By USAC   Reviews (20)   99% Rating

USAC Spain: Bilbao/Getxo

By USAC   Reviews (20)   99% Rating

USAC welcomes students to come study abroad in Bilbao/Getxo, Spain at the University of the Basque Country! Located to the north of Spain, Bilbao is nothing short of a modern city labeled a cutting edge banking and service center, with attractions including world class museums, galleries, music halls, and more, not to mention its first rate public transportation. San Sebastian offers a unique view into the diversity of Spain and a truly multicultural experience with over a third of the city speaking both Spanish and Basque.

Coursework at the University of the Basque Country includes Engineering, International Business, Spanish/Culture studies and Spanish/Basque language. The Bilbao/Getxo program is geared towards those looking to pursue a bilingual and/or an international business career.

Locations
Europe » Spain » Bilbao
Europe » Spain
Subject Areas
Communications
Cultural Studies
Finance
Food Science and Nutrition
International Business
Sociology
Women's Studies
Timeframe
Academic Year
Fall
Spring
Summer
Accommodation
Apartment
Host Family
Language
English
Steps
Online Application
Visa Requirement
Starting Price
2000.00
Other Locations
Bilbao/Getxo, San Sebastian

Rating Values

  • Academics
    84%
  • Support
    100%
  • Fun
    85%
  • Housing
    96%
  • Safety
    99%

Program Reviews (20)

Jennifer
Female
22 years old
Bilbao, Spain
California State University- Chico

Aupa Athletic!

10/10

Are you ready for the time of your life? If so, go to Bilbao! I studied abroad there Spring semester (January-May) of 2015. I lived in Algorta, Getxo, and studied at Universidad Del Pais Vasco in Bilbao. The schooling was definitely challenging because I took 5 classes, 3 business, 1 GE, and 1 Spanish. One of my biggest suggestions is to take the "Unique Basque Language and Culture" class. It was by far the best decision I made. We were exposed to so much culture, learned the language of the locals, tried amazing cuisine, and took 7 field trips in the Basque Country. The teachers were great and the USAC staff were very welcoming and helpful.

The other students in my program became some of my closest friends and I still see them at least once a year. I got to travel a lot while abroad, but I didn't start my traveling until a few weeks in. I suggest doing this so that you give yourself a chance to adjust to life there and make it feel like home before venturing out to new countries.

There are tons of activities to do around the city, the Guggenheim Museum, Casco Viejo, and Athletic Bilbao (the soccer team). Tickets aren't too expensive, and it's a great experience, I highly suggest going. I lived in an apartment with two Americans in my program and I loved it. I knew a lot of people who stayed with host families and had great experiences as well. I lived only a few blocks from the beach and all apartments are walking distance from at least one grocery store. Everything else was easily accessible by the Metro, which is cheap, efficient, and easy to use.

I could go on and on about my experiences and how much I loved it, but I'll let you experience it for yourself! If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me!

How can this program be improved?

There were only a few suggestions I have for the program, one of them being the location of housing. All student housing was very spread out, some even metro stops away, which made it difficult to meet up, especially on weekends when the metro stopped running at certain times. Maybe if the students who chose to stay in apartments got to be in apartments that were closer together that would provide a different experience. That being said, the apartments were all nice and very safe.

Another suggestion is about course materials. It is nearly impossible to order the course books when you are there because of shipping and customs issues. They suggest you bring them with you, but we only have limited space in suitcases, especially for those who take up to 5 or 6 courses, that adds a lot of weight. This issue might become non-existent as course materials are becoming more digital each year, but something to consider might be having them there available to rent.

Christian
Male
20 years old
Novato, CA
University of Nevada Reno

Best Spring Semester ever

10/10

My time in Bilbao was preceded by a semester in Alicante so I already kind of knew what to expect and had some expectations. The program blew away the expectations and met them all and exceeded them by a lot. Amazing city with tons of culture as it's in the Basque country, great food, fun people, and a great nightlife. Housing was located close to the beach and the metro stops for easy transportation. The USAC office and on site staff were a huge help. On site staff helped us with any questions we had and helped us get an internship if we had a high enough language level. I would definitely do this again.

Provider Response

Hi Christian! Thank you so much for your kind words, we're so glad you enjoyed your time in Spain and that you were able to enjoy two different locations! We appreciate your feedback!

