As I sit in the blissful sun in Moyua Plaza surrounded by the bustling city of Bilbao I am beyond satisfied with my decision to study abroad here. I sincerely wish more people knew about it. Before coming to Spain I had no idea where Bilbao was let alone the Basque country. In comparison to Barcelona, Madrid, San Sebastian or Granada it is undoubtedly the underdog- mostly due to the unfortunate fact that it is not as well known in the United States. But let me say this, Bilbao is a hidden treasure. And I am so glad I found it.
Bilbao is a city where old marries new with the infamous, modern Guggenheim museum infusing with areas such as the classic Casco Viejo. It provides a unique Spain experience and you get to become a part of the culture, rather than just observing it. I say this for two reasons. Bilbao provides the city life and is relatively big, yet is still modest enough to become knowable. It also, thankfully, has not fallen victim to becoming overly touristy. The Basque culture is unparalleled and to have the opportunity to become a part of it is a worth-while experience. I already find myself not wanting to go home. Bilbao has obtained the term “home.”
As for the USAC program specifically, one aspect instantly comes to mind: the staff. I cannot speak highly enough about the people working for the Bilbao program. They are amazing, to say the least. They are extremely helpful and there for every step of the way while simultaneously encouraging us to branch out and discover things on our own. Each member of the Bilbao staff, professors included, genuinely cares about the students. It is easy to see that they love their job; that in and of itself speaks leaps and bounds. I have yet to hear other study abroad students mention the staff playing such an important role in their experience. However, I and I think I speak on behalf of the rest of my program, believe that the staff has enhanced and in some cases made our experience. It has become a family. I am beyond thankful and think this is one aspect of the Bilbao program that is unmatched by others.