Once in a lifetime experience Past Review

By (International Affairs and Political Science, Northeastern University) - abroad from 08/01/2014 to 12/12/2014 with

Adelante: Barcelona - Intern In Barcelona

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The experience was most definitely worthwhile. I gained an understanding of an entire new culture and language - Catalan - and became passionate about a new cause - Catalan independence - that I previously knew nothing about. The experience opened my eyes to how important cultural exchange is, as my interaction with Catalans in Barcelona furthered my understanding of their situation more and more each day. Certainly this learning experience is incomparable to anything I could have gotten in a classroom.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The experience was definitely educational - I picked up a new language and a lot of new skills, but it could have been more challenging/rigorous. At times, I was bored and felt as though I wasn't working at my full potential.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There was minimal on-site interaction or communication; I only saw the in-country advisor twice, and once was upon arrival into the city when I was exhausted and jetlagged. I would have liked to have a little more interaction with someone who I could report to and reflect on my experiences with. I did this with the staff in California which was great, but it would have been nice to do it in person, too.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My first housing assignment was not satisfactory with an overbearing host with whom I did not get along; however, Adelante was quick to help me move into a place where I would be more comfortable, and I ended up having an amazing housing experience where I formed a great bond with my host that really added to my overall experience.

* Food:

The food in Barcelona is AMAZING!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Socializing was pretty difficult, though I managed to make a few friendships with other students in the city. It's hard to meet students because study abroad students tend to stick together, so as an intern I ended up on my own a lot. However, I was definitely able to learn more about the local culture and feel more a part of the community through my internship.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt very safe during my entire time in Barcelona. I think that most of this is because I was well prepared to be alert and smart during my stay, knowing that I would be living in a busy city with a lot of petty crime. I never felt unsafe and was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I was in the city.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I was pretty good with budgeting; Barcelona is a very affordable city once you figure out how to navigate it. Even with going out to eat a few nights a week, I had no problem staying within budget. However, larger costs like travel expenses and a metro pass were what set me back further than I would have liked. I traveled a good amount around Europe, which wasn't cheap, and that negatively affected my budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $120
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you plan on traveling at all around Europe, PLAN AHEAD!! You'll save a ton of money by booking flights way in advance, which I didn't do. Also, plan your meals out in advance and stick to them - buy groceries for the week so that you don't go to the store too many times and make those inevitable impulse buys on things you don't need.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

I used Spanish in my house with my house, and when out and about in the city - but this only allows you to practice so much. At work, everyone spoke Catalan, which would have been a much more useful language to take classes in, because my host was Catalan as were many of the people I met in the city, and I would have loved to have been able to use that language instead of Spanish, which they use as a secondary language.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Making conversation with strangers is the best way, even though it can be scary, it's also fun! I would try to practice when I was in a cafe or bar, and even out shopping - sometimes people aren't friendly, but when they are it's really rewarding.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Cultural immersion
  • Real job responsibilities
* What could be improved?
  • In-country support
  • Catalan language instruction
  • Social activities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Almost everything there is to know about Catalonia! I wish I had known more about it beforehand, and I wish I had some experience with the language to make things easier at my job and around the city.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.