I chose CEA because I had heard it was well-organized and easy to apply to for US students. I also heard the university location in Barcelona was great, and that the staff were very helpful. I knew the credits would transfer for my major and graduation requirements, as well.
Sadie's always on the hunt for the next exciting adventure, especially if those travels involve food. She's counting down the days until she can return to Europe, but for now she can be found exploring NYC.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The CEA online modules and reading material was extremely helpful in educating me on what to expect for life in Barcelona as an American student. Once I arrived and my classes began, CEA provided me with day trips, weekend trips, travel assistance, restaurant and museum recommendations, and more. I organized almost all of my weekend trips on my own with friends, though.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Take the classes that will help you become a part of your city. In Spain, take Spanish or Spanish Civilization & Culture. Take walks around the city during class breaks and just explore the streets or museums. Go on the trips with your friends and make new friends. Seize the day, because before you know it you've blinked and your time abroad is ending. I'd go back today if I could.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average week was class Monday through Thursday. Two classes each day, for an hour and a half or two hours each. Most participants in my CEA Barcelona program went out to lunch in the city in between classes, and made time for the beach.
Students often tried new clubs and bars in Barcelona on Monday and Wednesday nights, and my friends and I tried to utilize other free time to see museums, neighborhoods we'd never been to, or taking our time for 2-hour meals, as is customary in Spain. Students would also utilize the computers and study rooms at CEA in between classes or after class to complete their homework assignments.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest fears were being treated harshly by locals for not being fluent in Spanish (or Catalan) or being hated for being obnoxious, annoying, or loud Americans. I tried to overcome this by proving the stereotype wrong and abiding by local customs around the city. I kept my voice low in the metro, ordered my food in Spanish, and tried to keep from making a scene or holding up walking traffic when in a group in the city.
By forcing myself to use my Spanish at any given moment, I drastically improved my ability to speak to locals and got way more comfortable with it. I also LOVED feeling like the city of Barcelona was home and I could assimilate into the customs of the city. I would sit at coffee shops quietly, lay on the beach, wander the hidden streets, spend time with locals at local restaurants, and more. I want to move back!
Write and answer your own question.
What was your favorite historical sight or meal while in Barcelona with CEA?
It is almost impossible to narrow that to just one, because I honestly fell in love with every bit of Barca. I would probably have to say one of my favorite spots in the whole city was Camp Nou, the futbol arena. The atmosphere was so exciting and thrilling and I loved it so much I went to five games. The low-cost tickets allow people of all socioeconomic standing to attend games, making it's viewers all ages and types of people. I felt a sense of community while at the games, and it was a wonderful bonding experience with friends and family.
My favorite meal in Barcelona was probably a paella or tapas one. 7 Portes, open since 1836, was one of the most incredible paella meals I have ever had. The stunning interior added to the ambience, and my parents (visiting from NY) loved it just as much. There are too many mouthwatering tapas spots to even list, but a few of my all-time favorites were in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, at Sensi Bistro, La Luna, or Bar Lobo probably.