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.