My name is Beatriz. I will be attending Universitat de Pompeu Fabra, a relatively new yet internationally ranked university that is quite well known in Europe. This being my first blog entry, I apologize beforehand if it is so long. I just have so much to say and I feel like I can only touch on everything briefly.
I have been in Barcelona for three weeks now, and although it may seem like a long time I still find myself learning the ways of the Catalonians.I was lucky that another fellow Aggie, Katrina, is also studying at UPF and so we have been going through the journey together. Classes have still not begun so we have been exploring the city and visiting the tourist sites. So far I have found Barcelona to be such a diverse city. As you travel through the city you can go from a small historic community, to large buildings and skyscrapers, to the Gothic quarter, to mountains, and to the beach. It is evident that the city is still evolving, with new up and coming neighborhoods. Katrina and me are both staying with the same host family. We live in an apartment with Teresa and her teenage daughter, Alba. Our apartment is located in El Poblenou, an area of the neighborhood Sant Marti. This specific area is a developing family oriented neighborhood that used to be filled with factories and business buildings. Just two streets away is the Torre Agbar, a beautiful glass building that houses the water services company.
Around the city there are numerous tourist sites. Some I think are worth paying to see the inside of and others are okay to just take look at. All around the city you will find famous Gaudi works. You can’t leave the city without going to all if not atleast some of his works which include: Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, Colonia Guell, Palau Guell, and Casa Vicens. Depending on when you come some of them might be closed for repairs. This was the case when I went to La Pedrera. There are other remarkable sites around the city such as the Tibidabo mountain, the Monjuic mountain, the Picasso Museum, and the Catedral de Barcelona just to name a few. It would honestly take someone at least a week to truly get a good glance at Barcelona. There are many other museums not mentioned that I haven’t gotten around to visiting.
After about a week of being in Barcelona we took a trip to the Madrid, the capitol, and Toledo a nearby town. Just a short recap on the differences between Madrid and Barcelona (based on my observations, I could be wrong):
- Barcelona is more spread out
- The streets of Madrid are so much busier
- Barcelona has more tourists
- People in Barcelona are more open to trying to speak English for tourists
- Madrid has 3 really important and extensive museums
- Madrid has a much better park (Parque del Retiro)
- The nightlife in Madrid seemed to take place all over the city where as in Barcelona it is only in certain areas
- The metro system in Barcelona is better maintained, more useful, and a bit cheaper
- And OFCOURSE in Barcelona they speak Catalan as well as Spanish
In general, the cities in Spain have basic similarities. For example, unlike in the US people in Spain are so much more relaxed and never seem to be in a hurry. It is very common for people here to be late so everyone walks at a slow pace and takes 2+ hours to eat meals. Although I’m not very fond of people not being punctual, I do appreciate that meals are a social affair. When ordering at a restaurant it is not uncommon to not have drinks listed on the menu. I find that the only time they are listed is when they are house specials, which means its only cocktails. It is assumed that all restaurants serve the same non-alcoholic beverages. Nightlife is extremely different. Here clubs are open from 12am to either 5 or 6 am, and then there are also after hour clubs. So when I say that they like to party, I mean they REALLY like to party.
At the moment I am attending my university’s orientation week, which is filled with ERASMUS events. Through the program I have gotten to meet people from all over and am just now starting to keep track of people’s names and hanging out with. The third week of September Barcelona has huge festivities. The event is called Festes de la Mercè and they have events for families, musical performances, parades, fireworks, and free music concerts all over the city. If you are in Barcelona during La Mercè, you must attend the Correfoc (fire run parade), the Castells (human pyramid), and at least one of the fireworks show.
Well I think I’ve over done it for sure. Stay tuned for next month. ¡Hasta luego!
(Below is a link to my dropbox folder because there’s simply no way I could only pick one or two pictures)