The Adventure of a Lifetime! Past Review

By (Washington State University) - abroad from 09/20/2015 to 12/18/2015 with

CEA: Barcelona, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about Spanish politics and cultural norms that I didn't think i would have learned otherwise. I learned how to communicate better with others and gained a lot of confidence and adaptability skills.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

CEA does an excellent job providing courses that are directly applicable to a variety of degree fields but also culturaly engaging. Courses force students to learn about the city they are studying in without feeling forced and provide an experience unique to the city you are in. Lessons through CEA programs teach students more than they could learn at their home universities without administering overwhelming amounts of homework or particularly rigorous classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There was excellent on site support from everyone at the CEA office. Staff was friendly and easy to communicate with throughout the entire process.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed in a residence hall/long-stay hostel where I was randomly assigned one roommate who was also studying with CEA. My housing had excellent security and was within walking distance from bus/subway stations, significant landmarks, restaurants and bars, a grocery store, and the CEA center.

* Food:

Food was not provided through my program, and in general I did not like mediterranian food all that much. There is lots of fresh seafood for much cheaper than it would be in the United States. The calamari was my favorite!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

CEA, as indicated by their title (Cultural Experience Abroad) does an excellent job and immersing their students in the culture in which they're studying. Many of my classes were focused on Barcelona and Catalonian culture within the context of the overarching subject we were studying. Homework for many of my courses included activities designed to assimilate us into the culture via tapas cooking classes, scavenger hunts and guided tours of historic neighborhoods around Barcelona, and many more.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Not only did CEA have an on site counselor available for any of our concerns or health-related needs, but they had 24-hour support if a health issue came up after office hours. I got a skin infection from a bug bite while in Spain and was easily able to call the hotline and get free transportation to a healthcare provider to have it looked at. Doctors and pharmacists were easy to access and provided translators if needed.

* Safety:

There is somewhat of a concentration of gypsies in Barcelona, but for the most part I did not notice as much theft as I had been prepared for. SOmme friends mentioned having their apartments broken into but there are warning signs that students can look for to determine if their apartments are being scouted. There was plenty of security around the CEA center and in general I felt safe in the city.

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

CEA offers incredible benefits for alumni of their programs, so if you consider studying abroad it will msot likely be substantially cheaper than it already was and you'll already know what to expect but have a way different cultural experience in a new place. I think what really sets CEA apart is their focus on assimilating students into the culture while still facilitating a safe and engaging environment for everyone.

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)

Like in many other parts of Europe Spain uses the Euro as their primary form of currency. When I was abroad the exchange rate sat at about 1:1.3 but I believe that may have gone down.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would advise students studying in Barcelona to cook as much as possible, it ends up saving you a ton of money in the long run and the food you'll find at a grocery store will typically be higher uality and more organic for a fraction of the cost it would be in the United States. Plus, it gives you a good opportunity to try out recipes from within the culture, Mediterranian food is pretty basic so you'll be able to find everything you need at a local market.

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

CEA had excellent opportunities to meet with locals and help them learn English while we got the chance to practice Spanish.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate
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? Spend as much time talking to locals as you can! Most of the time they are completely willing to help and love the chance to talk to someone from a different place. In Barcelona they speak Catalan but everyone speaks and understands Spanish as well, even if it's not what they opt for first.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • affordability
  • focus on cultural engagement
  • course options
* What could be improved?
  • dispersement of housing options; many times students lived really far away from one another.
  • class times - my classes were all fairly early or fairly late in the afternoon
  • CEA could provide information regarding volunteer opportunities prior to arrival
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had put more of my focus on talking to locals and making friends from Spain. I also wish I had done more to explore the city earlier on rather than trying to cram a lot of the things I wanted to do into the last few weeks.

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Cultural Psychology

Course Department: Psychology
Instructor: Karen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was challenging without being overwhelming. All homework and coursework was easier than the assignments I typically have in the United States but more interesting due the the international focus. There were ample opportunities to apply what we were learning to our lives and current events in Barcelona and greater westernized Europe and parts of Africa. I especially enjoyed learning about cultural views of mental health care.
Credit Transfer Issues: It was easy to transfer credits from CEA to my host university, just be sure to fill out the correct forms and double check with staff to ensure that you have everything in.