City Discovery: Fire, Food and Culture Come Together in Valencia

Discover Valencia!

Founded as a Roman colony in 138 B.C., Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and has one of the largest historic centers in the country. Valencia is also the birthplace of Paella! There are many different versions of the dish, but one of the most popular is the Paella Valenciana which is made with rice, beans, artichokes, rabbit, snails and chicken.

Don’t miss these unforgettable Discovery Compass activities in Valencia…

Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Experience Las Fallas; the five-day long festival that occurs in March in Valencia commemorating Saint Joseph. The festival attracts visitors from all throughout the country and world and the streets are filled with locals in traditional dress, parading their huge puppet-like sculptures around the city. On the last night of the festivities, the sculptures are burned down during a celebration called La Crema. It’s  a spectacle you won’t want to miss!

Live with a host family. Students who choose to live with a host family have the opportunity to improve their language skills, while learning about the day to day life of a local Spanish family.  Not to mention they can also continue to practice their Spanish through intercambios, or language exchanges, with local students.

ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Visit the Ciutat Vella or Old City to experience Valencia’s rich historical past. Here students will find beautiful plazas, cathedrals, museums and markets. At the nearby Plaza del Mercado, students will find the old Silk Market, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the Central Market, a place where local restaurants buy their ingredients each day.

Tour the City of Arts and Sciences, a museum complex and modern architectural masterpiece designed by Valencian architect, Santiago Calatrava.  Located in the old Turia riverbed, the complex occupies over 3.75 million square feet and includes an interactive science museum, IMAX theater, planetarium and the largest aquarium in Europe

Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Take part in community service. ISA staff organizes several community service events throughout the semester. One particular event that many students enjoy is gathering and delivering food to a local shelter for immigrant women and their children.

Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

A great way to gain exposure to the local culture and build professional experience in Valencia is to volunteer. While there is no structured volunteer program, students are encouraged to work in conjunction with ISA on-site staff to identify local volunteer opportunities suited to their particular interests.

Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Bike around Valencia using the Valenbisi bike share system. It is a great way to get around the city and to stay green!

Go for a walk or bike ride on the city’s greenbelt. The Turia River used to flow along what is now a six mile greenbelt and park that runs through the heart of the city. It is now an excellent location for students and locals to enjoy jogging and biking paths, as well as a variety of sports fields.  It could be compared to New York’s Central Park!


All of this is just the tip of the iceberg. Find out more about Valencia and how to start your study abroad experience today.


The 2015 City Discovery Series aims to showcase one of ISA’s program locations each week. Facts about each location and Discovery Compass activity examples are given, highlighting the areas of Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental discovery. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.


Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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