Italy | Decisions, Decisions…

By Jessica Helfond

In this blogpost, I thought it was only fitting to tell you how I ended up studying abroad in Rome in the first place. So, that’s exactly what I’m here to do.

My decision to study abroad in Rome was a pretty easy one. For as long as I can remember, Italy has been my #1 travel location. Over the years, I spent hours and hours looking up pictures and tips from other people’s trips to Italy (and yes, I do have a corresponding pinterest board to prove it). From the incredible food, to the beautiful art and architecture, and even to the rich history, I was deeply interested in and excited by Italy.

When I was in high school, I learned about studying abroad in college. I always thought that would be so cool. Taking classes in a foreign country? What’s not to love about that? So, I knew I had to eventually study abroad in college. Combine my desire to study abroad with my interest for Italian culture, and that’s when I knew I was going to somehow find a way to study abroad in Italy.

And now we fast forward to fall 2018: my first quarter at UCLA. I had been talking to some friends who were a year older than me and were planning on studying abroad the following summer. This sparked my interest. I ended up going back to my dorm, and googling studying abroad during the summer at UCLA. And that’s how I ended up on the UCLA International Education Office webpage. I ended up clicking the summer travel study option and searching by country, and saw that there were two programs in Italy. 

After looking at the classes offered by each program, it was clear that the Italian Renaissance and Modernity program was the one for me. Somehow, the classes offered perfectly aligned with the classes I still needed to take at my time at UCLA. I needed a historical analysis GE and to fulfill my language requirement, which were two of the three classes available to take during the program (don’t worry, a full blog post on academics is coming soon).

So, I scheduled an appointment with the Italian program coordinator, Jenn. That meeting told me everything I needed to know, from housing accommodations, to tips for traveling abroad, and even to scholarship options. And I’ll be honest, as someone who had never even been out of the country before, I needed all the help I could get. After a few more meetings and several phone calls to my parents, I had registered to study abroad during Summer 2019 in Rome, Italy. 

My decision to study abroad in the Italian Renaissance and Modernity program in Rome was easy. It was the perfect location with the perfect classes. I know it isn’t that easy for everyone, but there are plenty of resources to help you figure out where and how to study abroad, starting with UCLA’s advisors. They helped me figure out how to go on an adventure of a lifetime, and I would not have ended up studying abroad without them.

So, even if you have only the slightest interest in studying abroad, do some research. Talk to people. Inquire. It doesn’t hurt to ask around. And who knows, if you do end up studying abroad, it just might end up being one of the best choices you’ve ever made. I know mine was.

Jessica Helfond studied abroad in Rome in Summer 2019. 

Italy | Religion in Rome

By Jessica Helfond

Rome is known for being a religious epicenter, given its rich history with the Catholic church over the centuries. Although Rome is widely known for being right near Vatican City, it’s home to more than just the famous St. Peter’s Basilica. Scattered all throughout Rome are numerous other churches, which are full of beautiful artwork and architecture. The churches throughout Rome are often housed in very plain, discreet buildings; however, you walk in and they are anything but simple.

I’ll start with one church our professor took us to: the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica. It was a plain white building, but when we entered the building, there were immaculately painted walls and ceilings. This church is actually where (most of) Saint Catherine’s body is buried. I say “most of” because her head and one of her pointer fingers are still in Siena, where she lived most of her life. This is because they’re kept as religious relics, which is what allows someone to call a church a basilica. For those of you that don’t know, St. Catherine of Siena had religious visions starting at a very young age. She dictated them to a scribe because she never learned how to write. She also wrote letters to the pope himself, telling him to bring the papacy back to Rome. At this time, the papacy had moved to Avignon, France. It was remarkable that at this time a young girl was telling the popeone of the most powerful men in the worldwhat to do. 

