The Catholic University of America

 Paige Palumbo - IES Abroad Barcelona


 Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

  1. IES Abroad Barcelona is a program of multiple schools and universities, including Penn State, George Washington University, F&M University and Cornell University. Having a program with so many vast schools allows you to meet new people from all over the world and form new friendships you would have never made had you not studied abroad. This forces you to associate with students other than the ones you may or may not know from your home school.
  2. IES Abroad Barcelona makes a conscious effort to verify that their students are pleased with their classes and enjoying their program. They make an effort to make changes wherever needed, whether it be with a dissatisfaction with a class or disagreement with a teacher's type of teaching. Any slight dissatisfaction will immediately be taken into their hands to better their student's experience.
  3. IES Abroad Barcelona offers a variety of free activities to submerge the students into their new culture and to meet the new students within the program. My program offered such activities as a free wine tasting, a bus tour of the city at a discounted price, and a meet and greet with other students from within the program. These activities were a great way to take advantage of what the city had to offer and meet new people.
  4. IES Abroad Barcelona provided its students with an organized trip to Valencia and Tarragona, Spain. We were provided with transportation, a hotel room with a selected student from our Spanish class, two free meals a day and various tours throughout the day. This trip was a great way to experience different cities in Spain I most likely would have not visited on my own. I got to better understand the significance of paella in Spain, the importance of the perone in the Catalan culture and the history behind the infamous architecture created by Gaudi.
  5. IES Abroad Barcelona is located in the heart of Barcelona in the city of Cataluna. It is conveniently located by the large shopping mall "Cortes Ingles", a block away from Las Ramblas and a short distance from the miraculous Arc de Triumph. A simple walk to class can become an adventure filled with new and exciting things. This convenient location also allows for classes to take field trips around the city and to establish a better connection between the newly learned material and the culture at hand.


What I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Went

  • Culture-shock after returning home from abroad. I felt that after returning from abroad and experiencing such a unique and exciting experience, that I was quite different from the American culture. I had a hard time readjusting to the American culture and I wish I was adequately prepared for it.
  • How to properly balance my money while overseas. I went abroad with a decent amount of money in order to fully enjoy by overseas experience. I found that I thriftily spent a large amount of my money eating out at restaurants and shopping during my first month of January, causing me to be shorter in cash than expected during the rest of my four months.
  • Necessary clothing items that may be needed. Although I found tons of gorgeous, sunny pictures of Barcelona and heard hearsay of how warm it was year round, I found Barcelona to be freezing from January to mid March. I refused to pack a winter jacket, scarves or an adequate number of winter gear and found this to be a huge issue, especially when walking to class and during class trips.
  • Separation from family and friends at home. One major issue that concerned me prior to abroad was the long distance from my family, friends and I and how I would be able to cope with this. I found that due to classwork, traveling, spending time with newly established friends and experiencing the culture left me with little time to be consumed with what was going on back home. I realized that I actually wasn't missing out on too much home and that soon enough I would be reunited with my family and friends.
  • To be very open-minded and accepting to all your new country has to offer. I found that I was slightly closed-minded going into my experience, in regards to the food and some cultural customs. My "house mom" really helped in assisting me to be more accepting to differences and change and to to try everything at least once! 


A Funny Story or Situation

"Getting to class..the long way."
In order to get to class in center city, I was advised to take the metro system. The metro was extremely fast and convenient in getting to and from class. Monday morning of my second week of class, the metro system was closed for repair. I had less than 30 minutes till class and had to frantically find an alternative route. Due to language barriers and my lack in detail for direction, I found myself riding the metro bus in the completely wrong direction (towards the mountains) for 30 minutes until finally realizing it. On the downside, I missed my fourth day of class, but on the upside I figured out how to ride the metro bus and established a keener sense of direction of Barcelona!


An Embarrassing Situation

My classmates and I would frequently purchase lunch at the local market off of Las Ramblas called "La Boqueria." Not only was this market conveniently located near our school, but it was also extremely cheap and had delicious food. While abroad I made a conscious effort to always speak Spanish to the locals, even if they began to notice my American accent and would reply back to me in English. One situation I encountered where I felt embarrassed while interacting with the locals of Barcelona, Spain, was when ordering pizza at a small vendor in La Boqueria. While ordering my food, the cook instantly noticed my weak, Spanish accent, categorized me correctly as an American and began to make fun of me. I felt extremely embarrassed when interacting with the pizza cook and needless to say did not eat there again.


The Teacher From Whom I Learned the Most

 The teacher that made the most impact on my study abroad experience, was Xavi, my teacher for the class "Language, Culture and Communication: The Spanish Perspective." Although Xavi's main focus of the class was to inform us of the subject matter at hand, he made a conscious effort to learn and listen about our new experiences while abroad and informed us of interesting and unknown aspects of the Spanish/Catalan culture in Barcelona, Spain. He encouraged his students to engage in new activities and adventures and assisted us whenever needed.



When registering for housing with my study abroad program, I listed my housing choices in the following descending order: Apartment, Dorm Living and Homestay. Initially, I had a very negative view on living with a homestay family and thought that living within an apartment or dorm would be a better fit for me. When finding out I was place in a homestay, I was extremely upset and uncomfortable with the thought of living with a strange, unknown individual or family but soon realized it was the perfect fit for me. Living with my homestay mom, Maria, was extremely rewarding in that I practiced my Spanish daily, learned some Catalan, enjoyed some typical Spanish/Catalan dishes, and learned first-hand the culture of Barcelona, Spain. I would definitely recommend living in a homestay setting abroad since the benefits out way the liabilities. Living in an apartment or dorm setting restricts students from truly experiencing the culture of their desired country.



Student Profile:

Hometown:  Willimastown, New Jersey

ProgramIES Abroad Barcelona

Term Abroad: Spring 2011

Contact Paige