Monday, March 12, 2012

Kyle S. - Barcelona, Spain - Spring 2012

Hola my fellow Bluejays! How’s the weather in the windy city? I’ve been studying in Barcelona for a good two months now and can’t remember the last time it rained or a cloud covering the sun. The mild Mediterranean climate is awesome! …Although it makes me stand out more then my blonde hair does by making me wear shorts when all the locals are bundled up with coats and scarfs… This has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life and I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to do so. I would do anything to trade places with you and start my experience over again.
Overall my experience in Barcelona has been fantastic. I’ve met many great friends and learned many life lessons that I intend to bring back to the states with me. I cannot say the same for my program and housing unfortunately. For housing, I’m in a home stay, living with one roommate and our Padre, Francisco. My roommate and Francisco are awesome however; there are many restrictions within home stays. Can’t have any guests. Can’t use the kitchen. All right, we can use the microwave. Woopty doo. And a few others.  My program is IES and I’ve had some issues regarding my schedule and activities. I also have friends in other programs here in Barcelona such as CEA, CIEE, and ISA. Unfortunately my friends within these programs often remind me of my programs blunders and I often see their programs perks.
This is all thrown out the window for me because Barcelona has captivated me. Barcelona is famed for the renowned architect, Gaudí and rightfully so. Gaudí has made his mark through is unbelievable architecture. My favorite places Gaudí has transformed are La Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell. Simply Amazing. The reason that I chose Barcelona over Madrid was because of the beach. Odd thing is, the night life is situated on the beach which makes for some pretty crazy nights. One of my favorite nights here in Barca thus far was a private party hosted by HTC/Beats by Dre with Afrojack headlining at Opium Mar. This party had high rollers, executives, and celebrities (Shakira and Akon) all in VIP. Then me, and a lot of other study abroad students on the dance floor. What a night! Did I mention for free!? In Barcelona I’m fascinated with the party promoters, three main ones that I know of, that blast facebook, tweets, and emails with events going on Sunday through Monday with free entrance till a certain time. Non-stop partying. Money saved is quickly spent. The clothes here are extremely cheap and I’m very disappointed I didn’t pack lighter to bring home some of my Euro swag with me. Pack light!
So far I’ve traveled to Amsterdam and Prague. Both were amazing and I don’t think I could provide a ranking of which is better. Amsterdam was so amazing with its canals, red light district, Heineken museum, and the Ann Frank Huis. Prague had an amazing history around Hitler of course, but the old buildings are fascinating along with the Charles Bridge, Astronomical Clock, Lennon Wall, and the Prague Castle.
To be honest, I don’t really know where I’m going with this blog and I could write a book about my experiences. I’ll try and keep your reading light. Feel free to email me with any personal questions! Especially if your going to Barcelona, I would love to give a list of what bars, clubs, restaurants, and places to go! (E-mail removed by Alice for security purposes – see me if you want Kyle’s e-mail address.)


Blogger Unknown said...

Your whole experience sounds AMAZING! I have some questions, if you don't mind. I was supposed to be studying in Argentina, but plans are changing (currently) and I'm thinking Spain will me my final destination come fall semester. Anyway, what's your major? And if you've ventured south/south west at all, what are some hot spots I have to hit? I'm a Spanish major, so I'll probably be staying within the boarders of Spain. Have your friends had positive experiences staying in residence halls or apartments? If so, are they staying with other international students or students from the universities? Sorry...these questions are probably not even ones for you! It's awesome though that you are getting to experience different countries and cultures as well. Keep living it up!

10:45 PM  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

Amazing is right! I'm a business major, specifically logistics and supply chain management. You won't go wrong if you choose Spain. However, be weary of the different regional differences. For example, Barcelona is in the Catalonia region therefore Castilian would dominate if it weren't so touristy. As a Spanish major I would suggest looking into Sevilla, Granada, Valencia (pretty big) smaller cities that will have a much stronger spanish feel for your major and much less touristy. The farthest South I've gotten is Valencia, which is a pretty awesome city. South of Barca is better for me... where I've been to Sitges (amazing beach town) and Tarragona (roman remains). I have friends in both Dorms and apartments, all with good vibes. My friends in the dorms have spanish residents along with other study abroad students. There one complaint is the food is hit or miss... Try not to get with an RA if you do an apartment though! Keep listening to Alice, she knows what's up!

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kyle,

Your blog definitely made me want to put Barcelona on my list of cities to visit while I'm in Europe. I'm going to Paris also with IES and you said that you had some scheduling problems with the program, so my question is do you have any tips for choosing and registering for classes there with the program?

Thank you!
--Lake (Ashley)

8:58 AM  
Blogger Caity Nagel said...

Hi Kyle! Like some of the other comments I have read I definitely want to make Barcelona a stop while I am over in Paris! I have already picked my classes but I am little nervous about taking classes in a different country. Was it hard to adjust to? Do you study any different there than you did here? I hope that the rest of your stay is enjoyable!

11:26 PM  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

Ashley - I would suggest trying to contact multiple people who have studied in Paris through IES and inquire about their classes and professors. This way you may get a better understanding of what the class and professor is like. (I'm stuck with one of the worst professors in Barcelona, as i latter found out from my experience and past students). I also suggest, once you have submitted your classes to call, email, whatever IES to make sure that you're signed up for the correct classes. I wish I would have planned my class schedule out better in order to have for free time during the day. My classes are evenly spread out which makes it hard to go to the beach or parks because of the little time in between classes. Mainly contact IES well before your departure to make sure that all your classes are set in stone and they are the ones that you want. Have a blast in Paris!

Caity - Bring your party pants when you visit Barcelona and also try and get in contact with someone that is here, even if you dont know them... They will be able to tell you clubs and a name to drop at the door for free entry. Cover fees are no fun. As for my studying, I believe that I study a lot more then back in the states. I think I have a lot less distractions in my homestay then I would back home and I am definitely out of my comfort zone so I think that contributes to it. I would suggest never 'leaving any homework for the weekend' even if your planning on a calm easy weekend because it never gets done. If you're good with time management your studies will be just like home. The classes in IES Barcelona are very similar to Elmhurst, size, teacher quality, etc. You will definitely have kids from all different schools and some of the larger ones having a greater population. Have a great time in Paris!

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I really loved reading your blog. It inspires me to study abroad and travel!

2:33 PM  

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