BSIS student Pablo Quispe discusses his study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, a place he selected because of its rich cultural heritage, world-renowned cuisine, and vibrant social scene. So far, he has enjoyed "every second" of his experience.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine. Back in high school, my friends would take supervised field trips to different parts of the world, where they created lasting memories and developed skills outside of a classroom setting. Ever since, I knew that I wanted to spend time abroad and create my own memories that would last a lifetime. Studying abroad presented an exceptional opportunity for me to achieve my future academic and professional goals.
Where are you currently studying, and how long is your program?
I'm currently studying in Barcelona, Spain, through Illinois' semester-long Barcelona Study Abroad Experience program. I'm taking courses at two highly acclaimed institutions, the School for International Studies and Universitat Pompeu Fabre Barcelona. Through both institutions' robust academic curriculum, I have been able to take courses that not only complement my major and minor but also align with my interests in international business, innovation, and technology.
Tell me about your experience so far.
My experience here so far has been extraordinary. I've gained a new appreciation for diversity and become confident to travel on my own. Attending classes within two different institutions allows for me to interact with both local students and international students, and I have created networks that will last a lifetime. Engaging with the local Spaniard culture, I have been able to cook and try amazing food, such as tapas and paella, and learn more about the different cultural beliefs and celebratory customs that occur during the fall season. My favorite experience so far has been witnessing the holiday of La Merce, a celebratory weekend that includes activities such as musical concerts, correfocs (fire runners), parades, castells (human towers), and, at its conclusion, an immense firework display. It was truly a unique experience to learn about and experience firsthand.
Would you like to recommend study abroad to other students, and if so, why?
If you have been looking for a sign to study abroad, this is it! I have enjoyed every second of my experience. In my program, the faculty plan excursions for us to visit different parts of Spain and its surrounding barriers, so that we not only get to meet other students but also learn more about the fascinating history and cultures of Europe. My professors have been very accommodating and are willing to work with students if they have questions or concerns outside of class. To top it off, there have been many holidays and extended weekends when I've been able to travel to different parts of Europe.
How has this experience benefited your academic and professional life?
Studying abroad has opened my eyes to a world outside of Western influence. I selected Spain as my host country because of its rich cultural heritage, world-renowned cuisine, and vibrant social scene. The program's focus on experiential learning has allowed me to gain practical experience in my field while being immersed in a new culture. Studying abroad in Barcelona has also helped me develop my Spanish language skills and cultural competency, which I believe are essential in today's global economy. My interactions with people from diverse backgrounds have helped me learn about different Spanish customs and gain a broader understanding of the world outside of the U.S.