Ryan Eury is a recent graduate of Valencia College and studied abroad through Barcelona SAE in Fall 2012. Currently, he is working in Barcelona for the summer as one of the “Best of the Best” Interns for Barcelona SAE. He has some great advice on how students in Barcelona can enjoy this city while spending less!
So, you’re studying abroad in Barcelona and your scholarships won’t arrive until after you leave? Or perhaps you have so much European travel scheduled you’re destined to run out of money before the end of the semester? Or maybe you’re just one of those people who just have a deep-seated need for frugality?
Well, you are in luck, because two of those things happened to me (Hint: I’m not known for my frugality), and I found out that although Barcelona CAN be a very expensive place to study, through both design and accident, Barcelona has secretly become a place where even the most penniless university student can have an incredible time! I have compiled a number of tips, through asking my professors, the amazing staff at Barcelona SAE, my new friends in the city, and through quite a bit of trial and error. Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about these tips and any others I discover in the meantime, and hopefully my misfortune will be of aid to some other poor traveler.
First though, I want to talk about food.
The savings start at home! There are a number of ways that you can make your stay here less expensive, starting with what you pack. My roommate this semester brought a big tub of peanut butter (which is nearly impossible to find in Barcelona, and tends to be expensive) to use to make sandwiches for work lunches. Since the absolute cheapest dining near our job is still at least €3.50 (About $5.00 using current exchange rates), that simple move could save her up to $250.00! Keep things like this in mind as you pack, but please don’t devote too much of your luggage to food!
The first week or two of your Barcelona Study Abroad Experience will most likely be some of the most expensive. As you are in a new city and experiencing a new culture, you’ll most likely be unfamiliar with where the groceries are and what strange new foods to try out, and you’ll almost certainly have to purchase some basic staples such as spices (salt, pepper, butter, olive oil), bread, and most likely pasta, as it’s easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and easily customizable.
Another easy to make staple of the Barcelona-bound student is the bocadillo (Spanish sandwich). Buy a baguette, some sliced meats (Jamon is the local favorite), and your favorite cheese, slap it together, throw it into the oven until your cheese is melted, and you’re set!
The important thing to remember is that if you want to eat for not a lot of money, you’ll need to eat like a local. Buy your fruits and vegetables at a fruit and vegetable vendor, or at one of the incredibly numerous fresh markets in each and every neighborhood, buy your bread in a bakery, your meats at the markets, etc.
Of course you’re abroad in Barcelona, so you will certainly want to experience some of the great restaurants around in the city.
There are a number of places you can go that have discounts at various times, and many if not all restaurants will have a ‘Menú del Día’, or menu of the day, that will typically offer a few selections each for your main course, side dish, and drink.
This is nearly always less expensive than ordering the dishes individually.
One great place with a nice mix of both culture and inexpensive food is 100 Montaditos. Montaditos are little sandwiches, and 100 Montaditos has special days at different times of the year, like on Mondays everything is €0.50, and on Wednesdays and Sundays, €1!
There are a number of good burger places in the city, Pim Pam is my favorite, and by no coincidence, the cheapest! Bó de B is another great spot, a famous sandwich shop with bocadillos of all kinds starting at €3-€4.
There are also a number of rotisserie chicken places around the city, and I found a few great ones that will give you a whole chicken with sides and drinks for €10, which usually makes 4 meals.
Finally, there are the kebabs. Averaging around €3 and including lots of food, these are favorites when you forget to pack your lunch, or when you’re on your way home late at night…
All in all, it has been a pleasant surprise to discover how inexpensively you can eat here, but I have to say the best part is how you can eat nearly whatever you want and still lose weight, just because you’ll be walking so much!
Thanks for reading, and be sure to tune in next time, when I’ll be covering various tips and tricks to get cheap or even free communication and transportation around the city!
By Ryan Eury