Back to talking about the church—it was absolutely beautiful. There were a bunch of smaller chapels inside with gorgeous paintings. Even if you’re not religious, this church is absolutely beautiful to see. There is incredible artwork, architecture, and stained glass windows. Everywhere you look, there’s something interesting to see.

Another church I would recommend going into is the Pantheon. The Pantheon is another one of Rome’s iconic buildings given its rich history. Although it’s famous, I didn’t know the Pantheon was a church until I went inside and saw the altar. The building itself is incredible—it’s one of Rome’s only domed buildings. Not only is the building a dome, but it’s built of concrete, which is so difficult to make structurally sound in a dome shape. Yet another incredible feature of the roof is the hole in the middle of it. In the past, the ancient Romans were able to tell what time it was based on where the sun fell inside the building.

The Pantheon is one of the most architecturally impressive buildings in all of Rome, and is a must see while in the eternal city. As a quick sidenote, there’s a DELICIOUS gelato shop right near the Pantheon. It’s a sicilian gelato shop, which means it’s known for its citrus flavors—the citrus symphony flavor was incredible. I would also recommend their dark chocolate and walnut, ricotta, and honey flavors.

Now, back to churches in Rome (I couldn’t resist mentioning gelato briefly). Going into random churches led me to see beautiful sights that I would have no idea were there otherwise. It’s always a good idea to go explore and see what you can find—you never know what treasures you’ll stumble upon.

Jessica Helfond studied abroad in Rome in Summer 2019. 

Italy | Advice for Your Time Abroad

By Jessica Helfond

My month in Rome was full of unexpected twists and turns. While it all ended up okay, there are a few things I wish I knew before leaving. Here’s some general advice for studying abroad, mixed with some specific tips for studying abroad in Rome.

1. Try new things.

I know what you’re thinking. No kidding, Jessica. Of course you’re going to be trying new things while in a foreign country. Yes, I know it sounds self explanatory! But I do think it’s important to keep in mind. While in a foreign country, you’re constantly surrounded by new, unfamiliar things. Literally everything is different. Because of this unfamiliarity, it can be easy to want to fall back into old habits to find something that feels familiar. Like getting spaghetti every night. Or not going on a spontaneous walk around the city, and instead staying in bed and watching your favorite feel-good show on Netflix. But trust me, keep putting yourself out there and try new things and you won’t regret it. The whole point of going abroad is to have new experiences, and it’s important to keep that in mind throughout your entire trip.

2. Don’t be afraid to be more assertive than normal.

I know, this sounds weird. But this tip is specifically for Rome. Italians are known to be more aggressive. Not in a scary, I’m going to fight you way, but more in a general sense. You have to ask for what you want, especially in a setting like a coffee shop. Waiters aren’t going to be super polite like they are in America (probably because in Italy there are no tips, so they don’t really care), and people aren’t going to wait around for you to make a choice. So you have to know what you want and ask for it, and if you do, you’ll end up getting it.

3. You don’t always need a plan.

Some of my favorite days were spent just wandering around Rome. It’s so fun to explore a new city, and you never know just exactly what you’re going to find. So don’t be afraid to go out for the day and see where it takes you–odds are it’ll be better than you could have imagined.

4. Bring good walking shoes.

I can’t stress this enough. I was told this before I went, but I didn’t realize that Italians walk literally everywhere. I walked over 175 miles in 4 weeks in Rome, so PLEASE bring good walking shoes.

5. Bring extra euros. And then bring a few more.

I made the mistake of not bringing enough euros. I didn’t realize that so many small transactions are based on cash (especially all those two euro gelato purchases). If you run out of euros, you have to find an ATM that most likely has terrible exchange rates and usage fees, so you’ll end up spending way more money than you want. Using cash is ESSENTIAL, so bring more euros than you think you’ll need. Odds are, you’ll use them.

