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If you would have told me exactly a year ago that I would be spending my Fall 2023 semester studying abroad in Barcelona, I would have thought that you were nuts! Back in high school, my friends would go on supervised field trips to different parts of the world, where they created lasting memories and developed skills outside of a classroom setting. Ever since then, I’ve known that I too wanted to spend time abroad and create my own memories that would last a lifetime.

My experience studying abroad in Barcelona was extraordinary. I’ve gained a new appreciation for diversity and I’ve become confident traveling on my own. Attending classes at two different institutions (the School for International Studies and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra) allowed me to interact with both local students and international students, which in turn has helped me to create networks that will last a lifetime. Through engaging with the local Spanish culture, I’ve learned about the different cultural beliefs and celebratory customs that occur during the fall season. I’ve also been able to cook and try amazing food, such as various tapas and types of paella. My favorite experience was witnessing the holiday of La Mercè, a local celebration that includes tons of concerts, correfocs (Catalan fire runs), parades, castellers (Catalan human towers), and at the end, an immense firework display. It was truly a unique tradition to learn about and experience firsthand.

So, if you’ve been looking for a sign to study abroad in Barcelona, this is it! Studying abroad has opened my eyes to a world outside of U.S. influence. I selected Spain as my host country because of its rich cultural heritage, world-renowned cuisine, and vibrant social scene. Barcelona SAE’s focus on experiential learning allowed me to gain practical experience in my field of study while being immersed in a new culture. Studying abroad in Barcelona has also helped me to develop my Spanish language skills and cultural competency, which I believe to be essential in today’s global economy. My interactions with people from diverse backgrounds have helped me to learn about different Spanish customs and gain a broader understanding of the world outside of the U.S.

Pablo Quispe

Pablo is an Information Sciences major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and studied abroad with Barcelona SAE during the Fall 2023 semester. He took part in the SIS+UPF program, taking classes at two universities in Barcelona, and he lived with a local homestay family.

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