Andrew Blumenthal - 2015 Program Participant

Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, Spain

Parc de la Ciutadella

How did you decide to study abroad?

I always knew that I would be studying abroad at some point during my college career. Coming in, I did not know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to explore and fulfill a dream.

Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Barcelona?

I chose Barcelona because of my limited knowledge in Spanish as well as the desire to be located in Europe for a semester. I enrolled in IES Abroad, at first, only because it was the study abroad program that was affiliated with my university. After leaving this program, I came to the realization that IES Abroad is one of the best programs offered for studying abroad around the world.

Inside La Segrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

La Segrada Familia

What was your favorite part about Barcelona?

The IES Abroad Center is perfectly located in the city of Barcelona. Right at the tip of Plaza Catalunya, I was able to walk over to La Rambla during my lunch break as well as explore the Gothic District for hours on end. You can find almost anything you may want or need in just this one place.

What made your program experience unique?

Throughout the semester, there were so many different opportunities that I was able to take advantage of, besides just being in the classroom. This program offered bicycle tours around the city, weekly running groups, weekend trips to places around Barcelona and around Spain, and so much more. There were so many things I was able to do throughout this semester, besides just taking classes and studying.

How did local staff support you throughout your program? 

The IES Abroad staff care about every student coming in and out of their doors throughout each term. They offer so many different things to help each student discover all of Barcelona and Spain. They will help you with anything you need, and they go above and beyond anything you could ever ask for from a study abroad program.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently? 

I wish I could have traveled around the city of Barcelona more often throughout the semester. I was too concerned with focusing on my classes rather than taking in the culture around me. That is not to say that focusing on your studies is not important, but being in Barcelona for a semester needs to be taken advantage of each and every day.

Mount Tibidabo in Spain

Mount Tibidabo

What was a normal day like for you as an international student in Barcelona?

Normally, my first class would start around 10 a.m. I would wake up and get ready for the day, and then take a nice and leisurely 20 minute walk from my residence hall to the IES Abroad Center. I would have two classes for a few hours, and then have a break in the middle of the day from about 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. I would take this time to either study a little bit or go outside and walk down La Rambla to grab some lunch and take a break from my classes. Then, I would have a few more classes and finally be done around 6 p.m. I would take another nice walk back to my residence hall, eat some dinner, and then either get ready to go out with some friends for the night or turn in early.

What did you enjoy doing on your free time?

I loved waking up on a Saturday and walking around the city by myself. I felt that I could see so much more by exploring on my own and noticing intricate details of either the architecture or the people walking around me.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I stayed in a residence hall throughout the semester. It was so great to live with ten American students as well as nine other Spanish students. I was able to live comfortably by being with my peers as well as being around Spanish kids and mixing myself with the local culture.

Now that you're home, how has studying abroad in Barcelona impacted your life?

I feel so much more comfortable experiencing things on my own throughout each and every day. It is always great to do things with peers, but it is nice to get away from everyone and everything in your life from time to time, in order to relax and regroup for the new adventures coming in the future.

View of Barcelona from the Bunkers

The Bunkers