It’s been exactly one month since I stepped foot on European soil, and I’m proud to say that I’ve yet to have my phone, wallet nor personal belongings stolen (knock on wood).
There has never been a question in my mind of whether or not I should leave my secluded comfort zone at the U of A and move across the world for a semester. I mean, when am I ever going to get another opportunity to eat, drink, study and travel for four months with ultimately no preoccupations? Unless I win the lottery anytime soon, this is an once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m so lucky to be able to experience in my early twenties.
Tips & trips thus far…
- Language: Ignore anyone who tells you that you won’t be able to maneuver your way around Barcelona without speaking Catalan.
- I can’t count the number of past study abroad students who told me my minimal Spanish would rarely come in handy—This statement is far from true, as I’ve never once been misunderstood due to a Catalan-Spanish language barrier.
- Weather: It’s not as cold as you think.
- Going to school in Arizona, girls are basically programmed to throw on a scarf, oversized sweater and boots in weather under 60 degrees. And, if you’re anything like me, the smallest gust of wind feels like Antarctica. So, I filled my suitcase with my heaviest sweaters and winter coats in an attempt to remain as warm as possible. Surprisingly, the brisk weather here is both refreshing and manageable—other than the early morning and late night, it’s rare that you’ll need more than two layers of clothing.
- Phone Plans: Save your money.
- In Barcelona, there is usually WiFi everywhere you go. Other than in the Metro and walking down the street, you’re bound to receive free service at most cafés, restaurants, shops and nightclubs. Before I began my travels, I purchased the cheapest international plan with my phone carrier. Though this has come in handy during the few times I’ve found myself lost in the city and needed to rely on Maps to make my way home, my iPhone is always on Airplane Mode and linked to the nearest WiFi connection.
- Zara: A whole new world.
- Before coming to Barcelona, you wouldn’t be able to find one item in my closet that has a Zara tag on it. In the States, Zara gets lost in the mix of Forever 21, Nordstrom, etc. However, you’ll quickly realize that, in Barcelona, a Zara store is located on each passing corner and is full of every essential clothing article that you’re missing from your wardrobe. I mean, it makes sense considering the founder of this corporation (who briefly overtook Bill Gates as the richest person in the world) started off right here in Spain.
Of course, these are only a small portion of the countless tips I’ll have gathered after months of traveling, so I hope you continue to follow along to find where the rest of my journey abroad takes me!