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Jessica Castleman

Jessica Castleman


Illinois Wesleyan University
Customized Program Participant

Jessica is a Nursing major from Illinois Wesleyan University, and studied abroad through a Customized Program during Spring 2015. 

What are you up to these days? Have you graduated? Are you working? How did your experience in Barcelona have an impact on your life?

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I can’t believe how fast it went by! I am starting my junior year of nursing school at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. I am enjoying sharing my stories from abroad so far, and learning a little more each day about “the new me” – the “me” after my time in Barcelona and abroad!

If you were to sum up your Barcelona experience in one to two words, what would you say? My Barcelona Experience is…


Explain why you chose those words.

I saw a different side of the world and a different style of life for the first time. However, I was not only able to see it, but I was also able to immerse myself into the culture for four whole months. I learned a new language, met so many new and unique people, and found myself a new home.

What was your favorite place to eat in Barcelona? Favorite food?

My favorite restaurant in Barcelona is a cafe called Brunch & Cake. The food and the atmosphere are both so fresh and fun. My favorite item on the menu is the quinoa burger…it was the best burger I have ever had! However, by my last week in Barcelona, I had tried almost half of the menu and it was all incredible!

What was your favorite tour, day trip, or cultural activity? Why?

My favorite activity was the cooking class. It is something that I had always wanted to do, and taking a class in Barcelona made it even better! The chefs were so helpful and fun! Also, I felt like our study abroad group really bonded during this activity as we were able to work together to create an amazing and traditional Spanish meal!

Is there a site in Barcelona that you would recommend to future students that may be a little more “off the beaten path”?

I loved hiking and running on Mont Tibidabo, especially on Saturday mornings! It is such a beautiful and peaceful place, as you can escape from the city life for a bit and explore Barcelona’s nature scene. While on Tibidabo, I definitely recommend that you stop by Can Marti, a restaurant that serves traditional calcotadas. The food is as amazing as the views overlooking the city!

If you had one perfect day in Barcelona where would you go, and what would you do?

I would go visit my host family and spend the day with them. Some of my favorite memories from abroad are simply having dinner with my host family, laughing for hours at the dinner table. I will always hold a special place in my heart for my Barcelona family.

What was something you were surprised to learn about Barcelona or Spain? Or what aspect of the country or city were you least expecting?

I was surprised to learn how loving the people of Spain are. I especially realized this during my three-day stay at a hospital in Barcelona when I had food poisoning. All of the doctors and nurses were incredibly kind to me, which helped me to relax and feel comforted in a difficult situation. I hope that I can share the love and comfort that I felt in Spain with friends, family, and strangers back home here in the United States.

What is one piece of advice that you have for future students coming to Barcelona?

My advice for future students is to keep a blog or journal during your time abroad. I started a blog, but didn’t keep it updated very well. I think it is very important to take time to reflect on your experiences abroad. It can help you to improve on things you may be struggling with, and also realize how blessed you are to have this incredible opportunity.

Why was Barcelona SAE the right program for you?

Barcelona SAE was the right program for me because it was created just for me! As a nursing major, I have very limited opportunities to study abroad, especially for a full semester. However, with the help of IWU and Barcelona SAE, I was able to fulfill my dream of studying abroad. During my time abroad, Barcelona SAE went above and beyond to make sure that my experience was a success. The program organized both work and play for students, with a variety of available classes, a cultural activity or day trip almost every week, and even weekend trips around the beautiful country of Spain! The Barcelona SAE program coordinators worked with every student to create a fun, educational, and unique experience in Barcelona!

Experience the magic of Barcelona SAE