Limited-Access Look: Unfiltered Advice From Past Students

Haley Dowdell (Virginia)

Haley Dowdell, a college student from Montana, was inspired by a family member to study psychology, veering from her original college path.

Listen to Haley’s experiences about getting over weeks of a frustrating Spanish standstill, giving an important presentation to Peruvian families, her favorite excursions, and what she will take back to college with her from this Spanish & Psychology program.

Lex Lambeck (Australia)

Lex Lambeck, originally from Canberra, Australia and now living in Florida, USA, attended our ECELA school in Cusco. Lex is a geologist who works in various countries and US states, and he is learning Spanish in order to communicate with the local people at his mining sites.

Listen to Lex speak about Peru’s mining industry, what it’s like to be the only student in class, and how to get the best deal to visit the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and how to Google in Spanish.

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Matthew Rossler (Michigan)

Matthew Rossler, a sophomore at Calvin College and future dentist, attended a Spanish & Medicine program in Peru. He was very tentative before his arrival, and he didn’t know anyone else attending the program.

Listen to how Matthew views the immersion process at Ecela and his take on the differences between Peruvian medicine and that of the United States. Be sure to listen for his big catch and how everything “vale la pena.”

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Jason Martin (USA)

Listen to Jason Martin’s interview to be instantly drawn into the culture and lifestyle of Viña del Mar, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina. His picturesque descriptions of the two cities and neighboring sights will have you booking your tickets, surfing trip, and hostel before you know it!

​Jason gives a unique perspective on business sense and culture in these two countries and shares his diverse experiences with us as he survives in South America despite his self-proclaimed caveman Spanish

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Matthew Neumann (California)

Matthew Neumann, an undergrad student at CalPoly, attended our Spanish & Medicine program in Cusco to further his future career as a family doctor or general practitioner.

Matt has a very balanced, mature perspective on his time in South America, despite a few hang-ups (see the Beware! Notes in his interview). He speaks of his time in medical shadowing in volunteering, his adventures, and his connection with his homestay family.

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Kieran Rooney (Ireland)

Kieran Rooney of Belfast, Ireland has all aspects of sound advice for travelers. It reaches from one end of the spectrum in deciding whether or not to visit Argentina in the first place to the other end of the spectrum with return visits and hobby-specific trips to learn tango, visit Iguazu Falls, or relax while enjoy Mendoza’s wineries.

Learn from Kieran’s mistakes and where he got it right in his travels, and you’ll feel more ambitious and confident when you are done listening!

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Katie M

ecela Lima, spanish school in Peru

Katie M., from Chicago, Illinois, attended ECELA’s Spanish immersion school in Lima, Peru. She gives applicable advice to those considering an immersion program and has a good plan to keep her Spanish active once she returns home.

Her restaurant recommendations are drool-worthy, so listen to her adventure stories and dream of Lima!

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Jon Brenner (California)

Jonathan Brenner, from many different places in the world due to a military background, spoke to us during the final week of his Spanish immersion program with ECELA in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Jonathan and his wife Heather, along with their two dogs, made the trip from California to brush up on their Spanish, learn to tango, and sample the local culture.

He gives good insight into finding a private place to live and how his many years of formal Spanish education brought him to where he is in his Spanish-learning journey

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Derek Spath

Derek Spath of Rochester, New York, is in his undergraduate program at the University of Buffalo. He is an ambitious young man and has already completed two immersion programs and already is planning future medical rotations abroad!

In the summer of 2013, he attended ECELA’s Medical Spanish program in Cusco, Peru, and he gives a good look at the program and what to expect. His heartfelt descriptions will help you feel his passion for language and helping others, and he will introduce you to a couple crazy(and amusing) Spanish words.

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Luiza Miyamoto (Brazil)

Luiza Miyamoto, from São Paolo, Brazil, has much to share about her Spanish immersion program, and in Spanish! She had no prior Spanish knowledge upon arriving at ECELA in Lima, Peru, and in under five weeks she is speaking Spanish very well!

In this interview, Luiza shares her insights into being immersed in Spanish, being “persistente”, and fine dining around Lima.

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Elise Deveene (Belgium)

We spoke with Elise DeVeene from Belgium after six weeks in her immersion program and, as a teacher, she gives an educator’s outlook on Spanish immersion programs.

