Why A.S.S.P, and Our Academic Trip to Valencia

Momo Zorrilla
February 1, 2016

Studying abroad sounds like a helluvalot of fun, you fantasize, as you scroll through the list of programs that IES Abroad has to offer. Amsterdam, Arles, Auckland, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin,  Cape Town, Chicago, Christchurch… Once you get through the ABC’s of enchanting possibilities, you figure that Barcelona is the attractive victor of the bunch, because: A) Your major can be completed in one of the most thrilling cities in Europe, B) You seethed with envy over the pictures your sorority sisters or BFF’s from your service group snapped at Park Güell, or C) You’ve heard of Opium or Espit Chupitos, and by heard, I mean no one that has gone to Barça has ever come back without shutting up about either establishment.

But then, as your wide-eyed and curious peepers scan the IES Abroad Barcelona page, you notice two distinct options for the Spring or Fall Semester: Liberal Arts & Business or Advanced Spanish Studies. Ew, ADVANCED?!?! You mean I actually have to attend classes to smooth out my español skillz while simultaneously nursing a resaca, live in a homestay while my other pals rage it up in their university dorms, and take intensive grammar and writing courses? Nooo thanks.

While the mandatory requirements, qualifications, obligations, and rules may seem intimidating and imposing, choosing the Advanced Spanish Studies Program as the track for my academic and social experience in Barcelona was, personally, not only the right decision, but the only decision that could ultimately lead to a fulfilling semester cruising along the Mediterranean coast down in Port Olímpic or munching my way through the scrumptious delicacies of El Barrio Born.

Simply put, coming from a Honey I Shrunk The College Students sized institution (Haverford College proudly boasts a whopping 1200 undergraduates on average), where I knew the faces and names of my peers well, the size of A.S.S.P drew me in. About 18 students in a similar scholarly niche is much more manageable for a liberal arts gal than the 400+ students of IES Abroad Barcelona: Liberal Arts & Business Studies. Of course, in my classes I still interact with students from the other program, and kicking back at the center procrastinating- or actually using precious time wisely- further makes this interaction possible. Its just lovely to know that, if I pass one of the A.S.S.P kids, I’ll be sure to get a wave, a smile, an accompanied walk back to your homestay from class late at night, or an invitation to hang at Razzmatazz for an impromptu Hozier concert due to our bond.

Furthermore, A.S.S.P narrowed down my academic options in a way that benefited me. Due to the rigor of the curriculum set forth by IES Abroad Barcelona and participating partner universities for its Advanced Spanish Studies students, all of my classes “count” for credit towards my Spanish (minor and possible major???) and even my English major! Therefore, time spent in class and away from adventuring Gran Vía and getting lost amidst metro transfers felt- and still feels- “worth” it.

It may not be for everyone, but if you have a knack for Spanish, enjoy personal growth in an intimate environment, and really, really, like burgers, then continue reading: You may find yourself in the A.S.S.P Orientation soon, and crushin’ it like Fat Amy.

There’s more I could write, but sometimes pictures say it for you. It is my humble and completely unbiased opinion, that if IES Abroad Barcelona took place in the universe of Mean Girls, we’d be the greatest people you’d ever meet. Don’t believe me? Just watch (through a pictorial representation of our mandatory academic trip to Valencia. Bruno Mars definitely forgot that crucial descriptive lyric):

First stop: The picturesque Peñíscola after a sleepy bus ride featuring matted hair and drool. Boasting sights similar to those seen in Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants (OMG remember when Alexis Bledel goes to Greece?! Romance ensues!!!), Peñíscola was a seaside dream with wild model-hair-tossing winds and teeny tiny bony fish to pick at. 

Second stop: Valencia! The city of arts, sciences, oranges, and paella. We toured the modern and historic parts of the town, downed sangria and chocolate con churros, and some of us even ventured into the famous museum of science where we got our butt’s x-rayed and spotted some gnarly looking creatures. At night, we had free time, and free time = food. Always. I guess we were missing American cuisine, so we wandered into an amazing burger joint with the crispiest patatas imaginable and the option to test mango beer. 


Last but not least: Tarragona. Notice something unusual in these pictures? Yep, that’s a Ancient Roman amphitheater straight chilling in the middle of the town. 

Stay tuned for more about the A.S.S.P, more about moi (hey), and more about Barcelona! 


Momo Zorrilla

<p>Magic City chick viviendo la buena vida in The City of Brotherly Love, and jet-set for fast-times at Barça. My hobbies include crying while watching Disney&#39;s animated classics, trying to make crop-tops acceptable in the dead of winter, and hunting for sweet deals like a good Groupon queen does. Writers that inspire me and this whirlwind of a blog you&#39;re about to enjoy are: Mindy Kaling, Mariah Carey&#39;s lyricist, and Jodi Picoult. In that order.</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
Haverford College
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