Student Experiences

Why study abroad?

Let our students tell you!

From unforgettable memories to life-changing experiences, IU Northwest students have been traveling to Bilbao for years soaking in the language, culture, and lifestyles of the city and its residents. … See what former students have to say about their study abroad experiences.

View our Bilbao Flickr photos

Student Stories

Bethany Casella

Bethany Casella

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

Mariah HamangIU Northwest graduate Mariah Hamang shares her study abroad experience read more about her trip.

Rachel Calderone

Rachel Calderone

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

Lana Muhrez

Lana Muhrez in Spain

"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


“I walked away with a deep understanding and appreciation of a different culture. No class could have ever taught me this. The experience was unforgettable” -  Yvonne Marante
“I enjoyed my time in Bilbao, Spain; it changed my outlook on life. I learned how to communicate in another environment in which I was forced to speak another language. The people I met were great and very caring to exchange students. As a result, my experience in Spain was priceless” -Lakisha Walls
The Bilbao program, aside from being an amazing life experience, gave me the confidence to engage in conversation at work with Spanish native speakers, making me a much more valuable employee. The Spanish immersion experience in Bilbao gave the confidence needed to engage with Northwest Indiana’s Spanish speaking population” -Brian Busch