Elise is no stranger to learning languages, as she knows Dutch, English, German, French, and now Spanish. She gives a straightforward look into the benefits and challenges of Spanish immersion as well as encourages more timid people to open up and embrace learning Spanish abroad

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Jaimie Sprague (New York)

Jaimie Sprague is currently studying abroad in Santiago, Chile to improve her future career in occupational therapy. She has a straightforward take on the culture, the day trips, the night life, and how learning Spanish will benefit her in the future.

Jaimie has also secured wonderful, lifelong friendships despite being a bit timid and she has discovered many more cities and people that she would like to visit in the future

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Hugo Janssens (Belgium)

Hugo Janssens of Leuven, Belgium is currently studying abroad in Santiago, Chile to prepare himself for an adventurous motorcycle trip up and down South America.

Hugo accepted the challenge of arriving in Santiago with no prior Spanish knowledge, and in one week he has improved so that he can purchase items on his own (including a motorcycle!). Listen as he incites you to go in search of a motorcycle and a friend to tour South America

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Joseph Brewster (Texas)

Joseph Brewster is an ambitious University of Texas College of Pharmacy student who has travelled the world before even completing his final year and receiving his doctorate. Joseph is passionate about studying abroad and he truly has a heart for people.

He gives some good, sound advice about communicating at the beginning of his program as well as shows how far even "just" a six-week Spanish immersion program can take you.

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Abby C 

Abby C. came to ECELA to study Spanish in Lima, Peru to further the quality of her family business and to take a relaxing vacation for the first time in the last ten years.

She shares her social personality and faith with everyone she meets, and we are grateful that she took the time to tell us about her Spanish background and immersion program

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Sara Mokhtari-Fox (California)

Sara Mokhtari-Fox is currently teaching English in Cusco, Perú, but she got her first taste of Latin America through classes with ECELA in both Lima and Cusco.

Sara shares her heartfelt advice with us while keeping a good sense of humor about the positive aspects—and tearful challenges—of learning a new language in a program abroad

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Eunice Mak (New York)

Having returned home from our Spanish & Psychology program, Eunice Mak of New York took the time to tell about her experience. She applied to the program on a whim, and has nothing but good things to say about living with a homestay family.

Hear more about her shadowing and volunteer opportunities, and see which landmark she plans to return to Peru to visit.

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Joerg Winkler (Canada)

Joerg Winkler, born in Germany but now living and helping run his family business in Canada, gives an interview about our school in Santiago, Chile that you don’t want to miss.

He is a talented polyglot who tells us about his Spanish immersion program while pointing out true-to-life, detailed points that are good for our future students to consider. Listen to learn where to find a Spanglish club in Santiago, how to seek out the best Korean Chilean restaurant, and more! This interview will have you raring to go make some Spanish mistakes!

Matt Van Strien (Canada)

We touched base with Matt Van Strien, from Toronto, Canada, who has now made Chile his home. He is studying in Viña del Mar, Chile, and will remain there to teach English.

Matt gives a straightforward view of worthwhile day trips, a nightlife that lasts until dawn, and how to get the most out of your classes and being in a new country

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Dave & Lue Armbrechtd (Colorado)

Dave and Lue Armbrechtd from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, are a delightful Spanish-learning duo that will make you yearn for high altitudes and an adventure-packed retirement.

At the time of the interview theywere studying at our ECELA school in Cusco, Peru, and they offer a lot of insight into learning a foreign language, finding good food after class, and how to get the most out of a Spanish immersion program

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Shelley Flenniken (Maryland)

This interview is with Shelley Flenniken from Baltimore, Maryland. Shelley previously attended ECELA’s school with Buenos Aires, Argentina and we hear from her in this interview during her time studying Spanish in Lima, Peru.

She has a spunky approach to language learning, especially coming from learning Spanish in frustration, and Shelley will make you smile while you visualize Lima and all it has to offer

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Dom Boyle (Scotland)

Dominic Boyle is our first Planeta ECELA guest who made it to each of the six ECELA Spanish schools, and in only eight weeks! Dom, from Glasgow, Scotland and now living and working in London, Europe, shares his insights into how to do an immersion program in the most cost-effective way while still making it to Machu Picchu the fun way on the Inca Jungle Trail.

