Barcelona is the perfect place to study abroad because it appeals to so many people. From the passionate soccer fans, the unique architecture and laid-back beach city vibe it is easy for anyone to fall in love with the city.
I traveled to Barcelona in Spring 2011 through CEA. CEA was the perfect program for me because of their organization and how they truly cater the program for students to have as many opportunities to learn about the culture as possible. I am fluent in Spanish and took three classes in Spanish through the CEA Global Campus: Spanish Cinema, Literature and Barcelona History. Then I also took a class in English about the Sports and Culture in Spain. What I loved about these classes is that they truly gave me value outside of the academic world. I was taught specific customs of Barcelona and would see what I was taught in class in a day-to-day basis through the locals I met. Furthermore, as a native speaker I really appreciated that all the teachers were native Spanish speakers and they truly helped improve my writing and vocabulary in Spanish. However, a lot of my friends were not native speakers and said they really liked the fact that in Barcelona there are enough people who speak English so they never felt too overwhelmed by the language barrier. Also, CEA keeps in mind that students love to travel so no one ever has class on Fridays and I really appreciated how easy going my schedule was.
CEA gives students the option of apartment or dorm living. I choose to live in the Marina district Melon dorm Residence. This was absolutely the best living situation I could have asked for. The dorm is composed of 5 different buildings that not only have people from CEA but students from different abroad programs, international students, and local Spanish students. Each floor has 10 singles with a double bed, desk, safe and private bathroom. Then everyone shares a common kitchen area that has a refrigerator and cubby space separated for each roommate with larges tables and a TV. All my floor mates were from CEA and what I appreciated is that if I ever needed alone time I could be in my room but then if I wanted to hang out with my floor mates we had the common kitchen area. Another thing I really liked about Melon district living is that it was very safe, with a guard at night and only people with room keys could access our building. Furthermore, the location was perfect, in between the beach and the city and only one block away from Barcelona’s infamous 6 story nigh club Razzmatazz. Other unbeatable qualities were the rooftop pool, laundry services, printing services and study areas.
My absolute favorite aspect of CEA was the trips that come included in your programs tuition. My semester the program offered a weekend trip to both Madrid and San Sebastian. What I appreciated is that these two cities are normally very expensive to get to from Barcelona. Therefore, it was really nice to have CEA organize a trip that included breakfast, transportation, hotel accommodations and a free tour with a guide. In addition, CEA organized two-day trips: one to a champagne vineyard and a neighboring ancient roman town Tarragona and the other to the Dali museum. These two-day trips were some of my favorite experiences from abroad.
Another one of my favorite activities was when CEA organized a trip for all of us to attend a Barca soccer game together. This was amazing because normally purchasing tickets is a bit difficult so it was nice for the program to handle all the details. Attending a Barca game is something I really recommend. The passion that comes out of the city when Barca wins a game turns into an all night party and it’s truly an experience to take part of this grand sense of community.
The only downside to Barcelona is that pick pocketing is a huge problem. I was fortunate enough to never be pick pocketed but most of my friends were. What I would recommend to avoid this situation is to not bring an iphone or blackberry. Or if you want to bring these phones leave them in room. I noticed that my friends who had these phones were the biggest target for pick pocketers. The easiest way to avoid being picking pocketed is to always be aware of your surroundings. Never wear a backpack and on the metro just always make sure to have a hand over your belongings.
Overall, I have no complaints about Barcelona and everyday I wish I could go back. Everyday I miss being able to walk along the beautiful beach area of Barceloneta, getting delicious paella and sangria, gazing at Gaudi’s breath taking architecture at Parc Guell or having unforgettable moments in Barcelona’s never ending night life. Barcelona is unique because it is one of the cheaper cities in Europe so it really helps you have the opportunity to travel to other cities in Europe. Barcelona is unbeatable in its passion and beauty and I recommend anyone who is looking for the adventure of a lifetime to get to know Barcelona.