I would go back in heartbeat Past Review

By (Art History, Criticism and Conservation, Hollins University) - abroad from 09/16/2016 to 04/23/2018 with

Spanish Studies Abroad: Barcelona - Semester, Year or Summer in Spain

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My Spanish improved significantly. I was able to see amazing things in person. I was able to adapt to and learned to love a new city.

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.

My professors at UPF were all terribly impressive and understanding. Overall, I thought the workload was suitable for my class standing and I found the course content to be engaging. However, one class was far more elementary than I would have liked.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Adriana, the director was very friendly and adamant about ensuring we had the best experience possible. After she took her maternity leave we worked with the Interim Director, Laura, she was amazing. I found her very easy to talk to and she was kind enough to recommend different spots around the city that I might be interested in. I felt cared for and very supported.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a single woman in her apartment near Sagrada Familia. My room was small and we shared a bathroom, which is not uncommon. She was excellent cook and I enjoyed watching tv with her during dinner. Occasionally, I felt uncomfortable in my home stay but we were always able to talk through it. She was very accommodating.

* Food:

My homestay had great food and my host mom always packed me a lunch I enjoyed. The UPF cafeteria had cheap options that were also tasty. In comparison to other European cities Barcelona was about mid range. Depending on where you go you can have a decent meal and drink under 20 euros. I spent a lot of time dedicated to finding the best Mexican food in the city and I was reasonable successful.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I established a routine early on and found it comforting that people remembered me. I did not make friends with locals until the end of my stay, which I regret. As most of my classes were with other Americans it was hard to branch out. My host family helped me understand the culture better and I even picked up some Catalan.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The pharmacies are great! I never visited a doctor but my local pharmacist was always able to help when I had a cold or upset stomach. I did visit a therapist towards the end of my stay. She was fantastic and I am very happy I was encouraged to go by my Interim Director.

* Safety:

Overall, I felt pretty safe in the city. I almost never walked alone at night though. Catcalling is pretty common in Spain, but I've grown accustomed to it being from a big city. There was an incident were I was groped on the metro, but that was not the norm for the other girls in my program.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

SSA was always very helpful and interested in helping me succeed. They also gave me a generous scholarship that made my experience possible. My speaking partner was very friendly and eager to talk with me.

Finances

* 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 was very careful budgeting, but I also wanted to enjoy myself and would splurge as I saw fit.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 50€
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I split up my money into separate envelopes designated for each month.

Language

* 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

I pledged to speak in Spanish throughout the entire program. When we were together most of spoke Spanish.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
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? SPAN 327
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? Speak in Spanish amongst your friends! Interact with your host family.

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • The staff
  • The city
  • My Spanish course
* What could be improved?
  • Check-ins could be more regular
  • More information on being Latinx abroad
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had understood how living abroad would affect my mental health. I also would have done more early on so I didn't have to cram towards the end.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!