Blog 1

I just got to Barcelona two days ago and it has been a whirlwind of activities since then.  We have toured the city and it was helpful if I can remember all of the information that our guides gave us, and they treated to some gelato once the tour was over.  We had two small intro classes to teach us a little bit about life in Barcelona.  There meal schedule and planning is much different than ours in the United States.  In Spain they eat a normal breakfast, then have a coffee break around 11:00, then have a large lunch around 2:00, then another coffee break around 4:00, and then a small dinner around 9:00 or 10:00pm.  This is so late to eat!  I usually have dinner at 6:00 and then maybe a snack at 11:00.

Spain also has some rules that we would never think of in the United States.  For example, from 10:00pm-8:00am is considered quiet time.  You are expected to not make excessive noise during these hours, and people are allowed to call the police if you do not abide by this rule.  This is something that I have never even thought of before, but I understand why it’s in place.  Especially in a city like Barcelona where everyone lives in apartments and are so close to one another, a law in place makes things easier for everyone living there.

I have finally almost gotten over the time difference between Michigan and Barcelona.  Barcelona is 6 hours ahead of Michigan, and since I have gotten here it’s been hard to stay up past 10:00 because at home it is really 4:00am.  The welcome team gave us tips to counteract the time difference; like drinking lots of water, and not taking naps in the middle of day.  I did abide by these rules but it is still hard to adjust to the time difference on top of everything else.  Everything is so new, it is kind of overwhelming!

Blog 2

We just got back from our weekend trip to Madrid!  The trip was part of the program so the hotel and lots of the food were already paid for from the program fee.  The trip was jam-packed with activities and we still managed to end around 5:00pm each day so we had the evening to walk around the city ourselves.  My favorite thing that we did in Madrid was the tour of the royal palace.  Our tour guide told us that we got the same tour that the President would get when he visits the palace.  The entire thing is ginormous with over 2500 rooms.  We only toured about 20 rooms, but we got the jist of what the rest of the palace was like.  Each room was decorated separately, there was no cohesive flow that traveled through the palace.  Every room was also meticulously decorated, and each item had a meaning behind it.  The colors of the rooms were also very bold and rich.  Lots of dark blues and purples, which are known as colors of royalty.  This has been my favorite tour of the trip so far, it was very interesting to learn about the royal family and how the kings of the past used to live.

After the tour of the royal palace we had free time for the rest of the night.  So some friends and I went to the royal church for mass at 6:00pm.  This was a very unique experience.  We were in the same church that the prince of Spain got married in.  The mass was in spanish so it was a little hard to follow but we could not pass up the opportunity to go to church in the church connected to the royal palace.  Last week we also went to a beautiful church in Barcelona.  We went to mass at the Barcelona Cathedral at 10:00am.  This church was huge and grand and beautiful.  The mass was in catalan so it was even harder to follow than at the church in Madrid, but the experience was great.

At this point in the trip we have been on a large amount of tours. We went on a tour of the Barcelona city center, a tour of the gothic quarter, a tour of the olympic museum, a tour of la Sagrada Familia, a tour of the city center in Madrid, an art museum in Madrid, and the royal palace in Madrid.  These tours were all very interesting, and I’m glad that we took the tours instead of just roaming around the places by ourselves.  For example: if we did not get the tour of La Sagrada Familia I would have just thought that it was a pretty church and not have known why the architect had built everything the way that he did.  The entire church is inspired by nature, and different parts of the building are built how plants grow.  These tours were very helpful for me to understand more about Barcelona.

Blog 3

I just got back to Michigan last night, and I am exhausted.  Three weeks was the perfect amount of time to be abroad.  It was enough time to get to know the city well, and be able to explore different parts of it.  It was also enough time to learn a sufficient amount of information in the classroom and the perfect amount of time to get back to Michigan and start a summer job.  I would definitely consider participating in a trip like this again, it’s great for people who didn’t plan on studying abroad for an entire semester or a year.  This trip is still a way to travel and learn a lot of new information both inside and outside the classroom.

Some big takeaways from this trip was that people in Spain live life at a slower pace than people in the United States do.  This surprised me, when I hardly ever saw someone rushing from one place to the next.  It is also very uncommon for people to get there food to go because people have enough time to eat in at most restaurants, unlike in America where lunch is a quick event.  People from Barcelona also mostly walk places, which is typical in Ann Arbor because it is a college campus but not for the average person in America.  This is very interesting because they have the option to drive but almost everyone chooses to walk, or moped, places.  Mopeds and motorcycles were much more common than I thought they would be.  People used them instead of bicycles. 

 I also learned how much I enjoy Spanish food.  I stayed in a home stay and my host mom made me dinner every night.  There was not a single dish that I did not enjoy.  She made me different types of chicken, fish, salad, eggs, and pasta and they were all delicious.  We also ate at several restaurants through the program and had some typical Spanish dishes then as well.  Those were also all fantastic! Especially the paella and a traditional dessert called crema catalana.  These two things were the highlight for me of the food on this trip.