Three and a half months seems like a long time to be in a new city, but as my time of studying abroad comes to a close, I realize that it definitely is not at all. Though I made a list of all the activities and sites that I wanted to do in Barcelona during the semester, it was really impossible for me to do every single thing, especially with going to school, traveling on some weekends, and of course, resting as well. Below are a few things that I put on my Barcelona bucket list, but never got a chance to do.
1. Explore more neighborhoods
As I mentioned in past posts, throughout the semester, it is really easy to fall into the same schedule and stay within the city center. I know I fell into the trap, and in some ways, the city center was the most convenient and comfortable place for me while being here. However, the city is made of more than just the center, and I really wished that I got a chance to visit the Poble Nou neighborhood. One of my professors had mentioned that it was like a mini Las Ramblas, but less touristy. I kick myself more for not making more of an effort to visit, because the local university that I studied at, was only a couple metro stops away.
I also wished that I explored more of the Gracia and Eixample neighborhood. I lived within walking distance to Gracia, and while I did stroll and go to a number of restaurants and shops in that neighborhood, there is still a lot that was left undiscovered. In both neighborhoods, there are a ton of stores, restaurants, and markets which would have been perfect to walk around for a study break or on a free afternoon.
2. Visit more museums and off-the-beaten-path places
There is always something going on in Barcelona. I wish that I took advantage of that more in terms of visiting more unusual sites and museums. While I visited the main museums such as the MNAC and the Picasso museum, there are seriously so many more places. A huge plus is that a lot of museums are free on Sundays too. My favorite exhibit that I have visited so far just happened recently, and it was the exhibit at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona called, the World Press Photo Exhibition. So many of the photos were so moving and current with what is happening around the world today; I even teared up a bit at a couple of photographs. Some examples of places that I wanted to visit were the refugee bunker which was used during the Spanish Civil War, the huge public library, and the Archectural Museum near Montjuic.
3. Budget better and curb my cravings
Being on a budget during my time here has really been a struggle, because while I do want to save, I also sometimes feel like I have to splurge because I do not think that I will have the chance to do something again, or because I have a craving for something. One thing specifically that I wished I did differently, was how I spent my money with food. I often had cravings for foods that I love, such as sushi or Chinese food. In order to fulfill those cravings, I would sometimes just get the nearest sushi takeaway, which was mediocre, or some cheap Chinese fast food. Besides tapas and paella, Barcelona has so much more to offer with foods. I wished that I saved up more, to try the actual great restaurants instead of just trying to immediately fulfill my cravings with average food. Some top restaurants that I went to were Monster Sushi and Tapeo.
4. Plan ahead
I have been quickly realizing that the end of the semester is really busy and stressful. These last days have been filled with last minute travelling, studying, finishing assignments, and packing. To be honest, I thought that I would be way more prepared with my schoolwork during this week, but procrastination and other activities really got the best of me. Additionally, for some reason, I decided to save all my souvenir shopping for my friends and me until now, so I have also been frantically trying to find some good gifts to bring back home. Looking back, I wish that I planned and time managed better so that I could truly enjoy these last few days here.
5. Internship Goals
With my internship, I am so glad that I did it and went through with the course, but I do wish that I got to know my bosses and co-workers a little better. I felt that I was awkward when asking questions or starting conversations about my work, let alone light-hearted converstaions. I wish I wasn’t so uncomfortable because it would have been great to really build those connections. At the end of the day, everyone at the company are also normal people and just like me, too.
6. Practice my Spanish
I think I really improved and learned a lot of Spanish during my time here. Living in a homestay and being in a small class size really helped with practicing my Spanish all the time. However, I wish I practiced more everywhere from resturant waiters to friends. Not only was Spanish such a fun language to learn, it is also a super useful one especially in New York City.
7. Exercising more frequently
Last, everyone has heard about gaining weight while studying abroad. While I think being in a homestay with breakfast and dinners provided, as well as packing my own lunch, have really helped control my weight, I do wish that I exercised more. I did join the jogging club at IES Abroad and loved meeting the teachers and students there, and getting another unique perspective of Barcelona, as well. Nevertheless, I wish I was more consistent with it. Looking back, I am glad that I did not join a gym like how many students did, because I wouldn’t have had time. However, the jogging club would have given me a fun and real schedule for exercise which I did not have while abroad, and could have given me some cool opportunities to be part of Barcelona, such as doing the races that they had.
All in all, I think I was able to check off a lot off of my Barcelona to-do list, and I think this retrospective list was something that I only would have been able to come up, with after living and learning from this experience. While I really wish I did all of the above mentioned activities, they are all reasons for me to come back to Barcelona in the future. Talk soon!