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: