How Not to Starve in Spain (And Other Food Abroad Stories)

Keely Meyers is a student at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and is an intern in Barcelona this spring. Read about her adventures with food in Spain and how it has unexpectedly impacted her intern abroad experience!


One of the things I was most excited about while traveling abroad was the food. I couldn’t wait to try new things, cook traditional meals, and learn more about the Spanish culture through something I already loved. Food has played an integral part in my experience abroad. All of my experiences surrounding food – the good, the bad, and the ugly – have taught me more about myself and my host culture. 

Chocolate con churros from Cafe de l’Opera
Chocolate con churros from Cafe de l’Opera

Cooking and Eating in Spain

Learning to cook Catalan food has been one of the best parts of enjoying food in Spain. I took a Catalan cooking class as part of the cultural activities through CISabroad and learned how to make traditional foods such as calçots and romesco sauce, artichokes, pan con tomate, paella, crema catalana, and tortilla española. I also got to keep the recipes to take home and impress my family and friends with my new skills and broadened palate.

The culture around food here is much different than it is at home. For example, meal times in Spain are not what I am used to. Here, locals eat a large lunch around two o’clock in the afternoon and take their time, similar to how many Americans eat dinner. The dinners here, on the other hand, are very small and eaten late at night – usually around 10 or 11 o’clock! It took a while to get used to the different eating schedule, but embracing the different mealtimes has made me feel more immersed in the local culture.

Also different from the U.S. is the amount of time devoted to cooking and enjoying food. Spaniards take a lot of pride in preparing their food from the freshest ingredients and enjoying the eating experience with family and friends. There are various mercats around the city – markets where you can find the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafoods – where locals buy ingredients to cook with. Cooking and eating meals are also much longer processes than they are back home, often lasting multiple hours.

Fresh fruits from Mercat de La Boqueria in Barcelona

Fresh fruits from Mercat de La Boqueria in Barcelona

Trying New Foods

Trying new foods is something that I definitely wanted to do while abroad. One of my rules while traveling has been to never say no to something I was offered – no matter how weird or scary it seemed. Because of my self-enforced rule, I have enjoyed culinary “delights” such as blood sausage, cow intestine, octopus, squid, and anchovies. Even if I hated them, I knew it was important to try new things and embrace local flavors. I have also gone out to new restaurants or been invited over to eat meals with new friends and tried foods I never would have back home, including pho from a traditional restaurant in Paris, authentic Chinese food from a local restaurant in Barcelona, and home-cooked Argentinian asado. I have found some surprising new favorite foods and learned that things I was too scared to eat weren’t actually so bad! (Except anchovies, those were about as bad as they sound.)

Some of my favorite local foods that I have tried have been the tapas. I have tried ham croquetas, pan con tomate, patatas bravas, and many more. I have also enjoyed cava, the Spanish version of champagne, and went on a cava tour with my site director to learn about the history and production process of this regional drink.

Another local eating experience I had here was taking part in a calçotada – a large feast centered around sweet onions called calçots. The process of eating calçots is both messy and fun, and is an important local tradition that I absolutely loved experiencing.

Tapas feast from my welcome lunch with CISabroad
Tapas feast from my welcome lunch with CISabroad

Grocery Shopping

Trying new foods has also come naturally because of the different selection in supermarkets in Barcelona. Brands and even types of food from home are not found here, which has forced me to push myself outside of my comfort zone, craft new recipes, and pick up local habits. When one of those habits includes picking up a fresh-baked baguette daily, I’m not one to complain!

Grocery shopping in Spain was definitely an experience the first time I went. For one thing, the grocery stores are all closed on Sundays and often close much earlier than American supermarkets on weeknights. As a result, my first Sunday in Barcelona also happened to be a very hungry day for me! When I did find an open grocery store the next day, it took a little getting used to. I vividly remember shopping with my roommate, who was searching for milk. Eventually, she had to ask a woman in the store where it was. The woman gave her a confused look and proceeded to point right next to the shelf where the two were standing, not understanding how we didn’t know to look for the milk on the shelf and not in the refrigerated section. Embarrassed, we thanked her and proceeded to the checkout. However, another thing we did not know about grocery shopping in Spain was that grocery bags were not free. We tried to save some money by carrying our groceries home in our arms, struggling and laughing the whole way home. We did not know at the time, but the bags were only 10 cents – definitely worth getting to avoid dropping your eggs on the city streets.

