Barcelona: Challenging Yet Rewarding Past Review

By (Spanish, Indiana University - Bloomington) for

CIEE: Barcelona - Advanced Liberal Arts

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that traveling and meeting new people is one of the most valuable experiences in life because it forces you to accept and appreciate things that are different from what you know which ultimately makes you a more accepting person. I am now more tolerant of people who come from different backgrounds because I realize that even though our lives may be very different, we often have many of the same values.

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 workload for this program is acceptable. The difference between classes at the University of Barcelona and classes at American universities is that there is no set schedule for finishing the readings. This means that students get a reading list with no dates. It is important to be responsible and work throughout the entire semester instead of putting everything off until the end. The grading system can be confusing because it is on a scale of one to ten, but the grading is fair. Students should expect Cs in their direct enrollment courses, but they should also expect to learn a lot and have a valuable experience. I prefer teaching methods in the CIEE courses because they involve more discussion. At the University of Barcelona, the professor generally lectures for the entire course and students are expected to only take notes and not participate.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The CIEE Administration is always available and eager to help anyone with questions.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My neighborhood was generally safe. It is the Gothic neighborhood in Barcelona, and it is extremely close to classes, shopping, and nightlife. I did not need to buy a metro pass. My host family provided me with sheets, cookware, etc. My host family was wonderful. They were always nice to me and eager to include me.

* Food:

My host family cooked very good meals.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We took a really interesting field trip to eat calcots (special onions) in Barcelona. It was a fun day to try something new and get to know the other students in the program better.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There were a lot of strikes while I lived in Barcelona, but the CIEE staff always warned us about the strikes in advance.

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)

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 400 level Spanish
Language acquisition improvement?

A lot of people speak English in Barcelona, but it is important to understand and speak Spanish because the courses in this program are in Spanish. It would also be a good idea to take a Catalan course either before coming or while studying in Barcelona because many people prefer speaking Catalan. I practice Spanish and Catalan with my host family and professors. Other students have conversation partners.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people in my program were all truly fantastic.
  • My host family was hospitable and loving the entire semester.
  • My Don Quijote class was very informative and interesting.
* What could be improved?
  • The program is not clear about final dates. They do not say that exams can last the entire month of June.
  • The excursions can be boring and not very well planned out.
  • One of my professors at the University of Barcelona is very disrespectful to me because I'm American.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I have always been taught to start with a negative comment and end with a positive comment when doing evaluations. I don't really have any negative comments. Rather, I have some realistic advice. Studying abroad is the experience of a lifetime, but it is also a huge commitment and can be exhausting. Deciding to leave the United States for a semester and become a part of an entirely new culture can be a challenge. Being successful and happy while abroad takes dedication. There will be times when you make mistakes or when things go wrong, but it is important to be patient with yourself and others. This experience changes you forever and teaches you about yourself and life. I would encourage everyone to study abroad and explore the world.