Thursday, April 03, 2008

Lauren A. - Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain - Spring 2008

Hey everyone in Elmhurst! I can’t believe how fast this trip has gone by. My Spanish is improving immensely and I’m meeting new people everyday. People are actually asking me for directions across Barcelona now and I’m proud to say I’m able to respond, giving it to them in Spanish!
Barcelona is a great city with sooo much to offer. There is something here for everyone. If you like architecture, there is plenty to see. Just walk down Passeig de Gràcia and you can see the famous edificios de Gaudí , such as Casa Milà. Or make a day trip to park Güell (one of my personal favorites) to see the longest bench in the world, while listening to street performers play there instruments as it echoes through the terrace just below.

Take walks down the busy streets and window shop with your intercambio and enjoy a gelato on a warm sunny day… Speaking of which Barcelona is looking pretty darn good now that the trees
are in bloom and the sun is out. For those of you who are thinking of coming to Barcelona this summer, be prepared for the beach and warm weather. I just went to the port the other day and it was beautiful…

I don’t think I am ready to leave in the next 4 weeks. I’ve fallen in love with this city and I’m not ready to go home just yet… I’m going to miss the older folk all dressed up, walking hand in hand in love, the PDA on almost every street corner and on the metros. The cute older women that that pass me by on my lunch break with their little dogs to look at the new shoe collection in the window of shoe store in the building next to me. Oh, Barcelona… I’ll miss going to my corner bakery (which is at almost every corner) and buying a warm baguette or a bocadilla for lunch in the morning. Or buying chocolate croissants with new friends for breakfast at 6 am after a long night out (by the way-places are open really late here).

If you’re thinking of doing some traveling to various places across Europe, Barcelona is the city to live/study abroad in. There are so many forms of to travel and public transportation here. Travel is also a lot cheaper throughout Europe, so I’d advise taking advantage of that. I had friends go to Germany, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Turkey, Greece, Italy (Just to name a few). Barcelona is also so central in Europe that travel is very easy, in that respect as well. I just got back from my Spring break and did a tour across Italy... I purchased a Eurorail pass, which I highly recommend if you’re doing a lot of travel throughout Europe. It was very easy for me to go from place to place in Italy. I was able to go from Milan to Rome, Florence, Naples and Venice and a few day trips to Pompeii, Positano, and Capri (all in less than 2 weeks).

There is sooo much I could write about, but I better get to my class now. Please, let me know if any of you have questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer them for you! Or, if you’d like to see pictures, etc. just let me know.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Lauren! My name is Angie and I plan on studying in Barcelona this summer and I was wondering if there are certain things I need to know or certain places I have to visit. Your trip sounds wonderful so far and I hope mine goes just as well.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Angie, yes there are many many many places to go in Barcelona, it’s hard for me to even start. Personally, I recommend purchasing a travel guide specifically on Barcelona. I followed a travel book that someone had given me on Barcelona and it helped a lot, just be sure to get one with a good map. (Best to get one that is pocket sized). I found out that Barcelona is not that big of a city once I began traveling by foot. In fact, I highly recommend walking from place to place when you first arrive to get yourself aquatinted. I also use the metro, but now that its so nice out its not as necessary. On that note, be sure to have a good pair walking shoes (a comfortable pair of flats have worked just fine for me here) but tennis shoes are fine if you'd prefer. Other than that, if you have any specific questions on places to go or want to know which places are worthwhile going to (which all of them are) let me know. Either way, I know you'll have the time of you life here!

Best of luck!

Lauren ;-)

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren, my name is Leif and I will be doing the study abroad program in Milan Italy next year. Right now I am really somewhat frustrated trying to get the visa application, airline tickets, courses, etc all done. Yet, after having read your comments I am sure it will all be very worthwhile.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Leif, I know exactly how you’re feeling. Studying abroad takes a lot of preparation and can be somewhat of a frustration at times, but it is defiantly worthwhile in the long run. If you’re studying in Milan this fall you should have enough time to get your student visa, it usually takes about 6-7 weeks. As far as airline tickets, I found a good deal on but there are probably others out there with good deals too, so keep on searching. Milan is a nice and clean city in Italy and well, in general, Italy is a wonderful place I’ll never forget and will defiantly go back to. Good luck and have fun!

Lauren :-)

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Holly Golcher said...

Hi Laura,
I have a few concerns. How were you able to pack for such a long period of time? How was it that you were able to find your classes and how did you pick your classes for studying there? Also how is the public transportation there? These are my concerns. Could you give me some tips on how you chose yours classes?
Holly Golcher

5:08 PM  
Blogger Wonder Woman said...

