive, be motivated and get out there and look for resources. You won’t find anything if you aren’t looking! I was lucky enough to have counselor who knew about this opportunity. I had looked online at other programs and saw some that didn’t have any scholarships or that they only had partial scholarships. You should never give up and always keep an open mind because anything can happen. Going into things, you just have to be prepared for the best and worst. Also, have a willingness to explore an area out of your comfort zone.

Did participation on this program impact your future life plans and goals?
Coming back home, this trip makes me want to do it all over again it and to be more involved in programs like this and encouraging people to do the same. I have a better understanding of the people I met and I have a more open view of the world now. Also, this program has really helped me want to discover more parts of the world. I’m wondering what my next adventure in life is going to be. There is so much more to be discovered and I want to learn as much as possible. For starters, it definitely made me want to take a job that is not specifically in the US. I’m really interested in the international arena. France is a great place to go abroad. I felt like a native when I was in St. Laurent. Coming back I want and need to improve more and explore new fields. I’m familiarizing myself with things I didn’t know before. I want to make myself a more well rounded person. I’m going to study either international relations or international business. I also took a French placement test at school and I tested into French 230, which is the level a lot of upper classmen are in. I have a full scholarship to Salem College. It’s an all girls’ school in North Carolina. Actually my type of scholarship is the only one that includes study abroad opportunities. I would like to study abroad in France, but maybe northern France or Switzerland (the French speaking part).

How significantly did your French improve as a result of the program?
My French did improve. I talked a lot with my home stay family and their niece and they would ask me about my life back in the US. We would have dinner and talk (in French) about the differences between the US and France. I loved our conversations and they made me want to go for it further, to really try as hard as I could to practice my French. In school we learn out of the book French and here I was able to apply it to real situations and real life talk compared to a practiced conversation. The [experiential] French in the classroom helped me get away and experience something new away from home. Walking around and interacting with the locals is how I improved my French the most. The first few days of class we interviewed French natives, which I really enjoyed. I did learn a lot about French culture in class and from my host family. This program helps improve your conversational skills and makes you more culturally aware. I was able to notice the difference and similarities between French and American culture.

The homestay experience is obviously a very significant aspect of the program. What was it like living with a French family for four weeks? How would you describe your hosts?
I stayed with the Cassar family. They were a couple, but they had a very friendly little dog. We lived in small residence. My family was very attentive to all my needs and wanted to know things about me. They were always willing to help me. I think participating in a homestay makes a big difference. We were very busy during the program, but my family was always willing to talk with me and our conversations were very engaging. They didn’t just take care of me, they wanted to get to know me. I felt like a native when I was with my host family. It was all the little things like setting the table and helping wash the dishes or watching the television (in French). Towards the end [of the program] I felt so comfortable walking around St-Laurent, like I was used to it and I knew the area. I got accustomed to it. I even attended a mass in French. We were on an excursion and we had free time and I went to mass. I walked into a church when they were doing the rosary. I found I was actually able to follow along.

Being away from home and in a new place, did you feel safe on the program?
I always felt very safe every time we went anywhere. When walking to our destinations every time we had to cross the street the staff would make sure someone was always in the front and back. They also didn’t take us to anywhere that felt “sketchy.”

What advice would you give to a future Abbey Road student?
I would tell them to keep an open mind and remember you are not in America. The people are not the same and the food is not the same. When you experience something different don’t shut it down and be willing to learn. Try to become a part of that life, and try to do what they do. If you come into the program with an open mind you will learn so much more.

abbey road alumni
Maddie K., Connecticut: Florence Program
Abbey Road Programs Maddie K. "I definitely think [the program] helped me in getting the vibe of college in the way of having a roommate and living with people who at first you don’t know and making your way in your own apartment and having that responsibility. I also think it helped because in college I’m told that you only have a few classes each day and then there’s a lot of free time to do your work and we had that kind of schedule…"

Everyone has different reasons for pursuing study abroad in Florence. Some come for art, others history, others culture and some just to live away from home. What were you looking for when you researched summer options?
I was looking for something that incorporated hobbies that I love to do, especially something that included art. I was also looking to have a really good experience and delve into another culture. I wanted to go outside my comfort zone and get an idea of what college might be like. So my reasons were a mixture of wanting to have fun and trying to get ready for the next big step in my life. The Florence program incorporated more of the activities I wanted to do and I have always wanted to go to Florence. In school we learn how it’s the birthplace of the Renaissance and it’s filled with amazing art so for me it sounded like the most interesting place to go to.

You have never been abroad or done sleep-away camp before. How was it to travel without knowing anyone before hand? What were the other students like? Did you have any hesitations?
I think some of my major fears were normal ones like would I get along with my roommate, would I get along with the teachers? [On departure day] when I got to the airport, I started talking with other students and realized that we had a lot in common and I started to feel more comfortable. Then as time goes on you feel like you have known them for a really long time and it feels like you have made a few best friends in a just few days. I made a few really good friends on the trip and we still talk. We even have a few inside jokes from the trip. The [other students] were all pretty peppy and upbeat. Most of the students really did want to improve their skills. Everyone wanted to hang out with other people and go into town and explore the world. I think that everyone there wanted to be independent and learn how to be more independent and take care of himself or herself.

Florence is a pre-college program where you live in an historic apartment in the heart of the city. How was the living situation in your opinion? Did the program meet its pre-college expectations?
I liked the location of the apartments. They were in a really good area I felt safe there, but also it was in the heart of Florence so I only had to walk a few blocks to get to the Duomo or to get to the market. There was this little cafe on the corner and every morning we would go in and get a croissant and the guy would be so nice to you. The apartments I thought were really nice and very spacious. In my apartment we had a big kitchen and two rooms and we had a balcony; that was really great because we would take our cooking group up there and eat dinner. I thought it was very manageable for four girls who didn’t know each other to live and get along in for a month. I definitely think [the program] helped me in getting the vibe of college in the way of having a roommate and living with people who at first you don’t know and making your way in your own apartment and having that responsibility. I also think it helped because in college I’m told that you only have a few classes each day and then there’s a lot of free time to do your work and we had that kind of schedule. We would have class for a few hours and then have free time and I think that the staff gave us a lot of responsibility and independence so that we could act as young adults trying to make our way in the world. We had limits on the city, but they didn’t say that after class we had to stay in the building so I thought that was good. I thought the staff really helped us be more independent in that way.

You took Drawing as your morning major class. Can you describe the class and the instructors?
I loved my drawing teachers. I thought William and Lindsay were so amazing and talented. What was different from my classes here was that each lesson they did blended in with the next one. You were able to see what they were teaching you go into your pieces. For example, one day we would draw without looking at the paper and that gave us a sense of distance and shape. The next day would focus on gestural and the day after that would incorporate both of those so you could get a whole picture of both. They taught the class in a way that each piece that they gave you to do eventually helped you to create one full piece, which was really cool.

Do you consider yourself a serious artist?
I do. I don’t know if it’s going to be a life career, but I do take it seriously and I definitely have a passion for it.

