Why did you choose this program? I chose this program because I was interested in improving my Spanish skills and learning more about Spain's culture. This program also offered journalism courses that I counted towards my major.
Describe your favorite classes abroad. My favorite classes abroad were Psychology and PR and Sports Media. I enjoyed psychology because we learned about cultural stereotypes, which was interesting to learn about while in a foreign country. My PR course was at an outside university, URL La Salle, which was different from any course I have ever taken. This course was half IU students and half local Spanish students. It was interesting to take a class with locals and see how their classes were taught versus classes we are used to taking. This class was more hands on and we were able to visit different PR firms and sports arenas in Spain, which was really enjoyable.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived in an apartment with one other IU student, two Penn State students, and one from University of Wisconsin-Madison. We had a cultural companion who lived with us as well. I really enjoyed living in an apartment. I was able to have other roommates, who I am still extremely close with today. My apartment was centrally located and was about a 7 minute walk from the IES center, which was extremely convenient. My roommates and I became very close with our cultural companion, Maria, who took us around the city and helped us with our Spanish and Catalan.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? I would say it's important to go in with an open mind and be open to new experiences. It can be difficult at first to adjust to everything, but try to enjoy your time abroad. These few months fly by and looking back I wish I would have taken advantage of more opportunities while I was in Barcelona.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory abroad was going to Tibidabo, an amusement park, with my roommate Brooke. This park wasn't open until April, however, it was one of the coolest places I went to. The park could be seen all throughout Barcelona and was on top of a mountain, which had the most amazing view of the city.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? My biggest shock about the city was how almost everyone in Barcelona could speak English. I was expecting it to be much more difficult to communicate with locals, however I never really had any troubles with this. I was also surprised about how nice the weather always was. After spending three years in Bloomington I was so used to the constant rain in the Spring, however it never rained much in Barcelona.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I had a difficult time at first with culture shock in Barcelona. It was difficult to adjust to the time, a new city, new language, and new people. However, after the first week I was able to get more used to everything. After coming back home, I also experienced a little bit of reverse culture shock. I did not want to be home and missed Barcelona. It took me a couple weeks to get re-adjusted to Indiana.
“If I could do it over, I would…” Enjoy the little things more and explore. I wish I took more time to walk around the city and explore.
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? I didn't know how much of a bubble I lived in back in the United States. Being able to experience a new culture and lifestyle made me realize how oblivious I had been before about other places around the world. I was able to learn more about events occurring all around the world and learn more about myself in the process.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? I wish someone had told me to live in the moment more.
Would you recommend that future students take an internship and why? I would recommend an internship as it greatly improves your communication skills as well as your adaptability. An internship abroad looks great on a resumé and it is sure to catch any potential employer's attention.
What was your greatest challenge? My greatest challenge was getting adjusted to a new city when I first arrived. Everyone has a different experience with culture shock and this was a challenge for me the first week.
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” Going abroad is a great opportunity for any student and if possible, they should jump on this opportunity. I had the best four months of my life while abroad and I believe many other students can say the same.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? The Sagrada Familia has taken longer to build than the Great Pyramids.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I found scholarships for study abroad through my application as well as in the Overseas Study Office.
Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? There are so many different scholarship opportunities for students that many do not know exist. The best way to find more information about scholarship opportunities is either through the Overseas Study office or on the overseas website. Either place contains a multitude of scholarship opportunities for students.