ALBA: Quarter Study Abroad & Internships in Barcelona
Barcelona is an amazing city, especially when you have access to someone with intimate local knowledge. Program offered wide variety of college accredited courses with knowledgeable instructors... Jonathan
better than I could have ever imagined.
Submitted by Monica Ramirez - New Orleans | April 17, 2015
For my last quarter of University I decided I had to go to Barcelona. It was the best choice I made in my entire life. I am not exaggerating. I was so ready for adventure and travel, after being stuck in the Pacific Northwest for almost four years. I packed my bags and never looked back! I can´t imagine that there is a better program to study through than ALBA. From the get-go they were so organized, yet also extremely laid back (trust me, you want that on your quarter abroad). No one goes to Spain to stay inside studying all day. ALBA of course, offered spectacular courses. Spanish language was more of a conversational setting. History and Architecture was full of awesome excursions and crazy stories about Barcelona that I would have never stumbled upon on my own. My all time favorite course was the film and lit. course. Carles was an excellent faculty with so much passion and knowledge...I hope he still works there. He was a badass. The only thing I would change about my experience was getting my own place instead of a homestay. I stayed with a lovely family, but being 22 (was it that long ago???) in Barcelona means you keep waaaay different hours than a family. And also, not to mention all the people you meet, it would be nice to have your own place where you can host dinner parties or drink wine on the balcony by the sea. (I would recommend staying in Barceloneta or El Born)AHH. Seriously the best time of my life. I met so many fun people in the program and so many awesome locals, in fact, I ended up staying in Europe for a year and a half after Barcelona with my still boyfriend who I met there. Crazy crazy fun amazing times. Alba is worth it! It is so central, so culturally rich, so flexible and the coordinator Charles is awesome. Get out of the boring U.S....get your ass to the most beautiful city in the world. You won´t regret it, and you´ll remember it forever! I´ve had travel fever since.
University of Washington: Foster School of Business
Submitted by Alex Maddox - San Francisco University of Washington | April 17, 2015
I'm going to keep this short (maybe not) because I could write forever about how amazing Alba was as a program. When I was looking to study abroad a couple things were important to me: passionate teachers, full immersion, living situation, and a smaller program. All my criteria were far exceeded and Barcelona could not have been a cooler city.
My professors were amazing. I've never had such passionate and knowledgeable educators before and I have to say, it was extremely refreshing. The amount of knowledge and pride I gained about the art and history for Barcelona has allowed me to feel as if I am a local Catalan citizen. The area itself has been through so much turmoil and been so polarizing in world history, it is a shame to not take the time to really appreciate it. As for my Spanish classes, since the program is small you basically have group tutoring lessons. It was amazing. I went from only being able to hold a conversation for 5 minutes to being able to go days without speaking English. Every student there was on the same page, trying to immerse ourselves and learn the language as best we could. My economics class was also very interesting. Being a Finance major, it was very important for me to learn about what EU economics were like. This class was more discussion based and found that very insightful because instead of burying myself in excel or a calculator, we were able to have discussions and debates about the current Euro crisis which I found fascinating. Overall, in a strange way, I felt as if I had learned more in one quarter than I had in a few years of school. The vibe was much more relaxed and all about learning because you enjoyed gaining more knowledge about Barcelona, it was not about competition with other students to get the best grades.
The administration as well as the teachers always offered ways for us to get immersed in the culture. They encouraged us to partake in intercambios. These are basically a language exchange you arrange with a local trying to learn English. This forced me to step out of my comfort zone, walk up to someone random and become friends. The girl I ended up participating in an intercambio with has become a friend that I still talk to 2 years later. I also ended up meeting friends who were into cycling like myself and ended up going on night rides with a group of over 100 local bike riders every Wednesday. These rides were always followed by friendly get togethers at the neighborhood tapas bar. It was great to feel apart of a community within the city and these rides allowed me to see parts of Barcelona I would have never seen. My friends in other bigger programs did not have this experience. They were not encouraged to immerse themselves and were not given the tools on how to go about it. Alba is all about being local, not the stick out like a sore thumb study abroad student kind of program. If this is your vibe, then it’s the place for you.
Living Situation: The administration was so helpful. They asked us where we wanted to live and gave us some suggestions. After some help, we settle on Barceloneta. (right by the beach) Needless to say, I couldn't have been happier with our location. Definitely better than all my friends studying there with other programs who resided far from the beach and the major cultural centers.
As I've been mentioning throughout this review, having a small program was crucial for me. It forced me to go meet new friends from the area and really focus on learning about the Catalan culture. The group mentality of studying abroad with 100+ kids (like CEA) was not present in my experience. I didn't have to worry about trying to meet up with tons of Americans all trying to have the same experience. (Many of my friends felt this pressure and mentioned how it wore them down over time) Mine was much more “European” in a sense and much more what I was looking for. On the other hand, if you like big groups and want to be with a bunch of Americans looking to party every night with other Americans, this isn’t the place for you.
