CEA Directory

Alumni Ambassadors


Syracuse University Main Campus

Barcelona, Spain

Spring 2017

Julianna Matthews, Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

If there was only one word I could use to describe the impact that studying abroad had on me, it would be this: Growth. That girl in the plane from a small town in New York on her way to Barcelona went through a type of metamorphosis. In the same way, a woman pregnant for the first time may pick up a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I was doing my best to get my hands on anything to prepare me for the biggest journey in my life I’d ever faced. What to anticipate, respecting new cultures, areas to steer clear from—more importantly who to steer clear from. I spent the first two weeks trying to grocery shop with limited Spanish-language skills, and booking my own flights for wherever I wanted to go in the world. It was in those first two weeks that I realized I was there—I was doing this, all on my own, thousands of miles away from my family and places I called home. The rest of my time abroad went by faster than I understand. Each day I felt myself becoming more comfortable with this new world, and how I fit into it. In the phone calls I made at three in the morning to my dad because I was stuck in some foreign airport, I felt new levels of independence. With each solo trip I planned and travelled, I surpassed my comfort zones. Through every stranger I met and through talking about everything from politics to social issues to our own differences, I realized I may be more aware of the world than I had ever been. And with every mistake I made along the way, I learned to accept that I was the only one who could solve it. These things are what I remember about being abroad most. They are what I appreciate greatest about the opportunity I was given. The one common denominator to it all is something I wouldn’t trade for any other: growth.

2. What were your favorite spots in the city?

It is difficult to choose only a few of my favorite places in Barcelona. However, if I had to, I would choose absolutely anything and everything by Gaudi first. He combines art and architecture of the Modernisme period incredibly, and made prolific impacts on the unique culture of Barcelona. While many are familiar with La Sagrada Familia and Parque Güell, I would also recommend seeing Palau Güell and Casa Batlló. The Picasso museum was also a great experience. As another artist who helped define the culture of Spanish art, I spent a few hours walking the museum. It’s also free with a student ID! On a beautiful day, make sure to get some exercise in and hike up to the Bunkers to take in the whole city—elevated. In terms of restaurants, one place I really enjoyed was Rosa Negra. With the friendliest staff, and mouth-watering entrée’s, you can’t miss a stop here. When you’re in the mood for tapas, Mil Grito is the place to go. They have a wide variety and you can find something here to eat for just about anyone. The list of favorites goes on.

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