Food has been a huge part of my experience here in Barcelona and has been a way for me to challenge myself to try new things, learn about local customs and cuisine, and immerse myself in the daily life of a local. I have learned to be open to new things, try my hand at cooking once in a while (I’m not quite as terrible as I thought), and use food as a way to connect with people and cultures from around the world.


Want to learn more about how you can have an amazing experience in Spain? It’s easy with CISabroad! 

My Barcelona Host Family

Emma R Blog Photo

Emma R., studies English Literature at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. Join her as she crosses the Atlantic to spend a semester interning in the beautiful Mediterranean city of Barcelona, Spain.


One of the most overwhelming situations in all of travel is knowing boundaries between people.. people of different cultures. You are never quite sure if it is okay to use/do/say something, but then again, does it speak of indifference and less of an effort to become part of that culture if you don’t use/say/do that thing?

As I was introduced to my host family, I expected that the “arrangement” would be similar to the “arrangements” my family and foreign students had back home. I assumed wrong.

The family that I am staying with is a mother and daughter (3 years old). Quite commonly, I am gone to explore, attend school or assist English language learners across town. The mother here is also very busy. She has 2 different jobs on top of being a mother and home owner. We haven’t forged a bond because a relationship takes time and it seems, we have few moments. No matter, I have learned from being in this home.

I am aware of the foods that appear in the fridge, the customs around common things like chores and showering. I have greeted arrivals with kisses and I have become accustomed to living in such tight walls. Traveling through and living in are immensely different. Time is the ultimate decider of what you learn. In close second becomes willingness to feel uncomfortable. Though I am aware of these differences, I am constantly in battle with the willingness to let go and adapt.

Unless out with friends, I eat dinner every night with my host family, which I must compliment. I am always thrilled to see what will be on the table. It is the only time during the day that we can connect. Normally, we talk about expected plans for the upcoming days but recently, we have attempted something more personal. I think it is important to keep confidential (so I won’t even be mentioning the topics) but it is the most precious gift to get personal. “Truth is the first chapter in the book of wisdom,” and we are here to become wise, to learn, to grow in the ways of our world.

One of my wishes is that my presence can be a cultural experience for my family, as well. I would like to be able to say “I helped my host family with…” or “yeah, I got to teach/show them…” I know I can encourage the exchange by making the family a common dinner from home or showing them pictures of activities that are truly alien to them. I want to inspire travel to my homeland as much as I want to be immersed in theirs.

I am used to assuming. I need to rid myself of such ignorance and slowly, I am doing so through this experience living with a host family. I realize this every day.


To all our study abroad students, past and present. What did you learned from living with a host family? Where did you study abroad?

 

Barcelona to Morocco: CISabroad Study Abroad Excursion

 

“Joining in on this experience allowed me to feel welcomed into a culture of community.” Chelsea Couture, Program Coordinator

CISabroad students studying or interning in Barcelona have an opportunity to travel to Morocco.

Excursion to Morocco

Photo by Taylor Williams, CISabroad Intern in Barcelona

We recently caught up with our program coordinator, Chelsea Couture, to inform us about this amazing opportunity. Interns may be able to attend if the trip falls during their internship. Fall and Spring semester students enrolled at The Barcelona Semester have it included in their program. (For students attending the Semester at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona or Semester at University of Barcelona the trip will cost about 500 Euros to join or go on their own). We recommend students contact our onsite staff for recommendations and to also notify us about their travel plans.
Excursion to Morocco When do students usually have the opportunity to travel to Morocco? In the fall or spring semester CISabroad students have the opportunity to travel around their third month. It’s usually around the time students are comfortable traveling around Europe, feeling more like a local in Barcelona and they are ready to step a bit more out of their comfort zone. What are some of the difference students will notice right away when they arrive in Morocco? Easy. The arrival, the culture, the food and the language. The Arrival. If they arrived in Barcelona at the start of their semester abroad they most likely arrived in a highly modern airport with high end shops and a variety of restaurants to choose from right in the terminal. In Morocco, it’s simple. When I arrived in Tangier we stepped off the airplane onto the tarmac and there were only 1-2 places to eat, no shops, no unnecessary glamour.   The People and Culture. There were people everywhere. People who were so welcoming, whether it be just saying hello, asking you to sit and share a cup of delicious Moroccan mint tea, or opening up their home to you for a Friday couscous. The ever present sense of community in Morocco was unlike any I had every experienced in my travels. During meals large families eat out of the same bowl with their hands. Joining in on this experience allowed me to feel welcomed into a culture of community. 

