When I was trying to figure out where I wanted to study abroad, Spain was a very close second to Italy. I had studied Spanish extensively for about 5 years during middle and high school, and felt fairly confident that if I were to study abroad in Spain I could return to the States nearly fluent. Nevertheless, I chose Italy, but I still had the intention of visiting Spain during my time abroad. One of the greatest parts about studying in Europe is the ease in which you can travel to another country, even for just the weekend. So, that’s what we did. On Tuesday morning, we went to Bus2Alps, one of the many travel agencies that specialize in trips for students studying abroad, and booked our trip. On Thursday evening, we found ourselves on an overnight bus ride to Barcelona. The bus ride itself was a little bit rough. I was one of seventy plus study abroad students that were crammed into a single bus along with all of the luggage that we had brought. We tried our best to get as much sleep as possible, knowing we had a jam packed weekend ahead of us.
We arrived in Barcelona at around 9 am, and checked into a youth hostel called St. Christopher’s Inn. This was the first hostel I’ve ever stayed at, and had been unsure about what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised at how clean and comfortable it was. After dropping off our luggage we went on a walking tour with a guide who led us around the city showing us historical monuments and buildings and explaining their importance. After the tour we had time to walk around other parts of the city and visit Sagrada Familia, an enormous Roman Catholic church designed by a Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The church has been in the process of being built in accordance to Gaudí’s plans for over a hundred years, and is estimated to be completed in 2026. When it is completed, it will be the tallest church in the world. The building is truly a work of art, and its blending of Gothic and Art Nuoveau styles makes it unlike any other architectural design in the world. After seeing the church we headed back to the hostel to shower and get ready for dinner. We asked a man at the front desk to recommend a good but inexpensive place to eat, and he was able to point us in the direction of a place just down the street from the hostel. There was about 6 of us and we each ordered seafood paella, which came out on two huge steaming platters to be shared among the table. The paella came with langostinos, which are basically mini lobsters. They came with the shells still on them, like everything else, and it was a little bit weird eating them, but delicious nonetheless. After dinner my friends went out to a few clubs, but I had been feeling a little under the weather and decided to go to bed early to get a good night’s sleep.