Settling into Barcelona

Wondering what to expect during your first few days abroad?   Here are some thoughts from Julia, who studied abroad with us in Barcelona!

Study Abroad Gap Year Programs in Barcelona, Spain - Coffee

Café con leche

We had our first two days of class last week.  I’m taking three different courses in Spanish language and culture, and I’m super excited about all of them.  My teachers have a different way of teaching here. To start, all of my classes are much smaller. There are only about 10 people in my Spanish class, and my biggest class probably has 25 people, which makes everything much more focused on you individually and how you are doing in the class. Also, they have a much more liberal way of teaching here. They don’t tend to give you a list of what you are supposed to read for your classes, but they expect you to do research on your own of things that interest you, that way you gain knowledge on things that you like personally and not just what the teacher thinks is worth your while. I love that. I feel like it allows each student to gain their own unique education fitted to the things that make them, well, them. One of my Spanish teachers said she struggled with the teaching method when she studied abroad in the states because it made her feel like she was unable to go to a library on her own and pick up a book that interested her. Another teacher mentioned how his class wasn’t going to be one that you are able to sit through and zone out the entire time, but that it would be one that will actively engage you to learn the material. It seems like even when teachers in the states say this, students always find their way around it, but not here.  With a class of only 8 people, it would be pretty difficult to sit through the entire period surfing the web on your laptop.

Study Abroad Gap Year Programs Programs in Barcelona, Spain - Marketplace

The marketplace


We enjoyed our first legitimate weekend in Barcelona fully. No classes on Fridays in a city this great brings no complaints. On Friday, my new friend Julie and I started the day off with a nice café con leche from a cafe just below our apartment called Habaluc, and then ventured to La Boquería to pick up some fresh food to make for dinner. As I’ve said before, this food market is unreal. Just presence brings mere fascination. They have every type of food that you could imagine, so fresh, and so beautiful. Even lollipops the size of your cabeza! Julie splurged for some delicate chocolates for desert, and I bought fresh pineapple, mango, strawberries, explosion-in-your-mouth-tasting cheese, basil, asparagus, and apricots for some munching. As an added bonus, everything here is much cheaper than the small supermarkets dispersed throughout the city. We then treated ourselves to lunch at a restaurant on the edge of the market to indulge in some of the best-tasting paella de mixta (flavorful rice mixed with chicken and seafood) to observe the action from the market that brings people from all over the world to soak in the experience of La Boquería. Being one who is not huge on seafood, I forced myself out of my comfort zone to try clams, oysters, and some type of crawfish-looking thing. My palate concluded that it was worth the venture. At the end of our meal, our Spanish waiter kindly told us of his newfound “amor” for us in Spanish. We replied, “Nosotros también, con la comida.”  (Us too, with the food).  🙂


Study Abroad Gap Year Programs Programs in Barcelona, Spain - Marketplace


Our Saturday was spent at La Barceloneta, which is about three metro stops away, or a 25 minute walk from our apartment that gives us direct access to the Mediterranean Beach! We spent the entire day hugging palm trees, climbing beautiful rocks cast out into the water, and taking in the gorgeous views. We had lunch just off the shore where we attempted to familiarize ourselves with more traditional Spanish comida! After more exploring around the city Sunday morning, we decided to hold the afternoon on reserve to partake in the wonderful Spanish tradition of “siestas.” Siestas are long naps that people in Barcelona take in the middle of the day.  After lunch, around 2-4pm all of the restaurants and shops close down so that everyone can go home for a nice mid-day siesta! I think I will fit in here just fine…

Study Abroad Gap Year Programs Programs in Barcelona, Spain - Spanish cuisine

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