I never expected to love this experience as much as I did. It was so different than I expected, but it exceeded my expectations. The Spanish there is very understandable and it was so cool to hear the Basque language as well! Bilbao is an absolutely beautiful and safe city. The metro is so easy to understand. The part of Bilbao called Casco Viejo has such beautiful buildings. Casco Viejo and the Puppy in front of the Guggenheim Museum were my favorite parts of Bilbao. Also, Casa del Libro, a Spanish book shop, has amazing books in Spanish! Getxo, where the students stay, is gorgeous with its beaches and has the best ice cream from a company called Capra. There are also so many cute shops and amazing views. It is a very family oriented city. There are many parks in such random places for children to play at, which was really surprising and cool to see. It was a really interesting experience living with a host family and seeing how different their schedule and culture is. As for the school experience, the class was actually pretty fun. It was not a typical lecture style class, but with the class being such small numbers, we got to do fun activities! We analyzed songs in Spanish and wrote compositions with fun topics. I would also suggest trying a croissant from Bertiz, a pastry shop, because it is out of this world. And finally, if there is one reason to study abroad in Bilbao, it is to try chocolate a la taza, because it is the best thing in the world.
View pics from Bethany's trip on our Flickr gallery
Going to Bilbao was the best decision I had ever made—even if it was nerve-racking. While I spent a lot of time studying, I made great connections with my host parents, students also abroad, and professors. I visited multiple European countries in my three months and learned a lot about myself when I was able to take in another worldview, live through different customs, and see other cultures. My orality and listening skills in Spanish have flourished. If you have the opportunity, take it. Study in Bilbao this summer!
View pics from Rachel's trip on our Flickr gallery
"For many people, the time they spend in college contains some of the best moments of their lives. Many of these moments have included studying abroad with IUN’s Spanish program in Bilbao, Spain. I have never been to a city that has such a diverse historical and cultural background to it. Downtown Bilbao is an absolutely beautiful area with tons of places to shop, quaint little restaurants (Bilbao is well-known for its gastronomy), and landmarks such as the Guggenheim Museum, the Beautiful Arts Museum, and the ancient, history-filled streets of Casco Viejo.
For those considering studying abroad with the Bilbao program, I only have one piece of advice: do it. Studying abroad is an unforgettable experience that cannot be traded in for anything else. I got to meet so many new, great people and create so many new memories while increasing my knowledge of Spanish. The host families that the program provides accommodate any need or want that you have, and they make you feel like one of their own. There are tons of things to do in your free time that will leave you wondering how different and amazing that studying abroad really is."
View pics from Halley's 2014 trip on our Flickr gallery
"One of the best ways to experience the world is through travel, and we are fortunate enough here at IUN to have such a wonderful study abroad program. I went to Bilbao in the summer of 2012 through this program. It was truly an unforgettable summer. Bilbao is one of the most unique cities in Europe which only helps to increase the understanding of Spain. Nestled in the midst of the Basque Country, one hears two languages among the streets of Casco Viejo and the downtown area: Spanish and the elusive Basque language, Euskera. Every corner offers a totally unexpected cuisine, while the streets frequently fill up with fans for the soccer team, Atletico Bilbao. The Guggenheim Museum, beautiful and bizarre, is a sight that no one should miss. In Getxo, the suburb I lived in, there was surfing, a famous hanging bridge, restaurants on cliffs, and monuments where no one would expect. The Basque people are proud and very welcoming. Bilbao is a truly unique European city.
After my wonderful experience attending classes at USAC, I was able to travel throughout Spain to Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, and Granada. From towering Catholic cathedrals to Arab fortresses, I immersed myself completely in Spanish culture.
Travel is a necessary part of any human experience. IUN provides this with an accessible, affordable, and unique experience with the study abroad program to Bilbao. I highly recommend participating in this program for any student who has an interest in expanding horizons and immersing oneself in a culture outside of our own. I guarantee it will change your life for the better."
View pics from Lana's 2012 trip on our Flickr gallery