By Nyah Pierson, University of Michigan
As you get ready to come to Barcelona, you may have heard of Parc Güell and you might even have heard of the amazing beach at Barceloneta…but I am going to give you a few tips that I wished I had known before coming to Barcelona:
- You will meet a lot of new people and you will make friends. I embarked on this trip thinking I might connect at most with my roommates, my host family, and a lot of the locals. I knew I could count on the staff at Barcelona SAE because I knew that, if nothing else, they are experienced in helping students adjust to life in Barcelona. What I did not expect to encounter were friendships with individuals from Australia, from Michigan that I had never met before, and forming lifelong bonds that will go with me far beyond this program.
- Learn some Spanish! I know that Americans often think that English is a universal language. We might believe that although other countries may have alternative languages that they speak outside of English, it will always prevail. Well, my friend, I am here to tell you that sometimes it might not and living with Google Translate can cause a nice damper on your travel plans. So learn a quick tutorial of everyday phrases or words (or download Duolingo ASAP) at least 30 days before you sojourner off to new lands.
- If you are going to travel outside of the trip, you might want to consider staying in Spain.
This is a tip that I did not take myself, as I was quick to book a trip with some friends to Paris. While France was great, the only problem is that there is a whole country outside of Barcelona that I did not get to discover that I wish that I had time to. I started the program already having traveled to London a couple of days before, and once I was in Barcelona, a mixture of all the different cultural nuisances became harder than ever for me to differentiate between places for me. During my summer in Spain, I wished I would’ve have gone to see Madrid, Grenada, and Seville during my program for a weekend trip, instead of venturing outside of Spain….although it does give me an excuse to return to this beautiful country to finish exploring at a later date.
- You do not need to spend money at every turn that you take. The amount of money that you will need overseas depends quite literally on you. It makes no sense to buy any food for lunch if you go to the grocery store and buy things to make a basic lunch with items you have just purchased. In a homestay, your host family provides you and with breakfast and dinner so lunch is on you. Outside of maybe souvenir shopping and traveling outside of the program, excessive money did not need to be spent during my four weeks here. I could definitely have gone a cheaper route in how to save here. Also if you are going to shop, make sure that you shop during Barcelona’s city-wide store sales !
- Take it all in, and have fun! Most importantly, upon anything else that you have read from me in this post, please at least remember this….HAVE FUN in Barcelona! After learning some Spanish, saving up some money for your new European wardrobe, making new friends and traveling around Spain with these new friends, sit your phone down for a few moments and enjoy the beautiful Catalan culture and its people. You only live once so why not live your life to the fullest now in Barcelona?