Barcelona, best four months of my life January 14, 2018

By (University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa) - abroad from 01/08/2017 to 04/30/2017 with

AIFS: Barcelona - Universitat Autònoma Barcelona

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was without a doubt the most valuable experience of my life. I now feel really deeply that cultural exchange and international education makes people into more empathetic and open minded global citizens, which is so important, especially in the current social-political climate. I also learned a lot about myself, and grew a lot. I was 5000 away from home with no one I knew, so there was a lot of self reflection. I always thought I was independent before, but this experience really made me understand independence better.

Review Photos

AIFS: Barcelona - Universitat Autònoma Barcelona Photo AIFS: Barcelona - Universitat Autònoma Barcelona Photo AIFS: Barcelona - Universitat Autònoma Barcelona Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Courses were interesting, professors were kind and helpful.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I adored AIFS's onsite staff in Barcelona. They were always incredibly kind and helpful, and honestly really fun to go on the trips with!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My apartment was in the perfect location, and newly renovated. It'd be five stars except our land lord was difficult and rude. Our onsite staff, however, did do their very best to help us and deal with her. They would even come over to check on things and handle speaking with her for us.

* Food:

I liked having the debit card that was reloaded with my food allowance each month. That was definitely a good system. Also, whenever the program shelled out for meals (welcome and goodbye dinners, packed lunches on excursions), they actually fed us really well! The welcome dinner even had bottomless wine.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I lived in an apartment, so all of my neighbors were locals. AIFS also provided a couple of volunteer opportunities that allowed me to be even more involved with the community, so I was able to work with local adults with developmental disabilities all semester through Best Buddies Spain.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

AIFS offered exceptional health care. Part of the program fees went towards enrolling me in an insurance program, so I had that when I needed it. But they really blew me away when I actually needed to go to the doctor. I emailed the onsite staff when I woke up, and within an hour they had made me an appointment for that same morning. Someone from the office met me at the metro and came with me to help translate, etc. It was like having my mom to take care of me again!

* Safety:

I always felt safe in Barcelona. One of the first days there, AIFS has local police officers come and give a safety presentation, so I was aware of my surroundings from the beginning and what precautions I should take. Pit pocketing is big, but if you know what to look for and how to avoid it, you can avoid it easily enough. The police coached us on this pretty well, and I never lost anything. If you're a big party person, you need to be cautious down by the clubs at night, but it's the same as it would be here. Watch your drink, and don't go off with anyone you don't know alone (cabbies included).

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

I chose AIFS because it was the cheapest option I looked at, but they exceeded every expectation I have. I really feel like they were the best provider.


* 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)

Once you've paid the program costs, you can live pretty skimpy. However, you might not really want to. Sure, you can eat in for meals and not spend money going out a lot, but honestly you're only there for a few months so you might as well take advantage of it as much as you can. Barcelona does have a lot you can do for cheap or free though. There's great hiking, beaches, etc.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe $100? Sometimes I splurged on weekend trips, but I didn't spend much at all during the week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Know how much you have, set your budget low but know you'll go over. If you're like me and you travel every weekend, eating out for every meal will quickly run out your funds, so getting some basics like break and cheese at a grocery store rather than going out for lunch can save you a good chunk of money.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

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

AIFS required that I

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The staff <3
  • The optional (& included) excursions
  • The opportunities to volunteer
* What could be improved?
  • I wish there had been some way that I could have extended my time in my apartment and stayed a bit at the end
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You don't need to pack as much as you think you do. Download offline maps anytime you go somewhere new with Google Maps. Always know the name of your closest metro/tube station (even on weekend trips!). Save important phone numbers and addresses somewhere offline in case you need to reference them but you can't get internet.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.