Friday, June 7, 2013


On the last night with my adorable host parents, of course we had to take a selfie:)  

Oh How I'll Miss the Metro...

The metro was my lifeline in Spain.  Whenever I saw a red "M" sign, I knew I was in the clear.  Just a shout out to my roadmap to Barcelona;
however I will not miss the large amount of time I spent walking and taking the metro to get places.  A 15 minute walk across campus? No biggie.

Last Day in Barcelona: An Overview

My last day in Barcelona, we all visited the beautiful Palau de Música Catalana that is constructed in a modern artistic style.  We then went to a group lunch with some of the professors at an amazing paella restaurant by the port.  As I'm not a huge fan of shellfish, I stuck with the vegetable paella, and it was delicious.  Accompanying that was the famous pan con tomate (tomato and olive oil on bread), classic Spanish Iberic ham, and other seafood dishes.  For dessert, a chocolate coolant:).  Because of the large quantity of food and the classic slow European restaurant service, I felt like I was at a Thanksgiving dinner.  After hugging and Spanish kissing (one on each cheek) everyone goodbye, I'm now back at my host parents' house starting to pack for my flight tomorrow.  My host mom made me her famous churros con chocolate for a goodbye dessert!

I can't believe I'm flying back to the USA tomorrow. The term went by SO FAST, it's crazy. I'm sad to leave the amazing, fun city of Barcelona with all my new cultural experiences. However, I am also ready to return home, see my family and home friends, and head back to Dartmouth for sophomore summer! I'm not looking forward to returning to the insane, fast-paced Dartmouth schedule with loads more work than Spain, but Sophomore Summer will be so much fun just the same. I CAN'T WAIT! On that note, some of my thoughts on Barcelona:

Things I will miss about Spain:
1) The amazing food: spanish tortillas, churros con chocolate, empanadas, pan con tomate, chocolate croissants, any kind of tapas/pinxtos, (sangria:))
2) The laid back culture; the spaniards know how to stop and smell the roses.
3) The Spanish language:  I really enjoy speaking Spanish-it's really fun to try to communicate in a new way with new people!  Speaking Spanish makes conversations more fun and interesting, especially when speaking amongst our Dartmouth group, as we are challenged to use our relatively limited vocabulary to talk about a variety of topics
4) Music on the metro
5) The ability to travel and have new experiences: my favorite places other than Barcelona were the beaches/hikes at La Costa Brava, the beaches at Sitges, Madrid, Ronda, and Granada
6) Getting a break from living in the Dartmouth bubble
7) The Spanish/European style and generally more formal attire, as well as the romantic ambiance of Europe
8) The milder climate
9) Despite the paranoia about being pick-pocketed--the lower overall stress level
10) My adorable host parents

Things I am glad to be leaving behind in Spain:
1) The insane amount of robberies/pickpockets and my corresponding state of constant paranoia
2) People asking for money on the metro
3) The catcalls/less discreet staring...for some reason the spaniards don't try to hide that they're checking you out...
4) Being taller than the majority of the population
5) The laid back culture: sometimes I just want to get stuff done! And walk at a rapid pace down the street to get where I'm going!
6) The exchange rate
7) Not being able to safely walk alone at night
8) Being one of the only girls lifting at the gym (I guess this is the same in the U.S...just not at Dartmouth with all the other athletes:)  So excited to be the ONLY basketball sophomore on this summer and have the full attention of all the coaches and conditioning staff..)
9) The slow restaurant service and seemingly avoidant waiters that you literally have to chase down in order to get the check
10) The "simple" lifestyle of my host family: I had to take super fast showers, and each time they had to manually turn on the hot water for me to use.  Also the weak halway-functioning toilet flushers and the slow internet.  I cannot WAIT to get back to the high-efficiency US with an abundance of well-functioning technology.  Having said that, it was also kind of nice to not have to worry about carrying/checking my iPhone every five seconds and to sometimes just give up on the internet and work without it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Obsessed With Picasso

The other day, I visited the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Of course I had heard about Picasso's artistic fame in the past, but I had never learned the details of his career nor why he is so extraordinarily famous. Well, now I know. HE PAINTED AMAZING THINGS WHEN HE WAS IN HIS TEENS THAT MOST PEOPLE CAN'T PAINT UNTIL THEIR 30'S!!!(or that most people can't paint at all...) I was amazed when I saw his perfect sketches and paintings realistically depicting complicated scenes that he had created when only a little boy. I guess it helps that his father was a painter and taught him his ways, but still. PICASSO WAS AN ARTISTIC GENIUS. I still can't get over it. Not to mention his creation of Cubism, which I now can sort of comprehend thanks to history and culture class!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tap Water Please??