Did you develop any new artistic techniques?
I did. My drawing style is mostly Japanese cartoons. Just being on the program, it’s kind of amazing, I’ve been able to draw more realistic stuff. In just one month, I was able to really get an eye for shading and an eye for shape. It’s amazing how proficient I became at drawing realistic stuff. I pretty much gained an entirely new artistic genre that I could delve into.

Would you recommend the class to other serious art students? What about beginners?
I would recommend it to serious artists, but I would also recommend it to people who maybe just want to do something fun or learn a new art style because the classes challenge you, but they really help even a beginner gain experience and their own style. I could not draw realistic stuff when I got there and I came back pretty good at it. I would definitely recommend it to high levels, but also to beginners. People were able to do the criteria needed for assignments, but they were able to do it in their own style, which made it so that everyone advanced at the same pace. They were able to do their own thing, but still incorporate what we were learning in that day’s lesson.

Was there anything about the trip that surprised you or that was unexpected?
Yes, but in a good way. For drawing I thought we were going to be in an art studio, but instead we would walk around the city and literally sit on the street and draw. I thought that was a lot more interesting than if we had just been sitting in an art studio because not only did we get to explore the city, but also I felt like we got to interact more with the culture and the people of Florence. People would come up to us and tell us that we were amazing artists and that was fun and surprising in a good way too. The people of Florence were so nice, that surprised me too. Whenever I have gone overseas in the past the people have been nice, but they weren’t as great as the people in Italy. They would come up to you and smile and talk and I just thought that was really cool.

What advice would you give to a future Abbey Road student going on the program?
I would say its okay to be nervous and to be a bit scared because it is a big thing and for some people it can be a completely different experience, but they should embrace it. It’s a way to see a different side of life and to make new memories and have new experiences that you may never be able to do again. It’s a once in a lifetime thing and you really want to take that opportunity. Just be yourself and have fun with it. I feel like I’d probably say it’s a way for them to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

McKenzie O., California: Florence Program
Abbey Road Programs McKenzie O. "I was looking for a program in a country where I didn't speak the language and that was stationed mainly in one location. I came across the Abbey Road website and I thought it looked interesting. Then, I was on facebook and I saw my cousin’s pictures from when she was in Italy and she went on the Abbey Road Florence program. When I asked her about it she told me that it was an amazing experience!…"

Have you participated in study abroad programs or camps before in previous summers?
Yes. I have been on two summer abroad trips before. The first was going into sophomore year I went to Spain for four weeks on a language immersion program through [program name removed]. I have been taking Spanish since the seventh grade and am currently taking AP Spanish. The trip consisted of a 2-week stay in a town taking classes and then a week alone in a Spanish home stay. The summer going into my junior year I went to Israel on a four week Jewish confirmation trip. It was more of a religious trip.

Why did you choose to go with Abbey Road Florence this summer?
I was looking for a program in a country where I didn't speak the language and that was stationed mainly in one location. I came across the Abbey Road website and I thought it looked interesting. Then, I was on facebook and I saw my cousin’s pictures from when she was in Italy and she went on the Abbey Road Florence program. When I asked her about it she told me that it was an amazing experience!

How was it to travel on a summer program without knowing anyone beforehand?
On my Spain trip I went without knowing anybody and on my Israel trip I went with friends. I believe the best way to do teen travel is to do to it alone because you do not rely on a friend and that way you become much more inclusive to meeting new people.

Was there anything that was unexpected or surprised you about the program?
Everything the program said would happen actually happened! Also, all of the counselors were great. There wasn’t one favorite or one that nobody liked. They were all very welcoming even if they weren't my cooking group leader or academic teacher. They always made me feel safe. One aspect I really liked about the program that neither one of the other programs I had been on had before was the suggestion box. Students could put ideas in for activities. One of the activities we ended up doing was a trip to the ballet, which I put in the suggestion box. My Abbey Road trip to Florence has been my favorite of summer excursions because of the people, location and organization of the program. I liked Spain as a country the best because I study Spanish and was able to greatly improve on my language skills. On this trip though, I gained a lot of knowledge about the Italian culture. By the end of the trip, you are transformed from a tourist to a citizen of Firenze.

Describe the apartment residence. What did you enjoy about living with other students? What about the location?
My apartment was great and I liked that the roommate situation because it was a very pre-college experience. I loved the dorm like atmosphere because it taught all of us to be more responsible in taking care of a home because you share with your roommates the responsibilities of taking out the trash, doing the laundry and going grocery shopping. Also, being able to knock on my good friend's door across the hall at any time and asking if she wants to go out was very easy and accessible. My roommate was very nice and every night we would stay up late talking, but we didn't really hang out outside the apartment. My other two roommates in our apartment were really nice as well. The location of the apartment was great. Everything was a 10 minute walk away and one of the advantages of Florence is you never get lost because you walk straight on Via San Gallo to get anywhere.

In what way did the dorm-like atmosphere you mentioned directly help prepare you for college?
I thought the dorm life situation was very realistic. You are living with people you don’t know and you have to be more of an adult. My personal area can be messy, but I like to keep the common areas clean. Whether it’s grocery shopping or calling the first shower, by interacting with roommates you learn how to communicate effectively.

The program provides daily optional activities along with free time. Because free time is an opportunity to explore the city within the safety guidelines, it provides the opportunity to gain independence. How did you feel about Abbey Road’s approach to free time? I thought there was a great balance of free time [and activities]. I thought the amount of free time was good and was about what we were told we would have. I used my free time to walk around and explore. I would go and get a gelato, go to Brandy Melville or take a nap. Overall, I thought the free time was the perfect amount. I liked that we had the option of free time in or out as a nighttime activity and of course I always went out because why stay inside when you only have four weeks in Florence?

What advice would you give to a future Abbey Road Student?
Take art history because Daniele is awesome! Take out the recycling before it stacks up too high. Take advantage of all the activities and use the suggestion box. Also, rent a cell phone. I was one of the few that did not have a cell phone and I think it was a mistake. I used calling cards to call back home, which worked well, but next time I would get a phone. A lot of the students had rented the Italian cell phones and they could get a hold of one another very easily. It would have been nice to have one so that I could text and call my friends.

You participated on the optional travel extension to Rome and the end of the program. What did you enjoy about that added experience in Italy?
One of the benefits of going on the extension trip to Rome was that at the end of the Florence trip, you are not ready to leave because Florence feels like home. On the Rome extension, the group trickles down and everybody is really close and you still have a wonderful time but, at the end you feel you are ready to go home back to the US. In this way Rome slowly transitions you out of the trip.

Bianca L., New York: Green Ticket Scholarship Recipient, Cádiz Program
Abbey Road Programs Bianca L. "One class I can remember that really stood out to me was when we were talking about the politics in Spain and the economical situation. It was really interesting to learn what was actually going on and how each party was this way and why a certain party was that way and why no one really liked the parliament right now. It was so enlightening because I had no idea. I went home that day and told my home stay family about the class and we continued to talk about it…"

You have been studying Spanish for a number of years, what made you decide that you wanted to go abroad this summer?
Well, I have been outside the country before but I had never “studied abroad.” I loved the idea of living in another country and having the experience to see and live inside another culture for a period of time and then be able to come back and compare both of those experiences to how I live. I was looking at [program name removed] for a little bit and I also looked at [program name removed] and doing an actual year abroad, but I felt like Abbey Road had everything I was looking for in a program. The amount of time was long enough to be able to see and be part of another country and still be able to enjoy my summer. Also, the curriculum seemed really appealing versus some of the other programs I was looking at. I picked Cádiz specifically because I needed a homestay.