6. Public transportation will be ridiculously crowded. It’s okay.

I can’t even describe how crowded public transit in Rome is. Imagine a bus or metro with so many bodies in it, you are pressed up against people all around you (if you can’t imagine that, think about sardines in a can). It might seem like I’m exaggerating, but I’m really not. There are times when it’s so crowded, the vehicle cannot physically hold another body. As unpleasant as that sounds, it’s not that bad. There’s always air conditioning, and you aren’t really on transit for that long, so it goes by quick. 

7. You will make it through.

This is more of a general study abroad trip. Being in an unfamiliar country can seem overwhelming. Now put the stress of taking classes (that do, in fact, count for your GPA) on top of that, and it can seem like way too much. However, it’s doable. And despite how crazy the classes may seem, there’s plenty of time to have fun, make new friends, and go on new adventures while studying abroad. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime chance, and it’s something that I truly think everyone should experience.

Jessica Helfond studied abroad in Rome in Summer 2019. 

Italy | Exploring all the Pasta-bilities

By Jessica Helfond

On our first day, our program coordinator told us one VERY important thing to keep in mind while in Rome: food is everything. And let me tell you, he was not kidding. As I’m sure you know, the main food dishes in Italy are pasta and pizza. However, the pizza and pasta in Rome were unlike anything I’d ever tasted before. 

There was a small pizza shop a minute down the road from where classes were held, and it was the best pizza I had in Rome. You were able to have them cut the pizza to the size you wanted, and could choose from a wide variety of toppings. It made for a quick, but delicious lunch in between classes.

As a quick sidenote, I would personally recommend pizza with pesto on it. Pesto was one of my favorite foods I tried throughout my time there. And yes, I’ve had pesto before, but none of it even came close to being as delicious as pesto in Italy. It’s made with olive oil, pine nuts, and a variety of herbs. So simple, yet SO good. Pesto is also delicious on pasta. I had it on gnocchi quite often, which is my favorite type of pasta. They’re technically potato dumplings, but they take the place of pasta in most dishes. They are so filling and absolutely delicious, and can even be mixed with meat or fish, like the shrimp I had with my pesto gnocchi.

The ingredients used for all food dishes are unbelievably fresh. The tomatoes are so sweet, the cheese is fresh, and every pasta you find is handmade. There is no shortage of pasta in Rome; in fact, Rome is known for four specific pasta dishes: cacio e pepe, spaghetti alla carbonara, bucatini all’Amatriciana, and pasta alla gricia. I know that none of those names mean anything to you at this point, so let me break it down. Cacio e pepe translates to cheese and pepper, and that’s literally what the dish is. It’s a long noodle with a cheese based sauce and black pepper. It sounds simple, but it’s delicious nonetheless.  Spaghetti alla carbonara (often known as just carbonara) is another long noodle dish, made with egg, cheese, some type of ham (often pancetta or bacon), and black pepper. Bucatini all’Amatriciana uses long noodles, this time in a tomato sauce with cheese, black pepper, and pork. Finally, pasta alla gricia is a long noodle with cheese, pork, and pepper. As you can tell, each dish is fairly similar in ingredients; however, the slight variations make for huge differences in flavor. Each dish is delicious, and I would recommend trying each of them to get the full experience of Roman cuisine.

Finally (although I suppose I should be saying firstly), I come to antipasto, or appetizers. My two favorite appetizers were bruschetta and ham with melon (yes, you heard me right). Bruschetta is fresh tomatoes, often mixed with olive oil and herbs on top of toasted bread. Each place you go does their bruschetta slightly differently, so it’s fun to go try all different types. There’s also bruschetta with other types of toppings, like ham and cheese, which I would also recommend trying. And last, but by no means least: ham and melon. I know, the combination sounds so odd. I thought so too when I first heard it. But try it, and believe me, you’ll think the combination is absolutely genius. The sweetness of the cantaloupe melon combined with the saltiness of the prosciutto ham go together so perfectly, it’s unbelievable. Both of these appetizers are so simple, yet are some of the most delicious food I had while in Rome.

