As a rising college Junior looking out onto the horizon of a study abroad experience, expectations are often set unreasonably high. Mine were no exception – I searched for the most culturally, academically and socially fulfilling experience of my life.
When recounting my experience with CIEE in Barcelona it will be challenging to characterize the memories as anything but outstanding. From the classes to the housing options to the staff, CIEE did nothing but exceed all expectations I had going into this experience.
I communicated with the CIEE Barcelona team extensively before setting foot East of the Atlantic, largely in the context of making arrangements to accommodate my surgically repaired left shoulder. As a college-athlete, it was a priority of mine to rehab the injury to the best of my ability while chasing every opportunity I had originally set out to experience pre-injury.
With the help of CIEE’s staff – especially Professor Alberto delRio – I received support throughout the rehab process. I was able to customize my ideal class schedule, while completing physical therapy and still leaving large chunks of time to explore the city and beyond.
One of the truly remarkable features of CIEE is its excellent and diverse slate of housing options. Students are offered the chance to live in a homestay, a shared apartment or a dorm-style residencia. My close friends ended up in each of the three housing options, and I have heard nothing but phenomenal reviews. The homestays were wonderful matches, and added a uniquely local touch to the experience. The apartments allowed for extra autonomy, and the residencias provided ample space and resources.
I should note: my residencia was less than a year old, and was double the size of my dorm at college in the states – complete with a personal bathroom, bed, futon and two desks. I even had a full kitchen with 4 stoves and 2 ovens at my disposal; however, one of the few things I did not improve was my cooking.
From the weekend excursions to sought-after destinations such as Bilbao, San Sebastian and Tarágona, CIEE offers unmatched opportunities to access the expertise of the staff outside the classroom setting.
Classes themselves were stimulating, lively and pushed me to take calculated risks within the comfortable confines of the CIEE home base. I took classes on topics I’d always been enamored with, but felt hesitant to explore prior to arriving in Barcelona such as Literature and Film, and Romanticism & Literature. I also made noticeable strides in my verbal and written proficiency in my language class with Professor Mar Forment, who pushed me academically, and made coming to class an absolute delight.
I arrived in Barcelona a month before elections were to take place, as the city’s status within the country precariously hung in the balance. Rather than a stressful situation, CIEE helped me navigate it in a way that allowed me to feel 100% safe, and still experience the situation for what it was – an historic juncture in Spain’s history.
These few months in Barcelona with CIEE have undoubtedly been the best of my life. I’ll recommend CIEE – and specifically Advanced Liberal Arts – to anyone searching for a cultural and academically stimulating 3.5 months.