España is for Students: An Inside Look into Study Abroad in Barcelona

Allaina Kling is a student at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and an ISA Spring 2015 Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.
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1. Describe the place where you studied abroad in 140 words or less.

Barcelona is simply a magical city with everything you could ever wish for. It has the mountains, the beach, night-life, insanely memorable food, endless amounts of coffee shops, and is full of incredible people. Waking up in Barcelona is like waking up in a dream you never want to wake from. Walking down the streets you get to hear a mix of Spanish and Catalan, you get to see plazas full of people and their children running around without a care in the world, you pass by small authentic Spanish restaurants with jamon hanging in the windows. And although Barcelona is a metropolitan city with millions of people is it easy to find yourself in a small barrio feeling like your not even in the city at all.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset2. What was your day-to-day life like as a student?

As a student in Barcelona my typical day began with a 45 minute walk to school, which really isn’t as bad as it sounds as long as you have on comfy shoes. I would stop along the way to grab a café con leche at the cute café on the corner by the university. After class I would normally stop by a café shop either in the El Born district or in Placa Catalunya and meet up with friends to work on homework or plan upcoming trips. Sometimes we would spend hours in the coffee shops sometimes we would get our cafes and leave to do some shopping or exploring. However every night, unless preplanned, I would come home around 9:00 to have dinner with my host family: one of my favorite parts of my trip. The rest of the evening would either be spent hanging in with my family or going out to local spots around Barcelona to grab a few drinks with locals and friends.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset3. What was the “vibe” of your city?

Barcelona is a city full of people from all around the world and of all ages. So that means there is a lot of diversity within the city. There are barrios that are definitely more young and hip (El Born and Gracia) but there are also more traditional barrios full of rich history (Gothic area). Barcelona is very cool because it is a city full of it all, young, old, business, casual, historic, modern, and hipster.

Check out our BRAND NEW Spring 2016 program in Barcelona “Design & Visual Arts”

IMG_28544. What types of activities did you do with your friends in your city?

Coffee shops, coffee shops, and did I mention coffee shops? I mean when there are hundreds of coffee shops in a city it becomes a mission to find the really good ones. My friends and I definitely coffee shop hunted but we also shopped at local stores, went to Mont Juic, did barrio tours, attended a cooking class, ate at local restaurants (a lot), went to the beach, and a lot of the time we would just walk around the city to see what we would stumble upon.


5. How much Spanish was spoken your city (as opposed to Catalan, English, Arabic, Basque, Klingon, etc)?

In Barcelona the majority of the population speaks both Catalan and Spanish. There will be people that speak in Catalan but those people also speak Spanish which makes it easy to find common ground. There are also a ton of people who speak English even if it’s just a couple words or phrases.


6. How many hipsters did you see in your city?

Too many to even count. Barcelona is an extremely metropolitan city which means people are always dressed to the tee and hipsters are never far away. Looking for some fashion inspiration? Just step outside.

barcelona-study-abroad7. Did you visit other cities in Spain? If so, what would say made your city unique? Why should a someone study there?

During my program we went to Girona, Figueres, Valencia, and Sitges. The difference between Barcelona and these cities is not just the size but also the vibe. Barcelona can be an extremely overwhelming city because of all that it has to offer but that’s what makes it so amazing. When you finally begin to feel like you are understand the metro, you know how to get to school without a map, and you can give someone directions when they ask where something is, you realize how rewarding that overwhelming feeling can be. Smaller cities are amazing, don’t get me wrong, they have so much to offer when it comes to Spanish authenticity. All those things you can find in Barcelona BUT the feeling that you have “conquered” a city like Barcelona…there is no feeling comparable to that.

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Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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