My First Trip to Barcelona

Janae-Rose F. is currently a sophomore at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Charlotte Country Day School in North Carolina.

I have just opened up my computer to write this article, my feet are tired, I feel inspired by the beauty around me, and I’m excited to see my host family in Zaragoza. I am on the bus from Barcelona to Zaragoza after my first overnight independent travel. Spain has had a four-day puente, or long weekend, due to the El Día de la Constitución holiday on Friday and the Inmaculada Concepción holiday the following Monday (thank you, Spain, for this restorative, mini pre-winter break break). I have had an amazing experience in my short time in Barcelona and I’ll give you a short recap here!

I traveled with two friends of mine. The whole bus ride up we talked about the things we were excited to do and practiced our Spanish a bit. At one of the stops on the ride, there was a bunch of little feral cats we got to play with. Once we arrived we found our hotel and walked around the gothic quarter, where our hotel was located. We ate some food that was riquísimo and then walked by the beach. We ended the day walking from Plaça de Catalunya to La Rambla with my friend’s older sister who is studying in Barcelona for a semester. It was interesting to see how, within the same country, the experience differs between a college
student in one city and a high school student in another.

The next day had a rocky start but ended phenomenally. We had a nice, very Spanish, breakfast of pancakes and headed off to visit the Sant Pau hospital. (If you haven’t heard of it, it’s beautiful, Google it). Unfortunately, on the metro ride over, someone pickpocketed my friend’s phone. Thankfully, the director, Sra. Roof, answered our phone call quickly. Her kind, calm words made my friend feel better about the situation. We sat down in a coffee shop and made a plan of action. With help from parents back home, the problem was solved and we still had the best day! We still went to the Sant Pau hospital, I’m adding in a photo of it below. We also went to the Picasso Museum and Sagrada Familia. We hung out in a cool park outside the police station where we went to file a report. Out of something terrible we found a cool new side of Barcelona that’s less touristy. Also, between walking to different sites, I saw cool buildings, art, and parks along the way. By the end of all that, I was tired and went to the hotel to rest and study a bit for an upcoming test. My friend and I had a girl’s night and got something to eat. We ate something more Spanish than tapas. . . nachos (I know, I know, we should eat actual Spanish food). Then we went to the hotel and chatted about our experience in Spain so far and whatever else popped into our heads. The next day, we got some breakfast, bought gifts for our host families, and navigated the way to the bus station all by ourselves. We found this beautiful park right in front of the station and soaked up the sunshine before our return trip.

It’s impossible to go a day without a mention of the SYA Practicum course as a student here. The main point of SYA Practicum is not being an idle traveler. SYA wants us to try to understand ourselves and our surroundings more through travel. Apparently, the Practicum has been rubbing off on me because I had a few mini-revelations during my little trip. Being in Barcelona made me appreciate Zaragoza more. Zaragoza is a less touristy city, so there are more opportunities to hear and speak Spanish. In Barcelona, surprising waiters when I responded in Spanish to their English made me feel so proud of how far I’ve come. I also strengthened my bond with my friends. We had some good conversations that helped me see more about myself. Being alone in a new city brings you together with your companions, whether you like it or not. My final reflection is on the power of positivity. After such a dismal start, it would be easy to decide that we don’t like Barcelona and just stay in the hotel until we return to Zaragoza. Instead, we calmly approached the issue, did the most we could to fix it, and moved on. We still enjoyed the moment and didn’t let one bad experience ruin our weekend. SYA can be hard. Sometimes it feels like the whole school is struggling with this dramatic change in our lives. Still, awesome trips like this give me hope. I love them now, so I can’t even imagine how SYA will be later, when we all get over our homesickness and speak Spanish well.

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