CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts in Barcelona, Spain
94% Rating
(26 Reviews)

CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts in Barcelona, Spain

If you’re an advanced level Spanish student ready to immerse yourself in the culture of a vibrant metropolis and develop fluency through direct enrollment in a Spanish university, Barcelona awaits.

Study abroad in Spain and live the language by studying alongside Spanish classmates, living with a local family, and exploring the city and country through a variety of cultural activities and excursions. Study abroad in Barcelona and discover a unique, fully immersive intercultural experience.

Study abroad in Barcelona and you will:

- Immerse yourself in Spanish academic culture by enrolling in regular University classes in a wide range of disciplines, from Spanish language and literature to geography, international relations, and political science
- Participate in cultural and educational activities, including lectures and visits to museums; explore Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spain through excursions

Locations
Europe » Spain » Barcelona
Europe » Spain
Program Type
Provider
Subject Areas
Art History
Chemistry
Cultural Studies
Geography
International Business
Philosophy
Physics
Sociology
Degree Level
Bachelors
Timeframe
Academic Year
Fall
Spring
Accommodation
Host Family
Language
Spanish
Steps
Official Transcripts
Letters of Recommendation
Language Requirement
GPA Requirement
Other
Starting Price
$15,000.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
The program fee includes:

- Tuition and housing
- Pre-departure advising and optional on-site airport meet and greet
- Full-time program leadership and support
- Field trips and cultural activities
- CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits

CIEE also offers a wide variety of scholarships for participants; see website for details.

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Academics
    86%
  • Support
    95%
  • Fun
    88%
  • Housing
    96%
  • Safety
    95%

Program Reviews (26)

Default avatar
Alex
Female
21 years old
New York, New York
Columbia University

CIEE ALA: Great Balance for First Time Abroad

9/10

First, Barcelona is the perfect city to study abroad in; it's beautiful, safe, culturally vibrant, well-situated for travel to other major European cities, geographically diverse, the list goes on. If you're still deciding where to study in Spain, the choice is simple: Barcelona all the way.

You also can't beat CIEE's ALA program. CIEE provides a tight-knit community and an academic/social support network to facilitate your overseas transition.

ALA courses are completed with both local students at the University of Barcelona and other international students through CIEE. This track is more academically challenging than other CIEE programs, but I found coursework to be very manageable. Do not be intimidated!

I also highly recommend selecting to live with a host family. This was a highlight of my abroad experience. CIEE works hard to make sure students are comfortable with their living situations, and will make necessary adjustments throughout the semester. I personally had a terrific housing experience, so my advice it to take the risk - it will pay off.

Improving your language skills is directly correlated to the amount of effort you put into communicating in Spanish. It is possible to get by with doing very little, or you may work to consistently speak, write, and think in Spanish. The level you improve by the end of the semester is up to you.

I returned to the US in June and I'm already nostalgic. CIEE played a key role in my abroad experience. I recommend CIEE's ALA program to anyone looking for a balance of academic rigor, social activity, cultural immersion, and travel. As a first-timer in Spain (and Europe in general), you can't do any better than CIEE ALA!

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Flavia
Female
Amherst, MA
Amherst College

You can't go wrong with CIEE ALA

9/10

Barcelona is a great, approachable city to get to know during a semester abroad, and choosing CIEE's Advanced Liberal Arts program definitely made my experience the best it could be. I lived with a host family, and my Spanish improved astronomically. It was great to have a home away from home to come back to every day, and it was cool to see how families in another country live. I also really enjoyed taking classes at the Universitat de Barcelona and with CIEE. It was nice to be immersed in local university life while also having the CIEE Casa as a home base.

Default avatar
Nina
Female
21 years old
United States
University of Tulsa

Barcelona Fall '16 - Spring '17

9/10

My time in Barcelona was a fun and unforgettable learning experience in more ways than one. Academically, I would say that this study abroad experience was crucial for my confidence as a language major. I finally got over my fear of using my Spanish with native speakers and reached a point of fluency where not only am I able to read and write at a competent college level in Spanish, but I now am able to have meaningful conversations in my second language, thanks to study abroad. Personally I felt I was able to grow in my confidence to get around in a big city and travel through Europe, as well as make friends of all different ages, cultures and backgrounds. Barcelona is a fun, vibrant, international city full of art and good food.

Program-wise, I could not have been happier with the choice I made. I was in Barcelona with CIEE for the full academic year, so I got to know the staff at the center pretty well. They were wonderful, laid back, helpful people that I always know that I can come back and visit if I'm in the city. The ALA program was a great fit for me because it had a good mix of challenging literature classes at the University of Barcelona and smaller cultural classes at the program center that helped me get to see and understand the city at a deeper level. All of the classes were taught completely in Spanish by knowledgeable and friendly professors.

