I have officially become one of those study abroad people who finds a way to weave their international experience into every conversation. To my friends and family, I apologize for that, but it's hard not to compare life in Spain and the U.S. after living in both places! These are some of the things I can't stop talking about since coming back home.
Compared to the public transportation I’ve used in cities like Chicago and Boston, I found using the metro (subway), train, and buses in Barcelona super intuitive and reliable. I took the metro every day and became really familiar with a few specific lines so I could go somewhere without needing to look up a route or ask for directions. You may have heard that Barcelona is known for being a popular city for pickpockets. This is definitely something to look out for, but I always felt very safe on public transportation despite the risk of being pickpocketed. Compared to the U.S. which is so car-centric, I never saw traffic in or around Barcelona. Nearly every day I miss living in a walkable city that prioritizes more accessible and sustainable forms of transportation than cars.
If you’ve seen my last post, you know that I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of plant-based food and vegan restaurants in Barcelona. I think that Barcelona and other European countries are ahead of the game when it comes to affordable plant-based options. Not only were there lots of dairy and meat substitutes in grocery stores, but restaurants were very accommodating and often provided allergen information too. There are plenty of vegan foods in grocery stores here, but they are way more expensive than the ones I found in Barcelona. The expense of food was a huge shock for me when I came back home. Part of that was also that there is no sales tax or tip in Spain. As I write this, I’m remembering some of the Spanish foods I miss and would like to recreate, like tortilla de patata and gazpacho.
The International Community
I was lucky to be placed in an internship that had a very international office where I was always surrounded by different languages, cultures, and perspectives. While eating lunch with my coworkers and walking around the office building, I met people from different countries every day. Barcelona itself is also a very diverse city and opened my eyes to cultures I hadn’t learned about before. While the U.S. is a melting pot of so many cultures, I have yet to work in a setting as I did in Barcelona where I was constantly learning from people from around the world. Studying abroad truly does make you a global citizen by helping you be more understanding of cultures other than your own.
Close Proximity to Sights and Towns
The ease of public transportation in and around Barcelona allowed me to see surrounding towns and attractions that I didn’t plan to visit. For instance, I visited La Costa Brava, Tarragona, Sant Pol de Mar, Sitges, and Castelldefels to name a few places. While I’m admittedly jealous of the many students in this program who flew to France, Portugal, and Morocco on the weekends, I feel lucky to have seen many parts of Catalonia during my time in Spain. If you study or do an internship in Barcelona, there will never be a shortage of places to see around the city.
Most importantly, I miss the wonderful people I met during the Barcelona Internship Program. The loneliness that I felt in the early stages of the program faded fast when I grew closer to my roommates, fellow interns, and classmates. I feel so lucky to have been welcomed by other women in the program and by my Spanish coworkers at my internship. A friend from my internship even invited me to her hometown near Barcelona, and I will always cherish her hospitality. While I wish I could be with my Barcelona friends in person, we still talk daily over text and have plans to reunite in the near future.
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<p>I am a recent graduate from Lake Forest College with a bachelor's in Environmental Studies and Spanish. I am passionate about environmental justice and sustainable living, so I am thrilled to be interning at REVOLVE Mediterraneo in Barcelona this summer. During college, I had fun being involved in the environmental club and Campus Sustainability Committee. In my free time, I love being outdoors, crocheting, and cooking new recipes.</p>