Student Blog: Study Abroad in Spain
by Stephanie Cook '12
Hello everyone! We just got back from Barcelona a few hours ago. I thought Madrid was a really cool place, but after my excursion to the coast, I learned Barcelona is an even more fun and exciting destination!
The city is absolutely gorgeous and filled with lots of history and BEAUTIFUL architecture. As we arrived, it was obvious to see that there were Catalonian flags hanging from porches and windows from many of the various apartments and stores. The Catalonian language is a mixture of Spanish and French and a completely different language from the traditional Spanish spoken in Spain. These people have a lot of pride being a part this culture; they do not consider themselves Spanish and want to establish their own nation that is separated from the rest of Spain. A huge protest was happening the first day we were in the city for this reason. It was exciting to watch, but a bit scary at the same time! There were people everywhere holding the Catalonian flags while screaming in the streets. While walking around, I made sure to stay close to the group and did not get separated from them because I would not be able to find locate them if I did. I want to give major respect and a big thank you to my new buddy Greg from Catawba who successfully guided us throughout the city. We would have probably gotten lost if he was not there.
We ventured over to Las Ramblas Street, which is a very popular area in Madrid for shopping and dining. After a lot of searching, we ended up finding this small restaurant that was delicious! I had a veal hamburger that was mouthwatering good. Of course dessert was necessary, so my friend Whitney and I split a delicious Crème Brule. This was not just an ordinary one; it had fried bananas in it as well! The treat was so delicious; I would consider it one of the best desserts I have ever had ... in the top 5 for sure!
After paying the expensive bill for dinner, we ventured off to shop a bit. There were street vendors everywhere! A lot of men from Senegal were standing on the street and selling "designer bags." I think you all know what I am talking about! They were very pushy whenever we passed by them, and yelled at us to come over and look at their items for sale. It was hard to say no to buying something! I had a feeling I would give in eventually before the trip was over. After more navigating, we finally made it back to the hotel. We were going to have to rest up before the big game! Spain was in the finals of the World Cup against the Netherlands and would be playing the following night. Rest was needed to celebrate. Also, we would be going on a tour throughout the city promptly at 9:00 AM, so it would be polite to be awake for that. :)
After a fabulous breakfast at the 5 Star Hotel we were staying in (I was shocked we were in such a nice one, but I took advantage of it), we went on a tour of the city. We were allowed to get off the bus and shop some in addition to sightseeing. The first park we stopped at had a gorgeous view of the Barcelona beaches. Men from Senegal were also selling beautiful glass covered necklaces. I saw these and went crazy. I knew I was going to get my friends from home and Catawba gifts from Spain, and I thought these would be the perfect ones. I bought six different ones ... oooops! I just couldn't help myself! They were a good price and absolutely beautiful! I hope my friends like them as much as I do. After the tour and walking around in the heat, it was time for a nap. My friends went to the Picasso Museum while I went back to the hotel. I ended up meeting up with some of the guys from Catawba to go out to lunch. We went to
a place up the street. I had to satisfy my craving for pasta and ended up ordering delicious Fettuccine Alfredo. Then it was time for some shuteye. I ended up taking a 3-hour nap! I knew that I would need the rest though...a big celebration was in store for tonight!
Later on that day, Mary Alice got back to the room. We started to get ready for the big night. We ended up taking the metro with the four other guys to the Plaza de Madrid. This was the place to be for the finals of the World Cup! People were everywhere with their Catalonian flags just going crazy. Unfortunately, being 5'2", I was unable to see the screen since so many people were in my way of viewing. Mary Alice and I ended up going to a bar close by where I would be able to watch the game and actually know what was going on. I made a new friend from Armenia named George while downing my bocadilla (a type of Spanish sandwich). He was so nice and we chatted quite a bit. To make the night even better, Spain won in overtime!!! The city went absolutely crazy! We
couldn't help but join in and pretend we were Spanish as well by screaming "Yo soy espanol, espanol, espanol!!" It was nuts! We met up with the guys again and got on the metro to go back and get ready to go out. There were so many people on the subway pushing through the police that we were able to sneak by and not pay our fare to return. Ooops?! It was absolutely insane; there were people everywhere screaming and celebrating. This was the first time Spain had ever won the World Cup, let alone make the final game. It was a big deal, and awesome to be a part of the celebration.
After primping at the hotel, it was time to go out and really celebrate! We ended up going to a club on the beach that was popping with people. It was a really cool experience. I met a nice guy named Mark and talked and danced with him for a while. We ended up staying until the club closed, then ventured our way to the beach. Being on the beach at night in Barcelona ... I don't think anything could top this experience! We ended up walking back to the hotel since the metro had been closed for quite a while when we were ready to go back, which was pretty late! It was a really fun night, and I think we all enjoyed ourselves! I finally got into my bed at 5:00 A.M. and passed out. I would not be able to sleep in though - tomorrow we were waking early and going to the beach at Tossa del Mar.
After a brutal wakeup call at 8:00 AM but rewarded for rising with another outstanding hotel breakfast, it was time to go to the sea! Tossa was about an hour and a half away from Barcelona. The drive was worth it though - the beach and overall area was GOREGOUS!! I ended up lying on the sand and passed out right away. I woke up with a bit of a sunburn about 4 hours later, but I knew it would turn into a tan in a few days. This is the normal procedure I have to go through every time I try to tan, so I was used to the redness and burning on my skin. The day was fabulous and very relaxing, just what I needed after the festivities from the night before! We returned from the beach and went to a delicious Italian restaurant. The food was SOOO good. We all loved the bread especially; it had tomato baked in and the butter was loaded with a rich garlic flavor. After dinner, we ventured back to Las Ramblas Street and were on the mission to buy a purse or two ... or three. Whitney, Mary Alice and I both bought three items, but Jamie was strong and was able to turn down all of the temptations. How did she do it?!?!
We got up early again the next morning and loaded on the bus to return back to Madrid. I slept most of the time, but was able to come up with the conclusion Barcelona was by far, without a doubt, the coolest place I had ever visited. I made a mental note to myself I would be back to visit. It may be a few years or several decades, but the city WILL be seeing my face again! This week we will be resuming classes, but I am sure more exciting events will be taking place. Please keep reading and expect my next entry in a few days!
Until next time,
PHOTOS: Study Abroad in Spain