Writers Abroad Spotlight: Emily Walter in Alicante, Spain

Where are you studying abroad and with what program? 

I am studying abroad in Alicante, Spain, located on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast part of Spain (5 hours south of Barcelona). My program is with the Academic Language Institute.

When did your program begin, and what are your top three moments so far? 

Mine began on August 31st. (I also participated in a one month DU faculty led summer program (end of July through August) in Santander, on the coast of northern Spain, and that was INCREDIBLE!!! 100/10 would recommend this program). Top three moments: swam at night in the ocean in Mallorca (this only cost me 40 euro round trip), I went to a flamenco show and cried, and the Camino de Santiago trip, which was unreal. 

Are you enjoying the program? Any hard likes or dislikes? 

I love my program, but still can’t help to think what it would be like if I chose the other, bigger CIE program in Alicante. My program has only nine students this term, five from DU and four from the University of Missouri. Nonetheless, I am obsessed with Alicante, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else as a home base.

Pros: We have very close connection with each other and our program directors. Our program is a family-run organization that is only located in Alicante, so it’s not like the other big international abroad programs. We get a lot of personal attention and I think it’s less overwhelming because we are all so comfortable with each other. The best thing about this program are the Experiential Learning classes! We walked the Camino de Santiago for six days, and that literally counted for four credits of 3000-level Spanish, and the whole trip was included in DU tuition.

Cons: The classes I chose are taught by the ALI directors and is just our program of students, so I don’t have any diversity within those classes. They aren’t very structured so it’s a breeze to get through, but at the same time they make me feel lazy and not challenged. 

Being in Alicante, Spain, what is the hardest cultural adjustment? 

Language. There’s other little things about Spaniards, but nothing too challenging.

Any favorite classes, professors, people or locations in Alicante, Spain? 

The Camino de Santiago class was one of the best experiences I have had abroad so far. Take it. Nobody trained, but if you’re at least semi-active and like the outdoors, you can handle it. The professors/people in charge of our program are so cool. They have a very interesting history of living in the U.S. and Spain and the son who teaches some of the classes is so amazing to talk to and learn from.

Would you recommend this program and why? 

Absolutely. If you don’t mind being in a smaller program (it does differ in numbers every term, though) it is so great. The directors in this program truly make it what it is. Armando Jr. took us on the Camino trip, and there’s an art class where you learn by actually going to these different cities and museums, which is so cool. Alicante is so chill, you won’t get bored, and it’s not overwhelming like other big cities in Spain. Also, you have the beach and mountains at the same time. It is mid-October and I am still going to the beach and swimming in the clear Mediterranean waters.

Any advice to someone else going to this program in the future?

Practice Spanish, keep trying to put yourself out there, and meet locals, because it’s so worth it.  

*Bonus questions*

Favorite campus location: There’s a cafe on campus with beer and wine. 

Favorite staple food: Spanish tortilla (egg/potato/vegetable cake, but it's not sweet).

What do you miss from the US? Literally just Denver as a whole. 

What do you enjoy there that isn’t in the US? Wine... wine... wine... wine... Amazing quality and so cheap; for comparison: a 25 euro wine is equivalent in quality to a $80 bottle in the U.S. (because there is no liquor tax on wine, it is considered food here. And vineyards everywhere you look!).

Favorite country location: SPAIN!!!! So incredibly diverse and historic - I wish I had more time and money to travel to other cities just in Spain.

Least favorite place: Nowhere! 

Least favorite cultural difference: Shops close during siesta time every day. 

Favorite cultural difference: Big lunch and big siesta afterwards.