Student Experiences: Will

Sagrada Familia

Why did you want to study abroad, and where did you choose to go?
Back in 2018, I had declared a Spanish minor and wanted to improve my speaking skills. When I visited the Oswego Abroad office, Barcelona was recommended because La Universitat de Barcelona specializes in Spanish as a second language. I also really wanted to travel around Europe for the first time.

Describe your campus and what student life was like.
The campus I took classes in was created specifically for foreign students. It was a lone building that stood along the 2nd longest street in Spain (Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes). The main campus was right across the street, and I walked by it every time I went to class. Student life was very interesting because we were grouped with foreigners from various parts of the world. I personally had classes with students from Turkey, Afghanistan, China, Australia, and many others. Similar to universities in America, I had full control over my schedule aside from going to class.


Was there a language barrier? And if so, how were you able to get through it?
Yes. All of my professors only spoke Spanish and Catalan, so there was a language barrier. At the time, I had only taken one Spanish class in the previous three years of college, so I had trouble communicating, especially at the beginning of the program. But, as a foreign student, I knew it was my responsibility to adapt. I practiced my Spanish as much as possible outside of class, using the internet as a primary source.


What were your accommodations like?

I lived in a residence with all of the Americans in my program, along with Spanish students and some Portouguese students. It was an apartment building, and the rooms were spread out on one floor of the building. I had one roommate, who was part of the Oswego program as well. We had a cook that prepared lunch and dinner everyday in a kitchen, which was one floor below the rooms. The apartment itself was a 10 minute walk from the university and also close to the shopping district, important landmarks, and the beach.

How were your courses?
At the university, I took three Spanish classes and a director’s course, for a total of 15 credits. The Spanish classes were 1 language and 2 electives (Spanish/European history & daily conversations in Spanish).  The director’s course is required as part of the Oswego program. We had two program directors who were also our emergency contacts during the semester. They were very nice and spoke fluent English. This course mainly consisted of traveling and writing reflections about my experience. 

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Was it challenging to navigate throughout the country?
I have a very poor sense of direction, so I used Google Maps offline mode.
10/10 - highly recommended.

What did you do in your free time?
I had lots of free time because everyone had Fridays off and most classes were done by 4 PM. There are a couple gyms not far from the residence where I stayed, so that was an option. If the weather was nice, my friends and I would go to the beach, which wasn’t too far from our residence. But usually, I would wander around the city… Barcelona is huge, so there is a lot to discover. If I had to choose, my favorite activity was hiking up Montserrat, a mountain range in Barcelona.


Did you travel to any other countries or cities while abroad?
Yes, I went to Italy (Rome and Milan), Poland, Ireland, and all around Spain (Valencia, Bilbao, Granada, Malaga, Mallorca, Seville). Traveling in Europe is cheap, just make sure to plan your hostel and transportation bookings in advance.

Overall, how was your experience? And do you have any tips for future students who may be interested in traveling to the same place as you?
My experience abroad was amazing. Looking back now, I really miss traveling and seeing new places in Europe. With that said, for anyone wishing to study in Barcelona, you should 100% travel while you’re there. Europe is an amazing place and there are lots of destinations to choose from. Secondly, really try to learn the language. Even if you can’t get the accent down to perfection, showing the locals that you are practicing is a plus. I didn’t realize how much my Spanish improved until I was back home. 

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