Bilbao is my new home! Past Review

By (Finance, Financial Services, University of Kentucky) - abroad from 01/05/2015 to 05/15/2015 with

ISA Study Abroad in Bilbao, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Bilbao was such a unique place with a one-of-a-kind culture that you will not find anywhere else. Not only did I discover this, but I also discovered a ton about myself!

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.

The university and professors were overall very good! My courses were challenging compared to other universities abroad, which was a good thing for me as a student.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My on-site manager, Genoveva, was awesome! She really cared about all of us in the program. She made sure that our classes were going well, but she also checked in with our host family on a daily basis to see if we were happy in our homes. She was also very helpful in finding us things to do throughout the week and weekend! Genoveva would always tell us about Festivals, concerts, free events, and anything else that we might have been interested in doing. Most of all, she cared that we were generally happy and safe.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was fantastic. They really made me feel at home. My host brothers always wanted to watch soccer with me. My host dad taught me a lot about Spanish culture through stories and his values. And my host mom was fantastic! She cared for me every day by making awesome meals. I felt comfortable enough with her that I could talk to her about absolutely anything.

* Food:

The Basque Country has AMAZING food!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The basque country is quite homogenous. Although it's very unique, it also makes it harder to blend in. It was obvious that I looked like a foreigner, but I ignored that and I believe that I successfully lived like a native!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

In Bilbao, very few crimes occur. I always felt safe walking in the city at any time of the day or night.

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)

ISA provided 3 meals per day with my host family! It saved me a lot of money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 80-100 dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If a host family provides meals, take advantage of it!


* 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

In Bilbao, a lot of Spanish was spoken, and not a lot of Enlgish. This gave me a lot of motivation to learn more Spanish.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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? High beginner Spanish.
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? Make a fool of yourself when practicing the language. Make mistakes, put yourself out there, and talk as much as you can. That is the best way to learn!

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
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?
  • Walkable city
  • Five-star food
  • Great Staff support
* What could be improved?
  • More cultural adjustment support
  • What is expected of you in school
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Never waste a day. The whole study abroad experience is an adventure, so make it one! Even when you don't want to do anything, do as much as you can. You'll thank yourself later!

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.