By Jenna Tantillo, ISA Spain Site Specialist
If you’ve never been to Bilbao, Spain it’s time to put the capital of Basque country and the largest city in northern Spain on your radar. Having been declared the Academy of Urbanism’s Best European City of 2018, Bilbao is and will continue to be an important cultural hub.
While city-living is a significant part of the study abroad experience, the study aspect is of course the most important part. Below are five reasons why the Universidad de Deusto (Deusto) has all of the qualities of an ideal host university.
1) A Beautiful Campus
Founded in 1886, Deusto is the oldest private university in Spain and the main building is one of the most iconic in Bilbao. Its beautiful interior features grand stairwells, cloisters, and covered courtyards with fountains and palm trees, making you feel like it’s a sunny day no matter what the weather. From the main building, walking through just one door puts you in the centennial building, named so because it was built during Deusto’s 100 year anniversary. These two conjoined buildings highlight the university’s blend of traditional and modern architecture, a theme also prevalent throughout the city of Bilbao.
At Deusto there are also many interesting spaces to hang out and study. One popular place is the “fishbowl” in the main building, named for the large windows where you can watch people as they pass. Another is in the newest research library, known across Deusto as the CRAI (Centro de Recursos para el Aprendizaje y la Investigación). The CRAI has great natural light and floor to ceiling windows on every level with picturesque views of Bilbao. This library is considered the most important in Basque country and is an ideal post for casual or marathon studying.
One of the covered courtyards
2) A Prime Location
Not only is the Deusto campus beautiful, but it is located right in the heart of Bilbao! Just across the Nervión River from the main building, adjacent to the CRAI, is the famous Guggenheim museum. In 2004 there was even a footbridge built over the river connecting the two sides of campus! It has great views and creates a steady flow of students throughout the day.
Since the Deusto campus is so close to the center of town, most students live within walking distance. Past students have found that commuting on foot is a great way to get to know the city and the different neighborhoods. Of course if it is raining or you prefer not to walk, it is also well-connected to public transit. With bus, tram, and metro stops all close by, it is easy and efficient to get to any other part of Bilbao. Not only can public transit from Deusto get you around town, but within a half hour it can even get you to the mountains or the beach!
3) Course Flexibility
With courses in English or in Spanish, with local students or with internationals, those attending Deusto have a lot of flexibility with their course selections. Deusto offers Spanish language and culture courses, business courses, and STEM courses to meet a variety of academic needs. Classes such as Spanish through Gastronomy, Sports Management: European Football, and Basque Culture & Language take advantage of Bilbao’s unique geography and culture to generate tangible interaction with course material.
Business courses are among the most popular for ISA students, as many have an international focus that distinguishes them from similar course offerings in the U.S. STEM students also have some great options and nearly all of the courses are taken alongside Spanish students. These courses are available in the fields of Computer Science, Fabrication, and Industrial and Mechanical Engineering.
4) Chances to meet locals
While studying at Deusto, there are many opportunities for ISA students to get to know local Spaniards. As previously mentioned, one of the best ways is through taking classes with local students! While in class you will have the opportunity to meet others with similar interests and familiarize yourself with the Spanish education system.
Deusto also offers a program called Tandem, which pairs Spanish students with newly arrived international students to act as a conversation partner and cultural mentor. You and your Tandem partner will meet at the place of your choosing to practice your language skills and learn about each other’s cultures in a fun and casual setting. This program comes highly recommended from past students and many report that it was the highlight of their entire experience abroad!
Aside from the Tandem program, there are a multitude of extra-curricular activities that ISA students can participate in at Deusto. Whether you are interested in theater, yoga, literature, chess, hiking, or anything in between, there are many clubs and groups to get involved with. This will help you keep up with your hobbies while also making Spanish friends.
5) Athletic Facilities
Students from the U.S. love to stay active and are often surprised to find that many universities abroad do not have a gym. Fortunately, at Deusto, students have access to the on-campus gym and many other fitness facilities around Bilbao. There is a brand new sports center on campus where students can play basketball, soccer, volleyball, ping pong, or even try a local game like pala (a fast-paced sport similar to handball but played with wooden rackets).
In addition to the on-campus facilities, the Deusto ID card also grants students discount access to all of the privately owned gyms around Bilbao! Students can join the monthly gym of their choosing or participate in discounted activities like sailing, golf, surfing, and stand up paddle boarding.
These are just a few of the reasons why Deusto is an ideal place to spend a semester or a full academic year!