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Study Abroad Experience in Barcelona

By Manuel Mantilla II

Study abroad, oh how it screams experiences, new beginnings and experimental adventures. When I first realized my interest in studying abroad I was very nervous and hesitant because I knew it would take a ton of effort on my end to make it all come together and really work for me. I was thrown into a situation where I had no close friends, no family, and nothing from home to fall back on. I faced the task of getting comfortable in a different culture with new customs, traditions and values. Being placed in a home stay has definitely made the transition easier. With so many long and camera ready days, coming home to a family that is waiting to hear how I spent another day in Barcelona really helped me ease into my new home. I think having a base where you can learn the culture first hand is vital to making a successful and comfortable transition into a new culture. No words can express the experience or how it feels to wake up every morning in a different country and never know what to expect.

I really enjoy the history, architecture, and graffiti that can be seen throughout the city. The churches are amazing. Each one is beautiful, unique, and heavily detailed. I also find it fascinating that the people here know so many languages. My host father knows six languages and is currently working on a seventh. It is very common for someone to know at least three. New York City is the closet comparison I can make to Barcelona. It is large, diverse and very lively. The metro and public transportation are very easy to use and make getting around the city easy. The school I go to now is nothing like UMass. UMass is a very large and open campus unlike IES where we are all in one building spread throughout three floors and multiple small classrooms. There are about 500 students and I feel like I know all of them. Small classroom settings are a big change compared to a 300 plus lecture hall.

A day in Barcelona during the week involves waking up early around 8am and working till 12pm. The shops are closed from 12 until 3pm for a “ciesta” or break period. People go out and have lunch and many restaurants have a daily lunch special which consist of a three course meal. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, dinner not so much. After break time I go either back to work or school until 7:30pm. Dinner usually happens around 10 or 11pm at night when the family gets home and sits together at the dinner table. Making the whole family sit together at the table is a very big deal. Family and food is a major aspect of the culture here. Food is prepared fresh every day. Fresh fish, fruits, vegetables and meats can be purchased at the markets all around the city. You only prepare what you are going to eat that evening. Buying in bulk and consuming plenty of processed foods like in America is unheard of here.

My Daily routine besides getting up in the morning and going to class has never been far from routine. I hope my experience will inspire you to expand your horizons and venture into a realm of beneficial networking and educational experiences.

A quote that is helping me get through my journey:

“The steeper the mountain the harder the climb the better the view from the finishing line”
- Anonymous