Mariah
Female
23 years old
santa rosa, california
California State University- Chico

Such an Amazing Experience

9/10

Something I still talk about almost everyday and it's been two years now.. One of the most amazing experiences to learn someone else's culture in such a unique way. I lived in Bilbao, Spain (in Areeta) for six months with three other Americans in a flat next to the river. I visited over 8 countries while studying abroad, and went to a business institute in the city. (Universidad del Pais Vasco). I studied Spanish and International business. In Bilbao I loved shopping, going to Casco Viejo, finding new mini-markets for fruits and vegatables, and going to specific culture events (such as Bilbao basket games, shows, etc.) I also traveled to Barcelona and San Sebastian in Spain as well, in which I grew to love Spain as a whole. I now work for a travel company upon graduating from college at California State University, Chico. My life goals are to be a videographer related to something in the travel industry. I now work for an Ireland, Scotland and England travel company, taking care of social media marketing as well as photography & videography.

Kendall
Female

Study Abroad in the Basque Country

10/10

First and foremost, the USAC Staff on this program was phenomenal! They were there for the students no matter what and had our best interests at heart.
This program offers great language courses that really challenged me and helped improve my Spanish. Without these courses I highly doubt my language skills would have improved so much.
The location of this program was also wonderful; it mixes the big city of Bilbao with the suburbs of Getxo. I enjoyed being able to spend my semester in a place that had a small town community feel to it. I felt that I learned more about the Basque culture from being in this kind of setting.

Brigitte
Female
23 years old
Reno, Nevada

Best experience of my life!

10/10

This experience was truly life changing! I recommend anyone and everyone to study abroad and especially in this beautiful city! Nothing beats living out by the beach and getting to experience the city life at the same time.

Danielle
Female
23 years old
Las Vegas
University of Nevada Reno

I love Bilbao

9/10

I'm really glad I chose to study abroad in Bilbao. The city truly became my second home. I am so thankful for my host family as they were the best part of my experience. I would definitely recommend this housing option.

I also really appreciate the TABC program. Teaching English helped give me a better direction in what I was doing with my degree. Plus it was nice to get the stipend.

The language classes challenge you but aren't overwhelming. Definitely do the whole track!

How can this program be improved?

I wish we didn't live in Getxo. It was a cool place but living in Bilbao would have been nice.

Jaclyn
Female
24 years old
Boise, Idaho
University of Idaho

Aupa Bilbao!

10/10

I grew up in the American West, far away from my family's homeland. I have always been familiar with our history, however, having been reared in the largest Basque community outside of the Basque Country. None of my 21 years of experience, though, could compare to my one semester in Bilbao. It was amazing to walk through the history, language, and culture of my own people while studying castellano and living with my father's cousins in Berango. Bilbao will forever be my second home, and I am thankful to have stayed in such a kind and meaningful place, and I know that all of my friends felt the same. If you wish to feel completely welcomed in a completely foreign atmosphere, leave it to the Basques to usher you in with open arms, feed you, and teach you everything they know.

Stephanie
Female

USAC BILBAO

9/10

I've got so much to say about the USAC Bilbao program. I think though the thing I was absolutely the most impressed with is how much the program cared about the students, and how they did everything to make sure they had the best experience of their life. One of the best examples of that was my first week there. One of my friends in the program wanted to go home. She was homesick and having a hard time adjusting and didn't want to be there. The resident director of the program, knowing she would regret the decision to leave, and that she would adjust eventually, took matters into his own hands. He took her with him for the day to run errands and go about the day to day activities. I'm not sure how he knew that would make a difference, but in the time he was able to talk to her one on one that day, and in a casual environment, made her feel at ease. I think she must have understood that she had someone there to fall back on. Because after that she decided that she would stick it out for a couple more weeks, and ended up having the semester of her life like we all did. I think this was one of the best examples of how much the program cared about all of us, our well being, and making sure we had an experience we would never forget.

Lindsey
Female
23 years old
Reno, NV
University of the Basque Country

Bilbao- Something for everyone

10/10

Bilbao has it all. The school is located in downtown Bilbao near the famous Guggenheim museum and just a metro stop or two away from the Athletic Stadium. There are tons of bars, restaurants, and shops lining the streets.

20 minutes away from the city center, you can find local surf shops and ride waves without facing too much of a crowd. This beach also has amazing hikes overlooking the sea, or if you go into Getxo, overlooking the Bilbao and the surrounding areas.

Teaching English in Bilbao is among my favorite memories. I had students ranging in age from 6 years all the way up to 17. This experience is hands down what set me on my path to become a teacher. The skills I learned and the opportunity I had defined my future. It was a phenomenal way to learn about the culture while also teaching them my own.

