Barcelona: How "La Gran Seductora" Changed Me Forever, and How I Let Her Past Review

By (Spanish, Boise State University) for

ISA Study Abroad in Barcelona, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad is an experience that will change you forever, and probably in ways you can't even imagine before you actually leave. For me, studying abroad was really about myself and about the things inside of me that stay the same regardless of the continent where I am. It's hard to summarize all the ways that the experience changed me; I learned to speak a different language, in more ways than just one. Making friends and lovers and even enemies in a foreign language is about more than just words; it's a shift in thinking and a molding of the soul. It is everything you think it will be and so much more than you can fathom. DO IT, and don't let the money or fear of anything stop you.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Universitat de Barcelona
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 Spanish grading system was different from the American one; for example, we earned our grades usually from the results of a single test. The Universitat de Barcelona was fantastic; the professors were amazing, especially the language ones. You did have to take it somewhat seriously to do well; the more you attempted to be at an intermediate level of Spanish the better you would do. Just like everything else in the study abroad experience, you get from classes at UB what you put into them.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

ISA's Barcelona staff is AMAZING. They were not only knowledgable about the city and about the university but were able to assist you with any homestay issues you may have and, maybe most importantly, were a group of people you felt safe just going to visit. They became friends as well as staff members.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I consider myself beyond lucky when it comes to my homestay situation. My host mother is amazing and I consider her a part of my "family." She was an amazing cook and was extremely wise and loving. We would spend hours just chatting about everything and anything. She was a fantastic cook and went out of her way to make sure I had everything I could think of needing, and some things I didn't need at all! Because of our extensive conversations, my Spanish improved immensely. However, it is once again what you make of it, and if you're not willing to put the effort into getting to know your host family you won't have a connection like that, no matter how sweet your host family may be. Be brave!

* Food:

I was VERY happily fed and my packed lunches were seriously the envy of my American friends. I was a spoiled little North American girl!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

ISA does a great job of introducing you to the country with a week of traveling before you arrive in Barcelona. We had several out-of-city excursions which were amazing and always well-organized and educational. Besides the out-of-city excursions, ISA always had a flier put together about events that were happening in Barcelona, of which there are several at any given time. They were fantastic at helping you experience the culture of the city.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I luckily had no interaction with the healthcare system while I was in Barcelona; however, I know that when students did have to go to the hospital there was always a staff member to assist you in getting there and dealing with the process.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

One of my primary goals for studying abroad was to take my Spanish from an intermediate-advanced level to a superior level and to achieve fluency in spoken Spanish. The language classes were challenging and were also very rewarding; if you worked hard and stayed for a year there was an option of testing into a higher level the next semester. Although being in the homestay and speaking hours of Spanish every day really sealed the deal on my fluency, the language classes were invaluable in taking my written Spanish to a new level.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The biggest advice I can give to students considering this program is: BE FEARLESS. Don't be afraid to stay for a year, because you won't want to leave after a semester and you shouldn't. Don't be afraid to make friends with your intercambios and speak only Spanish with them; don't be afraid when you discover that they never had any interest really in learning English and they mainly just wanted to make a cool American friend. Don't be afraid to fall madly in love with everything you see; don't be afraid to learn some Catalan and scream at football games and drink too many cañas and get too suntanned. Don't be afraid of your host family; they are an invaluable resource to you. Don't be afraid to ask for help. And don't be afraid of leaving Barcelona because you might think you'll die when you have to; she will remain engraved in your heart forever and you will always be able to return to her. Barcelona is an unbelievable city that has an intoxicating, vibrant energy that I don't think you can find anywhere else in the world, and don't let anything stop you from experiencing it for yourself if you're considering studying abroad here.