I think that for any study abroad student the initial feeling when you arrive is the excitement of actually being in an entirely different country. I remember the thought “okay wow, this is where I’m living for the next three and a half months” continuously passing through my mind the first day. Since I grew up in Alabama and had many friends and family living in Tuscaloosa, the next thought to cross my mind was that this was the first time in my life I had lived in an area where I didn’t know anyone before I arrived. I know that for some people that isn’t the most reassuring thought, but for me I was eager for the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and make friends with different people from across the U.S. and all over the world. Speaking of firsts, I wish I could say when I got here the first photo I took of Barcelona was some stunning landscape or a picturesque building, but it was the wifi login for my room. As exciting as that may be, I attached some other pictures below from when I first arrived instead.
Two things that have made Barcelona such a cool experience for me are the people and the parks. Firstly, the various parks that Barcelona has throughout the city are so well maintained and have so much to see. My top three in no particular order are Park Güell, Horta’s Labyrinth Park, and Ciutadella Park. While Park Güell and Ciutadella Park are definitely more known and more typical to visit, I wouldn’t skip out on visiting Horta’s Labyrinth Park. Besides the main attraction which is its maze, it has other walking trails that are much more serene and rustic than the other parks. This to me created a much different and unique ambiance that I enjoyed. Secondly, and more importantly, are the people. Getting to be around and become friends with people from not only the U.S. but from other countries like Germany, France, Tanzania, Belgium, and Sweden has been amazing. One of my favorite things to talk about with my friends from outside the U.S. is their perception of the U.S. and the stereotypes that they associate with it. I try my best to explain what I think is and isn’t accurate and then they do the same for my perceptions of whichever country they’re from.
Many of these international friends I’ve met have all been from my classes and I’m sure many people wonder how these classes are structured. To me, there isn’t a significant amount of difference between classes here and back home. The class sizes are usually twenty students give or take, the grades are out of ten instead of one hundred, but there is one difference that required a bit of adjusting. That one difference is group work. I would say that a majority of my assignments here have been structured that way, however, I’ve actually enjoyed it a lot because it’s one of the ways I’ve gotten to know my classmates.