Best 5 months of my life! Past Review

By (Economics And Spanish, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/22/2014 to 05/31/2014 with

CIEE: Barcelona - Advanced Liberal Arts

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to be more independent and travel well. Also I learned about different cultures. It was definitely worthwhile. I met some amazing people and had some of the best experiences of my life. I highly recommend studying abroad if you have the means and desire to do so.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes that I took with the CIEE study center were very manageable while the classes at the Universitat de Barcelona were much more challenging. Together they created a good balance though.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It was a little bit chaotic and unorganized.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved living at a home stay with another CIEE student. We all became a close little family.

* Food:

The food in Barcelona is amazing! Not economical to eat every day though. The only weird food I had was at my home stay. Sometimes my home stay mom made some strange dishes that were not always that good. I learned that I am not a fan of squid.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was hard to make close friends with people other than the students in the CIEE program so I kind of missed out on that. However, the Guardian Angels helped supplement that a bit.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any health issues so I don't really know.

* Safety:

Barcelona is a busy city so there is a small sense that you're not 100% safe. That being said, I never had any issues and rarely felt unsafe roaming the streets alone during the day or with my friends at night. Specifically at night (and into the early morning), the public transportation made it very easy to get back home without worrying about running into any strange or dangerous people.

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


* 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 at a home stay made food costs very low since I only had to buy a single meal for myself every day and I could always find something cheap. The only difficulty for maintaining a student budget would be when traveling but that's to be expected.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Probably around $40-$50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Do a home stay, they provide you with food and do your laundry for you at no extra cost than you would have at a residencia. When you do need to buy food, stick to the cheap stuff because even though it's cheap, it's still amazing because it's Barcelona. I would buy 3-4 euro sandwiches and they were always great.


* 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

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had taken intermediate-advanced courses
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? You should do what the directors recommend and try to solely speak in the language (Spanish in my case) the first couple weeks you are there. It helps to hammer out phrases or words that you have issues with going into the program.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • The location
  • The CIEE Study Center professors
  • The excursions
* What could be improved?
  • The organization of events, some plans were changed last minute which was kind of annoying
  • Increased responsiveness, I am still waiting to get my final grades back and my classes ended in early June.
  • Increased information regarding the program before the start of the program. I didn't really get a sense of what I was getting into until I got there.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The intensity of the language component. At the beginning of the program, it was a lot to handle and take in all at once. However, as the program went on I became more comfortable with the language and was able to get more enjoyment out of it.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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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.