Every year, many American students are plagued with the difficult decision of where to study abroad. Really tough issue, right? Where should I spend four months more or less vacationing while getting a break from the monotony of American universities? Might as well close your eyes, spin a globe and pick, because virtually any study abroad experience has the capacity to be the best four months of any American student’s life.
A beautiful view of the Porte de Barcelona.
Yet, studying abroad is not cheap, so it is probably smart to put some thought into a decision. Of course there are numerous factors to consider: location, weather, food, culture, nightlife, travel, language, etc. With so many factors to consider, it’s difficult to decide which is the most important. One city stands out above all the rest, combining the best of all of these aspects of abroad into one incredible experience. That city is Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelona combines the best of all worlds. Located on the water of northern Spain, Barcelona is a beach town on the water, but also a big city at the same time. It is an excellent place to travel from, throughout Spain and to other European countries. The weather is phenomenal. Barcelona dwellers never need to wear more that a light jacket in the winter. By late March, it’s beach weather! What else could a student ask for?
Now of course not all American students speak Spanish, but chances are one member of the group took it in high school, providing at least minimal means of communication in the native language. (To clarify, the actual native language of Barcelona is Catalan, however almost all people native to Barcelona speak both Catalan and Spanish.) Additionally, most people in Barcelona speak some English, which makes it even easier to communicate with locals. Honestly, any American study abroad student sticks out anywhere like a sore thumb, so that fact that he or she speaks English as a default will not come as a shock to any European.
The nightlife in Barcelona can not be rivaled. The study abroad students stick together and always find somewhere fun to go. If they are looking for a club scene, they can be found at Otto Zutz, Opium, Sutton or Shôko, just to name a few. But if you’re looking to keep it more low key at a bar, there is always Pipperment, Dow Jones, Le Cyrano or Chupitos. There’s never a dull night in Barcelona!
Study abroad students enjoying themselves at "Loco Lunes" at Otto Zutz!
It’s not all about the partying though! Barcelona is full of culture, sights and amazing food! One of Barcelona’s most famous natives, Antonio Gaudi, has produced some of the most recognizable architectural landscapes in the world. His work includes Park Guell (home to the cycle seven finale of America’s Next Top Model, which is a popular spot for American girls to visit) and Sagrada Familia. There is also the Olympic Village, where students can catch the Magic Fountain Show, and Monserrat for a beautiful hike.
The food in Barcelona also provides students with a wide variety of options. Spain in general is known for tapas, which are meals that provide a wide variety of options as smaller appetizer sizes. This lets diners try numerous different dishes all in one diner experience. Study abroad students enjoy tapas at restaurant Cerveceria Catalana, La Flauta and Tapa Tapa. However, if students need a break from Spanish cuisine, Barcelona provides all types of food including Japanese, Mediterranean and Mexican. Of course, don’t forget about the Cava, Spanish sparkling wined produced in Catalonia.
Students satisfy their sweet tooth at La Boqueria.
If you’re in the mood to cook for yourself, however, Barcelona has no shortage of fruitful markets where students can purchase fruit, vegetables or any of cooking products. The most famous is La Boqueria. It is located on the end of the very famous La Rambla, a central street in Barcelona running from the port to Placa Catalunya, lined with shops, restaurants and bars. La Boqueria has a grand display of food for people to purchase. Don’t forget to pick up your candy for after dinner!
Students who travel abroad in Barcelona have the option of living in residencia, which are comparable to American dorm rooms, or apartments. The apartments allow students to live with locals and get a real Barcelona living experience. It also gives students the opportunity to gain some independence in Barcelona, living alone. The residential areas are full of life and personality, especially on a Sunday afternoon when the streets fill with families enjoying the end of their weekend.
Between all of these options, Barcelona is definitely an excellent abroad travel choice. It provides students with everything they could possibly want from an abroad experience. There’s the beach and the city, culture and nightlife, food and wine, and no complaints.
Check out this testimonial from a current study abroad student in Barcelona, Marley Cohen, who claims choosing to study abroad in Barcelona was the best decision she has ever made.