When in Rome, I encourage you to go out of your comfort zone and try the local cuisine. It is some of the best food I have ever tasted; you will never be disappointed with a meal. And remember: Food. Is. Everything.

Jessica Helfond studied abroad in Rome in Summer 2019. 

Italy | Roaming Around the Eternal City

By Jessica Helfond

Our first day in Rome. Slight jetlag, slight nervousness, and extreme excitement was in the air. We met at our apartment building in the morning with our program director and professors and they took us to the study center where classes were held so we would know how to get there. We got on the tram, took it 7 stops, and then walked through buildings until we got to the study center. There was even a giant open air market near the study center that had super fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a wide variety of pastas and olive oils. It was so cool to walk through and see all the fresh Italian cuisine.

Once we got to the study center, we had a short orientation about program logistics. Essentially, they told us who to contact if we had any issues or questions and gave us a rundown of everything we would be doing throughout the program.

After our orientation, we all walked to a nearby restaurant called Fattoincasa. And let me tell you, we were not prepared for the meal we were about to have. They came out with 5 rounds of appetizers. JUST APPETIZERS! They started with bruschetta, then went to bread rolls with eggplant meatballs and tomato sauce, then prosciutto and mozzarella, bean soup, and fried zucchini. After that, they finally served us pasta. We could choose from 4 different pasta dishes, and I chose penne pasta with a basic tomato and basil sauce. But let me tell you, the taste was anything but basic. All of lunch was so delicious, and we knew if that was what our first taste of Italian cuisine was like, we were in for a MAJOR treat throughout the rest of our month.

After we were done with lunch, we were able to do whatever we wanted for the rest of the day. So, naturally, we roamed around Rome for the rest of the day. We started walking and ended up in a giant piazza (which we later found out was called Piazza Navona). There was a huge fountain with an obelisk in the center of the piazza, along with a giant building with beautiful architecture. At this point, we had been walking for a while and it was very hot, so naturally, we had to stop for gelato. We stopped at what was supposedly one of the original gelato shops in Rome called Giolitti, and let me tell you, we were NOT prepared for how good it was. I got caramel gelato that, in hindsight, was one of the best gelato flavors I had while in Rome. It was so creamy and cool on a hot day and was exactly what we needed.

After gelato, we wandered further and eventually ended up at the Spanish Steps. We walked all the way up to the church at the top and were able to admire the view. After that, we wandered around some more, before eventually taking the tram back to our apartments. And that concluded our first day in Rome. There was so much excitement in the air about being able to explore a new city and try new foods, and it was a great first day of what proved to be an even greater month.

Jessica Helfond studied abroad in Rome in Summer 2019. 

Italy | Acing Academics Abroad

By Jessica Helfond

A big portion of studying abroad is the actual “studying” part. I took 9 units in 4 weeks, and while it was challenging, taking these classes abroad was very efficient and enriching. 

During our month in Rome, we could take 2 out of the 3 following courses:

  1. Italian 1: Beginning Elementary Italian (4 units)
  2. Italian 42A: Saints and Sinners in Early Modern Italy (5 units)
  3. Italian 191: Medieval and Renaissance Italy in Pop Culture (4 units)

We could also enroll in Italian 199, which was an additional 4 unit class on a research topic of your choosing. Italian 1 met from 9:30am-12pm Monday-Thursday, Italian 42A had class from 2-4pm on Monday and Wednesday, and Italian 191 had class from 2-4pm on Tuesday and Thursday. Classes were held in the ACCENT Study Center, which was about 30 minutes away from our apartments. To get to class, we took the metro for 7 stops, and then walked for 10-15 minutes to get to the study center. 

The study center was two stories that were fully equipped with air conditioning. On one floor, there were classrooms that could fit around 25 students, bathrooms, a silent library for studying, and a faculty lounge for office hours. Upstairs, there was the student lounge (equipped with a microwave and refrigerator), a computer lounge, and desks to study or complete work at. There was also fast wifi and a printer to use in the study center.

