An Experience that Surpassed ALL my Expectations and Left Me Enhanced as a Person for Life! Past Review

By (Business Administration- Marketing, California State University - Chico) for

USAC Spain: Bilbao/Getxo - International Business and Spanish Language Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
More worth it than anyone who hasn't gone will ever know. I honestly can't imagine not having gone, and not going back at some point. The friendships I developed with people of all countries will last a lifetime. It is such a gift to be surrounded by people of other cultures and learn about other people. It went by way too fast and every single day I think about some part of it and can't wait to someday return. I am enhanced and far more mature after going abroad and gaining an appreciation for such different lifestyles. Any questions? Feel free to email!

Personal Information

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 classes weren't bad at all. The professors are all so great and they love what they are doing. The Spanish tracks were a little hard at first to go through the material so quickly and be in class for that long, but it was well worth it. I loved the professors there, they became like surrogate parents. And, let's be honest.. Taking classes abroad is much simpler than taking them at your home university (for the most part).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program directors are some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in my life. They are so helpful and loving, I can't say enough good things about them. It was a little annoying at times the way the living situations worked.. Getxo is split into 3 areas (you can walk from one end to the other in an hour though), so the students were split up. It made it hard that the metro closed at 11 Sun-Thurs, but it was something we learned to cope with. And cab fare isn't bad.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living with Americans, I spoke English all the time. It would be much better to live in a mixed situtaion, if learning the language is something you desire. Living in Getxo you are completely safe. We asked locals and police and they all said there is nothing to worry about. That was one of the things we grew to love so much about the town is that you can walk around at night and not feel scared of being in danger. There are bars all over Spain, so getting to them from where you live isn't a problem if you seek out the good ones. The clubs are all metro stops away so you can really only go to them on Saturday nights unless you take a cab back or wait till the metro opens at 6am (easy to do considering the party hours are 2am-6am). ATMs, grocery stores, everything is so close by, no problems getting the things you need.

* Food:

Some of the food is very strange, but you have to willing to try it because you will eat things that are so off the wall, but so amazing. You can find a good amount of the same products in grocery stores there as in the U.S., and living in an apartment I made most of my food. They don't really have Mexican food, but there is one spot in the old part of Bilbao that is really good. The food is very different, so if you are picky and not willing to branch out you will stiffen your experience greatly.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Basque are very different than other parts of Spain. They stare a lot, and don't expect to catch smiles from every stranger on the streets. The locals that were our age were so welcoming and great though. It is natural Spanish culture to welcome people into your home and family, so if they grow to love you, you become part of their family and community. The nightlife is great, you've gotta like going out late and staying up early or you'll miss the best times at the clubs. But everything (clubs and bars) are open late and you can catch good deals on beers.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

SO SAFE. Getxo is known as being one of the safest places. It's very small and wealthy.

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
Language acquisition improvement?

Living in Getxo, you are submerged into the Basque lifestyle. You can speak very little Spanish, or you could easily speak it every day, all day. Most of the younger people spoke English, and locals our age loved to practice with us. The older generation didn't, but it was never difficult to get around once you get the hang of everything. My Spanish was terrible when I got there, but you learn the basics and you'll be just fine.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Talk to people who have been and ask them any questions that you may have. You will benefit from this experience if you want to. I can't imagine going and not having a good time. You would have to really try to make it a miserable time. The people, staff, experiences, ability to travel, you really couldn't ask for a better thing to do in your life. If you are even slightly considering going..DO! (Unless you are completely closed-minded in regards to new things, not willing to give it your all, and try some new things, don't go. You would just be wasting your time, the time of those around you, and a large amount of money.)