We caught up with SAI Ambassador Andrew, who answers some questions regarding his semester in Barcelona.
What was your favorite class abroad and why?
I loved all my classes that I took in Barcelona. One of the Spanish culture courses that I took was called “Seven Wonders of Spain.” This amazing class featured professor-led tours throughout different neighborhoods in Barcelona. Marta, our incredible leader, was a local Catalonian who knew every in and out of Barcelona. She was able to give our small class access to special exhibits in museums that were not available to the public, showed us secret rooms in historic buildings, and provided a very in-depth tour of Barcelona. I learned firsthand the ins and outs of the city, and my study abroad experience would not be the same if I did not take this course.
What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?
Barcelona offers quite the range of activities, but my favorite must be watching the sunset from Bunkers del Carmel, a 360-degree viewpoint overlooking Barcelona and the surrounding cities. I first learned about this local hot spot from Marta, my professor from the class mentioned above. She led our class on a 15-20-minute hike from our UAB campus up to the bunkers. Another easy way to access this fantastic lookout is by the public transportation busses that drop off right at the top of the hill. My friends and I often bought cheap wine and tapas and made our way up to the Bunkers for sunset. Most visitors left right after the sun went down, but I my favorite part of relaxing at the top was seeing the lights of the city slowly turning on. After 30 minutes or so after sunset, the fiery nightlife of Barcelona can be seen and heard all the way up in the mountains.
What travel tips would you give someone studying abroad?
After traveling so much throughout Europe, I learned a lot of travel tricks since my first trip to Valencia to my last trip to Munich. My number one suggestion would be to find out if you or your friends know someone studying abroad or who has studied in the place you are planning to travel to. The students who are spending a whole semester in a city will be a great resource for local favorites, delicious secret food joints, and awesome nightlife recommendations. These students most likely have similar interests, so their suggestions will be relevant to you, and they most likely have better suggestions than Google or Trip Advisor. Next, I recommend trying different modes of transportation and lodging. Throughout my semester, I took cars, busses, trains, planes, and boats to my different destinations. I stayed in hostels, friend’s apartments, hotels, Air BnBs, and even went camping one weekend. By exposing yourself to new situations, you will learn to adapt and think on your feet while navigating in new territories. Finally, I think meeting locals is a great way to learn about the city. If approached with kindness and respect, locals can fantastic tools to help you when you’re lost, give you special suggestions, and give you direct exposure to the locals in a new city.
Andrew was a spring 2018 SAI Barcelona student from the University of South Carolina.