I also had the opportunity to volunteer with a local girl that recently received a cochlear implant. The nice thing about your time abroad is it's your time. You can spend it however you would like and this was a very rewarding experience for me.

Bilbao is an insanely beautiful and clean city. My favorite part about it is the random plazas and parks built into the downtown areas. One minute you're surrounded by tall buildings and stores and the next, you're in front of beautiful fountains with benches and Free WiFi.

How can this program be improved?

More information prior to departure would greatly help, but then again, it's all an adventure.

Rochelle
Female
Reno, Nevada
University of Nevada Reno

You'll never want to leave!

10/10

Studying abroad with USAC in Bilbao/Getxo was the best time of my life. I loved living on the beach in Getxo and being able to take the metro into the city of Bilbao for school. This city is one of a kind, and each person you meet is too. I lived with a local family, and that improved my Spanish ten fold!

How can this program be improved?

This program could be improved if there were more activities to integrate American students with locals, but there were the intercambios, so I guess it was more up to the students to get out and mingle in the community.

Mark
Male
23 years old
United States
University of Toledo

First Time Abroad, PRICELESS!!!

10/10

I can't even begin to explain how amazing this experience was. First and most importantly, the staff was absolutely amazing. They were helpful friendly and easy to talk to. I even had family issues and some depression for a short period and met regularly with Ibon the program director and he gave alot of great life coaching advice and helped me get through it mentally. I can not imagine a better staff.

The program offered great excursions and then also weekend activities that were completely optional but always phenomenal. And that included tradition Basque sporting event and jalai which we all got to try out after the events. The program is absolutely safe and I never heard of any problems while I was there. The city is safe, day and night. I loved riding in the metro (or subway). The people were all pleasent and had no problems.

There was a great program called TABC where US students got to teach english in local schools and get paid very well! I got around $15 per hour and I worked 5-6 hours a week. Nice little bonus that went towards traveling, and the teaching was easy. Basically they want someone to offer conversation to students. And traveling is extremely cheap once you reach europe.

So I took a 3 week trip That started in Bilbao, flew to Rome and stayed there 6 nights, then to Athens for 5 nights, and finally London for 3 nights. I traveled by myself, which offered alot of freedom. And I stayed in hostels. HOSTELS ARE NOT DANGEROUS! Look at reviews and you can avoid any sketch places. Understand its cheap travel and it won't be a pent house suite, but you meet alot of travels both from Europe, US and even South America. Wonderful people and interesting stories to be found. Rome was by far my favorite location, I did the various tours by Rome(ing) tour group. And I stayed at the Yellow hostel. Both I extremely recommend. The architecture and history is rich in Rome and I loved visiting the Vatican. Athens was an interesting experience but there isn't much to mention. London was my second favorite, but it was such a blessing. On my flight to London from Athens, I was seated next to an elderly couple. They were very kind and it was long flight by European standards. (4 hours) And so I talked with this kind gentleman about my travels and experiences. And he told me about his life and why he was visiting the area for vacation. And as we were reaching the London airport, he asked me how I planned on getting to London. I told him that I was hoping to take some type of shuttle or bus. That is when he offered to take me to London personally with his wife. I was stunned and couldn't help saying, "Are you sure?" He said of course, he could even give me a tour of London in the process. So I agreed and we drove towards London. I turned out to be an hour drive, very glad I got a ride to my hostel. So as we reach London he speaks proudly of the rich mixture of cultures and the variety of food places from Thai to Indian to Arabic. As we enter downtown, he points out various points of interest and with the cute argumentive wife, he explains the history of each location. We pass a point that to this day Im sure they don't agree on where exactly the fire of London started. Whether it was this corner or the street over hahaha, amazing. And We saw the Eye of London (giant ferris wheel) and West Minster Abbey and Tower of London and tons of famous locations. I was amazed, I knew I only had 3 days in London and I had already saw most of the touristy spots. After about 2 hours of touring, they began to apologize, they felt bad for keeping me so long and that I must want to get home. I told them that I was truly grateful and that they had no need to apologize. They proceeded to take me to my Hostel, Pride of Paddington. Also recommend this location.

This is a long review, so I will try to cover other topics briefly. I had many more adventures in London and the entire 3 week trip I spent $800 which included $300 for flights. This was during semana santa also. Thus the 3 weeks without school.

