Maddie Swenson

Mass Communications (Journalism)

Winona State University
Studied Abroad at SIS
Maddie is a Mass Communications (Journalism) major from Winona State University and interned abroad in the Summer of 2019.

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?

Hands down my favorite part about my internship was the people I met – not only my co-workers that lived in Barcelona, but the other students who were interning and the people I met through interviews for articles.

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

Memorable & Life-Changing

Explain why you chose those words.

I choose memorable to describe my experience because it was an experience I will never forget…and I choose life-changing because it helped me to grow as a person and become more independent.

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

I never went to the same place twice because I liked to try different places, but I always had the best food at places that locals went. My favorite food was pan con tomate – it was just easy and delicious.

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

I loved the cooking class because it is something that I can bring back to Minnesota and make for my family, and I’ll get to share my experience with them in a way.

What was your housing experience like? Did you live in an apartment with other students? A homestay with a local family? A residence hall on your Barcelona campus?

I lived in a homestay. There was one other student through the program that stayed there along with my homestay mom and her two daughters, and I absolutely adored my homestay family. They were the sweetest, most caring group of women I have ever met. It was also nice to talk to them about the Spanish/Catalan culture and I learned a lot through them.

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

My perfect day would be going to a café for a cafe con leche and a pastry. Then I’d go to a market and walk around, check out all the vendors and people watch. I would then go to a small place for lunch before heading to the beach to walk around and take a dip in the ocean. I would then end the day with a picnic on the top of the Bunkers del Carmel.

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 that smoking was a popular thing. From what I understand, most people in Barcelona are very conscious of their health…and since smoking is so unhealthy, it surprised me how many people smoked.

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

You really need to be open to new things and accepting of how things are there. Though Barcelona is fairly similar to the US, there are little differences that you will notice and that you never knew were important. For example, in most places, you need to ask for salt and pepper. I never noticed how much I use salt and pepper until I traveled to Barcelona because it was so annoying to have to ask for it…but you’ll get used to the little things though!

Why was Barcelona SAE the right program for you?

The Barcelona SAE program was right for me because I had already finished all my general education classes and the classes offered by most programs wouldn’t fit into my major – so their internship program was a life saver! This way I could still go abroad like I had always wanted in college without wasting my money on classes I didn’t need, and I was able to still get credit and practical experience.