Monday, May 23, 2011

Barcelona, Spain, *John Enos

Where did you study abroad?
Barcelona, Spain

For how long?
One semester

Which program?

Beginning experiences and feelings upon arrival?
I arrived in Barcelona in early September and was disoriented by the heat! Suddenly having to rely on my feeble Spanish was also a wake-up call.

Any culture shock? excitement? nervous?

Best part
My favorite part of my semester in Barcelona was actually the traveling I got to do outside out of the city. I was able to go on trips to Morocco, Amsterdam, Sardinia, and San Sebastian.

Any difficulties? (cultural, language, etc)
I was a bit disappointed by the lack of language immersion from my experience. Obviously, this is in large part my fault, but I often ended up with other Americans speaking English. Catalans and the people on the street usually conversed in Catalan, which is totally different from Spanish. I wish my Spanish had improved more from my time there.

Information about Barcelona (best places to go, watch out for, etc..)
Be on the lookout for pickpockets. You may have to hunt hard to find good, cheap food. Parc Guell is a great place to relax atop the city. I found that Catalans and residents of Barcelona often seemed fed-up with the constant influx of tourists and loud Americans and were often a bit hostile towards us. I thought this was sometimes understandable…I was pretty embarrassed by the loud, culturally insensitive actions that often seemed to go hand-in-hand with many American study abroad kids.

What did you learn?
Overall, I enjoyed Barcelona, but in many ways it was not what I was looking for in a study abroad experience. I became a bit tired of how touristy and expensive the city was and found it difficult to separate myself from the ‘herd’ of American study abroad kids who weren’t really interested in immersing themselves in the city and culture of Barcelona. I think it is a great study abroad destination for many students, but in retrospect I would have gone somewhere else.

Any advice you’d give to a prospective study abroad student?
Go somewhere that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to go. It is pretty easy to visit Barcelona (or elsewhere in Europe) later in life on your own…it is much harder to travel independently to Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, or the Middle East. Keep an open mind and realize that the US isn’t the center of the universe and that much can be learned by traveling to new places and meeting new people.

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