Bilbao, Siempre en tu Corazon! Past Review

By (History and Global Cultures, University of California - Irvine) for

ISA Study Abroad in Bilbao, Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It sounds cheesy, but my experience abroad taught me how to live my life. If forced me out of my comfort zone and see what the world has to offer. I am truly blessed to have been able to have had this opportunity.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Universidad de Deusto
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 professors I encountered were understanding that we international students were in our cities for a cultural experience as well as an educational experience. Homework was moderate but not overly demanding. Test were reasonable. Success was easy to achieve, but it was completely up to you.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My program advisor was spectacular. I do not believe there could be anyone else more accommodating or fun to hang around with. She went out of her expected duties and planned additional excursions with my entire group. Even though these experiences were out of pocket, they were all affordable and enabled me to gain even more out of my city.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

There was a large variety of people living at the apartment complex; ranging from other international students to natives studying at the two local universities. The apartment itself, Blas de Otero, was extremely nice in terms of cleanliness and amenities provided. My only criticism of the living situation is the neighborhood in which it is located. It was built in attempts to rebuild the area, and as a woman, there were times in which I felt vulnerable to unwanted interactions. There was easy access to the metro system which could take you anywhere you needed to go such as school, nightlife, the beach area, and old town. I opted to walk to school every morning in which I walked by the Guggenheim Museum at least twice a day. You can't get a better commute than that.

* Food:

Spain is not a country supportive of a vegetarian lifestyle. I, myself, had no problems, but one of my program mates had a difficult time. Note: if you ask for no meat, they will include fish.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Every excursion organized was by far amazing. Outside of excursions, I highly recommend getting involved in the celebrations leading up to Easter. Even if you are not associated to the religious context, the parties and culture will blow your mind.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I had no direct problems with safety but a few others did. Basically, be aware of your surroundings and your belongings at all times. Remember you are in a foreign country with a foreign language. You do not want miscommunication to lead to problems.

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?

Bilbao is unlike the major tourist cities, like Madrid and Barcelona, therefore you were expected to speak Spanish in everyday interactions. As long as you did your best to put effort into your conversations, natives responded well in aiding you along. At the university, there was an "intercambio" program between us Spanish studying students and native English studying students. With these interactions, I was able to learn a lot more about local culture and activities.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Other

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are looking for a truly authentic international experience, Bilbao and the Basque Country is the place to be. By far it is the most beautiful city in Spain and there is easy access to travel to other parts of the country and the world. This is not an experience you will ever regret.