What kind of green/community service activities are you involved in that qualified you to apply to the Green Ticket Community Service Scholarship?
Well right now I am at boarding school. I just started my junior year. I go to the White Mountain school and every year we have orientation trips where we go off and we do things like rafting, climbing, rock climbing and this year we are going backpacking and we live in the mountains. The trips are always based on just living in the environment and being really conscious about it. One of the things I was doing last year I was part of the Citizens of the world team. We brought awareness to other students and the outside community about events that are going on in the world which isn’t necessarily environmental, but it has a lot to do with the way we are taking care of our home, people and where we live. Also, this year I am part of the sustainability club. Just being environmentally conscious and helping people has been a big part of my high school experience. Last year, I also went to Bioneers by the Bay, a weekend convention in New Bedford, MA where the talked about the environment. Greg Mortenson actually came and spoke at the conventions last year about how important and necessary these changes for the environment are.

What do think students should do to provide themselves with opportunities like this?
I think they should be very aware. There are a bunch of opportunities out there already and it’s a matter of taking time out of your schedule to go looking for them. Also, not being afraid and don’t put things off! Be proactive. If you want to do something, figure out how you can accomplish it. Don’t be afraid to get out there!

Do you think it’s important for students your age to study abroad?
Very much so. I remember when I came back from the summer I didn’t feel like it had a huge impact on my life, but there hasn’t been someone who hasn’t said, “Bianca you have become so mature.” I have heard that from so many people. Being out of the country and having that experience gives you a whole new perspective and that’s important when you are still in high school because you are still trying to figure things out and being able to go abroad gives you another perspective and I think that experience grounds you more.

As a fluent Spanish speaker you were in the advanced Spanish class. How did you like the conversation-based nature of the class?
I am fluent in Spanish and my Spanish class was largely based upon conversation and culture, which I loved. Being fluent in Spanish, it was really nice to live in Spain because you got the chance to practice Spanish all the time. My class was entirely in Spanish and it really pushed us to speak. Our class also gave us a really interesting reference to the things we were seeing outside in the community. One class I can remember that really stood out to me was when we were talking about the politics in Spain and the economical situation. It was really interesting to learn what was actually going on and how each party was this way and why a certain party was that way and why no one really liked the parliament right now. It was so enlightening because I had no idea. I went home that day and told my home stay family about the class and we continued to talk about it. It really opened my eyes to the idea that instead of just focusing on class and what your grade looks like you should focus on more on things, like what’s going on in the mews. It’s really important to have both perspectives. When I got back my parents really noticed that my grammar was a lot better. I loved my teacher and she was actually from Cadiz and had a really strong essence to her work. She was able to keep control in class while still being an impeccable teacher.

You mentioned how much you liked your Spanish teacher, what is your overall opinion about the Abbey Road Spain staff?
The Abbey Road staff was really good about feeling out our group and figuring out how much time was too much and when we suggested things to them they were really accommodating. They always went back to the idea that this was our trip and so we got to make it our trip. [Also,] I thought they [the staff] all worked really well together, but like the students they were really different, which was fun. They had done these trips so many times before and they had so many stories to tell you about previous trips and it was so funny to hear all the different stories.

One of your main priorities was a rewarding homestay experience, did you think you were matched well with your Spanish hosts? Describe the homestay experience.
I loved my home stay family. They were just wonderful and they still keep in touch. They actually just sent me a card the other day. They didn’t have a child, but I really got close with the mother and the father was so funny. He was quite at first, but then he would start telling all these stories and start showing you newspaper articles and want to talk with you about them. They really added so much to my experience. The people of Cadiz were super friendly too. One of the things that was really great about Cadiz was that I felt super safe. We would be walking around at 11 at night and I was so calm. I was glad to have that sense of security and just that feeling of safety was so nice.

You are still in contact with your homestay family, what about the other students you met on the trip?
I have a pen pal relationship with one of the closest friends that I made. We write in Spanish to each other. It’s a great way to practice our Spanish and keep in touch. I need more help with my writing in Spanish and she wanted to keep in touch because she also goes to boarding school. One of the things about being away is that you love getting mail because you don’t get a bunch of it, so we became pen pals.

What type of student would you recommend this program to?
Students who aren’t afraid to just go out there and do it and look a little silly sometimes. You have to be open to going up to someone and start talking to them in Spanish, even if you don’t know all the words. You have to realize that you are in a foreign country and you can appreciate the language aspect, but you should also appreciate the culture aspect and have fun with it.

What advice would you give to a future Abbey Road student?
I would tell them to realize that you are only there for a month. At first it feels like a long time, but it’s only a month. You should get to know all the abbey roaders. They are all really nice and there for the same reason you are. And the host families are essential to the entire trip. They are incredible people and you should try to spend as much time with them. They are a blast. They are someone you are going to stay in touch with. My host family is coming next year to New York and we are going to meet up!

Rachael L., New York: Green Ticket Scholarship Recipient, Western Civilization
Abbey Road Programs Rachael L. "I knew I wanted to go abroad because I knew that next summer I would have to get a summer job. I thought that this Program specifically (Western Civ.) sounded really appealing. The fact that we got to travel to different cities and learn about a lot of cultures and not just one specifically and I felt that these specific cultures related to what I was learning during my semester. I was working on the farm with tools and using my own hands to produce my own food to make my meals and that’s exactly what people in these ancient societies had to do…"

You spent a summer at Oxford taking classes prior to this trip, what made you want to participate on a travel program through Abbey Road rather than a campus based program?
I knew I wanted to go abroad because I knew that next summer I would have to get a summer job. I thought that this Program specifically (Western Civ.) sounded really appealing. The fact that we got to travel to different cities and learn about a lot of cultures and not just one specifically and I felt that these specific cultures related to what I was learning during my semester. I was working on the farm with tools and using my own hands to produce my own food to make my meals and that’s exactly what people in these ancient societies had to do. They didn’t have advanced tools and I thought it would be interesting to learn how they survived without technology the way I had kind of done for four months.

What drew you to Abbey Road?
I had a friend that went on the summer program in Florence the previous summer. She had come back and told me how amazing the program was and that she met so many great new people and that the leaders were really cool and so when I was deciding on what to do during the summer the name Abbey Road was already in my mind. I had done some Internet research and a couple names popped up. I was mostly researching travel programs that focused on the classics like Latin or Greek. Abbey Road was really the only name I remembered. The size of the program was really attractive too. It was the smallest program I had ever been on. My Oxford program had like 200 people on it!

