Since I have arrived in Barcelona, I have felt twenty times more independent, strong, and adventurous. I know I was already all of these things, but there is something about leaving the comfort of your own university bubble, packing up as much as you possible can for three months, and planting yourself in a city that is foreign in quite literally every way that instills a different and empowering autonomy for a student abroad. I have felt ALL the urges to explore every inch of this city by myself, to start planning trips to other countries, and so much more. However, I made a few friends that were interested in the CIEE activities taking place the first week we were here. And to be completely honest, I wasn't really interested. I found myself thinking, why would I want to waste my time on boring school activities that come with schedules and rules, when I can enjoy my freedom and explore whenever and wherever I want? But as my friends continued to talk about these activities, eventually I gave in and signed up for a couple tours and day trips, whilst dragging my feet the whole time.
The first event I signed up for was a cooking class on Thursday afternoon. In which we were going to learn how to make Pinchos, Spanish appetizers that make the perfect afternoon snack! I love to cook and bake at home so I must admit I was impressed by this activity, and now I know how to make typical Spanish food for my American family and friends! Friday afternoon, I signed up for a tour of the Gothic Quarter, or as the locals call it, The Old City where I had the opportunity to see everything from ancient cathedrals to one of the best streets for shopping in Barcelona. Saturday we took an hour long bus trip to an olive farm where we got to see first hand how they make all types of olive oil, and even do some tastings! Now the trick is when tasting Olive Oil you have to remember the four S’s: Swirl, sniff, slurp, and swallow. Immediately after out tour we drove to Calella, the most beautiful beach town I have ever seen where we had lunch with a perfect view of the ocean and took a walk along the coast while eating strawberry gelato. To top off our weekend, we took a trip the Dali museum Sunday morning. Which for me, was so surreal. (ha ha get it Dalí was a surrealist). I had learned about Dalí in pretty much all of my Spanish classes and seen a lot of his work in books or online, but I was finally getting to see it in real life. After Dalí we had a quiet lunch in the town of Girona. When you visit Girona it is important to remember to kiss the rear of the lion statue, so that one day you can come back to the city!
Now I know that was a pretty monotonous chronological list of all the activities I did, but I felt it was necessary to write this post about them just to show y’all how amazing CIEE is as a program! Each one of these activities was FREE! I didn't have to pay for transportation, museum entrance fees, tour fees, all I had to do was show up and go along for the ride. It also helped me meet so many new people and strengthen the relationships I already had. The reality is, students often look at these activities and think “ugh I don't want to do it through the school, I’ll just go by myself, with my friends, etc” when more often than not it ends up being way more expensive/time consuming/ you honestly just forget to go. So please, I encourage you, take advantage of everything your program has to offer!
Tip: Take advantage of your program, but also don’t be afraid to adventure out on your own! I took an accidental ten mile hike with my friends, we ended up at the Bunkers of Caramel and I had the BEST view of the city.