4 Things I'll Miss About Living, Interning, and Studying Abroad in Barcelona
As my summer internship in Barcelona wraps up, I realize I have many mixed feelings about leaving my host city. This summer study abroad program was my first time leaving the U.S., so I learned so much about being a global citizen and embracing new experiences. On one hand, I can’t wait to go home and reunite with my family and friends; however, at the same time, there are things about interning in Barcelona that I’ll miss. As my first international trip, Barcelona will always have a special place in my heart. I made unforgettable memories here and even with mixed feelings about leaving, I can’t wait to come back and visit the city that I fell in love with over the past two months. Gracias Barcelona!
Barcelona and I at the Spanish Bunkers.
- Being close to the coast
I lived in Ohio my whole life so I wasn’t near a beach growing up. The second weekend of the study abroad program, a few other interns and I took a quick day trip to Mallorca (an island off the coast of Spain) and I swam in the ocean for the first time. Since then, I spent so many hours relaxing in the sun and enjoying the stunning blue waters. Some of my favorite beaches are Barceloneta (right in Barcelona) and Sitges (a beach about 40 minutes outside of Barcelona by train).
While I’ll miss being so close to the Mediterranean Sea and easily enjoying the views, I won’t miss the Mediterranean heat. Personally, I melt in the heat. Luckily most of the buildings have air conditioning; however, they don’t blast them at the same power as they do at home so it takes a little time to get used to. I learned to adopt the Spanish lifestyle that was sort of designed to beat the heat. This means that I did all my walking around outside in the morning and in the evening. During the middle of the day is when you’ll hear that Spaniards take their siesta. I learned that this doesn't necessarily mean taking a nap, but rather just going indoors for a bit to cool off. I grew to enjoy this lifestyle and may even adopt it as I return home.
A quick selfie with the Mediterranean Sea in Mallorca.
- Public transportation
At first, I was intimidated by the public transportation system here. Everyone walks so fast and they know exactly where they're going. But once I read the signs and got more familiar with it, I fell in love with the system. Public transportation made it so easy to explore different sections of Barcelona. Using the metro took me from La Sagrada Familia (one of Antoni Gaudí’s most famous architecture sites and a must-see) to Barceloneta in under 10 minutes. If I wanted to visit Park Güell (a beautiful park also created by Gaudí) or see the sunset with a great view up at the Spanish bunkers, I took a 20-minute bus ride which saved me from an uphill walk.
The train system also makes it easy to explore areas outside of Barcelona like different beach towns along the coast or the incredible Montserrat Monastery. All I had to do when I went somewhere is put the destination in Google Maps and it gave me exact directions.
The city of Barcelona is also incredibly walkable so it’s nice to get some exercise and just do some shopping or sightseeing. However, I’m so excited to drive again. Even when I come home from Ohio State on breaks, I’m always so excited to drive again. I love being able to escape the heat in my air-conditioned car and sing along to my music. But overall, I’m grateful for how much I learned about navigating new cities because I know that when I visit another city, I’ll feel more prepared to figure out my way around.
I took the bus up to Gaudi's Park Guell.
- Grocery shopping
This upcoming year will be my first time living off campus at Ohio State and grocery shopping for myself. I’m glad I got a taste of what that’s like this summer; however, I know that it’ll look a little different when I arrive back in the States.
I love grocery shopping here because it’s so cheap. For my week of groceries, I usually spend around 18 euros which is approximately $20 USD with the current conversion rate. Granted, I have to go more frequently to get perishable items like bread and fruits because they go bad a little quicker here. Regardless, it’s so nice to be spending less on groceries because it allows me to have more in my budget for things like train tickets for weekend trips.
While I love the price of grocery shopping here, I'm looking forward to the convenience of shopping at home. In Barcelona, I noticed that the stores are smaller and separated into more specialty shops. Products like medications and beauty items are located in pharmacies rather than in the grocery stores. Luckily, there are pharmacies located on almost every corner so you never have to walk far, it may just take a few minutes longer to run errands than it does at home.
- The Spanish language
The main reason I chose to do an internship in Barcelona was to immerse myself in the Spanish language and culture. So naturally, that’ll be one of the things that I miss the most upon returning home. Since my internship is mostly in Spanish, my coworkers told me that my language skills have improved since starting. Not only have I grown my vocabulary to use words that are specific to Spain, I also improved my pronunciation and the fluidity at which I understand and speak. I feel so much more comfortable using my Spanish and learned not to get embarrassed to try and speak even if I mispronounce words or stumble a little.
Practicing Spanish with my friend Michelle on our way to see Harry Styles at Estadi Olimpic.
However, on the other hand, I’m looking forward to the brain break that I’ll get at home. Sometimes it becomes exhausting when I’m in a meeting and multiple people are talking in Spanish very fast and at the same time. If I lose focus for just a second, it takes longer to get back on track with the conversation. So I’m excited for that little rest, but will look for more ways to speak Spanish when I get home so that I don’t lose the skills that I acquired. I think that by listening to Spanish music, and conversing with my Spanish-speaking friends, I'll keep up my language skills until the next time I visit a Spanish-speaking country.
Abby Spangenberg is an official blogger for Summer '23, sharing her story in frequent posts on our blog. A Chemical Engineering major at Ohio State University, she is studying and interning abroad in Barcelona this semester. All views expressed are her own and may or may not reflect the experiences of other students.
Abby Spangenberg is the Content Creator - Blogger.