Hey y'all and welcome back! My last post was dedicated to travel trips while traveling in Europe, but this week I wanted to focus on my very own city: Barcelona. Barcelona is one of the best cities I have ever traveled to, the culture is so rich, the food is amazing, and there is ALWAYS something to do! I would recommend studying abroad here to just about anyone. You can get a taste of the mountains and the beach, shop in local tiendas or some of the best brands in fashion, and eat your way through the city with ease. So, here are 5 Do's and 5 Dont's that I have learned in my three months here so far.
DO: Do order plenty of tapas! No matter what restaurant we go to, I have learned that papas bravas and croquetes will ALWAYS be good. Granted, some places do a better job than others, but you will still be full and satisfied no matter where you are. For example, some places do the two simples sauces (brava and aioli) and leave it at that, whereas others will add brisket, bacon, or melted garlic cheese for a dressed up and delicious version.
DON'T: Use taxis!!! Ever!! The only time I have used a taxi is when I split one with my friends when traveling to the airport at four am because the metro and the Aerobus were not yet open. Public transportation here is SO easy to navigate and the quicker you become accustomed to using it the better. Taxis are so expensive and known to upcharge especially if they realize you are not from Spain.
DO: Go to the Bunkers of Caramel. Personally, I think the view is 20x better than the one at Park Guëll and the Bunkers are completely free. It is hands down the best view of the city, so going for sunset and packing a picnic is an absolute MUST.
DON'T: fall into the American student study abroad routine of hitting the same three clubs every weekend and avoid guest lists from club promoters. The nightlife in Barcelona is SO fun, but going to the American tourist clubs every weekend is not the way to go. Instead, try smaller bars where you can interact with locals or go see a flamenco/jazz show! Additionally, almost everyone I know that frequents these clubs every weekend has been pickpocketed or had their phone stolen at some point. In my opinion, it's just not worth it!
DO: Live with a host family! It's been one of my favorite parts of living here in Barcelona. It's a great way to practice more practical conversation skills and also to experience a new culture in a more intimate way. Everyone that I've talked to is happy in their apartment/residencia but for me its been such an amazing part of study abroad! You also don't have to be anywhere close to fluent to do it, there are families that speak English, some English and Spanish, and some, like mine, just Spanish so you will be placed based on your own ability which is super cool!
DON'T: Slack off on your classes. It's very easy to just because there seems to be so many other things to do that sound way more fun. However, CIEE and my local university have strict attendance policies that are enforced. In most cases, if you miss more than three there is a serious reduction for your grade which is a big deal, especially if you are getting credits that transfer over to your home university.
DO: Use your visa to your advantage! There are so many museums here in Barcelona: Picasso, Barcelona City museum, MNAC, etc. and almost everywhere will give you a student discount. So use your student status to your advantage and do not pay full price at museums, cathedrals, and any of the modernist houses if at all possible.
DON'T: Become a homebody even if you are feeling homesick. Everyone I know here, myself included, has had some tough days of really missing home. And honestly it's very easy to want to stay in your home all day and mope, but it's so important that you don't stop doing things! That's one of the best ways to take your mind off of how you're feeling and it typically makes you more appreciative of your city and forces you to be in the moment.
DO: Everything you can. Take tours, go to shows, walk around and see the sights, travel inside your city, your country, and in Europe as well. Four months seems like a long time, but the reality is this semester has gone by faster than any other since I have been in college. It still feels like I got here last week! So make the absolute most of every second you have abroad, you won't regret it one bit when you're home and reflecting on your time abroad.