I did my semester abroad in Barcelona in the spring (mid-January to the end of April) 2012, and I would do it again at any time, but probably not at UAB.
In order to start as stress-free as possible, I organized an apartment from home. I was surprised how easy it was: on sites like wg-gesucht. de or Zwischenmiete. de you can also select Barcelona as the city and you will certainly get 100 apartments displayed.
Because I’ve never been to Barcelona and I didn’t know any better, I got an apartment at the ADW, which was really annoying.
So look for an apartment near these metro stations: Placa Catalunya, Barceloneta, Fontaner, Passeig de Gracia, Girona, Jaume I or Liceu. However, avoid the left side of the Rambla, because creepy figures hang around at night.
Moving on-site is pretty easy because there are always rooms available.
If you are there in winter, make sure that the apartment has heating, otherwise it can get pretty uncomfortable – even in Barca it can be around 0 °.
According to iamaccepted, the “rules” of the UAB often made me smile: compulsory attendance, mobile phone ban, notes on cooperation, you have to report if you have to go to the toilet, eating and drinking (except water) is forbidden: o)
I knew that there were only Study Abroad students on our campus, not Spaniards. I would not have expected that almost only Americans study there (certainly 80%) and otherwise only a few Germans, a few Brazilians, a few Koreans and almost no other nationalities.
All course content is totally focused on the USA, which is probably due to the majority of Americans. It bothered me and a few others quite a bit because I didn’t come to Spain to learn about the USA.
The course level is very different. Mostly below the level in Germany, but sometimes very time-consuming, with many presentations and homework to be graded.
Since Fridays are always free, you can’t really complain about too little free time. 3-4 courses + Spanish are totally easy to do.
The professors are all Spaniards, Mexicans, Columbians, etc. , but mostly speak good English.
I came to Barcelona with practically zero knowledge of Spanish. Most Spaniards speak English very poorly, but I got by surprisingly well.
At the UAB I had taken an “Intensive Spanish Course” A1 level in the hope of learning the most important things there, which you can apply immediately. Unfortunately, that was not the case. We only learned everyday things (ordering in a restaurant, fruit & vegetables, etc. ) in the last 2 weeks . . .
The lack of language skills of the Americans had a major impact on the pace of the course, and I also had a teacher who was a bit lame (others were more lucky). So I didn’t learn much, which annoyed me very much, because the course wasn’t cheap. I would rather recommend organizing a course on site yourself, it seems to be relatively easy to do and is certainly cheaper. But what is great is that the UAB offers a “tandem” program in which you meet with Spaniards in order to practice and deepen your Spanish skills with them. In return, you teach them English. This is also a great opportunity to get to know the Barcelona people and their habits better, as otherwise you have very little contact with the locals.
Life in Barcelona
The city has a lot to offer. You can go shopping, partying, sightseeing, chilling out, etc. The beach is a dream, the nightlife is very diverse and there is always something going on. However, the number of tourists increases extremely from Easter, which makes the city quite crowded.
Groceries are a little more expensive than in Germany, you can rarely eat out for less than 15 EUR. The nightlife is also very, very expensive, but you don’t indulge in anything else; o)
However, you should bring a certain budget with you to enjoy Barca. From Barcelona you can also make great trips to the surrounding places or fly over a long weekend to Madrid, Seville or similar.
Pickpockets are everywhere! Most of my UAB friends have been robbed! Always have one hand on your handbags (even in bars and cafés), only take the most important things with you and be careful when you are drunk. Trouser and jacket pockets are not safe either!
All in all, the semester abroad was a great experience that I wouldn’t want to miss! I recommend it to everyone and Barcelona is the perfect city for it! I would also like to thank the nice girls from MicroEDU again for the great support!