Spending a semester in Europe was one of the best decisions of my life. Going into it, I was beyond nervous, anxious, and scared about being in a different country no where near my family, adjusting to cultural differences, encountering language barriers, and living in a city for the first time in my life, but I miss Barcelona more than anything.
Before I left for this trip, I swore to myself that I would never be that person who would leave their university for a semester abroad and then return to school depressed and constantly comparing their life now to their life in Europe. Looking at all of my friends who returned from abroad last winter, I thought they were being dramatic and silly not going out or being social. They looked miserable and out of place and I did not understand how they could love Elon so much before their trip and come back and not feel the same way.
I will always love my university. It has given me countless opportunities to grow and learn, and I have met the most incredible friends I could ever ask for, but after my semester in Barcelona I completely understand why so many of my friends the previous year were going through such a drastic reverse culture shock. I find myself constantly starting stories with “this time in Barcelona” or “at Oktoberfest” or comparing college parties to clubs and bars abroad.
To reflect on the best four months of my life, below is a list that represents some of my favorite places, trips, and memories from my experience.
Favorite Restaurant: La Luna; Great food. The raviolis literally melted in your mouth and the pumpkin spice puree was to die for. Super romantic setting, with low-lighting, candles and red flowers on every table. Friday and Saturday night casual drinks at the bar were always good and really busy as well. It became our home away from home.
Favorite Club: Sutton; This was the first club I went to in Europe, and from then on we literally went every Wednesday and sometimes Thursdays. Super trendy and classy, and conveniently located next to a bar we frequented, Hot Bar.
Favorite Bar: Ovella Negra; one of my program’s favorite places in Barcelona. We went here at least once a week. Set up in a large warehouse, with wooden, long cafeteria tables like Oktoberfest, we would crowd around a cluster of tables with sangria and beer towers.
Favorite Cafe con Leche: QuQu; Bridget and I stopped here every morning on our way to class for cafe con leche. It’s a chain, but it is by far one of my favorite cafe con leches I had in Spain. Tasty but potent.
Favorite District in Barcelona: Gothic neighborhood; I spent a lot of time in this neighborhood. Even though Barcelona is a very spacious city, the quaint cobblestone narrow streets in the Gothic neighborhood was a nice break from the hustle and bustle. It exemplified what I imagined European neighborhoods to look like. With great restaurants and boutiques, I would lose myself for hours there.
Favorite Church (in Europe): Santa Maria del Mar. Located in the Ribera district, we passed it almost every time we went shopping or out to dinner. It is the only surviving building in pure Gothic Catalan style. The stain glass windows are also breath taking.
Favorite Festival: La Merce. One of my favorite weekends in Europe by far. The entire weekend is full of different activities and events that celebrate Catalan culture. My favorite was the Correfoc- a run through Barcelona where people dress as devils and throw fire crackers at the crowd. It was one of the most terrifying and unique experiences of my life. It represents chasing all of the evil out of the city.
Fashion and Style
Favorite European Clothing Store: Zara; There are no words. I am in love with their trendy, yet edgy clothes. I also adore their marketing tactic of updating the clothes on a weekly bases and tailoring the clothes of every store to the trends in that location.
Favorite Flea Market: Florence. Not much more to say. Italy has fantastic leather markets and knock-off designer bags.
Favorite Jewelry Store: “…”: Located in Barcelona’s Ribera neighborhood, every piece of jewelry was made in the city. Each had different stones, ropes, and patterns. Some of the most unique and beautiful jewelry I have ever seen.
Favorite Purchase: Green Canvas Zara jacket with fur insert from Zara
Outside of the City
Favorite City (outside of Barcelona): Paris
Favorite Day Trip: Montserrat or Tossa del Mar
Favorite Club: Kapital (Madrid)
Favorite Traditional Meal: Prague