Excursion to Morocco

Photo by Taylor Williams, CISabroad Intern in Barcelona

Excursion to Morocco

Photo credit: Taylor Williams, CISabroad Intern in Barcelona

The Food. I may have easily packed on about 5 lbs over roughly 4 days. The surplus of honey garnished treats, fresh fruits, home baked breads, tagines, and couscous dishes made it hard to leave. The Language. Our study abroad students and interns in Barcelona are used to speaking English throughout Europe when needed, but in Morocco this is not the case. Depending on the region you may hear French, tje Moroccan dialect of Arabaic, other variations of Arabic, and even some Spanish. It’s helpful to learn a few phrases before you arrive. For example: Salam = Hello; Shukran = Thank you;  Humdililah = to show gratefulness (literally translates to Thanks be to God) As a woman traveler yourself, what tips do you have for other women traveling to Morocco? The guides we hire to travel with us to Morocco prepare us and suggest women wear long sleeves or at least cover their shoulders, bring a scarf to cover head etc. no flashy jewelry. We traveled with an organized group so we were never alone. Morocco is a relatively safe place, yet it is easy to stand out as a tourist. Be respectful, participate in local customs, and enjoy the incredible hospitality of Moroccans.
Lastly, what is your favorite part about the CISabroad student excursion to Morocco? The round table and peer to peer discussions we have with local moroccans. Our students are able to dispel myths about Muslims, create a common ground, and learn that young adults around the world are all influenced by pop culture, have the same worries, dreams, and friendships. Also, I loved the Hammam- aka the public bath houses. Public bath houses is something that may sound scary to your average American, but I have never been more empowered, experienced such a sense of community, or felt so clean as I did when participated in the unique Hammam culture! Morocco is truly a life enriching experience that varies so greatly from the US, Barcelona, and even most of Western Europe.

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Barcelona Bucketlist

Do you want to know what it is like to live like a local in Barcelona? Follow students and interns throughout the year on Instagram and search the hashtag #barcelonabucketlist and #CISabroadBarcelona. You will see inspiring photos and activities to inspire la vida local! Are you ready to enter the contest? Apply today, be accepted into the program, and receive directions once you are on-site!

Travel Tips for Summer Abroad in Barcelona

ParkGuell_Barcelona_briannagormanHey everyone! My name is Brianna Gorman and I am a senior at the University of Florida.  I studied abroad last summer in Barcelona with CISabroad, and spent 3 weeks after my program traveling around Europe.  Today I’m going to give you some travel tips for summer abroad in Barcelona. I’ll tell you all about my experiences- the food, my apartment in the city, the classes, troubles I ran into, etc.

FLIGHT AND PASSPORT
The most obvious first step in studying abroad is purchasing a passport and booking a flight.  You need to get your passport as soon as possible- it can take up to 8 weeks for the government to send all your documents back to you. Once you have your passport, you have to book a flight! The sooner, the cheaper, usually.  I didn’t buy my ticket until about a month and a half before my trip, and it was 1600 US dollars round trip.  On the other hand, I just bought a ticket to Europe for a post- graduation trip, and it was 300 dollars less. Great websites, besides the usual Delta or United Airlines websites include: studentuniverse.com, onetravel.com and cheapoair.com.  There are others out there of course; these are just some of the ones I know about.