As far as my housing experience went, I highly recommend the host family option. I lived with a host family first semester, then changed to the student "residencia" so that I could experience both options. I really connected with my host family while I was there. Not only were they great friends, but having dinner together most nights really helped my ability and confidence with using Spanish. I also met some great friends through knowing them with whom I kept in contact. The residencia was also a good option, although I had much less interaction with locals living there. It was, however, in a great location where I discovered many of what would become my favorite bars and restaurants, as well as having very nice facilities.

Overall, I would highly recommend Barcelona, and specifically CIEE to anyone looking to study abroad in Europe. I am very thankful for my time spent there and know I will return in the future!

Default avatar
Alec
Male
22 years old
United States
Vanderbilt University

An Unforgettable Experience

10/10

My time in Barcelona has been an experience I will never forget. Whenever I reflect upon the last few months, a nostalgic happiness fills my heart as I remember all the moments that have pieced together a beautifully vivid painting of unforgettable memories. 

With respect to academics, I could not be more grateful for all I have learned in Barcelona. Largely facilitated by the teaching competence of my professors, I feel as though I have greatly increased my knowledge of some of the most important works in the canon of Spanish literature. However, what has made this learning experience particularly unique is the fact that I was able to study these groundbreaking and intellectually stimulating writings in the original Spanish tongue of their creators.

My favorite class of the semester was "Literatura hispanoamericana del siglo XX", or "20th Century Spanish-American Literature", thanks to Bernat Castany Prado, the phenomenally erudite professor who teaches it. With his vast and impressively deep knowledge of literature and philosophy, Bernat inspired me with his lectures, which skillfully interweaved both of these fields. In fact, my Spanish friends and I would often joke that Bernat is immortal, as though he has somehow lived through every century in human history. In Bernat's class, we covered five principal topics: The Avant-garde literary movement, Vicente Huidobro and Creationism, Pablo Neruda, César Vallejo and, finally, a portion of Borges. Bernat was so effective as a professor that I now feel not only comfortable with, but also interested in discussing and learning more about each of these five themes. 

Apart from the academic experience, I will remember Barcelona for its impeccable food. I noticed that, in general, the quality and affordability of food in Barcelona is impressive. Because of my enthusiasm, I quickly compiled a list of my favorite restaurants, and whenever anybody visited me, I made certain to take them to some of my preferred spots. Concretely, my favorite breakfast/brunch restaurant was Can Dendê, with its pulled pork pancakes and fried green tomatoes, my favorite lunch restaurant was Norte, with its pheasant burger, and my favorite place for dinner and tapas was Vinitus, especially for its paella del día (paella of the day), its pescaditos fritos (fried little fish), and torrija for dessert. If interested, I will be happy to share the restaurant list I compiled upon request!

But most importantly, Barcelona has a special place in my heart because of the unique individuals with whom I have been fortunate enough to cross paths. From the moment I arrived in Barcelona, I remained focused on one all-important question: what can I do to ensure I get the most out of this opportunity? For me the answer was always clear: I need to integrate myself into the local culture. With this in mind, my overarching objective was to befriend at least one or two local students with whom I would be able to keep in contact upon returning to the United States. While I certainly relished the ease with which I could travel to other countries while in Europe, I had always considered that a friendship with a local Spanish student would be more valuable to me than all the traveling and sightseeing I could possibly do. While memories of things seen are trapped in time, friendships have the potential to last a lifetime and may become fountains from which new memories continually spring to life.

Conscious of this objective, and also of the preciousness of my limited time abroad, I decided to be proactive in meeting local students at the University of Barcelona. During the first few days of classes, I made the intention to introduce myself to some of my classmates and, slowly but surely, I began to become familiar with many students. Little could I have known how much these efforts would pay off. While I had always thought I would be fortunate to befriend even one or two local student, I ended up meeting someone who has become one of my closest friends. One day before my 8am Sociolinguistics class, I met a girl named Anna Del Valle, and we immediately hit it off. To add to our excitement, Anna had always wanted a friend from the United States, and I from Spain. 

During the course of the semester, Anna and I kept closely in touch, and I hung out with her and her friends on multiple occasions. At the end of the program, I introduced Anna to my parents and my brother when they came to visit, and, on my second to last day in Barcelona, Anna's parents even invited me to their house for an exceptional good-bye dinner. I could not be more grateful for this friendship, especially in light of the fact that whenever either of us decides to visit the other's country, we will have someone with whom to spend time and "pasarlo bien.”  

While there is so much more I would love to share about these months abroad in Barcelona, I wanted to emphasize these particular factors, since, from a personal standpoint, they represent what I will remember most about the experience. As I write, I am enjoying my last 12 hours in Barcelona taking in final impressions of Plaza Catalunya, delighting in some of the incredible food I will dearly miss, and playing paddle with Anna before saying goodbye. Nonetheless, despite the sadness that has accompanied these final moments, I can rest easier with the hope that I will soon return to this city and reconnect with the culture and people who now hold a very intimate place in my heart.