I'd also like to mention going to Barcelona for 5 days during the carnival period. I got to watch a Barcelona futbol match! AMAZING! Had second row seats, 35 euros and Lionel Messi was practically 15 feet away at one point in the game. It was amazing because the seats are so close to the pitch (field). Loved that weekend, spent a couple nights at Opium, which is a nightclub that has a seating area that is right along the beach. BEAUTIFUL!

Interesting and typical week, siesta does exist here. Many stores close around 2-4 for naps or whatever they do. Also supermarkets and stores close at 9 or 10 pm. No such thing as 24 hour supermarkets. A few exceptions but no where close. Also sundays is sabbath and everything is closed. So buy food for sunday on saturday or be hungry lol. Also there are no dryers for clothes, people hang up clothes in a patio room. Everyone lives in apartments, very few exceptions to this. Beaches are close, 5 minute walk from my apartment and short metro ride to get to others. Maybe 10-20 minutes from any beach.

Erasmus is European study abroad program and they have alot of students who have parties all the time. Also they have hangouts that are fun. Plenty of things to do in Bilbao/getxo.

If you made it this far, I hope this has helped. You have no idea how much I loved Spain. I made this review after studying abroad for a second time, but in Costa Rica. Spain program blows Costa Rica out of the water. But Costa Rica is a different culture and the natural beauty there is undescribable. Sorry for so many mispelled words.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

How can this program be improved?

They did everything great. Sorry I don't know how to improve it.

Gabriel
Male
23 years old
New Orleans, LA & San Jose, CA
Northern Arizona University

Bilbao brings together all aspects wished for in a study abroad experience!

10/10

Bilbao is mid-sized city 30 minutes away from the border of France. Getxo is the beautiful rolling green hills & beach town on the outer city limits. You won't be getting the big city aura and you'll be forced to have a non-touristy experience. The primary language is Spanish, but the majority of citizens are Basque and proud of it. Euskera is spoken, but not around those who aren't locals or look Basque. You'll live in Getxo in area where families and young people alike hangout, drink wine, and run to the beach on good weather days. USAC is incredibly helpful and the staff answers any of your questions and is there for you if you ever need it. The Basque people are nice, and the vibe is laid back and happy. I loved Bilbao and I won't forget it.

How can this program be improved?

More connections to previous alumni would be nice, and connections to locals and people and the area would be nice too. Living situation turned out to be a little odd because the father was unemployed and the family yelled at each other a lot. But these are merely criticisms of what I thought was a superb program.

Jenna
Female
23 years old
New York
Adelphi University

Ready to Go Back

10/10

I never thought I needed to study abroad, but I decided to study in Bilbao the summer going into my senior year. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The classes were challenging, but my class had three other students in it, so it was basically individualized instruction. Class ended at 1p.m. and the day was ours to spend as we pleased. There are so many great places to shop in Bilbao right by the school. I even got to see Grease performed in Spanish at the local theater. That was one of my favorite things.

How can this program be improved?

Like previously stated, the housing was not that great. The place where I stayed was a four bedroom apartment and I am not sure that previous people had cleaned because it was not very clean. Our landlord was also crazy, but very nice.

dominic
Male
23 years old
Reno, NV
University of Nevada

Incredibly Fun

10/10

The USAC Bilbao program was an amazing experience. Perfect for business oriented students. You get the big city experience without having to live in a huge city by living in Getxo and commuting in Bilbao.

Haley
Female
23 years old
Reno, Nevada
University of Nevada Reno

Basque Country Bliss

10/10

Studying abroad in San Sebastian Spain was one of the best decisions I have made. USAC helped set me up with an amazing family and classes geared toward my personality and language level. San Sebastian truly became my home as I was able to not just learn about another culture but embody it and live it as my own. The host family that I was placed in took me in as their own and helped me adjust and live the like a local as well as practice my Spanish. USAC really took my interests and personality to heart when placing me with an appropriate family whom I still communicate with today. The USAC staff overseas were also wonderful with working with the student's needs and concerns. They helped set me up with a paid internship teaching English in a local school, organized amazing field trips to places that would be difficult to get to on our own, and gave us loads of information and support within our program location. I was able to have that support and guidance when I needed it but was also free to grow as an individual without feeling restrained or held back. Studying abroad gave me confidence, insight, compassion, and experience which I have taken back home and implemented into my everyday life. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live in another culture which ultimately helps you learn about your own culture and your place within it.

How can this program be improved?

The only thing I would change was that the group flight was the day after finals and it would have been nice to have a day or two to soak up every last bit of Spain before having to leave it.

