I had a very specific idea of what I wanted my summer to look like. It was so specific that any pre-made abroad program I managed to find only satisfied two of my criteria, if I was lucky.
One could say I was being picky, but I would argue that when going abroad, a person needs to have a clear idea of his or her goals in order to focus his or her efforts.
My goals were as follows:
- Fulfill two minor requirements. Many abroad programs featured two classes, but one was a basic grammar course. I needed two upper level classes.
- Not take classes with other Americans, if possible (the problem is that, in Spain, classes are no longer in session during summer. So it was either going to be with Americans in a very American program, or alone…)
- Work on language learning as much as possible. This could come in the form of a host family.
Have the freedom to travel on extended weekends. This would require for classes not to be five days a week.
- A health-related course/ internship. I am interested in public health. I wanted to be able to explore that interest in a different country.
- A job to ensure that I could also build my resume. While coursework and travel foster incredible personal growth, unfortunately, that does not always translate into work experience. I wanted to ensure there were work-related skills to be learned during my trip
Looking back at this list, I am proud that I was able to fulfill it entirely. What I have realized is that it was CASA that made every single one of my checkmarks possible. The program directors were willing to work with me to design a course load that matched my interests and schedule and would please my university registrar and advisors. I was thoughtfully placement into host family. Since I was essentially doing an independent study, it was great to have a host sibling to show me around. The program directors put me in touch with a wonderful contemporary art gallery owner, and I got to work for her for a month. All in all, I would recommend CASA to anyone. Especially those who want to be in great hands and have freedom to build their own abroad program.