Spain: Bilbao & Getxo - International Business and Spanish Studies

Video and Photos

About

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 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.

Highlights
  • Live in a dynamic, cosmopolitan city on Spain’s northern coast, one hour from the border with France and with connections to major European cities
  • Enjoy many opportunities for inexpensive outdoor activities such as surfing, horseback riding, hiking, and cycling
  • Intern in management consulting firms, publishing companies, NGOs, the Guggenheim Museum, and more
  • Join our teaching assistantship program to gain work experience at local schools while earning money
  • Study International Business, which may be taken separately or in conjunction with language studies

Questions & Answers

Reviews

99%
based on 23 reviews
  • Academics 8.4
  • Support 10
  • Fun 8.7
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 15 of 23
Default avatar
Emily
10/10

USAC Bilbao, Spain

I lived Bilbao. It’s a great place if you like the city but also beaches and mountains. This coast is one of the most beautiful places i’ve ever been and the staff is really great. My teacher became a mom away from home and answered any questions we had. There are also tons of nearby towns that are beautiful and easily accessible. Bilbao is one of my favorite places and if I could study there again I would!

How can this program be improved?
I wish we could have paid rent through the program because it was hard to take out all the rent and carry it around as cash.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Jennifer
10/10

The Center of Culture

When I started searching for a place to study abroad in Spain, I had no idea what Bilbao was or where it was at. Thank goodness I stumbled across this hidden gem! From the ease of travel to other cities in Europe to the diverse culture in the city, there is no other place I would have rather stayed.

This program is great for anyone that’s on a mission to graduate on time and still get time to study abroad. I took Spanish classes that counted toward my Spanish minor as well as classes that counted toward my business major, all while staying on track to graduate. On top of my core classes I took a surfing class which was more fun than I ever could have imagined and a great way to get out of my comfort zone! I regret not taking the culture class which provides field trips around the Basque Country, so I would recommend that to any student planning to go through this program.

I appreciated the opportunity to live in an apartment with other students from the program instead of living with a host family (also an option) since I was nervous about being in a new country. My first apartment wasn’t ideal, but with the help of the amazing staff I was able to move somewhere more suitable which made my experience much more enjoyable.

I use the skills I learned abroad every day, including the ability to talk to people I don’t know at all and being more understanding of people in America that don’t speak English since the people in Spain were so friendly when I stumbled through their language.

Overall it was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone looking to go to Spain.

Yes, I recommend this program
Stanley
10/10

USAC Bilbao Review

The program was absolutely amazing. I was a trip of a lifetime to meet new people and explore a new culture. I would love to do it again if I were still a student.
The class that I took was called operations programming and it was taught by a professor who taught at the University of California - Poly Tech
The program allowed us to go to class in the morning and then have the rest of the day to explore the area and relax. The program also hosted a group excursion where we all spent a day exploring areas of Bilbao and being outdoors.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe transportation from the airport? We had a bit of trouble communicating.
Yes, I recommend this program
Jenny DeWitt Go Overseas Headshot
Jenny
10/10

Aupa Athletic!

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Christian
10/10

Best Spring Semester ever

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.

Response from USAC

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!

Yes, I recommend this program
Mariah
9/10

Such an Amazing Experience

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Kendall
10/10

Study Abroad in the Basque Country

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Brigitte
10/10

Best experience of my life!

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Danielle
9/10

I love Bilbao

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Jaclyn
10/10

Aupa Bilbao!

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Stephanie
9/10

USAC BILBAO

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Lindsey
10/10

Bilbao- Something for everyone

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Rochelle
10/10

You'll never want to leave!

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Mark
10/10

First Time Abroad, PRICELESS!!!

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Gabriel
10/10

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

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.
Yes, I recommend this program

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

Meet the Staff

About USAC

USAC is a non-profit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to offer affordable, academic and authentic study abroad programs. There are abundant opportunities to immerse in the culture, history, and academics of other countries providing...