A Transformative Itinerary

Guest Post By: Leo Wang, a Sophomore studying Accounting and Information Systems. He is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and he studied abroad through ALBA Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, during Summer A-Term 2023.

This summer, I embarked on an incredible adventure that took me to the alluring city of Barcelona. I had the privilege of participating in the distinguished ALBA Barcelona Study Abroad program through the Foster School. While the city’s iconic architecture and cuisine were undoubtedly highlights of my stay, it was the lessons learned both inside and outside the classroom that have etched an unforgettable mark on my academic and professional life.

At the heart of my study abroad experience was staying with a warm and welcoming host family This experience endowed me with unparalleled authenticity and cultural immersion. Sharing everyday life with my host family was nothing short of special—each meal, prepared by my host dad, offered unique tastes of Catalonian culture and cuisine. The hospitality extended by my host family in Barcelona was nothing short of exceptional, infusing my experience with an authentic connection to Spanish culture that I will forever cherish.

During my time abroad I was enrolled in two classes: International Business and Business Ethics, both condensed into intensive six-week courses. Due to the intensified coursework compared to the standard quarter-long classes at the University of Washington, I became a regular visitor to several local cafes to study, shuffling through quizlet flashcards and perfecting PowerPoints with my classmates. With that, I learned about the work culture of Spain; people were very vocal and forthright, not afraid to offer direct feedback on each other’s work. The fast-paced classes challenged me to adapt to a diverse learning environment, ultimately enriching my academic experience. 

The pinnacle of the study abroad program was our cohort’s excursion to different locations across Catalonia. These excursions defined the essence of the program, offering a multidimensional lens through the cultural veil that envelops Catalonia. From the dizzying heights of Montserrat to the pristine shores of Costa Brava, each destination was a symphony of nature’s finest wonders, providing insights into the customs, traditions, and historical significance of the region. 

As I reflect on my study abroad experience in Barcelona, I can already discern its positive impact on my professional aspirations. The ability to communicate effectively in a foreign setting, adapt to new environments, and cultivate cultural awareness were all invaluable assets that will serve me well in the future. In fact, I had the opportunity to visit the cities of Rome, Florence, Milan, and Vienna after my time in Barcelona, applying what I learned in these new settings. Each of these cities offered its own unique cultural tapestry, and I found the skills I honed in Barcelona to be indispensable. Navigating through a global environment is something that stays with you, and through ALBA, this experience will serve as a cornerstone of my personal and professional growth.