Study Spanish Abroad
in Barcelona, Spain

Providing unique learning experiences for North American university students since 1969


Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city located on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, with a rich history and a vibrant culture. The city draws visitors from around the world who are attracted to Barcelona’s architecture, cuisine, mild climate, cultural offerings, beautiful setting, educational institutions and business opportunities.  Barcelona is Spain’s second-largest city and it provides a lifestyle that is both Mediterranean and European. The city has an international student population of over 200,000 which adds to its sophisticated nature. Our Barcelona location is the only offering where students can choose to study entirely in English in a wide range of subjects including STEM, International Business, History, International Studies and Design.

Cultural Information

  • Population: 1,600,000
  • Catalonia
  • Euro
  • La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí architecture, Las Ramblas, beaches, Gothic Quarter

Spanish Daily Routine - Barcelona style

Breakfast/Desayuno is not a major meal, consisting of small amount of food and is generally eaten early in the morning.

Lunch/Almuerzo is the biggest and most important meal of the day and is generally eaten between 2:00 and 4:00PM.

Dinner/Cena is a small meal, although more substantial than breakfast and is generally served between 9:00 and 10:00 PM.

The traditional Spanish custom of the “siesta” is not always observed in urban Barcelona. Distances are greater to travel to one’s home and culturally, many Catalonians look to Europe for their cultural cues.

Traditional local Dishes

This region of Spain has a healthy, Mediterranean diet. Fish and seafood dishes are common. There is a great variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fideuà is a noodle dish, usually prepared like a paella with seafood. Bread is often eaten with a dressing of tomato, garlic and olive oil as a simple snack.

Jamón Serrano is a salted, cured ham that is sliced thin and is typically served either on its own or in a bocadillo (sandwich).

Vegetarians/Vegans: Spanish culture is not particularly vegetarian/vegan friendly due to the importance of ham and other pork products in their diet. While the salads may not be filling, Spain offers delicious breads, cheeses, and vegetables dishes.

How to dress in Spain

Most Spanish people dress up more than the average American. Young men wear jeans and t-shirts or soccer jerseys, but you’ll also see men wearing nice pants and shoes. Women generally wear very feminine clothing.

To fit in with your surroundings, avoid wearing grubby jeans, sweatshirts, and sneakers. Nice, fitted clothing is what most people wear.

While Cataláns are a bit more informal than previous generations, especially in hot summer months, expect to see more style and formality in dress than in North America.

Life Outside the Classroom

Compared to other regions of Spain where Spaniards are more immediately open to interaction, Catalonians can be reserved at first but they will be your friend for life once they get to know you. The big attraction of studying in Barcelona is its cosmopolitan lifestyle, with many activities ranging from culture to cafes to sports and delicious food in Barcelona’s famed restaurants.

Some of the best ways to do so are by signing up for a local speaking partner, attending Spanish Studies cultural activities, or by going to the places Spanish students hang out.

Spanish Studies Abroad wants you to have fun while studying abroad; however, you are expected to meet all of your academic responsibilities. Spanish nightlife is probably unlike the social scene you have experienced in the U.S. because they sometimes do not get started before midnight.

The following are the key areas of concentration for students to study in Barcelona; our advisors will work with you to place you into the appropriate tertiary institution.

International Studies

Take coursework through the local university, in English, with local and international students. Most courses are in English, while some courses are offered in Spanish for those with more advanced skills. Take a Spanish language course and electives in English, benefit from cultural activities, study tours, and support from our resident director. A variety of courses include humanities, business, science and more.

Art & Design ELISAVA

All courses are taught in English at Barcelona’s School of Design and Engineering. This program has its focus on a comprehensive and contemporary vision of Design Studies, that includes (but not limited to) product, furniture, packaging, retail and food design.  Global and historical contexts of art and design are also required fields of study for students with no background on design studies. Elisava’s mission is to prepare versatile designers with expert knowledge of the diversity of services they can offer in the extensive market of this profession.