Note– Spain's water is fine to drink! Especially if it's filtered. My host parents' house has a filter, so I can drink the tap water thank goodness. Most restaurants have filters as well; however, they will pretend that their water is the dirtiest thing on earth to get you to buy bottled water. Every time I go to a restaurant and ask for "agua de grifa," the waiter looks at me with annoyance, and after discussing that yes, the tap water is fine, reluctantly brings me a free glass of water. So different from the U.S. where tap water is expected!

Barcelona Weekend

 The weekend after our tour of southern Spain, we had planned to travel to San Sebastian in the north to see the pretty beaches and soak up some sun. However, it was just our luck that that weekend was the one weekend it decided to rain in pretty much all of Spain. We couldn’t picture ourselves enjoying beaches and walking the streets amidst 55-degree wind and rain, so we sought out other options. Some of the group ventured to the sunnier island of Mallorca, but I decided to stay in Barcelona to see more of the city as well as figure some things out with my normal life back at Dartmouth (at home, with my computer and semi-functioning internet!).  Despite missing out on a tropical beach weekend, I still managed to have an amazing time in Barcelona.  Some other girls stayed along with me, and we explored the city.

One day that weekend, the sun peeked out from behind the rainclouds and my friend Hayley and I headed to Barceloneta for some beachin. Just when we thought we had outsmarted the rain and were about to set foot on the sand, it started pouring. However it was nothing that couldn’t be remedied with some gelato. My friend and I also met up with one of our intercambios (Spanish students learning English who we’re paired up with for the program). She invited us to her apartment, and we hung out at her rooftop pool (so cool!) and played with her PET PIG!!! Georgina, the intercambio, is very hipster and alternative, so it makes sense that and her and her boyfriend decided to purchase a pet pig. Apparently it’s going to be a growing trend in Spain…she told me of one other friend of hers with a pet pig. I have to say the pig was not as cuddly to hold as my golden retriever back home. After seeing Georgina’s pool and pig, she took us to lunch at a restaurant she had picked out. Upon arrival, I laughed to see that it was a Spanish version of Johnny Rockets. Of course she would pick the “American” restaurant just for us!

That night, Hayley and I decided to check some more Barcelona must-sees off our list, so we went to the famous Las Arenas shopping mall to get a view of the city from the top floor sky deck. Afterwards, we went to the popular Dow Jones Bar where the prices of drinks go up and down with supply and demand like the stock market– pretty interesting for two Economics majors! To finish the weekend off, Hayley, Georgina, another intercambio Elena, and I went to hear our favorite Barcelona DJ (called “Nasty Mondays”) at a club near the beach. It was a pretty ritzy club, particularly that night as the club was hosting an after party for the X-Games that Barcelona had hosted that weekend. The club sported tables of sushi as men and women chatted in cocktail attire– very classy. The best part about that night was meeting Joe Ingles, a 6’8” Euroleague basketball star who plays for the FC Barca basketball team! I’m putting that one down on my list of celebrity encounters for sure.

 Another highlight of the weekend was getting to see my friend Ashley from back home in Winnetka. She had studied in a Sevilla, Spain for the semester and was finishing her time abroad on a cruise with her mom! They both took my out to dinner and we caught up. It was a great to see a friend from home in Barcelona. 

Granada: La Alhambra

 We had learned a lot about the Alhambra and its artistic merit in History and Culture class at the University of Barcelona, so we decided to take not only one but TWO tours of the Alhambra– one at night and one during the day. It was even more beautiful and grand than the photos suggested. The night tour was shorter and smaller, but seeing the gigantic structure lit up with fountains splashing and buildings reflected perfectly in its large pools was a gorgeous scene. The day tour was longer and included not only the main section of the Alhambra with the famous Lions Fountain (fuente de leones), but also the expansive rose gardens and other stone towers of the palace. The rose gardens were absolutely stunning with their huge, multicolored blossoming roses intermixed in arches of greenery. If you’re going to Granada, the Alhambra is a must-see.