Are you thinking of mixing things up a bit for your college experience? Do you want to live more adventurously, step outside of your comfort zone, and study abroad in Barcelona or anywhere else in the world? If so, here are some crucial factors regarding studying abroad and this incredible city to help you make your decision. Fortunately it seems that the worst of this pandemic is behind us, so these types of opportunities should be opening up more and more again, hopefully.
First, we will cover reasons to study abroad in general. Second, we will get into why studying abroad specifically in Barcelona can be an unforgettable experience. Without further introduction and fluff, let's dive right into this thing!
There is no better time to see the world than during your college years. It's a period of life where you are truly free to do as you please, without the blocks of time that can occur when you have a full-time job down the road. College life can be incredibly stressful and studying abroad allows you to have some time to take this heavy load off your shoulders. It's a great chance to get some perspective and carry that into the rest of your life, regardless of what you end up doing.
For example, why stress when you can easily hop on a plane for a weekend getaway in Europe?
We all know how tied up and busy we will be in the future with our big-old adult jobs. It is pretty unlikely that you will be able to travel to every country that you have desired to see in person. Give yourself a head start. Studying abroad while at the same time getting college credits is the best time to check off that long list of places in the world.
Besides, you will probably be traveling the world with some of your best friends, or you'll make new friends along the way. Make these amazing memories as a young adult. and create a pretty bomb Instagram #lowkeyflex. If that’s not killing two birds with one stone, we don’t know what is.
Choosing to study abroad in a different country will open your eyes to a whole different classroom dynamic. In the United States, we are used to having strict rules in the classroom. We have policies that we have been told to follow throughout our lives. For those who have never studied abroad prior to college, it is good to have the option to go abroad during your last years of college and to get the opportunity to experience a whole new culture and classroom environment.
You might be shocked at the differences you will see, especially in Europe. For example, there are different grading scales. There is also a crazy amount of students smoking outside of school. They also have very different forms of transportation to get to school. All jokes aside, mopeds are pretty cool.
Most of us study languages throughout our elementary, middle, high school and college careers in the United States; however, practicing this language is generally limited to speaking with our classmates and teacher.
Going abroad will allow you to get a feel for how prepared you have been throughout the years to immerse yourself into conversation with a native speaker. Being able to successfully communicate with a native speaker is a great accomplishment. It will reassure you that all of those years studying the language has actually paid off, kudos!
Additionally, you will pick up on many different phrases and sayings that you never have learned inside the classroom. Trust me, you will no longer feel like an outsider if you are caught up on the latest slang.
Who would’ve thought the word “vale” was so commonly used in Spain and that it would be so fascinating to American and other international students?
To really drive this point home, studies show that being bilingual reduces the risk of Alzheimer's later in life. It's a win-win-win situation, it just takes a bit of effort and patience.
Ah, the best part about traveling to different places, FOOD.
The various types of food you consume will make leaving these countries the hardest. For example, in Spain you can try tapas and sangria, or even pair tapas with beer. Germany has schnitzel and bratwurst. Get your fix in Greece by trying feta cheese, baklava, gyros and souvlaki. In Morocco you can try couscous, tajine and mint tea. In Italy you can try various pastas and pizzas with an Aperol Spritz, and in Budapest you can try goulash and Hungarian sausages. The list just goes on an on and on. We could write an article of biblical proportions just on this subject alone.
Be prepared to have enough space on your camera roll because as we know, “the camera eats first.”
Having international work experience is a huge plus for a college student, as it stands out as a differentiator to employers on a resume. Interning abroad allows you to learn about a new culture and work ethic. You gain more experience in your field of study, as well as develop a global network.
In the United States we may be used to having a strict work schedule in which the work day normally lasts from 9 AM – 5 PM, and it seems is non-stop. However, many countries do things differently, and that might shock us. Eventually this may impact our normal work habits. In Spain particularly, many companies partake in “siestas” in which companies shut down so their employees can take an afternoon rest or nap. It is very interesting to get a break from the American work life and to get involved in a job that is more flexible and less stressful.
You never know, international internships could eventually lead to a full-time offer. You may move to a foreign country in the blink of an eye. Keep your options as open as possible, as in the words of Eminem, "you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, because opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!"
Studying abroad with a select group of people will allow you to meet new people through travel, school, and going to new destinations.
It is always great when you can start your program without knowing half of the people, and by the end of it, have new friendships that you know will last a lifetime.