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APARTMENTS AND OTHER LIVING SITUATIONS
There are different types of living situations you can choose with CISabroad.  Depending on the city and program, you can choose to live in a dorm, an apartment, or a homestay.  They didn’t offer dorms on my program, but they did offer apartments and homestays.  In all honesty, living in a dorm didn’t seem too pleasing to me, but living in an apartment sounded great.  I lived with 5 other girls in a 5-bedroom apartment, so I got a room to myself.  It was furnished with a desk, dresser, chair, and came with sheets and bedding.  CIS sets up living arrangements with outside renters so, at least for my situation, everything was set to go when I got there.  They also provided pots and pans and other utensils in the kitchen, towels, and a fully furnished living room.  A housekeeper would come one or two times a week and clean for us, which was also nice.  Some people on my program chose to live in a homestay.  Homestays are great because you get to learn the language, eat great food cooked by your homestay parents, and they do your laundry for you.  It’s definitely a more intimate environment, but it is also very beneficial if you truly want to immerse yourself in the language and culture.

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TRAVELING WITHIN THE CITY
I can’t speak for other countries and cities, but for Barcelona, traveling around the city was very easy.  Public transportation was great- there’s the metro, city buses, cabs, bike rentals, everything.  Walking isn’t bad either! City buses always confuse me, but I loved taking the metro.  It was about 42 euros for a 50/30 card- a card that allows for 50 journeys within 30 days.  That was a great choice, especially for commuting to and from school or to different sightseeing destinations.  Of course there are different options for different needs. For a few days in Barcelona, the cab drivers went on a strike so we couldn’t take cabs anywhere.  You don’t really hear of that happening in the United States, so I thought it was a funny story. I loved walking too.  I really felt like a native when I walked around.  I made sure to stop in the paneria for bread every day, maybe get a pastry, and peruse the shops.  I didn’t feel so rushed there, which was really nice.

CLASSES
Mostly everyone on my program took two classes a day for four weeks.  We would be in class from Monday through Thursday, and then go on a planned excursion on the weekend or do our own traveling.  I liked that the classes were small.  My Spanish class only had four people in it, and my other class, the role of futbol in Spain, had about 14.  Having a low number of people in Spanish classes or any language class is great because you get more one on one time with your professor.  Also know that the professors understand you’re studying abroad.  They do take their absence policies seriously, but they want you to have fun and gain as much experience as you can while abroad so they will work with your travel plans.

TRAVELING WITHIN EUROPE
Traveling is SUPER cheap once you’re in Europe.  Lots of students on weekends will fly to Paris, Europe for Harry Potter sightseeing, really anywhere you want.  Ryanair is a great airline to fly with, very cheap.  I never flew when I was in Europe, I traveled mostly by train, but I did hear that they will add on hefty fees for baggage checks.  Seriously- you can bring a backpack with weekend clothes (and you’ll have to fit your wallet/ purse/ etc) inside of it, or else the fees will be even more expensive than the plane ticket itself.

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TRAVEL
I traveled for three weeks after my program ended.  I flew out of Barcelona, so we kind of had to do a loop around Europe to make it back to Barcelona.  By train, I traveled to Paris, France; Munich, Germany; Salzburg, Austria; and Venice, Italy.  The trek from Venice back to Barcelona was very long- a 26 hour trip and 6 train changes.  I would definitely recommend planning where you might want to go and getting your return ticket from a different airport so you don’t make that same mistake.  You can easily purchase multi-city tickets; I just did for my trip this summer! Traveling by train is the best choice.  My grandmother and I got the Eurail Global Pass, and you can choose what kind of pass you want.  We got a 10 day pass within 30 days.  You can travel any 10 days within a 30-day period.

HOW CAN I AFFORD IT?
Let me start by saying that going abroad and traveling while you’re young is worth it, even if you have to borrow money.  With that, there are plenty of scholarships you can apply for, through your school and through public sites.  You can also use financial aid if you are eligible to receive it the semester you are going.  Personally, I used my financial aid, and it gave me extra money to travel around afterwards.  Of course, you can take out as little or as much as you need, so if you don’t need to take it all out, try not to.  I applied for a study abroad scholarship through my study abroad office, but was unfortunately denied.  Getting a scholarship for programs in Europe, especially Barcelona, is pretty difficult because so many people go there.  If you go to less popular places in Africa or Asia, you might have a better chance.  If money is an issue, and you can get scholarships to go abroad to the less popular places, I would 100% take the offer.  Of course, if your dream is to go for a semester, you can certainly find ways to do it.

