I’ve been studying in Barcelona for two months and all I can really say is that I am having the time of my life. I mean sol, siesta y fiesta, what’s not to love?
Barcelona is situated in Catalonia and according to the university, the people here are ‘Catalans’ and not Spanish. They really want their independence (like Brexit) and are hoping for a referendum in September 2017, even though it is considered unconstitutional. Bullfighting was banned in Catalonia in 2010 in order to show their independence from the rest of Spain.
Although Catalan is the main language spoken here, Barcelona is a very touristy city, and so everyone speaks English and Spanish. The majority of the classes are taught in Catalan so I was limited into which classes I could take. However, I am taking Catalan for beginners, along with other Spanish speakers. It is a lot harder than Spanish, but I am thoroughly enjoying it.
Okay we are still in Spain, so tapas is a huge thing here. It’s wonderful as you can eat however much (or little) as you want. Typical Spanish dishes include paella, a lot of jamón and seafood (including octopus which personally I disliked.) In Spain they generally have dinner very late, for example at around 10pm or 11pm. This is due to the hot weather, as at in the evenings it is still 30 degrees or more, therefore you have a merienda at around 5pm, which translates as late afternoon snack.
Barcelona is expensive; it’s the second biggest city in Spain (after Madrid of course) so generally drinks in bars are about 7 euros and in clubs 12 euros or more. You have to pay entrance to clubs anywhere you go, unless you’re on a guest list or go in before 2am. However in Spain, most clubs don’t get busy till 3/4am and stay open as late as 8am. Luckily the metro runs 24 hours on a Saturday; therefore I can get the metro to and from the club, no more need for paying for taxis!
In the summer it is boiling, temperatures on average are 35 degrees. Right now in November, it is a lot cooler but still warm, around 25 degrees. It shall get a bit cooler in the winter, however it is sunny every single day, and definitely not as cold as England.
I am currently paying 480 euros a month and I live in the city centre, right next to the Palau de la Generalitat , which houses the offices of the Presidency of the Government of Catalonia and is within walking distance of all the shopping, metro stations, restaurants, bars and clubs.
I pay 35 euros a month for unlimited travel on the metro and bus here. In London I pay 200 pounds a month for public transport, and my friends pay over 1000 pounds a month in rent. So overall Barcelona is cheaper compared to England. Food shopping is very cheap as well:; I spent around 15 euros a week on fruit and vegetables. Avocados are only 4 euros per kilo!
The university isn’t a one-campus university; instead the campuses are spread throughout the whole city. One of the campuses is right on the beach, so I do tend to go to the library there. Another is situated right next to the parliament of Catalonia.
As I study French and Spanish at Southampton, I am mainly taking translation classes. I am thoroughly enjoying my translation class from English to Spanish, however my translation class from French to Spanish is very advanced and difficult, as it is a fourth year class, and I am translating between two foreign languages. The timetable is also completely different – I have classes that start at 8am and some that finish at 9pm.
Barcelona itself is a thriving and exciting place as there is always something going on. The music scene is amazing, I have already been to a Manu Chao and Chainsmokers concert and I shall also go to see Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Crystal Fighters. Barcelona is the home of Gaudi (his work is located throughout the whole city), as well as other incredible architecture.
There is definitely a lot of culture in Barcelona, from all the old cathedrals, to the narrow streets. Furthermore, Barcelona is the home to Lionel Messi, who is considered the world’s best football player. There are numerous matches throughout the year – I am yet to attend, but I already managed to see Ronaldo at a Real Madrid game last month. Even though I am only here till June, I know the time will fly back so quickly and before I know it, I shall be in Hartley Library studying for my final year.