Best college decision I made. Past Review

By (Spanish Language and Literature., Knox College) - abroad from 09/07/2004 to 06/07/2005 with

Knox College: Barcelona - Study Abroad at University of Barcelona

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to be alone with myself and really dig it. I was completely independent. I learned another language, which meant another way to look at the world. I am sitting at my day job right now, underworked and filling out a survey about my college study abroad, and it makes me want to walk out the door, now. Hop a plane, get going. It was beyond worthwhile.

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.

I didn't necessarily feel like the classes were that demanding compared to my courses in the US. They were interesting and informative, but I didn't feel the same pressure as at home. I think this served a purpose in that I was able to focus on my whole experience and not just classes, and it was also due to significant cultural differences in education styles. It was fun and interesting but not terribly demanding.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was supremely helpful and good natured. I had a blast with the asst program director and the director. The excursions were great.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My hose family was amazing. I am still in contact with them. My husband and I have visited with them since the exchange.

* Food:

I loved the variety and that my host mom was a fantastic cook. Trying everything was excellent, so much sea food, great cheese and wine.. It was a delicious year also.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This was an area that was difficult for me. I spent a lot of time doing intercambios to get to know people in the city and to practice my spanish, but I never really fell in with a group of people from Barcelona with whom I spent time. I think part of that was living with a host family instead of living with other students. Maybe another part of that was the way the program classes worked in that you're in classes with other Americans unless you make the effort to take a regular course at the university to meet other people--which I also did. I spent the year feeling like I was sort of bouncing around outside of a cultural bubble, but at some point that was just fine and part of my experience. I felt in love with the city and the culture and the experience but I didn't feel like I'd aculturated, really.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I developed a problem with my jaw locking a few months into the program and I was really concerned about it. My spanish wasn't fantastic, so the program director helped me through an appointment with a very proficient doctor and the problem resolved rather quickly. I was also sexually assaulted shortly into my stay, and I was given a lot of opportunities to get counseling and support.Amazingly, it far from ruined my experience studying abroad. It made me reanalyze why I'd come to Spain so I was able to refocus and work on what I was there to do and see rather than what had happened to me.

* Safety:

I felt like it was an amazingly secure city. That said, I always made efforts to mitigate risk, always walking with friends, sticking to areas we knew late at night, not drinking too much. The Barcelonins felt safe and secure, and I think we the students felt much the same.

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)

I didn't spend money EVER before I studied abroad and I got a job tutoring English once a week. I was able to survive quite well on what I'd stockpiled working 60-70 hours a week in the summer before going to Spain. I came home with $200 in my account, hah.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I probably spent 25-40 euro, depending on the week. I lived on the cheap for the most part. I didn't get more than one drink at a bar. I shopped at the grocery a lot rather than eating in a cafe or restaurant. I almost every meal with my host family.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Pack your lunch, duh. Bread and cheese, fruits and nuts are all inexpensive and fit nicely into your bag. Parks are everywhere. A small job that brings in a little bit of fast cash, like the tutoring hook up, was a really good thing.


* 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

Classes in spanish, intercambios encouraged, lived with native speakers. Opportunities were everywhere.

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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 200
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? Intercambios/exchanges, where you meet up with someone who is trying to learn English and you spend half the time helping them and they spend half the time helping you. I hear these are even available via Skype now. They were instrumental in me getting into Spanish fast.

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?
  • language component--learn a new language!
  • location--loved Barcelona
  • My host family was a perfect fit.
* What could be improved?
  • Housing options--I could totally see how many people weren't into the host family arrangement. Giving students the options to choose to live with a family or other students would be great.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? nada.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.