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Elizabeth
Female
21 years old
United States
Columbia University

A Welcome Break from Campus Life

8/10

I have just returned from CIEE Barcelona - Advanced Liberal Arts and already want to return. There's a magic about studying about in Barcelona that is unparalleled anywhere else. The weather, the people, the language, the culture, and the program all have created this incredible environment that I would not trade for anything else. The support of the program staff such as Director Alberto Del Rio and Andres Taberez was incredible. I could go to them from quick questions about where to buy a toaster to academic issues and personal issues. They are the heart and soul of the administrative side of the program, and I am lucky to have met them and got to know them on an academic and personal level.
The program provides frequent activities and trips for students to attend, all voluntary. The best trip was the overnight trip to Basque Country because the entire program got together for trips. The weekly trips are with the other programs studying abroad through CIEE. These programs include cultural events and activities, tours through Barcelona, day trips to nearby towns and cities, yoga, etc. I went on nearly every day trip and found them interesting, as I got to see different parts of Catalonia that I never would have thought of going to. For example, we went to a dairy farm called La Fageda. We got to meet the cows (they were pampered with daily massages and classical music) and got to sample the products afterwards. I'm really going to miss the yogurt from La Fageda (it's only sold in Catalonia).
CIEE and UB were not too academically challenging. I've come out of the program having learned a lot about Spanish history, cinema, and writing (these were the classes I took), but the workload didn't inhibit me from traveling on the weekends. I traveled outside of Barcelona about half of the weekends during the semester, as did many of my friends who wanted to travel a lot. The program is very understanding of our desire to see Europe and have a generous absence policy from classes.
What I loved about being in Barcelona was that my days could vary from going to the beach, hiking through Tibidabo or Park Guell, going to a museum, walking the streets of the Gothic Quarter, El Raval, Poble Sec, Gracia, etc., stumbling upon street markets, and cheap restaurants. Barcelona is a city ripe for exploration. It's teeming with life and activity, and it's safe.

How can this program be improved?

The program's day trips were not organized well, in that the morning tour ended just before siesta, when we were given free time to explore the town/city we were in.

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Alana
Female
22 years old
United States
Indiana University- Bloomington

An experience I would definitely recommend!

10/10

CIEE ALA is a great well-rounded program for many reasons. First, Barcelona is an amazing city with so much to offer. CIEE helps students get to know the city and gave us different opportunities to get more involved with cultural events in and around Barcelona. CIEE staff was very supportive academically. Personally, I was pretty nervous to be taking five 300/400 level courses all in Spanish some at the university with Spanish professors and students. But the CIEE professors were really wonderful, patient and there to help the students in any way possible. Also I found it really useful that CIEE provided study groups or individual tutoring sessions in order to prepare for exams. CIEE was also very supportive in other areas of the abroad experience such as issues or questions with housing or health, for example. There was never a moment where I did not feel like I had the resources I needed to answer a question or doubt of mine.

One of my favorite memories while being abroad was the CIEE ALA planned trip to San Sebastian where our entire program and some of our professors traveled to Northern Spain for the weekend and got to visit cool sites, eat great food, and enjoy a pre-planned trip in different cities in Pías Vasco. It was such a fun time and a great way to get to know people in my program and spend some quality time with our professors who, like I said, were really great and supportive!

How can this program be improved?

While I loved studying abroad in Barcelona it is a very touristy city where it can be hard to learn Spanish because of the amount of English (and Catalan) spoken. This is not so much a recommendation for the program but for students wanting to study in Barcelona... take advantage of the cultural opportunities provided by CIEE and also recommendations given to you by locals (i.e. a local flatmate, host family, local friends you might meet) to improve your Spanish speaking skills and also to not get trapped only doing all the touristy things because Barcelona has so much more to offer.

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Ben
Male
New York
Amherst College

Unparalleled Experience

10/10

Choosing to study abroad through CIEE Barcelona’s Advanced Liberals Arts Program was one of the best decisions I’ve made throughout my college experience. Barcelona is an incredibly lively city with a unique cultural history. ALA ensures that each student is given the support and access to take full advantage of all that Barcelona has to offer.

Through ALA’s academic program, I was able to take classes at both CIEE’s La Casa and the University of Barcelona. The set-up was ideal; I had the confidence and support from my professors at CIEE to challenge myself and succeed at the UB, one of the top universities in Spain.

Electing to live in a homestay was maybe the hardest decision I had to make but also the most rewarding. I was afraid that living with a family would mean some sort of curtailment of my independence or personal freedom. However, my homestay family was the highlight of my abroad experience – I was treated like another son, exposed to exciting family dinner conversations and able to make meaningful relationships that far exceeded my expectation. I know that when I return to Barcelona, I’ll get a hot meal and a place to stay.

Barcelona is the apex of the European experience. You live next to some of the most famous architectural buildings in the world, you witness firsthand the vigor of the Catalan independence movement and you get to experience a gastronomical culture like no other. There’s no better place in the world to study, grow and live.

Barcelona has become my second home and the Catalan people my second family. It has been a semester I will never forget. I can’t wait to come back.

Fins aviat, Barca!

Default avatar
Zechio
Male
1 year old
Barcelona
University of Barcelona

Would recommend this program to anyone interested in Spain!

