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Study Spanish in Bilbao, Spain
Instituto Hemingway participants doin a jump shot on a beach Instituto Hemingway participants doin a jump shot on a beach

Study Spanish in Bilbao, Spain

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Facilities

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

Total Immersion and real learning

My experience at the Instituto Hemingway was great. Instituto Hemingway provided all of the necessary resources for us The School is very close to the city centre and the shared apartment they offered me was just 5 minutes far on foot from School in a nice medium-class area with all facilities. The lessons were held by professional teachers who were also helpful but fun. It was nice to be able to practice Spanish in a safe environment, where I was not embarrassed to make mistakes. All of my professors always spoke Spanish. Great atmosphere and fun classes! Classes were small and all the teachers had a good level of English which I found ideal for explaining when I was stuck.

Every day the School offered extra curricular activities (e.g salsa lessons, wine tasting courses, tapas tours..) It was easy to make friends with people from all over the world and learn Spanish at the same time.

They were also sensitive to the fact that we wanted to learn outside the classroom as well. They did a great job of integrating us into the local culture as much as possible. They always told us about festivals or holidays or things "we couldn't miss". They wanted us to feel part of the culture. Bilbao felt very safe. Although I took safety precautions, I never felt unsafe in the city. It was real Spain!! A great city undiscovered by massive tourism. Price wise. Highly recommended.
Best inmersion experience I have ever had! Thank you Guada and Eli! Sois las mejores profes!

Overall Rating

5/ 10

  • Health & Safety

    1

  • Program Administration

    1

  • Cultural Immersion

    2

  • Living Situation

    1

  • Facilities

    2

  • Academics

    2

Spanish 'gap year'

I had an alright experience with Instituto Hemmingway. I was supposed to be with them for a total of 3 months but ended up only staying for 6 weeks. This was due to the utter incompetence of the administration, very bad living situations and weak academics. It felt like the administration was constantly trying to get every last cent out of students and wouldn't listen to their complains in a reasonable matter, to me it seemed like the Institute was having financial troubles and was not being kind or helpful to their students in return.
As for the living situation... I started out living with a host mom but after 3 weeks of constant carpenters entering the house all through the night, (I am an 18 year old girl and it didn't feel great to have 25 year old men at the house at 1am) not being able to enter the kitchen, and feeling like my host mom was taking advantage of my stay and was only hosting me for the money, I had to move out. I then moved into an apartment in the red light district of Bilbo (The only area the institute offers housing in) with 3 other roommates. While we all had tons of fun together the apartment was FAR from nice. The kitchen was covered in grease and mold, the dishwasher and shower barley worked and some of the rooms had multiple beds in them so the administration could just squeeze more people in. Also it was above a bar so sleeping was a bit of a challenge!
Aside from the bad livening situations the academics were not great. I had signed up for the cooking immersion but was never offered an internship and only given cooking classes with a women who was far my senior (I had been told the program would be all students 18-24 and this women along with many others were way into their 30s and above). Even with this aside the Spanish portion of the classes is far from intensive or instructive. Each lesson is given VERY out of order and all from a textbook that was incredibly hard to follow and use on your own. In addition the class itself NEVER started on time and you had a 30min break each day, however all of these unused times still got factored into the 20 hours of 'intensive Spanish lessons' yet with all the breaks it ended up being more like 16 hours a week.
All and all Instituto Hemmingway is not a program I would recommend, especially for a young person. There are a wealth of Spanish language programs and Instituto Hemmingway just is far from the best out there.