You were awarded a Green Ticket partial scholarship, what kind of green activities are you involved in?
For four months in the fall of my junior year I went to school on a farm in a small town in Vermont. For half of the day we went to school, but we would spend the other half of the day working on the farm and learning about sustainability and living off the land. We learned about the environment and the woods around us and did a lot of environmental research in the classroom and the surrounding areas. It was a huge learning experience and when I came back to school I was able to use the knowledge that I learned to promote being environmental friendly and help out with the Environmental Action Committee at my school. I had always been a member of the committee at school, but more of an off-hand member. I had always gone to the meetings, but didn’t do that much other than that. After I came back I was more devoted to it and started showing up more regularly and became a lot more interested and involved.

What did it mean to you to win this scholarship?
I really had no idea of whether I would get it or not and the fact that I did was just really amazing. It inspired me to keep doing what I am doing for the environment because the fact that someone thought that what I was doing was so great. [Also, to] be acknowledge for things that I have done and worked so hard on is a great feeling. I’m thinking of studying engineering in college and environmental engineering sounds really appealing because I could be looking out for the environment while making advancements at the same time.

You mentioned wanting to really learn about other cultures through this program, can you describe your instructors and how the learning process was handled?
Well we had two incredibly smart teachers who would rotate back and forth teaching us the art history aspect and the historical aspect of where we were [each day]. Occasionally we would pull out [program] readers and read an excerpt from it and relate what we were reading to where we were standing. Through the lectures and readings we tried to get a better understanding as to the significance of what we were seeing in front of us.

Did you think it was beneficial to have this "academic" component to the trip?
Yes. I feel if I had just been standing in the middle of a museum by myself I really would have had no idea what I was looking at. I would have known what I was seeing was important, but it wouldn’t have any meaning to me. I took away so much more because we were learning about what we were seeing at the same time. I could really understand why these things were being put in a museum, say, in the first place or why people revered the art as much as they did. If I were alone I wouldn’t have understood what I was seeing at all.

Did you have a favorite day on the trip?
I really liked the day trips. One of my favorite days was the visit to Pompeii. I had read stories about Pompeii in Latin class and the fact that a volcano had destroyed Pompeii had never really made sense until I was there. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and standing in the middle of the city and being able to see the volcano above us was awesome.

What was your favorite city on the program?
I really liked Athens only because I felt like I had never been anywhere like it and it felt the most different to me compared to New York. Paris I felt was pretty similar to New York and Florence was really fun. It was a lot smaller than the other cities so it felt more intimate. There was a lot time to hang out as a group, which I really liked. I felt like it came at a good time too. It was the third week and everyone was comfortable with each other and after that week, we were all really close.

How would you describe the average student on this program? I would say someone who is enthusiastic and who is really excited about learning and experiencing new cultures whether that is different types of people, different types of food or clothing. Also, a student on this program is really interested in learning, but having fun at the same time.

A traveling program like this involves a lot of coordination and flexibility. Did you think the program was well organized by the staff?
I thought this was the most organized programs I had ever been on. I thought there were always activities to do. I really liked having the syllabus in the beginning at the beginning of the program. Everything was planned out and I always knew what to expect. There were always optional activities that were surprising and new. I was never bored. The staff dynamic seemed great. Chris and John [the instructors] worked really well together they had a really good balance of taking turns teaching. They were always interesting and in terms of Emily [Program Director] and Kathy [Residential Advisor] they were also really great. I never felt like I couldn’t talk to one of them or that they weren’t approachable. They were all really nice.

The program involves daily learning, activities and events as well as sampling local cuisine. Were you given free time as well? Do you think there was a good balance between planned activities and student free time?
I thought the amount of free time was a perfect amount. I never felt like I was running out of things to do. I really appreciated the free time we were given. Just hanging out or wandering around the city with my friends was great, but it was also nice to have that organized time and we didn’t have to worry about creating our own agenda.

Being a senior in high school, do you think the program help prepare you for college in anyway?
I definitely think the small group discussions are a lot like what I can expect in a seminar type class in college and the whole experience of being put into a group of people that I don’t know that come from all different backgrounds is also a lot like college. The teachers on this program were so knowledgeable they seemed more like specialists. They knew what they were talking about and they felt like college professors or what I hope my college professors will be like.

Do you think it’s important for students your age to study abroad?
Yes absolutely. Especially coming back to school and the US I am a more cultured person. I know that’s kind of cliché, but I have seen how different cultures work and how they survive and I feel like it makes learning and school so much more interesting. Right now I am taking art history and learning about the statues of ancient Greece and the fact that I have been there makes it so much more interesting and the fact that I’ve seen some of the art in my textbook is really exciting. I feel like it’s given me a leg up on my classmates. I even point things out when I see them in class!

Would you recommend Abbey Road to a friend?
Absolutely. I’ve already been telling people about it!

Jake S., Massachusetts: Leadership Academy
Abbey Road Programs Jake S. "[The program] gave me a great idea of what studying International Relations might be like at a college like Stanford. I had been thinking about studying this area in college before the program, but now I’m definitely sure I want to incorporate International Relations in to my higher education…"

What your main academic and personal goals and how do they relate to your participation in Abbey Road’s Leadership Academy program this summer?
I’m definitely planning on going to college. Five years from now, I’m not sure maybe [I’ll be] in graduate school. I love to learn new things [especially] things that are applicable in the real world. I really wanted to check out Stanford [and] I have always been interested in International Relations, maybe even as a profession. The Abbey Road Leadership Academy seemed like a great mix of the two. [The program] gave me a great idea of what studying International Relations might be like at a college like Stanford. I had been thinking about studying this area in college before the program, but now I’m definitely sure I want to incorporate International Relations in to my higher education.

What was your expectation of the program prior to attending?
I didn’t know a lot going in because it is a newer program. I just wanted to broaden my understanding. I didn’t anticipate there would be so many foreign students, which was great! Having more international students brings a whole new perspective to the classroom. The program definitely exceeded any expectations I may have had going in. There was a ton of diversity it was fantastic.

Which specific classes and topics were you most interested in prior to attending the program?
In general, I love history and languages. The courses that we took at Stanford with Dr. Kian were just fantastic. He is a remarkably knowledgeable man and it was amazing to be able to listen and learn from experts in their fields. Specifically, nuclear proliferation and general international relation theories was what I was most excited about.

During the program, what were your favorite classes?
Pretty much anything where Dr. Kian was the head instructor!

Describe Leadership Academy's approach to learning and leaders: What does the program do to enable a student to learn effectively and grow as a leader?
There are lots of opportunities to make and form your own opinions. Being able to critically analyze scholars take on subjects. There is a lot of opportunity for public speaking as well, which I think is key for leadership. Being able to present yourself in an elegant, articulate manner.

With this in mind, what type of student would benefit from this program?
The students who want to go on this program have to be ready to work and listen. A lot of it is complex stuff, especially for international students. Anyone who wants to learn to be a better leader. A student who wants to learn how the world around them works and who wants to succeed in the increasingly global world that we find ourselves in.
Would non "leaders" benefit from this program?
Yes. Abbey Road’s Leadership Academy gives students the ability to analyze opinions and facts that you hear and take a more critical look at leaders in the world and decide where you fall into that.