9/10

CIEE ALA is a fun and rewarding learning experience! The program structure and directors are fantastic and there are tons of opportunities to explore Barcelona and all over Spain with the programs vast amount of day and weekend trips. The academics are rigorous and challenging as you will be taking various classes at the University of Barcelona in Spanish, while it can be tough in the moment the professor are very understanding and have a lot of experience with exchange students. In the end it is very rewarding as you will see your Spanish skills improve greatly over the course of your semester.

How can this program be improved?

Although the program tries very hard to encourage students to immerse themselves with Spanish culture, it is very easy to hang out with only people from your program and country. I would have liked the program to try and provide more support and forwardness in helping students find organizations or sports clubs that student's might take part in back home.

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Zachary
Male
22 years old
Nashville, TN
Vanderbilt University

A fun. rewarding experience!

9/10

This is a wonderful program. The structure is great and the directors are fantastic. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the local culture provided by CIEE. Academically, this is a challenging program. While all of my professors at the Universitat de Barcelona were very understanding, I still had to put in a lot of effort to succeed. It is not so rigorous that you can't have fun though; I managed to travel on 6 different weekends and was able to spend many nights out in the city, especially in the first few weeks. All of my professors except for one were exceptional, the excursions provided by CIEE were great and their resources were helpful.

How can this program be improved?

I recommend that there is a stronger emphasis on students join outside organizations or finding other activities. It is very easy to speak exclusively English in Barcelona, so students interested in becoming fluent really need to go out of their way to practice outside of the classroom. It is super easy to get caught up in the bubble of American students and never branch out. Some of the students in the program improved less than they had expected because they didn't seek out opportunities outside the classroom.

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Natalie
Female
22 years old
Ventura, CA
University of Vermont

I miss it everyday

10/10

Studying abroad in Barcelona changed my life. It was the best decision I ever made. I studied for an academic year with the CIEE ALA program, living with a host family and enrolling with local students at the University of Barcelona. The CIEE building is located in a great location--a beautiful cobblestone side street. The staff were friendly and helpful, and the people on my program and the local students in my classes were great. I had made friendships that will last a lifetime! Barcelona is such a beautiful city and this program has everything anyone could want: the beach, Spanish and Catalan culture, great food, historical nearby cities, awesome activities, and language immersion. For anyone that likes any of these things, this is the place and program for you! I miss it everyday and cannot wait to go back. It is truly an amazing experience.

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Jared
Male
21 years old
Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado College

Good Academics and Good Experience.

9/10

The academics are as hard as you want them to be, i.e. you can challenge yourself or you can breeze by (but you won't get as much out of it). They are accommodating to schedules and I traveled frequently and easily. The UB classes are cumbersome but overall a good learning experience and being uncomfortable in a class of Spanish students was one of the more formative aspects of the abroad experience. Further, in order to have the best experience possible, make sure your Spanish speaking and reading skills are up to par.

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Paige
Other
23 years old
New York
Rice University

Fantastic Opportunity to Grow and Learn!

8/10

I initially chose to study abroad in Barcelona because I wanted to learn about international film and its roots in Spain. I couldn't have stumbled upon a better program, because CIEE was a fantastic support system as I pursued both my academic and creative endeavors. The faculty was so helpful in introducing me to the past, present and future of Barcelona. And the program offered the perfect combination of aid and freedom. Between travel throughout Europe and developing my own Barcelona music webseries (through resources at the Universitat de Barcelona), I had an unparalleled experience.

How can this program be improved?

There needs to be more support for low income and students of color that are in the program. There are particularities to navigating the program, Barcelona, and even Spain based on race and class, and those were not addressed preemptively during my stay. As a Black woman, I regularly dealt with people addressing me disrespectfully, assuming I was a prostitute (and even within the program, racist students). I do not think the faculty was equipped to handle these situations, and they were not addressed adequately when I brought them up. The situation was so bad that I nearly left the program mid-semester.

Also a huge part of the program, and program bonding, revolve around cross-country travel. If you don't have the resources to do so it's very difficult to bond with other students in the group. I highly recommend an intentional travel scholarship opportunity. I also suggest recruiting specifically to low income and people of color students to diversify the experience of CIEE student programming.

Connie
Female
21 years old
College Station, Texas

CIEE is the best program to study abroad with!!

10/10

I studied abroad the fall semester of my Junior year, and it was truly an incredible experience I will always remember. One of the reasons I had such a great time was because I went with the CIEE program! In my opinion, the best thing about CIEE is the helpful and caring faculty and staff, who are always looking out for their students both in and out of the classroom. I ran into all the stereotypical study abroad issues - broken laptop, stolen wallet, missed flights - but there was always someone (usually Alberto) to talk me through the mess and tell me that everything would be okay.

