Savanna Steck

English Writing

Illinois Wesleyan
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…

Unbelievable.

Explain why you chose those words.

My experience here has been quite formative. I’ve had to experience so many new things that its hard to wrap my mind around. From staying in someone else’s home and not having to cook my own meals to dealing with sudden illness; its been a little unbelievable. And on top of the everyday things, there’s actually being in Barcelona. Having the beach 20 minutes away and all the historical sights. This has been one crazy ride.

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

The paella at Maians down in Barceloneta. Its so good and super affordable, especially because one dish can easily feed two people. For a good cup of tea (if you’re not a coffee drinker, but its pretty good too) Buena Ventura Cafe is a must. It has a ton of really good organic options. I recommend their chai tea!

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

I loved the Cava tour and calcots after. We had a really funny guide who showed us a good time while telling us the history of cava. And after we got to eat a ton and try calcots. I loved that we got to be a part of Catalan culture!

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?

Do a homestay. Mine was fantastic all around. Our homestay mom was so amazing, she made sure we were always taken care of. In fact, we think she was trying to fatten us up because she always made a ton of delicious food. Plus she was so fun to talk to, we spent most of our meals together laughing. The homestay was a great experience for me. I got to experience more of the culture in Barcelona and I got to practice my Spanish every day. Plus there was always someone looking forward to me coming home. And that alone was worth it. There was no better feeling than walking in the door and being greeted with a smile and hug from our host mom.

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

The Parc de Clot. Its a little jem hidden away right by Placa Glories. I live right by it. The park is designed around an old factory so there are a ton of cool ruins in the park. Plus Clot is a lovely area to grab some lunch and enjoy an afternoon!

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

Hiking around the mountains or national parks. I love getting outdoors and away from the city. A little green is nice, so the mountains around Barcelona are a perfect place to go!

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

Honestly just how big it is. Barcelona is huge. I’ve been here four months and I still feel like I haven’t seen anything.

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

Just embrace it. Things are going to be different than at home but get over it. That’s the point of study abroad, to experience something new. And once you do, you’ll start to realize that home and here aren’t too terribly different. There are a lot of commonalities between them and its not so scary.

Why was Barcelona SAE the right program for you?

Barcelona SAE provided the right frame work for me to get immersed in the culture of Barcelona. They have a fantastic staff and wonderful outings designed to teach and explore the city. But the program allows enough flexibility so that I could explore around Europe as well.