While there may be no place like home, there definitely is no place like Barcelona.
“Yea, Barcelona is alright, I guess.” That has never been said, ever in the history of all mankind. If it has, they are lying to themselves and everyone else.
Tourism is a booming presence / business in the city due to its art, fun, architecture, fun, food, fun, and culture… oh, and fun. There is so much energy here, it is hard to contain and summarize fully in textual form.
One must come here in person to get a real feel for the city and what it has to offer first hand.
Barcelona is also a popular destination for those looking to study abroad and bolster education. I am sure the fact that the legal drinking age in Europe is 18 has nothing to do with it. Right???
Cough, cough, anyway, without further adieu, here we go!
We’ll just get this one out of the way without sounding like a broken record…
You can drink legally in Barcelona when you’re 18 years old.
No more red tags, MIPs, or shenanigans when it comes to consuming your alcoholic beverages. Many students study abroad just in time to turn 21, for example. This tends to ease that transition for those waiting to hit the bars back home with their chums and lady-chums or chumettes, if you will.
Generally juniors and seniors alike make it across the pond as a means to shake down and spice up their college life experience. While there are a lot of options around the world, primarily in Europe, Barcelona takes the cake as a home base for college students around the United States.
The trend of craft beer in Barcelona is also growing currently, so you can sample many styles and flavors. This pairs well with the wine culture that is already in place here. You can become an expert with different styles before turning the big 2 to the 1, so you can hit the bars back in the United States gracefully.
Let’s be honest though, nothing quite replaces a 30-Rack of Keystone Light for some rounds of beer pong.
Important note: CocoVail Beer Hall promotes responsible consumption of alcohol. Safety is paramount, always. Don't be a fool, keep it cool. Plus, you don’t want to be on the next season of Locked Up Abroad.
Okay, let’s not get carried away…
It’s quite possibly the best city in the world. Yes, we said it, and we mean it.
You can compare it to being back home or that picturesque village you hold near and dear to your heart. You can also draw comparisons to other metropolitan cities; however, there is nowhere like Barcelona in the world, period. For starters, the city is set on the Mediterranean, which means beaches.
The city is also nestled in some hills, so there are outdoor activities anviews that will literally take your breath away. Public service announcement: remember to breathe. Go to Tibidabo, for example, a theme park that’s a stone’s throw away with a vantage point of the city that is a must. There is so much to do in Barcelona, we guarantee your few months here will be some of the best in your life.
It’s very historical. They’ve excavated resources that prove people settled this area as early as 5000 BC, for example!
We bring up these factors without even mentioning the culture here. It is rich and diverse, but those words alone can’t do it justice.
Well, it’s a beach…
What else is there to say?
Okay, we lied, because actually, there are many beaches from Barceloneta on up north to Poble Nou.
Barceloneta is definitely the most accessible and therefore gets a bit crowded, especially during the summer. However, there are many, many options moving up and down the coastline.
You can go to the quaint, beautiful beach in Sitges, which is close using the regional train, Renfe. Or you can go north to Costa Brava, which is amazing, we mean absolutely stunning.
Lionel Messi… is no longer here, sadly, but F.C. Barcelona has a rich tradition of playing great soccer. The team is currently going through a rebuilding phase, but they'll be back in form soon enough. Regardless of the team's performance, the stadium and the games there are worth one go during your time here, at least. It is the largest stadium in Europe, if not one of the largest stadiums.
F.C. Barcelona, which is “more than a club” and truly a central element to Barcelona, Catalunya and its culture.
The Mediterranean diet may be one of the healthiest in the world. Where else can you find lifelong cigarette smokers living into their 90s?
We are kidding about the cigarettes, of course, but there are so many options to satiate your desires.
If you want traditional Spanish cuisine, you have it in spades here. If you want Asian, South American, Middle Eastern, or Indian food, it is at your disposal. Of course, if you want a bit of home cooking and traditional American grub, CocoVail has it. We offer chicken wings with many traditional sauces and marinades, including (but not limited to) buffalo, honey BBQ, teriyaki, ranch, and blue cheese.
Furthermore, CocoVail is one of the only places with traditional Buffalo Chicken Wings in Barcelona.
You don’t have to know a lot about Barcelona, but surely you have heard of Gaudí before. He is famous for the many architectural features of the city. La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and La Pedrera are just a few of his creations.
In fact, CocoVail is situated right next to Casa Batlló, which is one of his best creations. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some craft beer in Barcelona, then mosey over to witness his historical building in person?