What were your favorite non-academic activities on the program?
I loved visiting San Francisco every time we went there. The Giants game was a ton of fun and in one of the best stadiums in the Country and that’s coming from a guy who spends time at Fenway Park. Even walking around the city or going to see the MOMA was great. Also, the opportunity for college visits was great. I wouldn’t have gotten to see UC Santa Cruz or UC Berkley any other way.

How was the interaction between the program staff and the students?
[The staff] was fantastic and tons of fun to hang out with! They treated us like adults. They didn’t patronize us; they treated us as peers. They just made activities fun. For example, on the last night we decided we were going to have a barbeque in the frat house because we discovered there was a barbeque pit and it was the last night. They made that happen. It was a great way to end the program.

How was the residential life aspect? Did you feel like a Stanford student?
Living on campus for one thing was really neat. Getting an idea for what living on a campus like Stanford would be like was really cool. There is more freedom and it’s not as structured as high school. You have a class in the morning and then you have a break to do what you like. You can brush up on your reading for the next class or take some downtime and then head back to class. It was what I anticipate and hope college will be like.

Do you think participation on the program has given you an edge on the upcoming college experience?
I think this program gives you a better indication of what college is like. I also think colleges probably look favorably on the fact that in participating on a program like this you have some experience on a college campus taking college like classes with college like coursework.

Do you feel more independent having completed the program?
I do feel like more of an adult and more mature after being treated like one. I feel more confident in expressing my views about various issues especially political issues. Having a greater degree of independence in my daily activities while I was there also helped.

Zoe S., Virginia: Leadership Academy
Abbey Road Programs Zoe S. "The International Relations and Politics course was a good way to get involved and become more knowledgeable. I am familiar with the issues, but I still have a lot of learning to do. The environmental studies class really opened my eyes about international water issues and now I’m doing that in my school. So I thought the program was really beneficial overall and just being in California was great…"

What made you go looking for a summer program like Leadership Academy?
Well I am really interested in politics and different people’s views and opinions. I figured this program would give me the perfect opportunity to express my opinions and to hear other people’s. I also love Stanford and I figured it would be awesome to go there and spend time on the campus.

Leadership Academy was your first experience with a leadership oriented summer program, were your satisfied with the material that was covered? Were the daily lessons interesting?
Yes I thought that overall they were. The language seminar was really interesting to hear. I think overall we covered a wide range of material. I know the international relations and politics class was really engaging and then with environmental studies, I loved everything about that. I really loved it when we had group discussions because everyone would get fired up about their own opinion and it was fun. Also, the college essay and resume course was really helpful.

Did you think there were enough workshops available? Do you feel they covered a diverse amount of topics?
Yeah I do. It seemed like we covered a ton of material! I thought it was perfect for what I thought it would be.

How did the seminar and workshops compare to your classes back home?
They were very different. My classes back home are textbook based. Some of my high school teachers are better than others, but I really thought the seminars were more engaging and I learned a lot of new information. The seminars were more like college classes than high school. The staff usually used power point during the seminars. Dr. Leonce [Core Curriculum Director] was always really well prepared. We had some guest speakers [as well], but the [Abbey Road] staff was great. We [also] had a presenter who was a graduate student at Stanford come and talk with us during environmental studies about water issues and I really enjoyed that.

How beneficial do you think this program was for you in both your academic goals and your life?
As far as the college essay and resume workshop, that was extremely helpful. I have started that and I’m almost done with it. Dr. Leonce really helped me with that. The International Relations and Politics course was a good way to get involved and become more knowledgeable. I am familiar with the issues, but I still have a lot of learning to do. The environmental studies class really opened my eyes about international water issues and now I’m doing that in my school. So I thought the program was really beneficial overall and just being in California was great.

Did you like the schedule of the program? Was there a good balance of academic work and breaks and activities?
The classes did take up a lot of time, but in the early evenings we had free time for activities. On the weekends, the group went to Berkley and San Francisco, but both of those weekends I stayed with my friend who lives in San Francisco because I never get to see her and that was really fun.

What type of student do you think would benefit from this type of program?
I think that a student who is interested in liberal arts type classes would benefit. Back home, my school is very conservative and I am never really able to voice my opinion so this was really helpful because I could relate to other students. Also, I think someone who is open-minded and who wants to get out of their comfort zone. However, I really do think all types of students would benefit from this program.

Nicholas S., Pennsylvania: Modern Civilization
Abbey Road Programs Nicholas S. "I chose Abbey Road’s Modern Civilization program for a multitude of reasons. I really wanted to get something out of a summer program beyond simply sightseeing. It was really important to me that my program not resemble a surface-skimming tourist group. Whenever I travel, I love truly experiencing the foreign city and not just moving from monument to monument with blinders on. The fact that Abbey Road has you stay in a location for at least a week and really experience the culture was extremely appealing…"

What drew you to Abbey Road and specifically the Modern Civilization program? What were you looking to get out of this experience?
To preface this, I think you should know that I received an International Baccalaureate Scholarship from my school that allowed me to go on the trip. I chose Abbey Road’s Modern Civilization program for a multitude of reasons. I really wanted to get something out of a summer program beyond simply sightseeing. It was really important to me that my program not resemble a surface-skimming tourist group. Whenever I travel, I love truly experiencing the foreign city and not just moving from monument to monument with blinders on. The fact that Abbey Road has you stay in a location for at least a week and really experience the culture was extremely appealing.

In the end, what did you get out of this experience?
I got more out of the trip than I could have ever hoped for. I got to immerse myself in the vibrant cultures of all three countries, I fell in love with Austria, I got to see so much incredible architecture that I cannot possibly name them all, I got learn about the German perspective (both historical and contemporary) of WWII and the Holocaust, I made two amazing friends that will last a lifetime (I’ve honestly talked to them every day since returning home), I got to marvel at the Hapsburgs’ splendid accommodations, and I got to sample all of the regional foods, discovering some favorites along the way.

Has this experience changed you in anyway?
By going on this trip, I truly enhanced my view of history and broadened my global perspective. In addition, I honestly believe that I was able to grow as a person. I had never really been on my own before (I have a twin brother) and I got to see how good I was at handling my own affairs.

Did you go on the program with friends or by yourself? Was it easy to make friends on the trip?
I went on the trip by myself, without knowing anyone prior to arriving at JFK. I immediately clicked with my two future friends in the airport and in the first city, Berlin, and that chemistry lasted the duration of the trip. As the trip went on, I found myself getting closer and closer to my two friends and was able to get along well with the others in the group.

Were you comfortable throughout the program with your roommates and the hotels you stayed in?
The staff did an excellent job orienting us with each new city. The only exception, I would say, was we were not given much roaming time in Berlin. However, I realize this was because it was the first city [on the itinerary] and there was so much history to see in Berlin that there was little time for roaming. The hotels were topnotch. The rooms were lovely, the locations were perfect, and the breakfasts were superb. In particular, the apartments in Vienna were spectacular and the breakfasts at the hotel in Berlin were great.

Can you list a favorite memory or an activity highlight from each city?
Berlin – Bike tour, Jewish History Museum, DDR Museum, Museum Isle
Prague – Free time with friends, view from clock tower, Trdlo
Salzburg – Visit to Lake District, Tricking Fountains, Bike Ride
Vienna – Schoenbronne, the Hofburg, Spanish Riding School

What was your favorite city on the program and why?
Salzburg. I really fell in love with Austrian culture and Salzburg was so livable and picturesque.

