Unbelievable Experience Past Review

By (Towson University) - abroad from 01/06/2012 to 05/23/2012 with

ISA Study Abroad in Bilbao, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I honestly have no complaints about this program or the city of Bilbao. The people are friendly, the city is a whimsical mix of past and present, there is ALWAYS something to do, you are surrounded by beautiful mountains yet a few miles from the coastline, the professors at the university are so much fun... you will find yourself never wanting to leave. Bilbao, and Basque Country in general, comes with its own culture, language, music, and history that you can never really appreciate until you are there to be a part of it. Before coming here, I didn't even know this subculture existed. It's an amazing thing to accidentally stumble upon! I'm so glad I did. If you want to study in Spain but don't want to go to a major metropolitan city, Bilbao is the place to go.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Professors are patient, understanding, and challenging. They understand that while you are there to learn, you are also in a foreign country, experiencing so many things not just inside the classroom.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was amazing! I had my doubts about living with a host family, but I am SO glad I decided to do it.

* Food:

I'm not picky, so I tried everything and loved it all!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I found ways to be involved, both in and out of the university. I was constantly busy, and made lots of Spanish friends in the process.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The city is very safe. Just (and this goes for every city anywhere, ever) don't walk outside late at night alone! More than likely you will be fine in Bilbao, but it's not worth the risk.

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)

Meals are included if you live with a host family, so I didn't spend a lot at all. I had plenty of money to go to sports events, concerts, etc, as well as going out a couple nights a week with friends. And shopping of course! As long as you are smart and stay on a budget, you'll be fine.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 40-50 euros
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Wait until the end of the semester to buy souvenirs from your host city. Check out what you want to buy beforehand, see how much money you'd need to spend, and work toward having that much money (at least) leftover at the end of the semester. Souvenirs are nice but it's worse to have souvenirs and no money left for food, travel back to the airport, etc.


* 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? 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? High school Spanish 4
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Request a tandem partner! You will be paired with a local Spanish student who wants to practice English. You'll get together with them and help each other out. And hopefully you'll make a new friend too! Also, join a club at your university. The majority of the club members will be Spanish students.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* 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?
  • Meeting locals
  • City life
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing I can think of
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If possible, try to book your flight roundtrip with an open return date. I would have stayed longer had I known how much I would love it.