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Formentera is one of the Balearic Islands off the coast of the mainland peninsula of Spain, notorious for its natural beauty. It is the smallest island in the autonomous region of the Islas Baleares, the other islands being Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza.
In Formentera, they speak a local Ibizan variant of the Balearic dialect of Catalan, which is pretty similar to the Catalan that is spoken in Catalonia (the region in which you can find the city of Barcelona).
Catalans have a deep culture and pride. In Barcelona, you sometimes see flags promoting independence from Spain due to their restraint during Spain’s dictatorship from 1939-1975. My host mom told me about how she was restricted from speaking her native language, Catalan, and essentially her culture during this time. Beautiful and vast regional differences were stifled and oppressed, which took away from the people.
The sound track to this video of my time in Formentera is the song “El meu avi.” This is the most beloved song of a kind of music, Havaneras, found in the Costa Brava of Catalonia. Each year the Cantada d’Havaneres of Calella de Palafrugell are held, where they sing beautiful songs that were composed by Spanish seafarers who in the 19th century sailed to Cuba in seek of economic fortunes and trade. I was lucky enough to listen to these with my host mom, and she was brought to tears over how they reminded her of her childhood and grandparents. I understood a decent amount but honestly I didn’t need to in order to appreciate the beauty of the lyrics and songs themselves.
Study abroad students in Europe like to visit different countries during their time, and to each their own, but I can’t express how wonderful it is to really take the time to immerse yourself and learn about the rich culture of one country. Formentera is an absolutely beautiful and breathtaking island, and I know I will make my way back one day. Tengo bellos recuerdos de este lugar maravilloso.
Almost all of this was filmed by my wonderful friend Haley! Muchas gracias!
Nathalie O'Hernandez

Nathalie is a Pre-Med student at the University of Michigan. She studied abroad with Barcelona SAE at the School for International Studies in July of 2023.

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