Montjuic_Barcelona_BriannaGorman

HOW DO I KNOW IT’S THE RIGHT PROGRAM FOR ME
I think that any program you decide to go on will be the time of your life.  CIS can help find a program that fits your class needs, your living desires, and the type of city you want to be in.  If you want to go to a country in which your family lives, they will create a different program cost so that you won’t be paying for housing any longer.  If you only need to take one class, you can work around that as well.  CISabroad wants you to have the best possible time.  You can definitely find cities that have your classes to build upon your major, but you’ll have more variety of places to choose from if you decide to work on your minor abroad or general education credits.  I was able to finish my Spanish minor while I was in Barcelona, which was great!


If you want to get in touch with Brianna, please contact the CISabroad office today or chat with us online!

 

Barcelona for LGBTQIA Students Abroad

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Hi Everyone! My name is Pam and I’m a marketing intern at CISAbroad. This past summer, I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain and backpacked around Europe. It all seems like a two-month dream now that it’s passed and I’m here in snowy Northampton!

My experience studying abroad was amazing in every way and a tad different from other students seeing as I identify as queer. Being a member of the LGBTQIA community is something that is a huge part of my life and it was important to me to bring that with me overseas. I wanted to share with you what my experience was like in Barcelona and offer some great things to do in Barcelona for LGBTQIA students who decide that Spain is the study abroad destination for them!

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Park Guel

Let me start off by saying that Barcelona, Spain is an amazing place to go for LGBTQIA-identifying individuals. The culture and people are both lively and accepting. Same sex marriage was made legal in Spain in 2005, making it the third country in the world to do so! There is no need to fear being as out (or not!) as you want in Barcelona. It is a safe and welcoming place for people of all identities.

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View from the top of La Sagrada Familia

The district of Eixample is affectionately referred to as Gay-xample by many. The area is home to many popular LGBT+ bars, shops, and restaurants. The area is large and is not a strictly gay area, but if you are looking for LGBTQIA destinations, then this is the place to go. You can find fun places to grab something to eat, window shop, or go out dancing with friends! Eixample is also home to many historic sites including La Sagrada Familia and Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Milla.

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Sitges, Spain

 

Want an LGBTQIA-filled day trip? Sitges is just a short 40-minute train ride away and is a popular destination for gay men and women, especially in the summer. Sitges is a vibrant and cultural hub having attracted the likes of Pablo Picasso and Santaigo Rusinol. The city is popular for it’s yearly Carnaval, gay pride, and international film festival. Rainbow flags can be seen sprawling the streets day and night in this cute beach town. Whether you want to spend a day soaking up the sun on the gorgeous beaches, head to a museum, or window shop from the many gay-friendly shops, you won’t be disappointed.

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My friends and I dancing in the Pride Parade

I wanted to experience the LGBTQIA culture in Spain and see what it was all about! One of the most memorable weekends I had in the city was at Barcelona Gay Pride. Barcelona Pride electrifies the city in a a ten-day long affair full of events, activities, conferences, and most notably a parade down one of Barcelona’s busiest streets, Avinguda Paral·lel. I even danced in the parade with friends and almost got pulled onto a float!  If you find yourself in Barcelona mid-late June, make sure to make your way over to a pride event. The energy and feeling of community are infectious!

Overall, my experience as a queer student in Barcelona couldn’t have been better. I made friends with LGBTQIA-identified locals, felt comfortable in a city that was accepting of my identity, and was able to explore a part of the culture that is important to me. There are many reasons to love the city of Barcelona, and it’s LGBTQIA friendly atmosphere is just one of them!

 

 

Alumna Spotlight: Intern in Barcelona

Hiking Montserrat with Friends. That’s me, Victoria, on the far right.

Victoria Quill is a rising Junior and Hospitality major at UMass Amherst. Over the summer of 2014 she interned abroad in Barcelona for six weeks assisting an entrepreneur who owns a restaurant, hostel, and online website/ticketing company. Victoria is a CISabroad Alumni Ambassador if you have questions about  her international internship in Barcelona, the CISabroad application for an internship, and her experience living abroad  you can email her directly at vrquill (at) gmail.com

How and why did you choose Barcelona for an internship? 
When I went to Barcelona a few years ago on a school trip I was blown away by its beauty. First off, I would like to say that I have told myself that I never wanted to go back to somewhere I have already been until I traveled to other desired places first. I considered Dublin and Australia. However, when it came down to it- two factors really made me finalize my decision: 1) I should expose myself with more culture. I wanted to get to know a whole different lifestyle, food cuisine, landscape, and language; 2) Also, Barcelona’s climate was the warmest, and I LOVE warm weather.