Hey Lauren! My name is Amber, and I will be in Barcelona this summer with Angie!! I'm getting really excited to go, and reading your commments make me even more excited to go!!! Do you think that it is hard to get around the city??? One of my biggest concerns is commuting because the program said that we will be commuting 30-50 minutes!! What do you think? Any suggestions??

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Lauren, thanks again for the information. I was just wondering how different the classes in Spanish are from the ones here. Are they a lot harder, or is the course work fairly similar?


1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lauren, thanks you so much for the advice on airfare, I will definitely look into that webstite. Could you also give me a few tips regarding selecting classes. Should I stick with gen-eds or pursue those that will go for a major, any classes you have found to be interesting, etc. Thank you so much.


12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Lauren, I was worried about not picking up the language when I am in Paris this summer but you said you were improving immensely, which has in turn given me hope that my French speaking will also improve.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Holly,
To be honest with you, you really don't need as much as you think for studying abroad. The basics are what you'll want to bring with you. I recommend 4 jeans, 1 pair of dress pants, a skirt or dress x2, a neutral cardigan and a coat (depending on what the season is and what the weather is like in the country you travel to.) Dress shoes and a pair of nice comfortable flats. As far as classes goes, I had spoken with my advisor and he helped me figure out what would work toward graduation. I recommend looking through your college course catalogue for your major and find similar classes that seem close to the same description of the ones in the program you’re going on, pick your top 6 and then go to your advisor, that’s what I did.

Hope this helps,

Lauren :-)

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Amber,
Is this the Amber I know? Anyway, yes, getting aroung Barcelona is very easy, they have great transportation systems here. I used the metro a lot, but I also walked a lot too. Walking to IES take me about 35-45 minutes. The metro, about 15. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Hasta la proxima chica!

Lauren :-)

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Leif,
I chose a few that worked for my major and a few others that were of interest to me. You should also follow what I’ve written Holly above and speak to your advisor first before making any final decisions. (Sorry I didn't see your 2nd post until now)

Take care,
Lauren :-)

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Angie,
I'd say the classes are about the same as at home, only smaller-depending on what program you go on. I was with IES and they usually have 12-15 people/class, which was great and I really got to meet a lot of people from all over the U.S. I also highly recommend, if you have the chance take outside courses at other universities like UPF or UB- you get a better experience that way and can meet students from all over the world.

Lauren :-)

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren,

My name is Samantha and I will be studying over in Ireland next fall. I was curious if you experienced a huge culture shock when you got there and, if so, how you worked through it? Also, I read your tips on packing...very helpful! Thanks!

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Lauren, Just needed some info on "Culture Shock" if you had any.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Wonder Woman said...


Hey it is the Amber you know!!! I forgot you were over there!! Sorry. Anyway what day do you leave. We arrive on May 19th, so hopefully you will still be there! So what housing are staying in??? Do you like IES so far? I hope you are having a blast! It looks like you are by the pictures!

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Samantha,
Ireland…mmmm how I love <3 Ireland! I went there about 2 summers ago as my first trip to Europe… As far as culture shock: Personally, I don’t remember experiencing too much culture shock when I first arrived here in Spain/Catalunya, other than the adjustment to the water and language. As far as Ireland, I don’t think you’ll have to be worried too much about culture shock, especially since the language is English and the culture is somewhat similar to ours in the U.S. Also, most of the people there are very friendly and helpful. A tip for culture shock: In the beginning take things slowly and get a lot of rest, then explore your city by foot, rest some more and then go enjoy a cupa’ tea while chatting with the locals-- after all its Ireland! ;-)
P.S. Are you going to be in Dublin? Dublin is a great city, however I highly, highly recommend, if you get a chance to explore the countryside and stay in a bed and breakfast. I had so much fun because I got to meet so many people from all over as well as save money on a meal (big breakfasts) and from my experiences, the B&B owners were so charming, they’ll talk your ear off! ;-)

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info and advice! I will acutally be in southern
Ireland, close to the coast, in Cork. I will get to go to Dublin for a weekend though! I will definitely look into a B&B. I heard there are some really nice ones in Cork and Kerry!

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Jessica Sztaimberg said...

I couldn’t agree with you more about Barcelona! You have officially made me terribly miss it! My 800 pictures just don’t do it justice. There are so many amazing things to do there… and I miss them all- the incredible architecture around every corner, the food, the people, the beach, the weather, the language, and my own try at the Spanish language! Did you enjoy walking down las ramblas and watching all of the street performers? I know I did! I saw pictures from St. George’s day there, and they look so amazing… must have been a great experience if you were there for it! I hope I make it back to Barcelona again soon, the yummy tapas are calling my name. :)

3:15 PM  

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