The other people who influenced the region are: Miró, Dalí, and Picasso. Surely you can identify at least one of those names… No worries if not, all the more reason to come!
So you know you can have a drink here (Reason #1) and you know you can go to the beach (Reason #3), but did you know that there is a whole bunch of activities in the city? We feel it is important to get a lay of the land early in your trip. For example, you can go on a bike tour with Steel Donkey Bike Tours and quickly get an idea of what the city is like. Their Barcelona experts won't just show you around, but they will also give you a personal touch of history and appreciation for the city. You don't have to be a history buff or a lover of architecture to get some valuable tidbits from their knowledgeable, experienced guides. Heck, they may even point you in the right direction regarding where you should grab some great food or other well-kept secrets tucked away in the many barrios around town.
Aside from saddling up with Steel Donkeys, there's no shortage of other fun and creative activities to enjoy in Barcelona. You could attempt to break out of one of the city's many escape rooms, such as Xcape Room BCN, learn how to take amazing photos on your phone or DSLR on a street photography tour with Shutter Kings, or even practice your Ragnar Lothbrok impersonation at Barcelona Axe Throwing club. The city boasts a dazzling array of distractions and things to do, and you'll discover plenty more inspiration when you get here.
You can get to dozens of destinations from Barcelona for a very affordable price…
Many students opt for spending a few weekends during their study abroad experience in different places.
A few cities/ countries that are readily accessible from here are: Paris, Lisbon, Ibiza, London, Germany, Madrid, Seville, Granada, Italy, Andorra, United Kingdom, Amsterdam, Vienna, San Sebastian, Switzerland, and Morocco. Granted, this is not a comprehensive list, but it offers a few of the places one can visit while studying abroad in Barcelona.
Travel tip: once you decide to study abroad in Barcelona, make sure you book your flights and travel arrangements early. It’s a good way to save on travel, so you can spend more during your experience wherever you may go.
Sure, the exchange rate with the Euro is not very favorable currently. There are many factors for that, most of which we don’t fully understand, who really understands it all anyway?
Despite this factor, Barcelona is very affordable compared to many other big cities in Europe. You can also compare it to living in the United States.
No matter what the comparison, you can have fun here and not break the bank, that is for certain.
Of course, you can break the bank and have fun as well, who are we to say otherwise?
Barcelona never sleeps, except maybe for a siesta during the middle of the day…
We mean it… People eat breakfast here anytime from 9- 11 AM, eat lunch around 2/3 PM, and finally get dinner in their bellies around 9/10 PM. That means that parties literally don’t start until around 1-2 AM, and therefore don’t end until the sun comes up or even well into the next day.
Staying up till the sun rises always makes for a good time, especially as a college kid experiencing something totally unique for a limited time. Just try not to pull an all nighter before an exam… Or do it. YOLO, right?
Obviously, right now night life is a bit mellow / non-existent due to Covid-19; however, things are starting to look up, and people will be back at it in no time. Stay tuned to local changes in laws and restrictions, so you know what is going on specifically.
There is an energy in Barcelona that is uncanny. You can’t find it in any other location. We believe it derives from the universal acceptance of many people from all around the world. Sure, it is a Catalan/ Spanish city, but it really is a hub that represents the whole world and all of its cultures.
If you walk down Les Rambles, for example, you will hear people speaking languages from countries peppered around the continents. You can literally see the full spectrum of human faces, races, and backgrounds.
It is important to address the terrorist attack on August 17th, 2017 in Barcelona. It is tragic and will take time to mend the wounds, both literal and figurative.
We also have to note the recent political unrest with the Independence Movement that surged over the past few years. It’s not a dangerous situation, fret not. There are a lot of emotions and passion behind what is going on here, and it’s not our place to draw a line in the sand or dictate how to feel about it.
Even with this relative confusion, there is love in this city and there is a conscious commonality that will always bind us. Just as the numerous other cities around the world have evolved, Barcelona will as well. The energy and love in Barcelona will blossom as it always has.
Hopefully fear of these sort of events will not deter people from traveling and enjoying one of the treasures of human society, of which there are many. We should strive for unity and acceptance in the face of such uncertainty and violence.
Whether you are a party animal, one who craves cultural nuances, a chiller, or simply looking to travel, Barcelona has it all. When you study abroad in Barcelona, you will return home enriched, with an amplified appreciation for life.
It will be the experience of a lifetime, we guarantee it.