Maya Crawford is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Business Administration major at University of Massachusetts Lowell, she is studying abroad in Barcelona this semester.
In this week's post, Maya arrives in Barcelona to a CAPA orientation kicking off her first few activities while exploring the city.
Several days ago, I experienced one of the craziest, most exciting, and terrifying days of my life. I left Boston and flew thousands of miles away to take part in CAPA Barcelona’s Fall semester. It was pretty hard to leave my loved ones behind for this long period of time. However once I got past all the tears (and there were A LOT of them), the excitement kicked in again and I couldn’t WAIT to land in Barcelona. Upon arrival in Barcelona, the first thing I noticed was how huge their central airport was. I have been to big airports before, but was surprised to see that Barcelona’s airport was much like a shopping mall with lots of places to eat and many stores. When I stepped off the plane, I saw massive amounts of people waiting by the departures exit holding signs, balloons, and presents for their loved ones who were arriving. I have only seen that in movies! Especially the amount of people there were waiting.
Finding my flat by taxi was easy, and in no time I was all moved in! My flatmates are very nice, and we all went out that night to find dinner and get to know each other a bit—but jet lag won this battle and we were all in bed by at least 8.30pm or 9pm. The next day was orientation. We were given the task of finding the CAPA center by metro train, and as a collective group made it to the area, but still needed to call for help to make it to the actual building. The orientation consisted of a bunch of helpful safety information, tips on getting around the city and taking trips, phone info, and much more. We all found out our group was A LOT smaller than most other study abroad groups (with 8 students) which at first seemed a bit odd. But, Jane our orientation leader expressed the advantages of a small group like smaller classes and more time to get to know each other and travel together which does sound like a great situation.
After orientation, CAPA gave all of us free bus tour tickets! We were able to ride on the double decker open roof buses and hop on and off at any stops we wanted all day throughout the city! We saw such amazing parks, churches, plazas, and sculptures. It was a great first chance at really exploring Barcelona’s main attractions and history. The bus also provided us with great guides so even after the tour, we have a long list of places to check out (and also a big book of coupons to use for them!).
Our last stop was a grocery store. It was one of the things I was most excited for upon arrival because I love seeing what foreign grocery stores have, and looking at the differences in what locals eat during their daily lives. The language barrier made it a bit hard to find certain specific things, but pictures, context clues, and having a flatmate who is pretty much fluent in Catalan made things way easier.
We were all able to find comfort foods similar to the ones we eat at home, and new snacks and foods native to Spain that we wanted to try. The one weird thing, however, was that I could not find peanut butter anywhere! I don’t think it’s very common here but there was A LOT of Nutella! Our first day here also happens to be my birthday (yay!) so tonight the entire group is going to all get together and explore the city and see what fun and interesting things it has to offer. I would say this has been one of the most eventful and exciting birthdays I have ever experienced!
Maya's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.