Madeline Gibson

Biology, Hispanic Studies

Illinois Wesleyan University
Studied Abroad at SIS

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

Life Changing

Explain why you chose those words.

After reflecting on my experience, I noticed that I have changed as a person because of my experience abroad. I am more patient, more willing to step outside my comfort zone, and more comfortable standing up for what is right. You learn a lot about yourself when you go to a different country for four months, and Barcelona was the perfect place to experience this growth. There’s so much to do, and the city is very safe. I’ll miss being in a place that is so lively and that has such a vibrant history!

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

I really liked Txapela and two restaurants by my house, El Roble and Pizza Verona. I love all of the food here, but my favorite would either have to be bikinis, pan con tomate, or patatas bravas.

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

I really liked the trip to the Costa Brava. Calella is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen, and I enjoyed having a less-structured day. We were basically let loose to explore the town and walk along the path.

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 with two other students. My host mom is a phenomenal cook, and has a fun-loving side as well! She always teases us and laughs with us. If we ever have a request for food or if we needed anything extra, she’d do it for us, no questions asked! I have enjoyed being spoiled so much!

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

Jardines del Putxet! It is quiet and has great views. If you like to exercise, there are plenty of stairs in the park!

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

I would go to a new cafe and have a cafe con leche. Then I would find some type of space with nature, whether it’s a park by my house, Collserola, or walking along the beach. It’s really relaxing to take a book and sit on a park bench and people watch. For me, my surroundings are more important than the activity itself!

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 at how cheap the food is. You always hear about how Europe is expensive, and from what I’ve seen, that seems to be true outside of Spain. I will miss being able to get a pastry and coffee for 3 euros!

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

Always plan extra time to do things. Having a little wiggle room comes in handy if you get lost, miss the train, or if there’s some sort of travel delay. Plus, you want to experience the city without feeling rushed. You’ll be here for four months- there will always be time to explore!

Why was Barcelona SAE the right program for you?

I really liked the planned excursions, because I wouldn’t have traveled to some of those places otherwise. Specifically, I really liked the Basque country and the Costa Brava- truly beautiful! I also really liked the three day weekend schedule. It made weekend travels so much easier!