Dom's attitude is refreshing, and he gives advice on being serious about learning Spanish abroad while having fun with new friends. 

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Fennela Dale (UK)

Fenella Dale (from Standon, Hertfordshire, UK) recently moved from Hong Kong to a smaller city in Argentina, and she quickly realized that she needed to fast-track her Spanish learning. 

She chose to study at our school in Mendoza, Argentina for five weeks and has many words of encouragement for those who are considering studying abroad. Find out whether or not Fenella found enough people to call friends in Mendoza, and hear about a beautiful, relaxing location at which to stay while in Mendoza

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Tabea Hoegger (Switzerland)

Tabea Högger from Güttingen, Switzerland has made her way to Buenos Aires before she moves to Mexico. She is working on improving her Spanish-speaking abilities, and she shares some frustrations and joys in her program.

Tabea gives good insight into what activities are like after classes and on weekends, and she shares her favorite Argentinian cuisine

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William Nunes (Brazil)

William Paulo Nunes de São Paulo, Brasil, tiene talentos escondidos de ping pong y comparte una visión única del programa de español en Santiago, Chile.

Él te dejara listo para reservar tu vuelo y subirte en un avión hacia Chile, donde tu visión mundial cambiara debido a tus nuevos amigos, que haces rápidamente, provenientes de todas partes del mundo.

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Brittney Carrio (California)

Brittney Carrio of Moreno Valley, California, studied at five of our six schools over a period of twelve weeks. Having grown up with Hispanic parents and speaking Spanish in the home, she wanted to fine-tune her skills for both her family and career life. 

Brittney will inspire you to begin planning your immersion program, and she offers a positive insight into how meeting people from around the world will change you for the better

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Stephanie Hellemans (Belgium)

Stephanie Hellemans of Brussels, Belgium, gives us a good view of being one of our younger students at the school and how our Lima, Peru school stands up in regards to safety, finding friends, and enjoying thesurrounding areas.

Stephanie is on her way to speaking many languages, and she has big travel plans to enjoy South America’s many countries

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Andrew Jablonski (Canada)

Andrew Jablonski, a well-traveled gentleman from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, took the time to share his Spanish immersion program with us. This is an interview to which you will pay attention and feel inspired to get out from your daily routine to experience life anew.

Andrew has a practical, well-balanced approach to studying and traveling abroad, and he draws fellow adventurers—young and old alike—to get out and integrate with another culture

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Will Graebe (North Carolina)

Will Graebe of Raleigh, North Carolina gives an introvert’s experience of venturing out to attend a Spanish immersion program on his own. He gives a mouth-watering food recommendation, and he also gives comfort to those who are nervous about studying in a large city
Listen to learn more about where to go after you have graduated from the advanced levels of Spanish, and watch for “po” in Chile

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Elroy Lewis (England)

Coming from learning Spanish in Qatar via a Colombian teacher and trips to Spain and South America, Elroy Lewis has found even more to learn when it comes to his Spanish instruction. He has a unique insight, having traveled to many Latin American countries, and he gives advice that is to-the-point and very useful.
His running hobby has helped him to explore Santiago and Lima, and he encourages Spanish students to learn at their own pace and to make some mistakes!

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Lucy Jones (Illinois)

This interview with an ambitious future interpreter, Lucy Jones, takes us to Lima, Peru to learn about Ecela’s immersion program in comparison to many others.

Lucy also details her story of bonding with new classmates, trusting her Spanish professors, and exploring Peru. Come to listen and be amazed at the ambition of such a young university student!

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Emily Swafford (Tennessee)

Emily Swafford of Tennessee is a premed student at the University of Miami. She just recently (summer 2016) attended our Spanish & Medicine program in Cusco, Peru, and she has some excellent stories and advice!

Lisa Mosman (Utah)

Lisa Mosman of Utah, USA, attended two Ecela schools over a span of 12 weeks to improve her Spanish and learn more about the surrounding cultures.

She ventured to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Cusco, Peru to find new activities, delicious ice cream, and friends that would broaden her world view. Lisa is a wealth of knowledge and has excellent insight into your future Spanish program!

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Shivani Patel (California)

Shivani Patel was one of our Spanish & Medicine students in Cusco this past summer (2016). Having only had a couple year of high school Spanish, she speaks to how much understanding she gained throughout the six weeks there.

