Alas, my semester abroad in Barcelona has come to an end and after four months, I’m back in the Bay Area. It was an absolutely amazing few months, one that exceeded my expectations for the trip. It allowed me the opportunity to travel through Western Europe, though I didn’t get to travel as extensively as I had hoped. I managed to see much of Spain, France, and northern Italy. But due to a very busy schedule, I left with a long list of cities still unvisited.
I also met an amazing group of people at the ESADE Business School in Barcelona. The diversity of students from both a geographic and experience perspective was amazing. I’m hoping that I get an opportunity to visit my extensive network of friends who are scattered worldwide!
It really was an eye-opening experience for me, especially since I’ve never lived outside of California. The pace of live is vastly different, not to mention people’s daily schedules with dinner being eaten no earlier than 9pm. Living without a car for 4 months was also a shock, though it’s easy to forego driving when the city you live in has an amazing subway network and distances to amenities can be measured in blocks instead of miles.
It’s been two weeks since my return and already, my daily life in Barcelona is slowly becoming a distant memory. It has already started to feel as if I never left. Still, I’m so glad I made the decision to study abroad, and that my work was able to accommodate my time off. I’ve certainly created countless memories that will last for a lifetime.
After 2 weeks of intensive classes (M-F, 9-6pm) and now 1 week of my regular class schedule done, I can safely say I’m settled in here in Barcelona. I’d thought that I would feel much more lost, that living in a different country would be much more… foreign to me, but frankly, I’ve felt rather at home.
I have to admit that it’s rather easy for me to go through the day not speaking any Spanish. My two roommates are American, classes are taught in English, and I roam around the city through public transportation generally avoiding conversation with anyone to minimize my chances of being targeted by pickpockets. But I do still interact with many locals, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well my Spanish has held up.
I spent this weekend in wine and cava country just outside of Barcelona. On Saturday, I made a trip to Vilafranca del Penedes, where the Torres winery is. I tried several of their reds, including garnaches and tempranillos… and even a pinot! Of course, I should have looked at the label more closely before I ordered it… it turned out to be a Russian River Valley pinot from their California affiliate Maramir Estates!
Today, I spent the day at the Cava festival in St Sadurni d’Anoia, a huge festival of sparking wine producers, where 6 Euro got me 4 tastings and a glass! While both of these cities were 70 and 60 km away, respectively, they were just a mere train ride away. It was great getting out of the city after being here for 3 straight weeks. I know there are still places for me to explore, but I also feel I’ve walked a very good portion of the city now.
I am no longer Barcelona-bound… I’ve finally arrived! Indeed, I’ve been here for 10 days now and have already completed one full week of M-F, 9-6pm class at ESADE Business School. Another class with the same schedule starts on Monday. In addition to these two intensive courses, I’ll be taking three during the regular semester that runs from October to the week of Christmas.My transition has been an easy one so far. Indeed, I’m better prepared with my Spanish skills than I would have thought I’d be. The advantages growing up in LA and living in California nearly all of my life. Additionally, I’ve subletted a room with 2 current ESADE students who are originally from the states. Couple that with class instruction being in English, it is conceivably possible for me to get by speaking minimal Spanish. Of course, that would kill n absolutely wonderful opportunity for me to develop my language skills. Thus, I have purposely been out and about attempting to speak to locals, whether it be at restaurants or just on the streets.
I applaud the EWMBA program for having an exchange program, and for providing this opportunity for me to broaden my education experience. Although only here for a semester, I can tell I will be opening myself to unforgettable experiences that will be invauable. Additionally, I will be expanding my network to include people from all over the world..
Assuming my travel plans remain unchanged, and I stay outside of the states through the new year, this will be the longest period of time away from the US since I was three years old. Indeed, I’ve done very limited international travel, and from the start was looking towards this opportunity to rectify that situation. Prior to arriving in Barcelona, my fiance and I spent about 10 days traveling through France. The absolutely unforgettable trip took us through several areas including the Bordeaux region, Lyon, as well as Avignon and Provence.
I’m already checking my calendar for an available weekend to head back, specifically to see Paris and Versailles, which we missed. I also will try to return to Italy, the only European country I’d been to prior to this month. Other than those locales, I have nothing set. So if you have suggestions on where I must go, please suggest away!