I do have the disclaimer that I decided to take my study abroad experience in a slightly different direction than many others in my program, in the sense that I didn't spend too much time with the others from the ALA group. I am also not a Spanish major/minor, so I didn't take any classes at UB with the other CIEE students. This was the right decision for me, and I would probably do so again if I study abroad in the future, but the one thing I regret is that I missed out on the many trips and bonding experiences that CIEE provided. Because of my schedule - classes only Tuesday through Thursday! - and because I had a friend whose goals were in line with mine, I spent nearly every weekend away and therefore I can't really comment on the details of the weekly excursions. I can however, say that the multi-day trip to Andalusia I did go on with CIEE was a really wonderful experience, and CIEE planned activities that were engaging and made me want to return again in my own time! Also, the weekly excursions that CIEE plans cater to very diverse interests, from art to Game of Thrones to the outdoors, so I'm sure there is a trip out there for everyone.

In terms of classes, I took one spanish class with the CIEE program, and I really enjoyed it. My professor was kind and passionate, and the small class size made discussions easy and comfortable. I took three art courses with the Universitat de Barcelona, which were different than I expected (side note: Another great thing about CIEE is the freedom to choose to take basically any class you want from UB). Be very prepared to do work on your own without prompting from the professor, because doing only the minimum required assignments won't be enough to get the most out of the classes. The structures of the classes I took were very different from those in the US, and emphasized being pro active and pulling extra hours in order to produce truly great work. Studying abroad is a lot of fun, but I think it's also important to make sure you are being academically challenged, and taking classes in Spanish at UB is a great way to do so!

In conclusion, if I had to describe the benefits of studying abroad with CIEE in one sentence it would be this: CIEE provides you with the support and the freedom to make your study abroad experience whatever you want it to be!

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Sarah
Female
22 years old
Lindenhurst, Illinois
Indiana University- Bloomington

This will be the best decision you ever make.

10/10

For me, the CIEE ALA Program has provided me with much more than simply an unforgettable semester abroad in the most enchanting city I have ever been to. By directly enrolling in classes with local students at the University of Barcelona, I was able to challenge myself and push the boundaries of my linguistic competence. From navigating the city's beautiful sights, to living alone with a host family, this program changed my life forever.

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Amelia
Female
22 years old
Plainview, NY
Yale University

Meeting locals in class in Barcelona

9/10

I really enjoyed my time in Barcelona. I felt like I had a great balance of freedom and support and that I was capable of meeting the challenges that I faced throughout my time abroad. Barcelona is incredible and I enjoyed living there so much that I would like to return. I liked taking my classes at the Universitat de Barcelona. I learned a lot and experienced a different educational environment than the one to which I am accustomed in the US. I loved the program trips - I went on every single one and I enjoyed the opportunities to practice Spanish with locals. One of my favorite memories from the semester was going on a field trip with my class. I was a little nervous because I didn't know anyone else in the class very well and it was a full-day hiking excursion. However, I started talking with more and more people throughout the day and felt like I made friends that I kept through the semester. It was a great day spent in the outdoors, seeing a different part of Catalunya from a unique perspective.

How can this program be improved?

My only real complaint about the program was my host family. I think that that was largely bad luck and bad timing. One other idea might be to increase the number of opportunities to practice Spanish with locals, have more language exchanges.

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Eliza
Female
21 years old
Westport, CT
Vanderbilt University

Great Semester

10/10

Our time in Barcelona was fantastic. We stayed in an apartment in the Les Corts area. We always felt safe in our neighbourhood, even coming home late at night. Our classes were interesting and engaging and the professors were wonderful. All of our professors and the staff at CIEE were so kind, passionate and fun. We looked forward to our classes every day and really enjoyed our time spent in the CIEE house.

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Valentina
Female
28 years old
Novosibirsk
Hood College

CIEE ALA in Barcelona - amazing experience in a great place

10/10

I highly recommend Advanced Liberal Arts program of CIEE based in Barcelona. In terms of academics, it is a perfect fit for those people who would like to improve their Spanish skills and immerse into the language and culture directly from the first day. The CIEE support is very thorough and you won't feel as if you were just left there on your own. The staff is very helpful with whatever queries or doubts you might have during the whole stay whether it concerns academics, residential life of local traditions and ways of doing things.
Don't miss any of the excursions or trips organized by CIEE because they are worth it - every place you visit with CIEE leaves a bunch of good memories, pictures and great impressions of the wonderful places you get to see and learn about.
I liked this program so much that I wanted to extend my stay and I managed to do it, thanks to the supportive staff of both CIEE and the College. If there is anything you want to address to the staff, do not hesitate to do so and try to solve it by yourself - they are there to help and they can come up with a solution you might have never even thought of.

