An Unforgettable Experience Past Review

By (Finance and Financial Management Services., Pennsylvania State University - University Park) - abroad from 05/24/2012 to 06/21/2012 with

CEA: Barcelona, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
There are SO many valuable moments and memories that will stay with me and while there wasn't necessarily one moment that stood above the others, any one of them still would have made the trip worthwhile. From making new best friends to learning to thrive independently to appreciating a new way of life, there's no shortage of opportunities if you do go abroad.

Review Photos

CEA Global Education: Barcelona, Spain Photo CEA Global Education: Barcelona, Spain Photo CEA Global Education: Barcelona, Spain Photo

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: CEA:Global Education building
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.

The two classes I took, Advanced Spanish and Sport & Culture in Contemporary Spain, were exceptional. The classrooms and building were efficient, there were extra books, resources, and a computer lab to use if we needed it, and overall I didn't have any negative experiences with anything in my educational experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The entire CEA staff made this trip even more incredible. They made it a point to orient you with the city, be at your disposal with both class conflicts and general "new city problems", and even learn your name and connect to you on a personal level. All of the teachers are from across the world just like the students you meet, so in a way they're in the same situation you are and interactions with them come easy.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

CEA tells you to prepare for crappy housing arrangements, but of the apartments I saw during my time abroad I didn't witness any housing issues. However, the one negative from my trip was my housing situation simply because of the location. It took me 2 metro stops and 30 minutes to commute to my classes each way, and if you don't have back to back classes like me it can really be taxing. If this had been the same for everyone I wouldn't have cared, but it seemed my apartment was the furthest away out of anybody else in the program. Most people had a 10 minute walk to classes (our walk was 45 minutes) so this is where my low rating comes from.

* Food:

Overall, I thought the food was different but good. You learn where and what to eat pretty fast. Any of the places along Las Ramblas are significantly overprices, but still pretty good. Unless you want to find a metal screw in your chicken, I highly recommend NOT eating at a Cerveceria. The seafood and rest of Barcelona's cuisine was interesting and good, though. As it's customary in Spain, be prepared to spend a LOT of time waiting between courses. In general, the food in Spain was meat and seafood heavy, but there were plenty of other options available if need be. Also, seeing La Boqueria, one of the most renown markets in Europe, while in Barcelona at least once is a must. Oh and just as an FYI, people all along the popular streets will offer you cheap beer. Be aware that it's stored in the SEWERS during the day to keep it cool and purchase it at your own risk. If you don't believe me, watch closely and sooner or later you'll see someone retrieving them from there...quite the amusing shock.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Some of the best conversations I had came from cab drivers and their unique stories, but I also interacted with local grocery store employees, waiters and waitresses, random strangers, etc. People are almost as willing to practice their English and you are your Spanish, and I really did not have any negative guest interactions.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

CEA provided an option to some kind of health insurance so as long as you followed along with that there were no glitches here.

* Safety:

Some of the more "rundown" areas of Barcelona were a bit sketchy, but that's to be expected in any big city. Otherwise, safety was rarely an issue in regards to going out at night, travelling during the day, etc. I will say that like other European cities though you DO have to be careful about pickpocketers because they are everywhere (especially by the beaches). Travel in groups, don't let them distract you, and you should be fine.

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

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)

I'm only rating it this low as a personal budget. I know plenty of people who lived easily on a smaller budget, but I took the approach that I wasn't sure when I'd be back so I spent...a lot. In a little over a month, I probably went through $2500 when all was said and done, but most of this was due to nightlife, eating every meal out, taking excursions, and trips to other cities.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Probably close to $300 with food, nightlife, shopping, and other miscellaneous items
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eating out is fun to do- but don't overdo it. You'll rack up money in a heartbeat. Also, as my friends and I learned halfway through the program, if you're going out at night (specifically to clubs) find out where promoters have deals for American students. A great way to keep up to date with this is on facebook, and considering cover charges are upwards of 15 Euro it can really help you save in the long haul

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

You didn't have to speak Spanish (or Catalan) if you didn't want to, but it was easy to do so throughout the city. Most encounters with cab drivers, waiters, and the random people you met were very positive experiences. They understand you're trying to work on your Spanish and if all else fails, most might even know English. Also, it's interesting to know just how much a foreign language can get you around in other countries if you wish to travel. I went to Rome knowing absolutely no Italian, but had encounters where I shared Spanish as a common language and used it to communicate. Even if you don't know the language as well, one of the biggest tips you'll ever get is to at least TRY to use the country's language. A simple hello/how are you goes a LONG way in their willingness to help you or talk to you if need be.

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? I'd taken Spanish on and off for 7 years
How many hours per day did you use the language?

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
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?
  • Meeting students from across the United States
  • Meeting and bonding with locals
  • Travelling
* What could be improved?
  • Housing distance from classrooms
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? There are so many tricks and tips you'll learn along the way, but I truly believe figuring them out was part of what made my study abroad experience as amazing as it was. I wish I would've known other people going from my school before leaving so I could have met them first, but in the end it everything worked out anyway

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Advanced Spanish

Course Department:
Instructor: Adelina Arbones
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Advanced Spanish with Adelina Arbones was great because of her teaching style and the class size. We only had 4 students, and not only did this making the learning style more laid back and interactive but we learned about things that interested us, from current Spanish events to Spanish dialects to additional Spanish vocab and grammar...we learned it all. The occasional homework helped us to work on the grammar or vocab we learned in class, but overall this class was easy to keep up with yet interesting to learn from at the same time.
Credit Transfer Issues: In talking with Penn State's Spanish department, I could actually transfer this as a course towards my Spanish minor fulfillment so it worked out for the best for me.
Course Name/Rating:

Course Department:
Instructor:
Instruction Language:
Comments: In Sport & Culture in Contemporary Spain, Marcos Garcia taught us all about Spanish futbol, bull fighting, NFL Europe, NBA's impact on Europe, Spanish fans, the basics of Spanish radio programming and television marketing, etc. He also taught us how all of these aspects related to Spanish history and politics and we learned how sports in Spain are much more intertwined and detailed than any sports or cultural events we have here in America. We even had the chance to take field trips to tour his radio station, FC Barcelona's home soccer stadium, the Olympic Stadium, and a bull fighting ring. There were occasional tests or projects, but you learn so much in this class that it was really worth it in the end.
Credit Transfer Issues: The credits transferred as elective credits