Most Memorable Experience To This Day:
Submitted by Erasmo Ruiz - Portland Portland State University, Graduate School of Education | April 15, 2015
I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain through Alba in the spring of 2012, as a 21-year-old undergraduate student. During which time I took a Catalan Culture and Society course, advanced Spanish, and one of the most impactful and eye-opening courses in my entire undergraduate trajectory, Spanish Film and Literature, taught by renowned Spanish professor, Dr. Carles Murillo.
In the spring of 2014 during my first year of graduate school at Portland State University I decided that I wanted to study abroad again. The Alba program was more than happy to accommodate and provide me the appropriate graduate level courses, which I used to satisfy requirements for my Master's degree in Educational Leadership and Policy.
My second time abroad, I took Urban Planning Advanced Research, Urban Planning (Barcelona Perspective), and Geography Societies and People of Spain (SOC 510). Dr. Marina Diaz-Cristobal (Alba SOC 510 professor) was kind enough to provide me with a recommendation at the end of the term for my application to teach abroad. Because of that letter of recommendation and the support from the Alba program, I will be teaching English in Madrid for one year this upcoming autumn '2015.
Both times that I studied abroad through Alba I had comfortable living arrangements. The first time in 2012 I lived in a five-bedroom flat with other students from Portland, Oregon in "El Raval," which is a diverse immigrant district, right off the famous "Las Ramblas" street. The second time I lived in the "Eixample" district with a Chilean host family. They have since moved to the Canary Islands. I plan on visiting them there, soon!
I would most definitely recommend the Alba program to anyone interested in living and studying abroad for a few months. They have a great course selection, distinguished and knowledgeable professors, and an exceptional administration. The benefit of taking classes through Alba is that they are usually seminar style, which really allows you to digest learning material better, and, on the other hand, establish relationships with professors.
Thank you, Tracy, Charles, and Danny for making my studies abroad so wonderful each time.
The best study abroad program out there!
Submitted by UW Husky - Seattle | April 15, 2015
I attended ALBA as a junior at the University of Washington. After not knowing what I was getting myself into, studying abroad through ALBA turned out to be the best experience of my college career. I took four classes (22 general quarter credits!) - Catalan Culture, Spanish Art & Architecture, European Economics, and Spanish Language. The classes were straightforward and extremely rewarding if you put the effort into learning. ALBA emphasized cultural immersion by encouraging us to try new restaurants, attend language exchanges, meet new people, go to FC Barcelona games, and travel every weekend (no Friday classes!). The ALBA administration (Charles, Tracy, Danny) was amazingly helpful by finding me a private apartment three blocks from the beach, helping us to and from the airport, coordinating to make sure our credits transferred, etc. Overall, I give ALBA a 10/10 and only wish I could go back to school to attend ALBA over and over again!
Studying abroad in Barcelona was the best part of my college experience.
Submitted by Jonathan - Portland State University | October 08, 2014
Barcelona is an amazing city, especially when you have access to someone with intimate local knowledge.
Program offered wide variety of college accredited courses with knowledgeable instructors from various backgrounds. Language barrier was not an issue as instructors spoke English, Spanish and various other languages. Each was able to give unique insight on culture and relevant history of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and Western Europe.
I picked up on local hotspots for nightlife, excursions and other activities off the grid. The food was traditional Spanish and organized meal times around my schedule. Bedroom and bathroom of in-home stay were clean, comfortable and private. Had a place to study at home if needed.
All classes offered insight into different areas that directly related to the entire study-abroad experience. Many classmates banded together for studying, trips to museums, eating out, etc. and are still friends to this day.
Program director was able to relate to students and willing to provide recommendations. Trips were organized, van rides were comfortable, and there was a concrete effort to make the group feel welcome with each other and locals.
The class sizes were manageable. We were able to get direct, one on one instruction with all instructors having reasonable office hours.
Home stay option was a great option for complete cultural immersion. I was able to develop long standing relationships with my host family and stay in contact with them to this day, 10 years later.
Program offered numerous day/weekend activities to see different parts of Catalonia, not just Barcelona.
Program director was knowledgeable on everything from expected cost per day for food, activities and other day trips. University credit transfer was not an issue, all course credits transferred without a problem.
Submitted by Alex Grant - Southern Oregon University | June 01, 2011
ALBA was great. Only had classes two days a week and I was in a city sorrounded by thousands of other students all around the world. Barcelona is by far one of the best party cities in the world as you find yourself staying out till sunrise every night. If you want to study abroad in Spain, I guarantee ALBA will provide you with the best time.
10 weeks of LIFE!
Submitted by Harold - Spain | September 20, 2009
Best 10 weeks of my life.
Fun, Not Academic
Submitted by John - | April 24, 2013
Great for traveling and limiting time in the classroom. Terrible for learning Spanish.