Shivani jumped right in to the hustle and bustle of a busy homestay experience, and she brought home a spirit of relaxation and enjoyment in most any circumstance.

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Lloyd Grable (USA)

Lloyd Grable, approaching 90, keeps himself young with his travels and his continued study of the Spanish language. Listen to him as he reveals his actual age and tells you what he thinks of the phrase you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Lloyd has a vast background of travel and experience and he compares Buenos Aires to other cities in which he has stayed. Learn the best after-school excursions and more as you listen in on this conversation!

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Kia Stern (Ohio)

Kia Stern, an aspiring pediatrician, planned as best she could for her Spanish & Medicine program in Cusco, Peru, but there were still many things that caught her off guard.

Kia’s passion for helping families raise up their children is very admirable, and she jumped right in to gain the skills necessary to communicate with even more people. Listen to hear about her exploration, advice, and obstacles she overcame to get the most out of her weeks abroad.

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Joan Hall (Massachusetts)

Joan Hall, a retired nurse from Boston, Massachusetts, attended a Spanish immersion program in Lima, Perú. It was her second time in Lima, but her first time learning and using Spanish there.

Listen to hear how her Spanish improved, her delicious and adventurous recommendations, and how Joan keeps her Spanish fresh (and then some!) while at home. She will inspire you to always keep learning and we look forward to her return visit next year in Chile!

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Vanna Ramirez (Maryland)

Listen as Vanna Ramirez shares her joy in completing a Spanish & Medicine program in Cusco, Peru. Hear about her frustration with not being able to speak well in Spanish even after years of Spanish instruction, and see what helped her improve.

Vanna is a cheerful aspiring reconstructive surgeon who will show you that hard work is worth it, even if it is bien yucca.

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Stacy Gould (Colorado)

Stacy Gould of Arizona and Colorado is a retired information technology consultant who studied Spanish at Ecela in Cusco, Perú. She is an experienced traveler of South America, and she has a fresh take on learning a new language while enjoying everything that is around you.

Listen to hear her only concern (which turned out to be a great experience) and her favorite Peruvian dish.

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Lindsay Cash (Florida)

Lindsay Cash of Tampa, Florida, is taking a two-year gap year to travel South America and learn Spanish (amongst other things) before embarking on her journey into medical school.

She has a few warnings for travelers, recommendations for places to visit, and big aspirations as she travels.

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Michelle Evaristo (Brazil)

Michelle Evaristo, de São Paulo, Brasil, tiene mucho que compartir sobre su programa de inmersión en español. Nos da una visión clara de cómo funciona un programa de español de ECELA en la escuela de Santiago, Chile.

Michelle alegremente nos comparte sus viajes alrededor de Santiago, un día típico para un estudiante, y nos da un pequeño vistazo en como el español y el portugués son similares en el lenguaje y cultura.

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Norbert Minkendorfer (Austria)

Norbert Minkendorfer of Steyr, Austria, was a psychologist in the justice department and a prison warden before retiring. He has been to our schools in Santiago, Chile, Mendoza, Argentina and Lima, Perú. His media naranja, Erna, has accompanied him.

Norbert tells us his favorite trips and a new tradition that he took home with him from Perú. Listen to this experienced traveler and his encouragement for you!

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Dave Carlson (Nevada)

David Carlson, of Las Vegas, Nevada, is a retired risk-taker and someone who thinks outside the box. He decided to curb his boredom and attend a Spanish immersion program in Santiago and Viña del Mar, Chile.

David has tips to make the most out of your Spanish program, how he keeps (incredibly) active as a retiree, and he is very encouraging to anyone who is looking to get off their couch and into the South American culture.

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Emma Baccus (Ohio)

Emma Baccus, a student at Cedarville University, attended a Spanish & Medicine program in Viña del Mar, Chile, where she knew no one and had no idea what she was getting into.

Listen to Emma recall her Spanish immersion experience now, after completing the program, to hear what she enjoyed the most and the invaluable experiences that she took away for her future medical career.

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Leslie Lotina (North Carolina)

Leslie Lotina, from Chapel Hill, NC, took advantage of her empty nester status and completed a three-week Spanish immersion program. She did a week of classes at each of our schools in Viña del Mar, Chile, Mendoza, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile.

