Recently, we caught up with one of our past students, Chase Westfall, who studied abroad at the UAB in Fall of 2012.  Here’s what he had to say about his experience with Barcelona SAE!

What university in Barcelona did you attend?  What classes did you take?

I attended the UAB. I had 12 credit hours at the UAB: Spanish for the business, Spanish Civilization and Culture, and 6 hours of Spanish Language.

What did you like most about your study abroad experience?

The thing I loved most about my Barcelona experience was being able to really grasp a sense of culture. It was unbelievable living somewhere with such rich history and tradition. In order to get the most out of your experience, I suggest living in a homestay. I loved my host family and I sincerely believe my time in Barcelona wouldn’t have been as beneficial if I lived in an apartment or student housing. Every night you have the opportunity to have a sit down dinner with your host family and work on your Spanish. I owe the majority of my Spanish progression to my host family. Also, you may have the opportunity to learn some Catalan! Barcelona is an international hotspot so you will see such a mixture of people and cultures. It really is unlike anything else.

What did you like most about your time in Barcelona?

 I loved how everyday was an adventure. Barcelona is the most beautifully entertaining city in the world and should be at the top of everybody’s bucket list destinations. It was an absolute pleasure having the opportunity to live in such an amazing city. As I mentioned earlier, my thirst for adventure is unquenchable. From the moment you wake to the moment you retire for the night, you are on a journey. When you step outside your door into the beautiful streets of Barcelona you will really feel like you are living, you will find purpose. I know it sounds dramatic and cheesy, but who cares. Choosing to study abroad in Barcelona and going through the Barcelona SAE program was seriously the greatest decision of my life! You have the coast of the Mediterranean to the East and the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains to the west and you are within an hour and a half flight from every major city in Europe. What more could you ask for?

What did you do outside of school?

There is a ton to do outside of school. Barcelona is considered to be a mecca for skateboarding world wide, and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. I spent everyday skating all over, familiarizing myself with the city. I spent so much time in the streets of Barcelona that I got to the point where I was more comfortable in Barca than in my hometown. Outside of skating with my friends, I would go to the beach (Barceloneta) and play volleyball and throw the frisbee around. I also love to travel so I would spend most of my weekends outside of Spain. You can fly really cheap throughout Europe, and I took complete advantage of it. I am a die hard FC Barcelona fan so of course I attended many a game haha. The Camp Nou was all I expected and more, the atmosphere is unmatched. Just imagine 100,000 Catalan supporters exploding! I also made it a point to really get to know and interact with the different barrios and people of Barcelona. There are so many beautiful neighborhoods and sectors of Barcelona that have there own traditions and history, and I really loved exploring and discovering the differences between each. My room mate and I found a really cool International Church called the ICB that we got plugged into, and I found that made all of the difference. We had a men’s bible study group that met every Tuesday night and a home group consisting of young adults all over the world that met every Thursday night just outside the city in Les Planes. It was such a blessing finding a group of people that believed the way I did in such a foreign city. I spent a lot of time going to church functions and activities throughout the semester and I really feel like a grew as a person during my time in Barcelona.

How do you think your overall experience will help you in the future?

During my time in Barcelona, I really discovered what I wanted in life. The whole experience of living so far away from home in such a foreign environment really opened my eyes to the man I wanted to become. Living, better yet, surviving in a place where you don’t speak the language, you don’t know anyone, and you have no idea how to get from one place to the next and being able to overcome those obstacles to find a truly enriching experience shows you that you are capable of anything.

What advice do you have for future students?

My advice is that you choose Barcelona for the right reasons. Don’t choose Barcelona just for the night life, the clubs, the alcohol, the Spanish women, etc. Sure, all those things are great and you will have the time of your life but those things wont stick with you forever and they wont make a difference on your life. You can get hammered anywhere in the world, but you only have a brief opportunity to truly embrace the Catalan way of life and learn from the people you come in contact with. Choose Barcelona for the rich history, the beautiful landscape and architecture, the people, FC Barcelona, culture, life long memories and the time of your life!

Would you recommend Barcelona SAE programs to other students? Why?

I would recommend Barcelona SAE to anyone with a pulse. Choosing Barcelona SAE was one of the greatest decisions of my life, and I owe everything to the wonderful staff and the great city of Barcelona. The staff truly makes your experience a personal one. You really get to know the leaders and they have all kinds of fun excursions planned for you to get better acquainted with your fellow program members, Barcelona, and other beautiful Spanish cities such as Granada, Madrid, Tarragona, and Girona. If you are seriously contemplating studying abroad, you would be foolish not to choose Barcelona and the SAE program. Barcelona SAE changed my life, so allow them to do the same for you!