The best few weeks of my college experience! January 11, 2018

By (Rowan University) - abroad from 01/06/2017 to 01/27/2018 with

AIFS: Barcelona - Universitat Autònoma Barcelona

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experience abroad was most certainly worthwhile. I learned a lot about myself, and the world around me. I learned valuable social skills, adaptability, and how to expect the unexpected. These are skills I believe have benefit me in my personal life as well as in the professional world.

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.

My educational experience was amazing. I learned a lot in the classroom with the professors, as well as a lot about the city itself through my program directors/resident director. Resources were always readily available.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I wish there was a better word to use than "incredible" for my Resident Director for this program. She was absolutely incredible, and significantly contributed to my time abroad. She was wonderful at gibing advice on restaurants, how to pick up medicine at the store, and even answered my call from the U.S. when I had flight issues. She was able to assure me that I would be able to get my flight problems sorted, that she would help me in determining transportation once I landed in Barcelona, and answered the phone even when I called her at 3 am Spain time from a U.S airport.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My apartment was a super close walk to the Sant Pau campus. This made walking to and from class very pleasant because the commute did not take long, and I got to enjoy the sights during my walk. The apartment building was clean and organized. The rooms were a great, accommodating size. All of the appliances worked and were up to date.

* Food:

The food was exceptional. There are so many options to choose from, and it was all at a good price.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living in the city provided the best opportunity to experience the culture. The apartment complex is a block away from campus, across the street from a Metro stop, and there are shops, restaurants and bakeries every way you look. This made me feel very integrated with the local culture. All of the store owners and waiters/waitresses were friendly and helpful.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had caught bronchitis during my trip. When walking into a pharmacy, not speaking Spanish was a struggle. My resident director was able to give me suggestions on what to purchase and how to read labels, and compared medicine to what I would use at home. I did not need any vaccines prior to going to Barcelona, and there were no prevalent health issues at the time.

* Safety:

I felt incredibly safe while in Barcelona. I encountered friendly people, and even a few local people stopped to help me with directions and gave me recommendations. As always, it is a good idea to keep your purse and wallet concealed. While on a Metro, an employee walked around to inform people to hold on to their belongings to deter pickpockets.

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

AIFS was the best choice for this program. They organized my flight and transportation, arranged for me to live a block away from campus, across the street from a metro station, and in the heart of the city. My resident director was available for any questions, 24/7. The application process was very user friendly. The planned trips and excursions ensured I saw all major parts of the city and surrounding area.

Finances

* 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)

Living on a student's budget was definitely possible. Besides gifts/souvenirs, I spent most of my money on food.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Probably $150 on food a week and $150 on other expenses
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan ahead and save accordingly. Take more than you think you will need, just to be on the safe side. Buy groceries and cook instead of going out to eat every day. Find student discounts for museums and other tourist attractions if possible.

Language

* 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

The program encouraged the use of the language. The professors taught in English, but had an accent. I thought this was beneficial to the program and helped me in understanding many of the local people when we spoke.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Elementary level 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? Get a Spanish dictionary. Learn a few key phrases. Try to speak to local people in their language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • Affordable
  • Reliable
  • Diverse
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how to pack more efficiently, and how to budget more efficiently. I would have allotted more money for personal expenses had I known all of the activities I wanted to partake in. I also would have been smarter about packing and would have brought less shoes to leave room for souvenirs.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!