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Jordan
Female
21 years old
Easton
Vanderbilt University

Making a Lifelong Friend

10/10

Coming to Barcelona, I was nervous about so many things. I wasn't sure what the living arrangements would be like, how well I was prepared for taking 5 classes in Spanish, or what living in a new country would be like. From the moment I landed, CIEE ALA had everything taken care of. Alberto, the program director, helped us select classes with professors that he knew would be sympathetic toward exchange students whose first language was not Spanish. He even invited his professor friends to our CIEE school to help us prepare for the exams at University of Barcelona. Whenever I was nervous about anything, I was confident Alberto could help me figure it out. As for my living arrangements, I immediately met Carla, my Spanish flatmate, when I stepped off the plane. Over the semester, Carla became one of my absolute best friends. My other 2 American roommates and I knew we could go to Carla for anything be it an academic situation, a question about Spanish, or even something personal. Today, 2 weeks after I am home from my abroad semester, I still talk to Carla almost daily. She is someone who I know will be a lifelong friend. CIEE ALA was by far the best semester of college. I learned so much about myself, my own country, and another culture. The friendships I made will last a lifetime and the lessons I learned are sure to guide me in the future.

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Alexandra
Female
23 years old
Charlotte
Vanderbilt University

Study abroad in Barça!

9/10

One of my favorite memories from Barcelona was going to an FCB soccer game with my group of girl friends. I have been to many NFL games in the U.S. but I have never attended a sporting event like this one. It was incredible to see the amount of pride the fans had for their team through their jerseys and various chants. Cheering on FCB for the win was the first time I truly felt like a native. I will forever call Barcelona my second home!

How can this program be improved?

The only thing that I would say could be improved is the orientation. I was so jet lagged and felt like I missed a lot of information because I was falling asleep during the initial orientation sessions. Other than that I have zero complaints!

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Jillian
Female
24 years old
Chicago, IL
Indiana University- Bloomington

CIEE is The Whole Package

10/10

It's really challenging to narrow down all the great experiences into this one review. Everything about Barcelona is absolutely incredible, so incredible in fact, that I moved back after I graduated from Indiana University. If you're looking for a life-changing experience that you'll never forget, on top of actually expanding your knowledge of Spanish and a fraction of its culture, you need to study abroad and you need to do it through CIEE.

Each facet of the experience had its own special qualities. Obviously, Barcelona is an amazing city, filled with rich culture and tons of history. Even if you think you aren't an art buff, or a history buff, or a foodie, I challenge you to let Barcelona change that because it 100% will. My favorite, and possibly underrated thing about Barcelona is how disjointed it is but in the best way possible. The combination of different eras and influences that Barcelona has experienced over the year really gives it all its beauty and charm. How can you not enjoy a place as fascinating and beautiful as Barcelona?! Not to mention the amount of things there are to do in Barcelona and your soon-to-be obsession with Spanish food. I still make paella at home for my friends and buy jamon serrano whenever I find it in the grocery store. It's such an easy and exciting culture to adapt to and is so inviting.

One of the reasons I picked Barcelona, and CIEE specifically, is because of the many opportunities the city presented. It's a huge tourist hub which makes travelling really easy, but our program already offered excursions as a part of our experience anyways. This was so awesome because we got to explore some parts of Spain that may have been overshadowed by the rest of Europe had all the travel plans been put in my own hands. I got to not only learn about Barcelona and Catalunya, but other cities and regions in Spain as well which really helped to broaden my horizons. While CIEE is a rigorous program, if you're studying Spanish at a high level already, you'll be perfectly fine. I would suggest the CIEE-ALA program specifically if you really feel you can adapt and immerse yourself fully into the language.

My biggest piece of advice that some people may not agree with: STAY WITH A HOST FAMILY. When the excitement of being abroad fades (okay, maybe not fades but lapses for a minute) it's nice to have a home base that you feel connected to and nurtured by. I am still in communication with my first host mother, and the whole reason I was able to move back was due to her brother and sister-in-law taking me in my second time around. So I'm fortunate to say that I have not one, and not even two, but multiple connections that will remain through the years. It's also really nice to know that if/when I return to Barcelona yet again, I will already know so many people from those familial connections I made.

If you couldn't tell, I'm a little obsessed with Barcelona.

How can this program be improved?

The one issue I had with CIEE and the UB was not being able to plan our classes before we got there. Studying abroad is obviously a huge transition, so between trying to get acclimated to the city as well as enjoy it, it would be nice to have the scheduling taken care of in advance. Even without this though, getting scheduling taken care of and switching/dropping classes was made to be really simple through the help at CIEE. So it may have been stressful, but only for a minute.

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Eva
Female
22 years old
Venice
Barnard College

Study Abroad with CIEE ALA -- trust me

10/10

I fell in love with Barcelona -- all the different neighborhoods, the classes at UB, the CIEE building and all the staff there, my host family, my friends...I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone looking for an independent study abroad experience.

The immersion aspect of this program helped my Spanish improve so much. I stayed with a host family, and my host mom and I still talk often (and hopefully I can return to visit her soon!) I loved my literature classes at UB, in the beautiful historical campus of the school (If you can take a class with Dunia, do it...she's super cool and helpful with foreign students).

CIEE does free weekend excursions for students, and I recommend taking advantage of them. It's also very easy to travel out of Barcelona.

This program changed my life. If you have the ability to study abroad, take the plunge and do it--and do it with CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts. It's a close-knit group, a very helpful immersion experience in terms of learning the language, and an incredible adventure.

