Cathedral at Montserrat
1. The People
As a J-Term student, there are less of us than the semester students. We are a group of less than 20. The benefit of this is that we all hang out and explore on a regular basis. It would be basically impossible for semester students to do this.
It is so sad to know that after spending nearly 3 weeks seeing these friends daily, I won’t see them anymore. This group has such an amazing mix of personalities. But the upside is the memories made. I will never forget any of them.
As strange as it is to say, I’m also going to miss my host family. We don’t talk that much (language barrier) but I got used to seeing them and trying my hardest to try and understand them.
2. Walking Everywhere
I am being completely serious, as in no sarcasm at all. I have gotten so used to walking everywhere or taking the “metro” (we call it the T in Massachusetts) that it is going to be weird to stop. That is not to say that I am going to start walking to work every morning or trying to use suburban public transport because I will definitely be driving. Part of the fun in walking is that you see more. In Barcelona, there is so much history that you literally walk around a corner and see something new and amazing.
3. No Tipping
Alright, so this is just me being frugal but it is nice to not have to tip and when you do tip, to not tip much. In Europe, it is not a cultural norm to tip 15%+ on a meal. Ten percent is a large tip. I was told that the price includes any tips and other charges so to not worry.
4. The design and architecture
As mentioned, you literally turn around and there is something you haven’t seen yet. For example, my class is at the UAB Sant Pau campus which is right next to a hospital turned tourist attraction. The old hospital is gigantic and beautiful. I don’t know how the architect thought of all the details but I do know it is a must see. The Cathedral at Montserrat and Sagrada Familia are other examples. The Cathedral has walls upon walls of mosaic artwork. The only downside of a J-Term is that you don’t have a lot of time to revisit these places and look at it all again.
5. The beaches and mountains
Barcelona is also surrounded by mountains and the beach. I live almost two hours from the beach at home so I’m super sad to not have the beach be 30 minutes away anymore. The mountains are also breathtaking. We went on a tour of Montserrat on the 17th and the view was unbelievable. We were close to the top of the mountain and still, looking up, the clouds covered part of the mountain. You can also see down below. It is kind of spectacular to see the city from a different view point.
6. The Inexpensive Lifestyle
Alright, again, this may be me being cheap but let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to get more for less? Taxis in Barcelona are ridiculously cheap. I never spent more than 12 euros (about 15 USD) on a 15 minute cab ride.
Food is also generally cheaper in Barcelona. A three course meal at a decent restaurant is less than 15 euro. I spent 9.95 euro for two first courses (with giant portions) and a dessert.
And Some Parting Tips/Notes
- Netflix doesn’t work in Spain nor do most American television websites so find a plan B to keep up with your viewing habits
- Always know where your stuff is. I know it sounds like commonsense but three people in my group had stuff taken.
- Bring an extra memory card for your phone/camera because you’ll be taking a lot of pictures.
- Bring sneakers! I never, as in not ever, wear sneakers. I only wear my sneakers at home when I exercise and that is super rare so naturally I didn’t bring them. My logic is that all I wear at home are heels, boots, wedges, and flats so why would I need sneakers? You need them –you’ll walk your feet off.
- Classes really do take the whole time slot. You will not get out early so come with the mindset that you’re going to be there a while. Also, drink coffee before because it is frowned upon to drink anything during class.