Being a senior in high school, do you feel this experience has helped better prepare you for college?
Absolutely!

When you look back on the trip is there one memory specifically that sticks out to you overall?
Either wandering around Prague with my two best friends and somehow arriving at the John Lennon wall and a museum of contemporary art or, renting bikes with the same friends and biking up and down the river in Salzburg.

Do you feel the Modern Civilization program met your expectations? Would you recommend it to a friend?
I would definitely recommend it or any other Abbey Road program.

Lastly, do you think you could have had the same experience traveling by yourself or with your family? If not, what was it specifically about “Abbey Road” that made this trip special?
I am sure that I would have had a wonderful experience with my family. We all love to travel and they are the ones who ingrained me with my love of immersing myself in the culture. However, my traveling with Abbey Road, I was able to grow as an individual in a way that I would not have been able to if I had journeyed with my parents. The friends I made are irreplaceable and it was nice being able to share my amazing experiences [later] with my parents.

Charlotte F., District of Columbia: Modern Civilization
Abbey Road Programs Charlotte F. "Going into the trip, I expected that I would be exposed to a lot of historical details and cultural norms. I definitely got that out of the experience, but the other part that I found invaluable was listening to locals and understanding their views on their own countries and on America. Hearing an outsider’s interpretation of my country and an insider’s appraisal of their own definitely gave me a more comprehensive worldview…"

What drew you to Abbey Road and specifically the Modern Civilization program? What were you looking to get out of this experience?
I was really attracted by the idea of traveling to different cities and countries, especially since there was a cohesive theme to the chosen locations. I chose Modern Civilization because it focused on a part of the world I had never visited and that I was ignorant about in comparison to the rest of Europe, and also because I love studying history and I find WWII and the Cold War era to be particularly interesting.

In the end, how did this experience impact you most?
Going into the trip, I expected that I would be exposed to a lot of historical details and cultural norms. I definitely got that out of the experience, but the other part that I found invaluable was listening to locals and understanding their views on their own countries and on America. Hearing an outsider’s interpretation of my country and an insider’s appraisal of their own definitely gave me a more comprehensive worldview.

Has this experience changed you in anyway?
I think that by nature I am someone who chooses to relax somewhere rather than go out and be active, but my surroundings and the people I was with pushed me to see everything that I possibly could. The trip helped me to realize how important it is to get the most out of my time and fully appreciate all the opportunities for exploration around me.

Did you go on the program with friends or by yourself? Was it easy to make friends on the trip?
I went on the trip by myself. I met some great friends—I knew that the people I was with were on the trip because they were as curious as I, and that made us click immediately. I think that the people attracted to the Modern Civilization program picked it out carefully because they genuinely really wanted to experience the culture and history of Central Europe. That meant that someone was always suggesting an expedition and asking for company—we always wanted to be out exploring. Since it was a small group, we got to know each other really well. One night when it was raining, we stocked up on candy, holed up in a hotel room, and used the time to get to know each other.

How did the staff help make your program experience fun but safe?
[They] were awesome! Since Jasmine [the program’s coordinator] is Austrian, she could educate us a lot more about modern culture than an outsider could have, and she clearly really liked sharing with us. She also made sure the schedule ran really smoothly. It was also great when Arthur [Kian] visited us in Berlin because he had grown up in the former Soviet Union. Hearing his perspective made everything we were learning more real.

Tell us about the daily schedule of activities. Was there a good balance between planned events and down time?
Berlin had a lot of museums, but they were some of the best museums I’d ever been to—I loved Museum Island. And of course, seeing the Berlin Wall and the some of the Holocaust memorials was incredibly humbling. Berlin also has a very modern, liberal culture that we got to peek at on a bike ride around the city with a guide. We went to less museums in Vienna, which were more culture and art museums as opposed to history. In Vienna we also went to a film festival and to Schonbrunn Palace and Zoo, which was amazing. The day at the zoo is actually one of my most fun memories. Our time in Prague and Salzburg was much less structured and more about appreciating the beauty of those cities. For example, we went paddle-boating in Prague and biking in Salzburg. We actually requested more down time and then changed our minds because we liked what the staff had to show us. They would often give us suggestions for our downtime, but we were free to just wander with friends and experience the culture in that manner as well.

Can you list a favorite memory or an activity highlight from each city?
Berlin –Our bike tour, everything on Museum Island (I love ancient Egypt, so seeing the bust of Nefertiti was a highlight), the DDR museum, all the graffiti art—both on the East Side Gallery and off
Prague—Getting hopelessly lost for an afternoon but finding a cool modern art museum and the John Lennon wall, which is one of my absolute favorite sites, seeing the window in Prague Castle where the Defenestration of Prague occurred, the drums concert some of us attended
Salzburg—Sound of Music tour—kitschy but fun, and then convincing the hotel to let us watch the movie, tandem biking with two friends along the river, the giant flea market
Vienna—Schonbrunn Palace and Zoo(the pandas!), the film festival, completing the cooking challenge in our apartment kitchenettes

What was your favorite city on the program and why?
I liked them all for different reasons. Berlin’s modernity—there was amazing graffiti art everywhere—was really cool because it isn’t a traditionally “pretty” city but is really cutting edge culturally. The old part of Prague is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, but it is also a small city so I think that the four days we spent there were an appropriate amount of time. The same goes for Salzburg—gorgeous, but not somewhere I’d necessarily want to stay forever. I think of all the cities I would want to stay the longest in Vienna because it is both beautiful and a metropolis—it seems to offer an inexhaustible variety of activities and sights.

Was there anything unexpected or anything about the program that surprised you?
I thought I was going to feel uncomfortable spending so much time with total strangers, but it wasn’t a problem at all. It was also great to reconcile my preconceptions with the reality of the cultures of I was immersing myself in.

Being a senior in high school, do you feel this experience has helped better prepare you for college?
I definitely think it provided an example of the independence I will need in college, and the mindset of openness to experience and change that is undoubtedly necessary. At the same time, it was good practice for living with a roommate and managing my time appropriately.

Lastly, do you think you could have had the same experience traveling by yourself or with your family?
I think Abbey Road made my trip special because they really strove to make us as comfortable as possible, while also to help us achieve the greatest possible level of understanding. Alone or with my family, there’s no way I could have had all the background knowledge that Abbey Road was able to give me or seen nearly as much. I also got to make some long-lasting friendships.

Aubrey G., Missouri: Nice
Abbey Road Programs Aubrey G. "I have definitely noticed an improvement in my comprehension of the French language. When my French teacher talks in class, I can understand her better. I have always had more difficulty with speaking finding the right words quickly, but it’s definitely easier than it was last year. I didn’t wanted to leave when it was time to go home. Now I plan to either major or minor in French in college and I hope to study abroad at some point. I think my experience with Abbey Road over the summer has influenced that decision greatly…"

What goals did you set for yourself this summer? What were your priorities?
I just wanted to increase my knowledge of the French language and improve all around because I was going to be taking AP French. I wanted to make sure I would be able to prepare myself as much as possible. I wanted to really immerse myself in the language and the culture so that I could have an edge going into my French class this year.

