UBarcelona a 'positive experience' for study abroad students

From left, juniors Sam Glaser, Alec Austin, and Steve Kruszenski visit Barceloneta beach during the first semester of the UBarcelona program this spring. Photo: Courtesy of Sam Louis Glaser
By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

From left, juniors Sam Glaser, Alec Austin, and Steve Kruszenski visit Barceloneta beach during the first semester of the UBarcelona program this spring. Photo: Courtesy of Sam Louis Glaser

UBarcelona a 'positive experience' for study abroad students

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
The spring semester marked the launch of a new study abroad program with 34 Hurricanes living in Barcelona, Spain. According to Sebastian Beaulieu, a senior majoring in finance, “the opportunity to live in Europe was unparalleled.”

Before this year, Sam Glaser did not know much about Antoni Gaudí, or his dramatic impact on the city of Barcelona. 

But after a semester of studying Spanish architecture and living in the place where Gaudí’s influence is revered, Glaser can rattle off a host of sites designed by the eccentric architect. His famed work, the Church of the Holy Family, or La Sagrada Familia, is one of the largest churches Glaser has ever seen—its magnitude makes the structure visible throughout the coastal metropolis. 

“It is also a church that has been in the process of being built for nearly 140 years,” said Glaser, a junior studying finance. “Although Gaudí projected to finish it many years ago, when he died [in 1926], committees were formed, and they still vote to decide how he would have built it.” 

It’s one of the more interesting facts that Glaser can now share about the city where he lived for the past few months. He was one of 34 students who attended the first UBarcelona program this spring semester, organized by the University of Miami Study Abroad office and Barcelona Study Abroad Experience (SAE)—a company that runs the program locally and offers a range of classes with Spanish and European professors at its academic study center. The trip allowed University students to immerse themselves in Spanish culture while living in the city and helped students like senior Olivia Humpel brush up on her Spanish language skills—all while exploring Spain and the rest of Europe on weekends.

“The opportunity to live in Europe was unparalleled, and my perspective on both my diet and lifestyle has changed,” said Sebastian Beaulieu, a senior finance major who also attended UBarcelona this semester. “Living in Spain has made me a healthier individual.” 

Formed after years of student interest in the city, UBarcelona is the latest addition to the nine U Programs, which allow students to study abroad with a group of other Hurricanes. The University has also built a strong partnership with Barcelona SAE, which provides students with housing and personal assistance (should they need it) during their time in Barcelona, said Anna Kenney, assistant director of study abroad. 

“Students have been asking for this, so we were happy that we were finally able to get this program going and offer another option in a Spanish-speaking country,” Kenney said. “To have 34 students abroad for our first semester of UBarcelona is more than we could’ve hoped for.”

Students standing in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
Juniors Yuval Moshe, Sara Graser, and Gee in front of La Sagrada Familia. Photo courtesy of Natalie Gee.

Natalie Gee, a junior majoring in business technology, already misses Barcelona. One of the best parts of the academic experience, Gee added, was the fact that instructors at Barcelona SAE integrated field trips into most classes. So, students were able to learn their way around the city while studying its architecture. 

“I loved Barcelona so much that I would move there,” said Gee, a New York native and travel enthusiast who relished visiting the city's museums and cultural sites. “It was the most positive experience of my life so far.” 

Almost all study abroad programs are active again after being paused two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold. A limited number of programs were offered during Fall 2021, according to Kenney. But, starting in January 2022, more than 200 students attended study abroad programs in 13 countries, including Spain, Italy, France, Brazil, and Singapore. This summer, students will be traveling to seven different countries on 11 faculty-led study abroad programs in places like the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Greece. 

Glaser and two friends took full advantage of the ability to travel throughout Europe from Barcelona. They visited nearly 10 countries by planning trips each weekend—to France, Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, and the Netherlands for the annual Tulip festival. He said the choice to study in Barcelona was perfect for him because the city has similarities to Miami. 

“If you want an easy acclimation to a city, Barcelona is the best way to go,” he said. “The people are friendly, the food is great, and the airport is central. So, you can get to anywhere in Europe within a few hours.” 

The study abroad office has close to 100 programs available to students in a range of countries around the world. There are more than 60 semester and year-long programs at partner universities, as well as 35 short-term programs. 

For students interested in studying abroad, applications for Spring 2023 will open in late May or early June and deadlines vary by program, but most are due between mid-July and October 2022. To learn more or to attend an information session, visit the University of Miami Study Abroad website, and make an appointment to speak with an advisor.