I took Italian 1 to get started on my language requirement and Italian 42A to fulfill my historical analysis GE. I’m going to be honest. Italian 1 was VERY fast paced. After Week 1, we had a quiz. After week 2, a midterm. After Week 3 we had another quiz, and after Week 4 we had our final exam. We took all of the quizzes and exams online with an online system that monitored our computers and surrounding environment. However, taking them online meant we were able to take them whenever we wanted before the deadline (which was usually Sunday evening). This meant we could study as much as we wanted before taking the exams, and take them whenever we felt we were ready.

Although the class was very fast paced, it was very possible to succeed in. Our TA did an amazing job of teaching us the most essential concepts during class, and then giving us homework to reenforce the concepts. As long as you asked questions on what you were confused on, did the homework, and studied before the exams, you were able to succeed in the class. Besides learning the Italian language, we also learned about Italian culture. We played fun games, and on our last day of class, our TA brought a variety of sicilian cannolis for us to try.

Italian 42A consisted of learning a lot about the history of Rome, which meant a lot about the history of religion in Italy. The best part of the class was actually being able to visit locations that we talked about in class. For example, we actually got to go see the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City instead of just looking at pictures of it in class.

Although taking the classes in a month abroad was very fast paced, actually being able to take them in Rome made them so much more enriching. It was way easier being able to learn a language while being immersed in a country that speaks it, and actually visiting locations we learned about in history class made it way easier to put meaning to the information we were learning. I loved taking these classes abroad, and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to fulfill requirements in a more enriching, fun way.

Jessica Helfond studied abroad in Rome in Summer 2019. 

France | What Art Can I Photograph?


I enjoy falling into paintings from the past to enter a different world or to understand my feelings more deeply. But if you photograph artistically, museums can be a boring place to take creative shots. Taking a photograph of a museum-lit painting is boring and unimaginative. We can feel like copiers of great art, and that’s all. But their are beautiful things that we can shoot in museums that creates a new art and can challenge our creativity.


A man in stone at the Louvre, Paris

A reposing woman inside the Louvre, Paris

Sculptures, like humans, are 3D constructions that can be captured in beautiful, new and imaginative angles with different lighting and positioning.

Whenever I enter a museum with my camera, I am drawn to the statues, challenging myself to find unique ways to capture the art. Sculptures are the pieces of art that we can manipulate in unique ways without using the use of a live human. We can take a piece of art and create a new piece of art, a unique way of looking at the sculpture. Unlike a flat painting (which can be creatively shot but not the extent of a sculpture) which as no angles to be of use to the photographer.

The backside of the Venus de Milo in marble

The soft figure of a woman at Musée d’Orsay, Paris

The sun shining through an open window illuminates an “important” man at the Louvre, Paris

The Pain

Women bitten by a snake lies beautifully, but writhing in pain

These photographs are only scratching the surface of the immense possibilities that exist in using sculptures in photography to create art. I hope that these photographs inspire you to become more creative at museums, challenging yourself to look at art differently and using your eye to capture something unique to you and your experiences observing the art. By challenging yourself to look for new angles, you may discover something new and exciting about a sculpture.

Sarah Brandenburg studied abroad in Paris, France in summer 2018:

Spain | Unique Inside Access to Bomb Shelters from the Spanish Civil War


This was the most touching and real walking tour for me in this class.

I didn’t really know anything about Franco or the Spanish Civil War prior to this trip. It was one thing to read about it in our assigned book or even discuss it in lecture, but it’s a completely different story when you see the remains of bomb hits and the places where people fled to protect themselves and their families.

Thanks to the connections provided by our professor, our class was able to take a tour inside the bomb shelters used during the Spanish Civil War which took place from 1936-1939 and was between the Republic (which is the democracy here) and the Fascists. It ended with the victory of the Fascist and a dictatorship by Francisco Franco until his death in 1975.

