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Barcelona: When Can we Eat & How are These Dogs so Smart?

Studying abroad in a country you’ve never been to leads to some mistakes, funny situations, and learning experiences. After being here for two months, here are some observations and moments that may not have gone as expected…

  1. Dogs: okay this one I still don’t really know how to explain, but it’s awesome. Dogs in Europe are the best-trained dogs. I feel like they all could compete in the Westminster Dog Show and have a chance to win. Basically, many dogs on the busy streets of Barcelona are not on leashes, yet they walk right next to their owners the whole time. They even sit right outside of a store while they do their grocery shopping Mind-boggling.
  2. Dark Clothes and Heavy Coats: Want to stand out as an American? Wear shorts in February when it’s 65 degrees. There is no better way to spot an American, even though we may consider it to be somewhat warm, most locals still dress in a winter coat and scarf. One professor told me when I asked what he thought about this said, “well I’m not too sure, I have what I consider a February coat so I wear my February Coat in February!” It actually does make sense because in Barcelona even if it is in the 60s during the day, the early mornings and after the sun goes down become rather cold.
     I set a bad example for the boys from out of town with the shorts! South Carolina friends studying in Rome and Bilbao.
  3. When you don’t know what to say “Vale” is a good guess: This is actually just my favorite Spanish word because it is a word that can be used to mean ok, yes, or sounds good. It’s a very versatile word, and when someone is speaking with you and you get confused “vale” is a good guess as a response.
  4. Double Kiss the Cheek: We met a few locals in the Canary Islands, and we were greeted with an unexpected kiss on the cheek. The thing about the Spanish is that you start with the left cheek then the right…not the right then left. We didn’t come across very local when this awkward exchange occurred.
  5. When can I eat meals?: This one, while many people know that dinner is often not until 9:30, is one that messes with us the most. This is because some restaurants will not even be open during the hours of 4-8, and we’ve made the mistake of trying to go eat during this time. Just an adjustment to make!
  6. Cooking Temperatures: First meal we attempted to cook in our oven we forgot that the oven is in Celsius, and that cooking chicken nuggets at 250 Celsius leads to ruined chicken nuggets. Sad night for our dinner plans.
  7. Vespas are much harder to drive than we expected: Motorized scooters/bikes are all the rage in Europe. Well when they let us five Americans ride them, let’s just say it wasn’t the smoothest ride…no damage to the bikes or anyone though!
     Awkward Picture and Awkward Drivers
  8. Not being used to putting your phone on a 24-hour clock: “I’m sorry professor but I accidently set an alarm to wake me up for 2 a.m. the next day when I meant to set it for 14:00.” Woops.
  9. They do have peanut butter: I’m a huge PB&J guy, always have been, and I feel like I had heard a rumor that peanut butter isn’t really a thing in Europe, and instead people eat Nutella sandwiches. Second month here and I have found peanut butter! It’s a game changer to my lunch schedule.
  10. People clap when planes land: I always thought clapping at the end of movies was something I didn’t understand, well Europe loves to clap when planes land!
  11. Sometimes you may order the wrong food: This one goes back to an earlier blog where an attempt to order a chicken sandwich at the local McDonald’s resulted in receiving chicken wings.
     Views from Montjuic in Barcelona. Minutes from my apartment.
  12. English is spoken quite well here: This is a funny one because when I try to speak Spanish many people will respond back to me in English because they know English well and think that I would prefer to speak in English. Obviously I don’t have the best Spanish accent, but I often respond to them saying, “wait, can we speak in Spanish so I can practice more?!”
  13.  I don’t speak great Spanish: To practice Spanish while out to lunch during a CEA excursion to Valencia, I asked our server if she had a favorite restaurant for Paella de Valencia (the world’s best Paella). The answer I got from her in Spanish was, “are you asking me if I’m French?” The roommate who has a better Spanish accent than me repeated exactly what I said, and then they had a conversation and she answered the question. I was so close!
  14.  It doesn’t rain: This is actually just a perk, and another reason to study in Barcelona. It’s rained twice in the two months that I’ve been here.
  15. Oh so they don’t drive on the left?: I’m not saying that I thought they drove on the left side of the street in most parts of Europe but…
  16.  Last Observation, Barcelona cannot be beat: Each and every day I’ve been thankful that I have the chance to study abroad in Barcelona; if you’re looking for a city that truly has it all and more, Barcelona is the city for you.

I’ve learned something new everyday, and all of these moments are just a small part of the amazing study abroad experience. I cannot even begin to explain how much I encourage everyone to study abroad; it will truly change your life!

 Docks down by the beach

Kevin Mooney is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain. He is currently a junior at the University of South Carolina.

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