Every day is an adventure when you study abroad. Maya Figueroa, a CAPA Barcelona Alumna, shares 5 reasons why this city was a great fit for her — and possibly for you too! If you're looking for a multilingual and nature-filled city with an impressive art and architecture imprint, then we're here to let you know that Barcelona has all that and more to offer.
Choosing the right place to study abroad can be a conflicting process, especially because each experience can vary from location to location. Having studied abroad in Barcelona (although my initial intention was to do so in another city), I found my experience to be meaningful beyond my expectations! If you are wondering if Barcelona may be the best fit for you, check out the next points that were a plus for me, and perhaps they may be so for you.
1. Barcelona is a Multicultural and Multilingual City.
Every day was an adventure; I could never get bored. Getting on the metro, or going into a coffee shop, I would hear a minimum of five languages every time: English, Spanish, Catalan, French, and Italian. Simply going out for a walk in the city and paying attention to my surroundings was so pleasing to me. I not only enjoyed listening to others speaking in different languages, but oh how I loved listening to the different accents. I speak Spanish—the “Latin Spanish” kind—but I was not expecting to encounter a culture shock as I spoke my Spanish in Spain. It varies actually, Spanish with Castellano, and even more if we talk Catalan. Definitely enjoyed challenging my language, comparing, contrasting, and implementing new ways to communicate with others.
Overlooking the city of Barcelona, Spain.
Now this does not just stop here. What better way to learn about different cultures than by its food? What I enjoyed about Barcelona is that there was a variety of places to buy food and feel as if you’re in a completely different city. My favorite was a Middle Eastern restaurant down the street from our flat, where I tried falafel, pita and hummus for the first time. Such a delight!
2. The City is a Huge Center for Art.
All I have to say is that I never thought I would learn so much without reading a book. I have always been interested in art, but never really immersed in the subject. Being in Barcelona was the perfect setting for me to learn about local artists and those worldly recognized, all by visiting museums! I learned about Picasso, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Antonio Gaudi, and many, many more. The fact that I would go into a museum and leave as though I knew the artist at another level was a very satisfying experience. Having so much time to do some exploring allowed me to visit many museums, my favorite being MNAC (Museo Nacional de Arte de Catalunya), which is the national museum of Catalan art.
Salvador Dali’s famous art: The Persistence of Memory.
Part of a Picasso exhibit.
3. There are Beautiful Outdoor Spots to Do Homework – Like the Beach!
Personally, I like finding places to do homework that motivate me to do it. My perfect spot was the beach. Being only 20 minutes away, I would rather go to the beach and read a chapter or two while enjoying the sun and waves and then go home. I know that studying abroad brings its challenges with balancing the whole studying and social life, but this was a unique way of getting the best of both. Also, down the street from my flat was Park Guell, another enjoyable spot for me to relax. Surrounded by nature, I would get some homework done and enjoy the park afterwards.
4. There’s So Much to Explore!
Finding new spots for me to spend a Friday evening or Saturday was very important to me, but it wasn’t long until I found myself with two nice spots: Ciutadella Park and Parc del Laberint d’Horta.
Ciutadella Park was a place for all people, all ages, and all talents. What I loved the most about this park was that it was a safe place for anyone to come and share or enjoy talent from all over the world. People dancing, singing, doing acrobats, tricks, playing an instrument...you name it!
Parc del Laberint d’Horta was a nice spot to enjoy a walk, have fun in the maze, and enjoy a hike with a nice view of the city as you swing.
In addition, although this isn’t a nature spot, I can’t leave the Magic fountain of Montjuic out of the equation. On select evenings, a spectacular show of music and lights accompanied by a beautiful fountain was the perfect way for me to end a week.
5. See Antoni Gaudi's Famous Architecture in Person.
One of Gaudi’s most notable works – La Sagrada Familia!
Gaudi was one of Catalan’s most known architects. He is known for many of his projects done in Barcelona—beginning with Sagrada Familia. In Barcelona, I was able to do many tours and visit many constructions he was a part of such as Casa Vicens (which was actually his first), Casa Batlo, Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera), and Park Guell. Each building, although different, had a special characteristic that distinguished his works: the use of no lines. I found it fascinating to learn about this man that was so iconic during the 20th century for his great vision, all by visiting his actual works rather than reading. This was quality education for me.
If I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, I would do so again, without a doubt!
Mayra Figueroa studied abroad in Barcelona in Spring of 2019 through our partnership with Riverside Community College. She joined us as a CAPA Ambassador for the Fall of 2019.