Update from Barcelona

Camille Sheets Arcadia in Barcelona, Spain


November 17, 2014

It might be the four day academic weeks, but I can’t believe I’m down to my last month here. I’ve started to drink three cups of coffee per day, which is pretty normal here and the amounts of coffee are relatively small compared to the US. All this caffeine has proved to be necessary though, I’ve had friends visit me the past three weeks straight which has been great for perfecting my tour guide skills. My favorite places to go after a long day of Gaudi sightseeing are to eat tapas, paella, or whatever delicious cuisine is closest - and whichever one has wifi.

Little things like having no cell service and having to pay for water in restaurants make me miss home, but I know that when I go back I’ll miss Barcelona so much. One thing I’m not going to miss here is the lack of diversity. Yes, Barcelona is a larger city and there are more immigrants present than other areas of Catalonia. However, as an Asian-American, a lot of the first questions I get asked at cafe’s, on the street, etc. is if I’m Chinese. Technically, I am, yes, but when I answer that I’m from the U.S., a lot of people will shake their heads and say no, you’re from China. Though it seems like a small issue, over time it has become a frustrating thing to encounter. Maybe that American ‘political correctness’ bubble isn’t such a bad thing after all.

I’ve been having a great time overall though! 

  • I went on a big day hike to Mount Montserrat which is about an hour south of Barcelona with a big monastery. Its a place of historical significance for Catalonia as it housed much of the anti-Franco regime during the 20th century. My most exciting experience there was climbing up a massive block-like statue I wasn’t really supposed to be on… but it made for a good photo!
  • It was absolutely beautiful! I’ve also since trekked to Madrid which was a great time with a very different atmosphere from the laid-back Barcelona. There is a different fashion and more Spain pride, and an overall grander feeling being in the Spanish capital city.
  • Getting to participate in the human towers or Castellers was really fun! I loved seeing people of all ages coming together to practice this very Catalan tradition, a symbol of the unity in Catalonia. It was crazy trying to stand on someone else's shoulders with a child climbing up my back, these people are amazing!
  • The Catalan referendum went on without much a fuss, there were less flags being waved around on 7 November than any other day I’ve seen which was quite surprising. Nothing has resulted from it legally since the referendum itself was deemed illegal by Madrid, but its a step in the right direction as some have stated. Will the Catalans ever get the independence they want?
  • I’ve been applying to internships and registering for classes, going back to the real world is going to be a challenge after this semester of exploring Europe!

Upcoming trips include Madrid again, Paris, Budapest and Prague!