Carolann
Female
23 years old
Reno, Nevada
University of Nevada

Donosti

10/10

Every expectation that I had for a study abroad experience was completely surpassed. I expected to have fun in a new country while going to school, but I had no idea what kind of emotional connection I would have from going abroad with USAC. The staff abroad were not only teachers and advisors but also caring friends. One time, I accidently ate shrimp (which I am highly allergic to) and one of the women who worked in the administrative USAC office personally came in a cab with me to the hospital, translated for me, and held my hand until I felt better. I met new friends abroad that showed me all the in's and out's of the Basque Country, traveled with me, and shared his home and family with me. Now, one friend even came to visit me in San Francisco and I know that I've made a friend that I'll have for a lifetime. The experience that you'll receive from USAC is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you cannot pass up!

How can this program be improved?

I honestly cannot think of a single thing, thank you for the best experience I could ever have!

Brian_Lester
Male
23 years old
United States
University of Nevada Reno

My Time in San Sebastian

10/10

I had a great time in San Sebastian. The teachers and staff were some of the best people I had ever met and I felt the courses were fun and interesting. I took primarily Spanish courses with some electives like Basque folk dance and cooking thrown in. Some friends took the surfing class and enjoyed learning how to surf on the beautiful beaches that line the city's coast. Parte Vieja (the old part) was a blast to walk around and sports some of the best food in the world. If you love food, this is definitely a place to check out. Overall my time in San Sebastian was too short, I would definitely recommend a year, but even that might not be enough.

How can this program be improved?

I had tried to get a conversation partner to practice my Spanish, but it was kind of difficult to find someone who could meet regularly. This isn't universal, I knew some people who got great conversation partners, I just happened to be unlucky.

Mark
Male
23 years old
Toledo, Ohio
University of Toledo

Amazing

10/10

It was an amazing experience for my first travel outside the United States. The overall experience was amazing, and the lifestyle was unique. I studied for a semester in Bilbao Spring 2013.
-Stayed in a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom (small) apartment with 2 other USAC students.
-Metro system is main form of transportation. VERY safe
-TABC, it is a teaching program to make extra money easily. 15$ an hour job. I had 5 hours a week. Some people worked more! Nice income.
-VERY helpful staff. Very friendly and easy to talk to.
-Cultural excursions are relevant and interesting. I learned about the history and understanding the differences.
-3 week spring break and cheap flights! I spent 5 days in Rome, 5 days in Athens, and 3 days in London. Flights between European cities as low as 30$ round trip.
-the professors were excellent and my Spanish improved twice as fast as if I were home.
-The beaches are great, 3 of them and one is perfect for surfing!

How can this program be improved?

My only faults were the excessive rain during this spring time. But reports say it is record setting. I wish I had traveled around Europe more.

Brent
Male
23 years old
Reno, Nevada
University of Nevada

Days in the Basque Country

10/10

Sitting upon Zurriola Beach the evening before I departed back home in the deserts of Nevada for the summer, a new sense of sadness seeped into my heart, and made me feel sick. In five months, I had made this new place, of foreign people and strange culture, my home.

I'd become a person, an adult, I never thought I'd discover. The first few weeks, struggling to speak the language, I began to feel frustrated and disliked the world I'd--for what I thought was some dumb reason--engaged myself in. But, as I continued to engage, the culture immersed itself around me. Strangers became companions. San Sebastián became as comfortable as the hard soil, bitter sage, and my mother's voice was several thousands of miles away.

Growing up in the desert, I never quite understood what it meant to relax at the beach. By that spring, the beach was as close to my favorite past time as was years of playing baseball back in the US. Days after classes were spent on the playa, challenging locals in volleyball, conversing in a newly discovered tongue. We surfed the soothing waters of the Atlantic's Bay of Biscay. Sips of Sangria were as silk and sweet as pollen on a rose's pedal.

The days I lived were days of eternal love. And not another passes that I still don't feel the lust for the land of experience that forever changed my life.

Vivian
Female
23 years old
Reno, Nevada
University of Nevada

San Sebastian, Spain

10/10

Great program! I studied abroad in San Sebastian over the summer and it was absolutely incredible. The city is beautiful and the people are really friendly. The USAC staff is really helpful and available when ever you need them. Not an experience you want to miss out on!

About The Provider

USAC is a non-profit organization made up of 33 U.S. member universities that has provided quality and affordable study abroad programs for over 30 years. USAC currently offers over 50 programs in 27 countries and provides a broad spectrum of assistance with housing, visa assistance, academics, field trips, internships, field study courses and more from the point you apply, your arrival and stay, to your transcript and re-entry.