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Nicole
Female
22 years old
Mansfield
Northeastern University

This program will change everything

10/10

I had already studied abroad once my first semester freshman year in London before deciding to study abroad again in Barcelona. The first time around I somehow was less anxious than when I packed my bags to move to Spain. I was nervous to leave my friends, my city (Boston), and feared that the classes taught in Spanish would tear apart my GPA. I was wrong for worrying. This program changed so much for me. Barcelona is the most amazing city I have ever been to, and the friends I have made in the 30 person program I embarked on are people I still visit (I made a trip all the way to Nashville to visit my study abroad besties), FaceTime with, and talk to everyday.

The staff at CIEE is absolutely amazing. In my Catalan Art class we visited a new museum almost every week, and coming from someone who isn't an art enthusiast, this was my favorite class because I learned so much about the city I was living in and the buildings I would pass by every day, making the experience of living in Barcelona an even fuller one. I am a fluent spanish speaker, so moving to a spanish speaking country wasn't necessarily a stressor for me. However, I had never taken a spanish class in my life until CIEE. The spanish class I took at CIEE was for spanish speakers and I ended up learning so much about grammar, accents, and writing in spanish. I went from someone who had never read a book in spanish to someone who was studying clinical psychology at UB in spanish and submitting essays on gender roles and the media in my second language. Overall the academic component of the program (relative to the US) is relaxed, and adventurous while still challenging and a bit uncomfortable (in a good way).

The staff at CIEE is young and alive and always trying to make your time abroad the best it can be. I asked them for restaurant recommendations, which bars the locals go to, and which clubs I should go to on which nights and they would research for me, ask their friends, and tell us about places they had gone to and loved. It's homey atmosphere makes it cleat that it is called "la casa" for a reason.

The only negative part about the CIEE/UB program, if I'm being honest, is scheduling your classes. It is a complete disaster and probably the only stress you'll experience in Barcelona. Alberto (the program director and the nicest man in the world) helped me calm down "Nicole, no te preocupes, vamos a solucionar todo" he would say, and in the end everything worked itself out and all of my credits came back fine. The classes at UB are harder in a sense than the CIEE classes since the professors are not necessarily used to teaching American students and you are not used to the Spanish system. But as long as you put in effort and show them that you are trying they will be very accommodating to the difference in culture education wise. I was always able to ask for help from CIEE and they communicated efficiently with my professors when it was a problem bigger than I could handle.

I laugh now at how nervous I was to leave Northeastern University, unsure of how I would immerse myself into a new city, with new people. Because, as I reminisce on my time in Spain, studying abroad with CIEE was hands down, without a doubt, the best decision I ever made in my collegiate career. This program will change everything for you- in Barcelona and when you return home. You will look at the world in a new light, you will feel as though you have grown as a person and a spanish speaker, and you will return home, back to all of your friends with an experience so valuable that no one but you and the people that ventured on such an incredible semester with you, will understand.

Caution: you may never want to leave.

How can this program be improved?

This program could be improved by giving students the list of UB classes prior to them coming to the program. It was extremely disorganized when we were there and we needed to find what classes counted for what, and how to make the schedule work. Allowing students more time to make a schedule, or at least figure out what classes get credit at their university, would make the process much smoother once in Barcelona.

I liked my apartment location a lot (Sants Estacio) but it would have been nice to be a little closer to Gracia or the beach. The apartment itself was pretty mediocre, but I really liked the authenticity of it, so maybe it would be nice to have had a slightly more upgraded version of where we lived.

Also, navigating the UB portal is very confusing and I had a lot of trouble understanding when my assignments were due, or where to find certain information, and the powerpoint given to us on how to use the portal was not helpful. I think that it would be useful to have a mini presentation on how to use it so that when classes start students are all set. On that note it also took 2 weeks for me to even be given my UB username and password and I had anxiety not knowing what was going on with my classes.

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Clark
Male
23 years old
St Louis
Vanderbilt University

Incredible City & Amazing Program

10/10

The CIEE ALA program struck a perfect balance between the comfort and support of my home university and immersion in Catalan culture. The size of the program—about 30 students—was perfect and meant that I got to meet a lot of awesome students, while still being close with the whole group. The instructors and program directors at CIEE were some of the warmest people I've met, and classes at 'la casa' were always interesting. While the classes at the University of Barcelona were challenging, the professors were understanding of the difficult transition to Spanish-language instruction, and were—for the most part—helpful inside and outside of class.

Beyond the classroom, the CIEE program couldn't have been more supportive. There were multiple occasions where we met with our program directors outside of class for meals or other adventures. We traveled all as a group to San Sebastian and Bilbao, an had an amazing time together. They were also incredibly helpful with things like setting up medical care and straightening out banking difficulties, which made being far from home much more comfortable.

Barcelona is like a second home to me after my experience last semester, and I couldn't imagine a better study abroad program.

