Kaitlin Irwin - 2012 Program Participant

Hiking Mount Tibidabo in Spain

Hiking Mount Tibidabo!

What drew you study abroad in Barcelona?

I was a Spanish and Art major looking for an educational experience. Barcelona seemed to fit the bill for both of my disciplines.

Why did you choose CISabroad over other program providers in Spain?

It was the most budget-friendly option, and the highlights of the program focused on things I was genuinely interested in (art, cultural experiences, tours, living accommodations, courses offered).

What was your favorite part about the city of Barcelona?

Barcelona is gorgeously urban and natural at the same time. I could wander in the city, take a bus into the mountains, or walk along the beach in one day.

How did CISabroad help you get to know the city?

We toured many different locations around Barcelona, and I felt as though we got integrated pretty well with the environment.

In what ways did local staff support you while you were studying in Barcelona?

They were very helpful in teaching us common words and phrases. They also provided an "insider's" view of Barcelona, and gave us tips and hints to make the most of our time there.

Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance do it all over again?

Splashed out on more tours and activities; it is well worth it to just try everything!

What should every student know before embarking on a trip to Barcelona?

I think it is important to know about the history and culture of the place you visit, regardless of where you are. In Barcelona, this means learning a bit about Spain's history, and the mindset in Barcelona (or Catalonia as a whole). During my brief stay, I came across locals who were very passionate about their culture, their past. It is crucial to be considerate and aware of that. Some locals in Catalonia will not want to be called a “Spaniard,” but a “Catalan.”

Describe what it was like being a student in Barcelona on a daily basis.

Wake up and head to class. Spend the afternoon doing a cultural tour with the group, then using the evening to traverse with friends or even on my own.

What is one thing you enjoyed doing outside of your coursework?

Hiking Mount Tibidabo! We actually did this the first day; what a nice way to meet your new student-abroad friends: sweaty and tired.

What kind of accommodation were you provided with in Barcelona?

I lived in a homestay, meaning I was in an apartment with a local woman from Barcelona. There were various students who came and went during my stay in the apartment. This was the best living arrangement! Living with a citizen, eating meals with her, talking about current events with her in Spanish. I visited her a year later and she was thrilled to see me!

How has studying abroad in Barcelona impacted your life?

It definitely improved my Spanish skills, people noticed. It also made me more globally aware, and I gained greater insight and independence.

What is something you will never forget about your time in Barcelona?

I will never forget the independence and freedom I felt while studying abroad. Here I was, a young adult, journeying to a foreign country all on my own, and excelling! I was using my skills to converse with others in a foreign language. I challenged myself to meet new people and place myself in situations or settings that may have been a bit awkward.

How do you hope to use what you learned in Barcelona in your future career endeavors?

I majored in Art and Spanish, so Barcelona was the best of both worlds. I would love to pursue my art (which also includes writing) and perhaps my Spanish as well. With a language, you use it or you lose it!

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

I would go to an Asian country, probably Japan. The culture fascinates me. Talk about culture shock!