My mom was born in 1975. That was my first thought when I was first learning about all this. This dictatorship wasn’t far too long ago. This put things into perspective as we entered the underground tunnels of Montjuic that were used as bomb shelters to hold up to 1500 people per shelter.

Rafael Lemkin tried to explain the war in one word: urbicide.

To him, this meant that the war was not only killing cities, but relationships among people, not just merely buildings. This was the first time planes bombed cities. 400,000 Spaniards fled to France as refugees.

After Franco’s victory, no one could talk about it for the entire time of his dictatorship. Our tour guide explained how many Spaniards today are not even aware of the bomb shelters. Although Spain was not officially apart of World World II, Franco did assist Hitler.

Life within the shelters had to have some rules. They were written in Catalan and Spanish on the walls. People were not allowed to talk about politics or religion, for obvious reasons of trying to keep a calm environment. It’s important to note that these shelters were for ALL people, no matter what side you were on. Everyone had to pay their debts by either working or payments to use the shelter to make it fair.

The tunnels were cold and damp. They were constructed in narrow curved forms to withstand the impact of the bombs. The tour guide told us a sad story about how the one room that was not built in this form was the children’s playroom. It had a wider ceiling and was larger in size. Unfortunately, there were two boys playing in this small room when a bomb struck and the walls in this area could not withstand the strike. The ceiling came crashing down, killing the two young children. We saw the room and the destruction; I can’t describe it. I just know that it shattered my heart, thinking about them and the way the families in here were real people, parents, and kids.

There was also another room for the sick so they could be contained in one area. If you were a doctor, you most likely worked here to pay your dues of using the tunnel. The tour guide explained about pregnant woman would also be giving birth in the bomb shelters sometimes. My friends and I just imagined the unsanitary and sad conditions to bring life into this world. It was a lot to take in, but definitely brought everything to life.

After the Spanish Civil War was over, the soldiers kept building and adding to these shelters just in case there was a chance Spain would be apart of WWII. A poor family apparently used the shelter as a home for 10 years without anyone knowing from 1949-1959.

Because Barcelona wanted good branding for the Olympic Games of 1992, the shack towns that once existed in Montjuic up to this point and in Barceloneta were removed and renovated. Only 2 of the bomb shelters are preserved.

As I said time and time again, this was the saddest but most eye-opening learning experience that I’m grateful I had the chance to experience. I hope you do too!

Paulina Hernandez studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain in summer 2018:

Spain | Breathe in the MUSIC the City Makes


The musical stylings from The Cheetah Girls 2 may or may not have been downloaded on my Spotify prior to coming to Barcelona. Hey! You never know when you might lose service or data and need to listen to Strut” on the train ride.

But the music in the city sure is something. Though I wish I did come across more random people playing the Spanish guitar in the streets, I was mesmerized by my trip the Palau de la Música, which is a concert hall. It is one of the modernism buildings we could visit for one of our assignments. We had heard great things about it from our other classmates so we decided to check it out.

How to Get There

Though you can take a bus, my friends and I decided to walk there because it is only about a 16-minute walk, which you will learn is not bad at all. It was beautiful scenery all the time, and we decided to grab lunch before so it ended up working out!

*Pro tip: Trip Advisor is used more in Spain/Europe than Yelp if you’re looking for the best restaurants and ratings in general* In our experience, we wouldn’t take the metro or bus (even more complicated) if we could walk there in 25 minutes or less. Walking is a more popular way to get somewhere, I would say, in Barcelona than in Los Angeles. It’s funny because I would keep thinking about how I used to Uber from apartment side back to my sorority house because I thought THAT was too far of a walk. 

However, you can take the bus. You can follow the following directions from the Arc of Triomf via bus by click here (it is about the same in time).