ICT(STEM) Abroad

All courses are taught in English at UPF’s Polytechnic School. This program has its focus on Information Technology, Robotics, Engineering and Math studies because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how students learn most effectively. 

Short Term

If you can’t get away for a full semester, short-term programs are the best option. Courses offered at all levels of Spanish, in most disciplines: general Spanish language, Spanish for the professions, literature and history, business and economics, education and health sciences, social sciences, and more. We offer May and/or Summer Terms.

Integrated Studies

Advanced students enroll in one or more regular courses in Spanish at the host university to complement the Spanish Studies Program curriculum. Sit side-byside with local students. We provide you with all the benefits of direct enrollment, including access to campus resources and integration into the university community. On-site resident directors assist each student individually with course selection and registration, and select a tutor for academic support.

Get Started

Here’s what you need to do to take the next steps:

Start an application

You're one step closer to an amazing study abroad experience!

Connect with your campus study abroad office

Share your plans and confirm you're on track to meet all required steps to go abroad.

Contact us

Send us an email if you still have questions or need information about applying to this program.

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Our center and partner institutions

Our office is centrally located near the Plaça de Catalunya, the Ramblas and the Barceloneta neighborhood and is within several metro stops of the institutions where our students study. These are the Universitat Pompeu Fabra’s main campus, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona’s two study abroad sites and the campus of Elisava, our partner for art and design.

Visit our local Facebook page for Barcelona

Get an idea of typical activities that students are getting up to!


Spanish Studies programs feature all-inclusive study visits with accommodations, meals, entrance fees and expert professors and guides. Site visit destinations vary according to program.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Spanish Studies Abroad includes day trips and study tours such as a modernist tour of Barcelona, a day trip to Girona and a day trip to Montserrat.

Overnight* excursions may include:

Weekend trips to Figueres and Cadaqués.

*There are no overnight excursions in any of the short term programs.

View of Montserrat Monastery. Beautiful Benedictine Abbey,  high in mountains.  Catalonia. Spain



One of the best ways to integrate into your program’s city and culture is through our practice of homestays. This allows you to actually live with a local family, to sit with them at dinner, to speak Spanish regularly outside the classroom setting and truly learn what it feels like to be a member of the community.

Our Housing Coordinator chooses housing placements very carefully. Most of the families who host Spanish Studies Abroad students have been working with us for years and come with the highest recommendations from former students.

Your señora will give you a set of keys to your house, so you will be able to go out and experience life abroad on your own schedule.

Many students report back that their host family was one of the most wonderful and enriching part of their study abroad experience, and stay in touch with their host mothers for years after they return to the US. If you are excited about truly immersing yourself in the local culture, this is hands down the very best way to do so.

Don’t forget to consider a homestay gift for your host family!

Local family


We work with three tertiary institutions in Barcelona, two public universities which are Universitat de Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and a private design college named Elisava. Our admissions team will assist you at each step to place you into the institution and courses that best match your needs and interests.

Elisava is a private college for Art and Design, affiliated with Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Elisava is located on La Rambla, in the heart of Barcelona’s attractions. Elisava has a wide range of areas of study in Design including practical areas such as design of retail packaging.


UPF is often considered Spain’s highest-ranked university and it offers our students a wide range of areas of studies in both English and Spanish. Our students study at UPF’s main campus and interact with their local counterparts. UPF offers the following academic areas for international students: Business, STEM, Biomedical Sciences, Social Sciences, History and International Studies.

International students who attend UAB study at one of the city’s urban locations, in the heart of the city. Areas of study include Business, Economics and Politics,  Art and Architecture,  Mediterranean Studies (which can include courses such as History, International Studies and Political Science).


Meet your Resident Director

I will work with you from the moment you apply to the Barcelona program. Throughout your stay in Barcelona and until your departure I will help you, guide you, hug you when you need it and be a part of this amazing experience that will change your life. I love interacting with students and making sure you feel secure and satisfied. Don’t hesitate to participate in this life changing experience. We are waiting for you!


Adriana Pajares

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