Hola readers! My name is Iryna, and I’m Barcelona SAE’s newest student blogger. I’ve hailed to Espana from Ball State University. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this midwestern gem, it’s about 45 minutes north of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Two weekends ago, I experienced one of the greatest traditions in Catalunya – La Mercé. The celebration honors the patron Saint of Barcelona, Virgin de la Mercé and marks the end of the summer.  While the actual holiday was on September 24th, the city sparked with neighborhood pride for five full days. Whether you wanted to attend a concert, parade or traditional showing, there wasn’t any shortage of entertainment for all age groups. Best of all, the entire festival was FREE!

The first event that I attended was a concert at Plaza Espana which is home to the Museu Nacional d’art de Catalunya (MNAC). The stage was beautifully set up with a backdrop of Montjuic’s Magic Fountain as thousands of young Catalonians including the transplants like myself danced to the beats of local artists. After a few hours of mingling, my friends and I decided to call it a night, but we were deeply mistaken. As we stepped on the metro, the crowd continued to celebrate by singing national songs. The energy was contagious so we couldn’t resist but to join in on the chanting!

Another, pinnacle event was the correfoc, a tradition where people dressed as devils run through the streets and shoot fireworks. As the night fell, a procession of drummers kicked off the celebration. At that point, I was excited to be centrally located to see all the action. Fast forward to 20 minutes, and there were sparks of fire flying at the crowd standing a foot away. I soon found myself inching to the closest building, ducking behind strangers and exchanging looks of fear with my friends nearby. The night proved to be an endless adrenaline rush.

The weekend continued this way especially during the human tower exhibition or “castellers.” Teams of people constructed towers of varying dimensions with 1 to 5 people on each floor. As competitors skillfully climbed their way to the top, a sea of spectators remained completely silent. My heart skipped a beat every time a team reached their final level as typically a child is positioned at the tower’s peak.

Overall, the weekend was an unforgettable blend of culture and adrenaline!