Ben Schumann - 2015 Program Participant

Hiking in the mountains in Granada, Spain

Granada, in Andalusia (southern Spain), it's just an overnight (or rapid!) train ride away from Barcelona!

Why did you decide to study abroad in Spain?

I wanted to see Europe and improve my Spanish language level.

Why did you choose ISA? 

Most of the programs endorsed by my university were really only available to people who had completed more formal Spanish coursework, but this program was more adaptable for people who learned outside the classroom.

What was your favorite part about the city of Barcelona? 

Barcelona is the largest city I have ever lived in, and there was just so much to do!

What surprised you most about Spain?

I was surprised how much technology they used; smartphones seemed even more common in Barcelona than they are here in the U.S.!

Mediterranean coastline in Barcelona, Spain

You’ll have the Mediterranean Sea right in your backyard but no big deal or anything

What did you like most about the structure of ISA’s Barcelona program? 

My program was only three months long, which may be bothersome for a Spanish major/minor, but it allowed me to have a fully immersive experience without delaying my graduation or missing out on summer courses and internships in the U.S.

How did local ISA staff support you during your time in Barcelona? 

They helped me practice my language skills and suggest local activities and restaurants that wouldn't break the bank!

What's one thing you wish you could change about your study abroad experience?

I wish I had looked for more sources of funding earlier so that I wasn't constantly fretting about finances and whether I should take out more loans. I ended up taking out $3500 since I had to pay rent at home as well, but I would say it was worth it!

What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

Finances were very challenging. It’s frustrating that the best time we have in our lives to explore the world (undergraduate years) is when we have the least money of all! But it became a fun challenge to explore the EU on a budget.

Describe what a typical day was like for you in Barcelona.

Wake up and take a stroll around Barcelona in the morning, go to the business school for econ class, have a relaxing lunch in Ciutadella Park, head to my Barcelona history class, have a nice relaxing sit-down dinner at home with my family, and then meet my European friends for a Barça match at the local pub!

What did you like to do during your free time? 

Exploring the city and discovering the seemingly spontaneous festivals that take place in the city!

Study abroad students in Barcelona, Spain

My girlfriend came down from HER ISA program in Paris to visit!

What type of accommodation did you have in Barcelona? 

I lived in a homestay with a middle-aged couple and a roommate. I loved always having people to practice Spanish with, and Teresa's home-cooked meals! Yum yum!

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

It got much easier over time, but there was always the ever-present problem of the locals insisting on speaking in Catalan rather than Castilian/Spanish, I only speak a few phrases of Catalan!

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Spain?

I wish I had known more about programs outside the framework of our study abroad program, such as the Erasmus Student Network, right from the get-go, definitely the easiest way to meet Spaniards and Europeans!

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

I have a much more worldly view on life. I have improved my Spanish immeasurably (which is very useful in the urban U.S. and becomes more prevalent every year), and I think I am much more mature than many of my peers because of the experience of living outside an English-speaking country for an extended period.

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

I think it’s just the total language immersion; nothing compares to being forced to speak Spanish with essentially everybody in order to improve linguistic skill. With Spanish in particular, as the second most spoken language in the U.S., I am sure my new skills will remain useful throughout my career!

Students on a beach in Spain

These are my friends from Europe! We have Arnaud (France), Antonia (Romania), and Jenni (Catalonia, Spain)!

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

Since I've now been to both Spain and South America, I would love to check out Mexico and see what life is like just south of our borders!

Would you recommend ISA to other students?

I would, but I would also recommend that students look into programs hosted by their university. As I am not a Spanish major or minor, my options were very limited, but I know that Spanish majors at OSU have programs that are a fraction of the ISA program fees!