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Maria Hanna

Maria Hanna

Biology and Hispanic Studies

Illinois Wesleyan University
Customized Program Participant

Maria is a Biology and Hispanic Studies major from Illinois Wesleyan University, and studied abroad through a Customized Program during Spring 2017. 

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 spent the entire four months of my abroad experience hardly daring to believe that it was real. I had high expectations, but Barcelona surpassed them all. Living in the city is such an experience–I had the option of strolling through a modern city, visiting a historical site or art museum, hiking a mountain, or relaxing by the sea, all within 30 minutes of my homestay. And if that weren’t enough, all of Europe was just a short plane ride away! I did so much exploring, learning, and growing throughout my time abroad, in ways that were so unique and different from what I do at home, that now the whole experience feels like an amazing dream.

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

My host mom’s kitchen–she made the most amazing food! My personal favorites were the very typical Spanish foods: pan con tomate, tortilla de patata, and patatas bravas. I also frequented cafe 365, because they had really cheap and delicious food, and I love their cafe con leche.

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?

Living in a homestay was an absolutely incredible experience–I absolutely recommend it for anyone who is really looking to immerse themselves in Spanish culture. My host mom was such a sweet lady, and she was always willing to practice our Spanish with us, learn more about our lives, and help us make the most of our time in Barcelona. She also had a teenage daughter, which was an awesome way to learn what local young people like to do!

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

I always tell visitors to check out the bunkers of Carmel (El Turo de la Rovira), a spot with an amazing view of the city. I also would suggest straying from popular tourist areas for a while and checking out some of the neighborhoods, such as Gracia, which have cute shops and cafes, and often have cool activities and festivals going on.

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

I would eat breakfast at my favorite cafe by my apartment, Santa Gloria. Then, I would walk up and down La Rambla, and stroll on Paseo de Gracia to admire all the beautiful Modernist architecture. Then I would go up to the bunkers of Carmel to watch the sunset!

Experience the magic of Barcelona SAE