The School for International Studies through CIS abroad was the most perfect program for me. The program is three months long which is a little shorter than most programs however it is great for someone who is on trimesters, is nervous about getting homesick, or like myself- wants to travel for a while before their summer job starts.
The academic coursework was challenging in a way that was incredibly rewarding. The professors don't give you hours of studying and homework to do because they understand that you are there to travel just as much as you are to take classes. I took several classes on the history of Spain and Barcelona and I learned more than I have from any professor or school because after learning about things like Gaudi's style of architecture we went out into the city and got a first hand experience by seeing things like casa batllo. My professors were so engaging, entertaining, and helpful, I still keep in contact with many of them today. They helped me to learn the rich and diverse history and context of the city I was living in.
The CIS staff on sight at SIS was incredibly helpful in getting students involved in the Catalan culture and making us feel comfortable. It can be frustrating trying to get a hold of them before you go abroad for questions but as soon as you step foot in Barcelona the staff is ready to help out any time of the day. Whether it is a safety concern, you are sick and don't know where to go, or you are struggling in your classes the staff at CIS can help put you on the right track.
The trips and activities (which are included in the cost of your tuition) are absolutely amazing and everything is paid for. My semester we went on two overnight trips, Sevilla and Zaragoza, where the food, accommodations, and planned activities were all paid for. We also went to the Dali museum, took a cooking class, and went out to dinner with our CIS mentor- all completely paid for by the initial cost of your program. This was absolutely amazing, especially for someone who wanted to experience Spain on a tight budget.
As far as housing, I stayed in a shared room/ shared apartment with American students from other programs. This gave me the opportunity to get to know people outside of just the school I was studying at. The apartment I stayed in was in an amazing location and we had everything we needed (washing machine, dishes, bedding, towels). Our apartment was very close to a metro stop however most days I walked about 15 minutes to class to get to know my way around the city better.
The CIS on site coordinators were available 24/7 through a cell phone in case of any emergency. I never felt unsafe in my apartment or walking around the city. I also purchased the international health insurance both through my home university and through CIS. I never thought I would need it but when I got sick while traveling outside of Spain, I was happy that I had insurance. The appointments, tests, and medication I received were completely free of charge and I visited a private travelers clinic where they spoke english and I had absolutely no wait time.
Overall I think the CIS School for International Studies program in Barcelona is amazing for anyone who wants to travel a ton and get the most out of what you pay for.