How did Abbey Road help you meet each of those goals?
I definitely feel like I met those goals. The directors, instructors and staff all encouraged us to speak French as much as possible especially among each other. They made sure to correct our grammar and help us find the right words. The staff were constantly making sure we were getting as much out of this experience as we possibly could.

What about Abbey Road as a company did you like best?
All the staff. I loved all of my teachers and the director. The whole atmosphere they created. They wanted to help us learn as much as possible while still having fun. All the activities we did, even if they weren’t all necessarily educational, they were important culturally to experience.

Has your French improved? Has your experience this summer impacted your educational goals?
I have definitely noticed an improvement in my comprehension of the French language. When my French teacher talks in class, I can understand her better. I have always had more difficulty with speaking finding the right words quickly, but it’s definitely easier than it was last year. I didn’t wanted to leave when it was time to go home. Now I plan to either major or minor in French in college and I hope to study abroad at some point. I think my experience with Abbey Road over the summer has influenced that decision greatly.

Did this program help prepare you for college in anyway?
I think so. Even though I didn’t have a roommate, I still had to buy my own groceries and keep care of my room. We were given a certain amount of money for snacks and groceries that we had to budget each week. Our Director made sure we were budgeting ourselves like a college student would need to.

How did you like living in the residence?
I thought the location was perfect. We were centrally located in the city. It was close enough to the beach where we could walk, but it was also really close to the old village of Nice where everything happens. We were always really close to everywhere we needed to be. We cooked for ourselves two to three nights a week, which was great. I really liked making crepes. They were delicious and now I can make crepes at home.

What was a “typical” class lesson like?
The whole class was conducted in French. We barely spoke any English at all. We usually spent the first hour talking about a specific subject like colors or adjectives etc. We were being taught a specific subject in French. Then, for the next two hours we would go out into the city and use what we learned in class. One time we went to the farmer’s market after we talked about different types of fruit and the way French people grocery shop, which is different than in America. I had an idea of what experiential learning was, but I had never experienced it like this. I think it was cool to talk about something and then be able to actually go out and do it.

How was the mix of class, excursions, and cultural activities?
Well our French class was three hours in the morning, which I thought was the perfect amount of time. The days we didn’t have electives, we had more time to do whatever we wanted like go to the beach or hang around town. I really enjoyed the group activities as well. One time we all went to all see a movie in an outdoor theater and the screen was projected on the outside of a castle. It was really great to have these group activities as well as having out own time to explore for ourselves.

Do you have a favorite memory from your experience this summer?
Now that I know everybody when I look back I think about the first time we all met at the airport. It was awkward and weird at first, but know that I know everybody it’s really funny to look back at those few hours. It didn’t take long to get to know everybody and from then on it was just awesome.

Now that you are home do you think the experience changed you in any way?
It’s definitely made me more independent. I flew to France by myself the first time without my family. Living in the dorm, even though I wasn’t alone I had to be more responsible for myself. A lot of the people on the trip lived outside of the US and we actually became really good friends and being exposed to their cultures makes me thinks about the differences between the two.

Was there a “typical” student on this program?
Everyone knew some French. Everyone was really nice. The majority of the students were American high school girls, but there were definitely a handful of people from Venezuela and a couple girls from Saudi Arabia. It was really cool to have a mix of people. Everybody got along. Some students you get to know better than others, but everybody was friends with everyone.

Did you have any fears before the start of the program?
I think my biggest fear was the flight over there. I didn’t fear being alone, but I didn’t know how I was going to adjust to living alone without my parents. I think it turned out pretty well and I’m really glad I did it.

Would you recommend Abbey Road to a friend?
Absolutely.

Amelia K., New York: Western Civilization
Abbey Road Programs Amelia K. "I started Abbey Road the summer after I stopped going to summer camp and I was looking for something to do that would be both productive and fun. My mom found it online and she sent me the link and I thought it looked like a really fun and educational thing to do. When I first decided to do Abbey Road, I was deciding between the Nice and the Western Civilization program. I chose Nice first because I was taking French however this summer I wanted to take the opportunity to go on Western Civilization program…"

This was your second summer with Abbey Road, what drew you to Abbey Road the first time and what made you decide to go again?
I started Abbey Road the summer after I stopped going to summer camp and I was looking for something to do that would be both productive and fun. My mom found it online and she sent me the link and I thought it looked like a really fun and educational thing to do. When I first decided to do Abbey Road, I was deciding between the Nice and the Western Civilization program. I chose Nice first because I was taking French however this summer I wanted to take the opportunity to go on Western Civilization program.

What drew you to the Western Civ program? What were you looking for?
I would say the history aspect because history is my favorite academic class in school. I used to live in Europe when I was little. I lived in Belgium and England for a couple years. My parents and older sister have all these memories of us visiting all these places, but I can’t remember any of it. I really wanted the opportunity to explore Europe and the Western Civ program offers that. You get the chance to see and learn about the best parts of all these great countries.

Did you like your instructors? What were classes like?
The staff was really great, helpful and informative. For class, usually we had a reading in our packet that corresponded to the place we were visiting that day. We would either do the reading the night before and go discuss it onsite or read it onsite and discuss it there. I really liked this style of learning because when you’re a traditional classroom and you’re reading an excerpt about St. Catherine of Siena for example, it’s not really all that interesting. However, when you read the excerpt about St. Catherine in Siena at St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Siena and you see the head St. Catherine, it just has a much bigger impact. I feel like I can recall text better and I feel more comfortable with the history. This is an academic summer program. It’s not just an excuse to wander around Europe. You get to experience another place and you absorb and learn about the culture. You are taking classes and actually learning something instead of just being a tourist. You are actually engaging in a bigger experience than just a vacation.

What was your favorite thing about each city? What was your favorite city on the program?
Athens – I really liked the food. I was surprised by how much I really liked Greek food!
Rome- I really liked how everywhere you walked there was something of historical significance and the whole city is just beautiful. I could wander around and get lost and then just find my way again and it wasn’t stressful, it was beautiful.
Florence – We did a gelato tour, which was really cool. At night our instructors took us around to all these famous gelato places that had specific flavors, unique only to that gelato store and we got to sample all the different kinds. It was one of our last night and just a really fun way to spend the night together as a group.
Paris – I would definitely say dinner under the Eiffel tower.
My favorite city would probably be a tie between Rome and Paris.

Did you like the size of the program? Did everyone get along?
I thought the size of the group was perfect. All of the friends I made and everyone I met seemed to know what they were doing academically. They were all really similar to me in that they like history and they were there because they were really interested in what the program had to offer. Everyone was just really nice and we all seemed to be coming from the same place. I still talk with a few of my friends from the summer.

Were you satisfied with the amount of free time you had?
Yes, I thought it was perfect. On Western Civ we had a lot of planned activities and I could use free time to tap a nap or just relax. We would go and hit museums or go to a certain area and be given time to walk around. We would go on an excursion and then be given free time. We went to Versailles and we got to go explore Versailles and a part of history, not just let loose and be told to be back at the hotel before dinner. When we were given free time, it was in a historical area or to rest.

