Jessica Gutheil

Psychology & Spanish

Illinois Wesleyan University
Studied Abroad at BIC (now SIS)
Jessica is from Illinois Wesleyan University, and studied abroad at Barcelona International College (BIC) during the Spring of 2015.

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

Catalan cooking class- I’m a big fan of cooking at home, so it was a great opportunity to learn some new recipes. The cooks were so nice and helpful, and I like how we worked together to put together this great meal. It was surreal being in this kitchen, overlooking La Rambla, with all the amazing people on this trip cooking traditional Catalan food. I love learning about different cultures, so making and trying traditional Catalan food was really fun.

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

The Bunkers are a place up on a little mountain that overlook the city. You get this amazing 360 degree view of Barcelona. It’s not overcrowded like many of the tourist places in Barcelona since not very many people know about it, but it is definitely a great place to spend a couple hours and take in the views and have a picnic. It also has historical significance to the city since it was a place of defense during the Spanish Civil War and later was a shanty town, which I find very interesting.

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 did not realize that all the parts of Spain are so different. I visited Granada, Zaragoza, the Basque Country and, of course, Barcelona. They were all so different. I loved being able to go to places really close by and have a completely different cultural experience. I suggest that anyone that does come to study abroad in Barcelona takes some day trips/weekend trips to different cities like Granada to see all the different places and cultures Spain has to offer.

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

Take in as much of the city as you can. I started out, like most people, hanging around La Rambla and all the very touristy places. But, it’s the less touristy places that really made me enjoy this experience so much. Places inside the Roman walls can be a lot more calm and there are beautiful churches and plazas all over. Gracia is a really pretty area with cute shops that is a lot less crowded than La Rambla. Sometimes my friends and I would just get off on random Metro stops and explore – and there is always something to find. So, my advice is to just go explore everything, take the Metros and buses and you’ll find so many great areas that are not crowded with tourists (although some of the tourist sites are great!)

Why was Barcelona SAE the right program for you?

Barcelona SAE was SO helpful. With trips and cultural activities planned almost every week, there was always something new to discover. The staff was also so friendly – I loved knowing I could go to anyone or email anyone and they would be so open and happy to help me. Barcelona SAE also had many opportunities for us to get to know the other students studying abroad which was a great way to meet new people having the same great experiences as you.