This summer sophomore Nicholas No studied at La Academia de Barcelona, a university in Spain.
Q: What type of program was it? How did you hear about it?
A: It was an Oxbridge academic program (designed for all levels of Spanish and for students interested in learning about the culture of Spain). My dad told me about the program and basically said that I was going.
Q: Was it your first time in Barcelona?
A: Yes. I had never been to Spain before, but I have been to a lot of Spanish-speaking countries (Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico).
Q: How was Spain different from these countries?
A: Spanish speakers in Spain have a lisp. In Barcelona, Spanish is not the official language. The official language is Catalan, but you get away with speaking Spanish.
I thought the European culture was interesting. When you think of Spanish, you think of Mexico and South American countries, and it’s so much different. It doesn’t relate to them at all.
Q: Were you scared to go without your parents?
A: Not really. I thought a month away would be a bit extensive, but it ended up not feeling long.
The first couple of days are scary. You don’t know anybody. Some of them didn’t speak English. But once you get there and know everybody and create a network, it doesn’t feel like a long time. I also liked the freedom of doing what you want.
Q: What classes did you take?
A: I took a Spanish class. They had anything from writing to international business to marine biology.
You have a major class from 9 a.m.-noon Monday through Saturday, and that was my Spanish class.
You have a minor class Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3-5 p.m., and I took culture and cooking. We learned to cook a lot of Spanish dishes. I took it to improve my Spanish and get a cultural sense for when I have to take AP Spanish. I also took it for the experience of going to Spain.
Q: Did you stay on campus?
A: We stayed in an apartment residence connected to the college campus (University of Barcelona). The rooms were really small, and you had to share with a roommate. My roommate and I didn’t have anything in common, but I wasn’t in my room very much so it didn’t affect the trip. Most of the other students were American, so we spoke English to each other in the dorms.
Q: What were your favorite and least favorite things about Barcelona?
A: I liked the freedom. You have to make sure that you get up on time, that you do your own laundry, do all the required activities, take care of yourself if you get sick, and try and sleep at a reasonable time if you have an event in the morning.
There are not many things that I did not enjoy. However, the hot and humid weather did get old after a while. I just felt sticky and didn’t like it.
Q: How did you handle the responsibilities?
A: I did fine. I did get sick once, and it lasted a lot longer than it should have because I didn’t take care of myself and sleep. It taught me a lot about being mature and being more responsible.
Q: Would you go back? To what kind of students would you recommend the program?
A: I would go back to Barcelona. I really enjoyed the learning aspect and experience of going. I would recommend it to students who want to learn, experience and get a new perspective on Spanish culture.