What type of accommodation did you have? Did you like it? 
I decided to do a home stay while in Spain. I felt as though it was the best way to expose myself to the true Spanish culture. I got really lucky and had an amazing experience. My host mother was in her sixties living alone in her apartment. She had myself and one other girl staying in her apartment. She was wonderful. She cleaned our rooms, did our laundry, and cooked us A LOT of AMAZING Spanish food.

 

What do you miss most about living in Barcelona?
I really miss being able to walk and explore everywhere. I got into the habit of trying to walk as much as I could. It was a unique way to explore the city- I would stumble upon hidden treasures every day. It also gave my brain time to relax and just think. I am going to try to walk more in my life now. I really felt more relaxed and free when I would walk.

“Being at the top of Tibidabo and looking down on the views was very rewarding. It made me reflect on how much I have seen and experienced throughout my time here.”

If you could go back and do one day over again, which would it be? 
There are many days that were wonderful, and I would LOVE to repeat the delightful mementoes. HOWEVER, I would really love to re-do the first day. Easily. I was terrified. I showed up to my home stay and my señora spoke no English at all. I literally thought it was some type of horrible joke. She showed me around the house telling me all of the rules. She walked me around the neighborhood pointing out all different important things. I barely had any clue what she was saying. I was terrified. I went to our orientation and got lost on the metro on the way. If was scary and horrible. Now, looking back at it, I wish I just relaxed more and embraced the new culture.

What are five things you didn’t pack that you wish you had packed?
I sat and thought about this question for a while, and I honestly feel as though I did a really good job at packing! I didn’t bring too much stuff and I had everything that I needed (besides a lunch box- but that was doable without). So, instead I have developed a list of a few odd things that I think you should bring.

1) Lunch box/freezer pack. When we went on day trips I wish I had something to keep my snacks cool while in such a warm environment.

2) Water bottle. For me, all of the tap water was fine. (And I had a lot of access to filtered water as well.) So, instead of buying zillions of water bottles I would just fill up my water bottle from home!

3) Small drawstring backpack. I personally didn’t bring a backpack, I thought I would just use a satchel or my tote. However, when you’re doing something like hiking/exploring a backpack type of bag is a lot better for carrying things for the whole day.

4) Toiletries. Personally, I brought my own toiletries. I thought it saved some money (and time). It also worked out well for packing because I used the toiletries abroad, and so I had some room for gifts on the way home!

5) Currency. I would strongly suggest getting a lot of the currency for your country before you arrive. That way you won’t have to worry about it as much while you’re over there. What if you don’t have an ATM around you? What if your card stops working? What if your ATM card gets stolen? Who knows if any of this is likely, but regardless it is handy to have the currency available. Just store it in a safe place!!

Any advice for future travelers? 
Go out of your comfort zone. Try things you never thought you would. Don’t go back to your bed and siesta- EXPLORE the city/town in which you’re living instead.

Any other stories that you’d like to share from your trip? 
Oh gosh, I have so many. I can’t even think of one favorite in particular. Feel free to reach out to me- I’ll blab your ear off. Or visit my blog! vqbarcelona.wordpess.com

 

Sunrise Run Around Park Guell

 

Montserrat Day Trip – Barcelona Study Abroad Highlight

Marketing Intern in Barcelona, SpainMeet Victoria Tucker a Clemson University college student and study abroad student living and interning in Barcelona this summer. With one week left in her program, we’ve asked her to share her favorite little tidbits about exploring and traveling in Barcelona, the  world’s most influential cosmopolitan city on the Mediterranean coast. Here is her reflection on visiting Montserrat.

 

One of the best things about Barcelona, Spain is that you have easy access to the gorgeous beaches, of course, but you are also able to travel about an hour outside the city and get to immerse yourself in a completely different landscape.