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Scott
Male
23 years old
Akron, OH
Indiana University- Bloomington

Experience Barcelona as a Local

10/10

The CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts Barcelona Program presents students with an opportunity to truly soak up everything Barcelona has to offer. From the incredibly knowledgeable and helpful staff, the CIEE facilities, to the awesome weekend trips, and everything in between, this program allows students to experience Barcelona as a local rather than a tourist. Although there is a slight adjustment period on becoming acclimated to the all-Spanish nature of the program, the staff is very helpful and accommodating. The classes held at the University of Barcelona are challenging, however, I found the instructors as well as the other UB students to be very helpful and by the end of the semester, these were some of my favorite classes. The courses taught at CIEE are incredibly hands-on, engaging, and more than anything, fun. One of my favorite courses was the Masterworks of Catalan Art where half of the classes were traditional lectures, and the remaining classes were excursions into the city where we were able to go out and see what we we learning inside the classroom. Overall, this program is everything you could desire from a study-abroad experience and I would certainly recommend the program to anyone even slightly considering it.

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Charlie
Male
22 years old
Baltimore
Vanderbilt University

Barcelona ALA

8/10

Nearly nine months has passed since I left Barcelona, and my love for the city has only grown stronger. I won't fill this review will cliche remarks that you'll find on most reviews, and I'll do my best to convey to you realistic expectations for the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program. I'll first talk about the city, for the should be the principal consideration when deciding where to study abroad, and then I'll discuss the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program.

Barcelona is a vibrant city defined by its unique architecture, coastal orientation and unique culture. More fast-paced than the rest of Spain, Barcelona infuses Spanish and Catalan culture to create a truly international city. For this reason, many people find Barcelona easier to acclimate to than other Spanish cities (most people speak English as well). Right on the Mediterranean, Barcelona has a long beach, which people flock to in the warmer months. Whether you're playing volleyball or just relaxing, the beach is a fun place to go that's a short walk from CIEE. Some of the best beaches in Spain (perhaps Europe) are located just a train ride up the coast from Barcelona. When you're not on the beach, you'll waste no time exploring the neighborhoods of El Born, El Raval, Barre Gotico, and Gracia. Located outside of the America study abroad bubble, these neighborhoods have tons of great restaurants and authentic bars. Except for when I cooked myself, I never once ate a bad meal in Barcelona.

The nightlife in Barcelona is without equal in the rest of Europe. Most Americans flock to the beach clubs (Opium, Pacha, etc.), which definitely are a great time. However, there's also tons of authentic Spanish bars and clubs. Simply, there is ALWAYS something going on in Barcelona. Get to know the club promoters and you'll have something to do every night of the week (often for free).

You will never find yourself bored in Barcelona. Even if you choose not to travel, there is so much to do in Barcelona. The city boasts an incredible number of attractions such as Arc de Triomphe, Parque Guell, the Sagrada Familia, Monserrat, Tibidabo, and La Pedrera. If Barca is not playing at Camp Nou, likely there's a concert at the Olympic Stadium or a festival at the Estrella factory. Everyone always says that study abroad is about the experience, and I really doubt that you'll find a better experience anywhere else.

Upon arrival in Barcelona, CIEE does a great job of getting you acquainted with the city. Your week long orientation gives you plenty of free time to explore on your own. When classes began, I found that the University of Barcelona classes were challenging but not overly difficult. Attendance is not mandatory. Each class will have 2-3 exams throughout the semester, and these exams will comprise your entire grade. The CIEE instructors will recommend classes with professors that worked well with CIEE students in the past. Also, you don't have Friday classes, which frees you up to travel. The CIEE classes require mandatory attendance, but are also not difficult. The majority of the improvement of my Spanish speaking, however, occurred outside the classroom. Do not worry about Catalan, everyone in Barcelona speaks Spanish. Yes, you'll have to work a little harder than in Madrid or Sevilla, but it is not all that difficult.

The CIEE staff will quickly become your good friends. They're always willing to help, whether its to find a gym, offer a restaurant suggestion or advise on fun day trips. I couldn't praise the CIEE staff more highly.

GO TO BARCELONA!

How can this program be improved?

Housing. The commute to class was pretty rough. I would've chosen a different living arrangement were I able to do it again.

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nsimonds
Female
24 years old
Elon, NC
Elon University

Barcelona, Great--- Ciee, not great

9/10

I loved Barcelona; everything about the city was what I truly wanted within my study abroad experience. However my experience was lessened by the academic setting of CIEE. For example, I took classes both in Spanish and in English. Classes such as marketing, (that I was taking in English), had powerpoint slides alternating between both Spanish and English. Luckily I had enough Spanish experience to be able to decode, but many students had trouble translating business terms from Spanish to English. Additionally, the classes at ESCi were horrible; you can ask ANY student in our program, not one was satisfied with their class at ESCi.

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A nonprofit, non-governmental organization, CIEE is the world leader in international study and exchange programs. For 65 years, CIEE has helped thousands of students, professionals, and educators gain the knowledge and skills necessary to live and work in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world

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