When we got the Palau de la Música, we learned there are different ticket choices depending on what you want to do. We did the Guided Tour that costs 20 Euros (because that’s what we needed for our assignment). Remember to ask for a student discount by showing your UPF student ID! We enjoyed this one because half of it was learning about the building itself and the beautiful architecture and art, and the other half was a mini concert. There are other tour options

However, you can buy actual concert tickets for different shows and performances going on. They host all kinds of concerts, so for more information, I would check out the website here and plan accordingly.

My Experience

Modernism is a type of architecture style I got too familiar with being in Barcelona for a month. Antoni Gaudi designed many of the famous modernism buildings known today such as La Sagrada Familia. Anyway, this building was beautiful in every sense of the word.

Make sure to use the bathroom before and to not be late! We had to run around the first 5-10 minutes of the tour because we lost our group. This place is not that big so it was funny going up and down the stairs trying to find them. After another tour guide helped us and we reconnected with our group, we sat on the upper level and learned about the meanings behind the giant sun in the ceiling, flowers that were found all around the concert hall, and some of the art and glass work. My mind was truly blown by the amount of detail.

Finally at the end, we sat in the first couple rows and listened to a talented organ player who made me feeling like I was walking the streets of Main Street at Disneyland or walking down the aisle of my own wedding. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the museum if it wasn’t assigned, and I know I definitely would’ve missed out. So, I hope you get a chance to check it out even if it’s just for the tour and love it as much as I did!

Paulina Hernandez studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain in summer 2018:

Spain | How in the World Do You Juggle Class + Traveling?!


Everyone who has studied abroad has had this struggle. Everyone who is thinking about studying abroad wonders about it. But it makes sense because your mind wants to be on vacation 100% of the time of you being in a different city, country, or continent — and you should let yourself enjoy the trip!! Just remember that these programs do cost money and you don’t want to go wasting that by missing your classes. But trust me when I say there’s a balance, and it may be hard at first but you can and WILL find it!

It’s different for everybody and also depends on the classes your taking. This program had me enrolled in 2 upper division Spanish courses that counted towards my minor. There was also an option to add a 3rd upper division class for an extra charge. If there’s anything my professor told us that I remember, it’s that although we were there to experience the city for ourselves, we were still enrolled in 8 units and the work would feel like it. Figuring out how to balance was up to us.

For this program in particular, we had class every day of the week Monday through Friday (minus one free Friday) for the 3 weeks we were enrolled. However, not every one of these days had the same format:

Two of the days of the week, we would have a four-hour lecture at the university. Sometimes there were guest lecturers, and we always had at least a 20 minute break. I would always go to the cafe and get a cafe con leche and donut.

Two of the other days of the week, we would have walking tours, which were my favorite because it meant we were learning about the city in a hands-on way. The professor would give us a location somewhere in Barcelona to meet at 10AM on the dot. Sometimes it was in the Gothic Quarter, sometimes it was in a plaza. Either way, we had to make sure we were there whether that meant taking the metro, a taxi, or walking. We would walk around via tour guides or just with the professor explaining what we’ve learned in lecture and see the buildings and city for ourselves. There’s definitely a difference from reading about these places in a textbook and actually visiting them!

Finally on Fridays, we usually would take a field trip somewhere outside of Barcelona, like Gràcia or Montserrat. This would usually be an all day thing and we wouldn’t get back until about 7PM or 8PM. This meant that if we wanted to travel outside the city on the weekends, we had to book our transportation at least past 10PM. It was definitely doable, however.

Anyways, it may seem like class takes up all your time, but it really is only 4 hours of lecture 4 days of the week plus field trips on Fridays (that are fun anyways). The assignments were things like visiting a museum and writing about your experience, presenting on assigned areas we had to explore, or quizzes based on the readings. It’s all dependent of your work ethic, but if you time managed appropriately, you could get your work done just in time to enjoy the rest of the city. Trust me, it IS doable if you want it do be; you just have to be willing to put the time in to make the most of your time! ?

Paulina Hernandez studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain in summer 2018: