Bienvenida a Barcelona

I arrived in Spain a little over a week ago w/ ISA. We started off in Madrid, where we only spent 2 days. 2 Days is absolutely not long enough to see Madrid. It’s such a beautiful city that seems to be torn between the renaissance and modern day. Despite the renaissance age art & architecture, Madrid is a relatively modern city. From it’s version of Central Park, “El Retiro” to the Prado Museum, it is an absolute must see.
From Madrid, we traveled to the medieval, former capital of Spain, Toledo. Even though little to no people actually live in Toledo anymore and it’s been entirely taken over by tourism, the city itself with it self remains completely unchanged since medieval times. It’s a beautiful walled in city with some of the most incredible “vistas” you will ever see.
After an entire day on a bus, we finally arrived in Barcelona. How do you even explain this beautiful, eclectic city with its proud natives? Barcelona is one of the most diverse, fascinating cities you will ever see in your lifetime. None of its several neighborhoods even closely resemble each other. From the beach to the gothic neighborhood, to Gaudi’s modern architecture, you will never see a plain sight in this city. It’s absolutely gorgeous. As the capital of Catalunya, the majority of the natives speak Catalan, a language with similarities to French and Spanish, but do not mistake it for either. It is its own independent language and the Catalunyan people are extremely proud of it. Although the Catalunyans prefer to speak their native Catalan, nearly all of them speak regular spanish, or Castellano, as they call it in Spain. Though most of the natives speak both of these languages, hardly anyone in Barcelona speaks English. Needless to say, I should achieve fluency by the time I return home.
Though Barcelona is known as the pickpocket capital of the world, if you are safe and protect yourself from pickpockets, you will soon realize that despite this, Barcelona is one of the safest largescale cities in the world. I feel very safe walking around on my own. I walk everywhere here, whether it’s to class, to the gym, to eat, shop, whatever.
Unfortunately I do not have a metro stop near to me, nor is my homestay apartment situated anywhere near any of my friends in the program. The homestay is definitely something to get used to. I personally do not reccomend it. Aside from the obvious practice of the spanish language that I get daily, due to the fact that hardly any of the host families speak english, it is hardly an ideal situation. Several of my friends have had decent situations as far as homestay families go, with the homestay “mother” being very flexible. Mine, though nice, is not very flexible and is a very busy woman.
The Catalunyan style of living is very difficult to get used to. As Americans we take so much for granted. Water is an actual luxury here, as they often have shortages.
So far, I have had the opportunity to go to the beach, travel to the Cava Winery, and Sitges, a little beach town south of Spain.. The Cava Winery is absolutely incredible. Cava is the spanish term for Champagne. We got the opportunity to go underground and see the miles of fermenting bottles of Cava. It was a very neat experience.
Overall, my experience so far has been very eye opening and enjoyable.
Now it’s time to see what else Barcelona has to offer me!

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