Today, two of my friends and I decided to take a little day trip to Montserrat. After brunch, we went to Plaća Espanya and took about an hour train journey to the cable car site. Getting tickets was surprisingly easy, but the cable car up was a little crowded and I already am not a huge fan of heights. It was worth a little anxiety though, because the view from Montserrat is un-paralleled. Simply looking out across the Spanish inland is worth the trip itself. The former monastery is carved into the side of this mountain and nestled into these kind of pink-brown rocks that reminded me of play dough.

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To the right when we got off the cable car, there are several stalls selling honey, cheeses and other little goodies. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, they have samples of most things that are worth a taste. As we continued walking we came upon one of the coolest sculptures I’ve ever seen. Right at the edge of one of the cliffs were these huge steps going up into the sky. Seriously, Instagram gold.

The Stairway of Understanding - Montserrat , Spain

After our little photo session we decided to get down to our serious touring and go over to the Basilica. I don’t know if I should admit this, but I did not research what Montserrat was before I went. I just saw some really awesome pictures and thought it would be fun. When we got up to the Basilica though we learned that the Monestary has been there since the 700’s. My favorite little tidbit was that some believed it to be the site of the Arthurian Holy Grail. Most people were there to see the vistas, but more especially the Black Virgin Mary Statue that was believed to have been carved in the Biblical days in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, because we had such a leisurely brunch (what is it with girls and brunch?), the line to see this famous statue was about two hours and not something that we really wanted to commit to.

Sitting inside the Basilica however was breath-taking. The stained glass windows and intricate designs on the walls were incredible of course, but I was more impressed with the thought of all of the materials being transported up this huge mountain. The fact that people were so inspired to create this amazing sanctuary makes me even more driven to find something I am that passionate about. After spending some time exploring the trails along the cliffs, we decided to head back into Barcelona, and said goodbye to the beautiful medieval sanctuary on what seamed like the top of the world.

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Monestir de Montserrat photo: Flickr
The Stairway of Understanding photo: Flickr
Illustration: Flickr

Internship and Tapas

Ashanka Kumari is a featured blogger and student at University of Alabama. She is currently studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. 

Today was the beginning of my last week at my internship. I know I will definitely miss working at this company and am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work here for six weeks. When I mentioned it to my supervisor, she could not believe that it was already time for my final week. She thought that only three weeks had passed and told me that she would definitely miss having me around.

At work, I worked on a couple of articles but only successfully finished one: Title defender continues charge. The communication on the other articles is still a working process, so we’ll see if those happen soon.

After work, I met with another intern and we went to a nearby restaurant and had lunch. I had Croquettes de Pollo, a delicious Tapa which is fried similarly to a mozzarella stick but smaller in size and can be filled with either chicken, ham or cheese (as far as I’ve seen) and a bacon and cheese sandwich. It was all very good. I’m definitely going to miss Tapas.

Following lunch, I went back to my home stay and enjoyed the rest of day off. Tomorrow I plan on going to finish my to-do list at last and seeing the stadium/area where the 1992 Summer Olympics were held. Hasta luego!

What is your favorite part about an internship abroad? Leave a comment below! 

4th of July in Barcelona

Ashanka Kumari is a featured blogger studying at the University of Alabama. She is currently studying abroad in Barcelona. Today, I revised and re-edited the article I wrote for the Russian and main magazine yesterday to further please the Russian editor’s plan for the magazine. I also translated a web blurb for my boss from Spanish to English. Although it was Independence Day in America, it seemed that Barcelona was rather dead. After work, I went home and watched movies on my laptop for the majority of the remainder of the day.

For dinner, my host mom surprised me and made a spinach dish (which was pretty good) with cheese and bacon, since she knew I like spinach. I appreciate how hard she tries to make me feel at home. After dinner, I accompanied my host mother at La Nena and was reminded how much of a barrier there can be between cultures. When discussing Independence Day with my host mother, she asked if it was the holiday where they serve turkey and have big dinners, which I told her was Thanksgiving. Sometimes I forget that America has its own holidays and traditions but it’s always interesting to try to explain them to those who aren’t as familiar with them. Have you ever celebrated different holidays abroad? Leave a comment below!