CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts in Barcelona, Spain

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About

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

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Reviews

95%
based on 29 reviews
  • Academics 8.8
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 9.7
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 29 of 29
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Paige
8/10

Fantastic Opportunity to Grow and Learn!

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.
No, I don't recommend
Connie
10/10

CIEE is the best program to study abroad with!!

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!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sarah
10/10

This will be the best decision you ever make.

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Amelia
9/10

Meeting locals in class in Barcelona

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Eliza
10/10

Great Semester

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Valentina
10/10

CIEE ALA in Barcelona - amazing experience in a great place

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Jordan
10/10

Making a Lifelong Friend

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Alexandra
9/10

Study abroad in Barça!

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!
Yes, I recommend
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Jillian
10/10

CIEE is The Whole Package

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Eva
10/10

Study Abroad with CIEE ALA -- trust me

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Nicole
10/10

This program will change everything

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Clark
10/10

Incredible City & Amazing Program

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Scott
10/10

Experience Barcelona as a Local

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Charlie
8/10

Barcelona ALA

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.
Yes, I recommend

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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...