Listen to hear how Leslie made travel easy on herself, how much time she spent studying, and her favorite way to explore the cities.

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Audrey Tobin (Colorado)

Audrey Tobin of Colorado, USA, decided to take a year to live abroad and become a master of Spanish. She is a wonderful example of taking risks to reap the benefits of such a program, and she and her boyfriend have already adopted many new Chilean traditions.

Listen to her advice on a good length of a Spanish program, how classes go at Ecela, and how to make the most of your time in Viña del Mar.

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Teresa Schweitzer (Minnesota)

As you can tell from listening to her, Teresa Schweitzer is a Spanish and ESL instructor and co-founder of a non-profit organization with a big heart and sense of adventure.

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Karla Atcheson (California)

Karla Atcheson moved from the West Coast to East Coast to attend a small liberal arts college. Familiar with small class sizes, she chose Ecela’s Spanish & Medicine program in Cusco, Peru. Having spoken Spanish in her home growing up, Karla realized she had much to learn in Spanish grammar and medical terminology.

This interview is full of excellent advice for future Spanish & Medicine students and some of the very best excursions and foods for everyone to try while in Peru.

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Hyuna Cumaru (Brazil)

Hyuna Cumaru de Brasília, Brazil, estudió en Lima, Perú. Ella nos dice su sorpresa más grande del programa, como los profesores le ayudaron, y un recuerdo bonito.

Escúchala aprender diferencias entre las culturas y viajes populares.

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Justine Dale (Nevada)

Justine Dale of Reno, Nevada attended a Spanish & Medicine program in Cusco, Peru. This was her first experience alone outside of her hometown, and she recounts her eye-opening experiences (all of which began when she googled her homestay address before attending!).

Justine has remarkable advice for those who may be scared when it comes to attending an immersion program abroad and some good tips for making the most of class time and the weeks in Peru.

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Jessica Charles (Massachusetts)

Jessica Charles from Boston, Massachusetts, journaled her way through a Spanish & Human Services program just days prior to this interview.

Listen to Jessica passionately recount her times in Lima and share her desire to understand a new culture and learn Spanish. Don’t miss this interview, but—beware—you may find yourself shopping for plane tickets after hearing her stories.

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Matthew Sellier (South Africa)

We spoke with Matthew Sellier, a recent high school graduate from Cape Town, South Africa, who had just begun his gap year journey of ten months in South America. 

Let Matthew tell you himself about his Spanish hang-ups, where to go when you’re hot and tired, and how a solemn trip to a cemetery can be used for balance.

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Hannah Szlyk (USA)

Hannah Szlyk, a Ph.D. student, spent time in Lima for a Spanish & Human Services program recently. She has an experienced take on the program and how to properly prepare for such a program.

Hannah gets down to business and has excellent guidelines as to how to act and reflect upon one’s time abroad and in practicing social work.

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Ambre Nanni (France) 

Laura Fagan (USA)

Laura Fagan, a beginning Spanish student, attended the Spanish & Human Services program in Lima, Peru. She tells of her favorite excursions and which Peruvian foods she recommends that you try.

Is this program feasible for a beginning Spanish speaker who is a bit scared to attend? See what Laura thinks!

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Pierre Orts (France)

Aurora Ramirez (Arizona)

Aurora Ramirez, from Tucson, Arizona, recently graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She is a native Spanish speaker, but she attended the program to sound more professional in her career as a social worker.

Learn tips for using your cell phone in Peru, how to make friends quickly, and Aurora’s favorite excursion!

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Daniel Rosemarin (New York)

Daniel Rosemarin is a retired high school English teacher from New York, New York. He spent two weeks in our school in Lima, Perú, and plans to return to South America to study for a month or more.

Daniel gives advice for choosing appropriate housing, good activities, and where the best cat-watching location is. Hear how he recovers quickly from an illness while abroad, and chuckle along with him about his Spanish vocabulary blunder!

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Gary Huang (Illinois)

Gary Huang of Belleville, Illinois, is in the final semester of his undergrad program. He is an aspiring physician, and he spent six weeks in Viña del Mar, Chile, in our Spanish & Medicine program.

Gary details program specifics, a fun extended weekend trip to La Sirena, and has a realistic view on how his experiences will affect his future in medicine.

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