Did you think the program was well organized? Did the staff work well together?
Yes definitely. We would ask what we were doing and we even had a schedule, but the staff threw in some fun surprises, which was great. I loved knowing what were doing and it was never out of control or anything. The program was very organized.

Also, I thought the staff worked very well together. Our director Emily was really great, just incredible. She fit in so well in every city that we went to and I don’t know about the rest of the group, but I just felt so safe when traveling with her because she could speak every language so well and she just emulated control and she really knew what she was doing. Chris, our professor was really smart. He is probably one of the smartest people I have ever met in my life and he’s funny. When he would teach us, he would present information in a way that was silly and modern and I could better understand it and retain what I had learned better. Then there was Hannah the photographer and I feel like we actually became friends!

When you look back on the trip is there one memory specifically that sticks out to you?
The Parthenon. When we first hiked up and I saw it, I will never forget that. Also the Eiffel tower.

Do you feel the Western Civilization program met your expectations?
Yes definitely! I have been recommending it to people when they ask me about my summer. I tell them about my experience and give them Abbey Road’s name.

Lindsay C., Maryland: Western Civilization
Abbey Road Programs Lindsay C. "When I applied to Abbey Road, the International Studies Scholarship for an outstanding student of history sounded perfect for me. History is one of my favorite classes and I love participating in class discussions so I asked my History teacher to write me a recommendation. I was thrilled when I found out that I had been selected! I also applied [to be a Student Ambassador] because I love to write. I started the Communications Club at my school and I am also Features Editor for the school newspaper…"

How did you find out about the International Studies Scholarship? What were your reasons for applying?
When I applied to Abbey Road, the International Studies Scholarship for an outstanding student of history sounded perfect for me. History is one of my favorite classes and I love participating in class discussions so I asked my History teacher to write me a recommendation. I was thrilled when I found out that I had been selected! I also applied [to be a Student Ambassador] because I love to write. I started the Communications Club at my school and I am also Features Editor for the school newspaper. Becoming a web blogger seemed like a great opportunity for me to write about all the new experiences I would be having on the trip and to be able to share them with others.

Was this your first time traveling abroad?
It was my first time traveling overseas. I wanted to study abroad because I had studied Western Civilization in my history class this year and I was eager to see the historical sites that I had read about and to experience European culture firsthand.

Why did you choose to go with Abbey Road and then the Western Civ. program?
Well, I told my mom I wanted to travel abroad so she looked online at different study abroad programs. My mom found Abbey Road’s Western Civilization Program and it was exactly what I was looking for. Visiting Athens, Rome, Florence and Paris sounded like the perfect combination of learning and exploration. Also, the students on the website looked like they were having a blast!

You did not travel abroad with a friend, how was it to travel on a summer program without knowing anyone beforehand? I was little nervous, but I was excited and thought that it would be a good preview of what college life would be like because you don’t know most of the people beforehand and you have to make new friends. Also, looking back I am happy that I didn’t know anyone. I feel like if I had known someone it wouldn’t have been a whole new experience and this way I felt I could truly be myself. I made some amazing friends on this trip and we still are in contact. I hope to visit with them sometime soon.

What was a typical day like for you on the program?
We would wake up and get dressed for the day. Then we would have breakfast in the hotel and the group leaders would tell us the plan for the day. In the morning, the entire group would visit a museum or a historical site and learn about what we were seeing. Then we would go to lunch in smaller groups and after that have some free time to shop or relax and to explore the area. The larger group would then come together and we would have another group activity. There were also optional activities that I would usually participate in, but it was nice knowing that if I was really tired I could stay behind and relax. After our afternoon activities, we would go back to the hotel and get ready for dinner. I particularly loved the group dinners because the group leaders would always choose a fun and interesting restaurant. After dinner, we would have more time to explore, get gelato, or participate in a planned event such as going on a photo scavenger hunt.

How were classes handled – how did they differ from your classes back home?
Instead of sitting in a classroom, we would go to a historical site and learn about the site, its significance and why it was built. For example, when visiting the Palace of Versailles, I could imagine what it must have felt like to be a part of King Louis the XIV’s great empire. Being there and seeing a structure I learned about in school helped me understand its relevance to that society. After the lecture, we had more time to explore the site or museum and we could always ask the instructors more questions. I had taken Western Civilization my sophomore year and am presently taking European/American history. I was surprised during the trip that there was so much that I had not learned in school, but I guess you can only cover so much in class. I also take Latin and I was pleased by how much of what we saw related to things we had learned about in Latin class.

Were you satisfied with the caliber of your instructors? Did the staff work well together?
I was extremely satisfied with the Instructors. Both Chris and John also knew a great deal about the places we visited. John focused more on art history and architecture, while Chris focused more on artifacts and their significance and what they were used for. They each had their own area of expertise and complemented each other well. Emily, the program director, and Kathy, the resident advisor, did a fabulous job leading the group and keeping us under control. I felt they could easily relate to us. It was obvious that they really cared about us and I felt very comfortable talking with any of the staff and asking them questions.

What does it mean to say this is an "academic" summer program?
It means that instead of just going to a site and touring it, you were able to really learn about it. The program was academic but emphasized the fun of learning. The places you are able to visit are awesome, but because it’s an academic program you truly learn about the historical significance of the sites and are able to enjoy it even more. We would also have group discussions with the counselors after visiting the sites. This type of learning is completely different from the classroom style where you are just told something while looking at a picture in a book or copying notes from a board. It was engaged academics. Also, it was not a stressful environment like it can be in a classroom because everyone was relaxed and friendly.

Do you think this trip helped prepare you for college in any way?
Definitely. It gave me the chance to meet other students and interact with them. I was able to learn about others and myself. I feel like I became more independent on this trip, especially in Florence where we had to shop for and prepare our own meals and pack our own lunches. I also had more responsibility because I had to make sure I got up on time and pack my clothes as we moved from one location to another. Being in a new country with new people and new responsibilities gave me an insight into what college life would be like.

How would you describe a typical student on the program?
I would say the typical student on this program is friendly, funny, enthusiastic, always excited and looking forward to the day, honest and smart.

How valuable was your free time? Were you satisfied with the amount? Did you think there was a good balance?
I thought my free time was very valuable. It was nice to be able to take a step back and walk through the streets of the place you were visiting. I could buy gifts and shop around a little bit. It was also really nice because sometimes I just needed to rest or to have some down time with my friends. As much as I loved the time spent with the entire group, it was nice to have some time to chill. I thought the amount wasn’t too much or too little. A few hours everyday was great.

What advice would you give a future Abbey Road Student?
I would tell them to go into the trip ready for anything and to go for it, even if you’re nervous. Take advantage of all the opportunities because you will learn so much about others and yourself, and don’t be worried because the teachers and staff are there to support you.

Do you think it’s important for students your age to study abroad?
I think it is very important to study abroad when you are my age because by going to another place and studying there, you can see and learn about different customs, religions and societies and get a clearer picture of other peoples’ perspectives about the world. Now that I’m back at school, I have a better understanding of people and their different beliefs.

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