Goodbye Barcelona

My time abroad in Barcelona has finally come to an end. It is a sad farewell. I loved every part of this experience. I’m going to miss my everyday life here- going to class, food shopping, walking up and down the street. I’m even going to miss the euro!

Going back to America is definitely going to be a bit of a culture shock. Although I am sad to say goodbye to Barcelona, I am excited to go home and see my family. There is a part of me that misses New York.

It’s a bittersweet ending, but all good things must come to an end. Goodbye Barcelona!

 

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Munich for Springfest

Munich was my final trip during my stay in Barcelona, and definitely my favorite. It was a fantastic weekend for so many reasons. All of my friends from high school, college and Barcelona were there. I loved the German people and all the experiences I had.

The festival Springfest itself was great. We met some great locals, drank a lot of beer and ate a top of soft pretzels. Before going to the festival we went on a bike tour of Munich and saw some the the sights. Then we made our way over the Springfest. After we spent some time in the tents, we went on the rides outside…oh and ate more food! My friend and I went on bumper cars twice, a roller coaster, down the big slide and on the ferris wheel. In between we ate corn, chocolate covered fruit, lo mein and cookie cakes. It was not my healthiest day. After spending 7 hours at the festival it was time to go home.

On Sunday, we went to Dachau Concentration Camp. It was a very emotional experience, but something I’m glad I go to see. I couldn’t believe I was seeing such a horrible place, something I have learned about for so many years in real life. It was very moving.

Munich was such a great trip because of the people and the variety of things we did. I loved Munich!

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Montserrat

This weekend, my friend and I finally made it over to Monserrat for a nice morning hike. It wasn´t until we were unable to breath halfway up the hill that we realized how much we are truly out of shape after spending three and a half months abroad. Time to get back to the gym…

It was a beautiful morning and the sky was very clear. This made for a fantastic view. We decided to do one of the less intense hikes. It took us about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the top. We stopped along the way to check out the view of Barcelona, but nothing was like the view from the top. We were able to see everything- the city, the mountains, the water. It was breath taking and well worth the work to get there.

After the hike we went to see the famous Black Madonna. The church was beautiful and I could really tell how significant of a religious experience seeing it was for so many people. The line to get close up to the Black Madonna was so long. It held a lot of weight with people from all over the world coming to see it. I have to admit though, it was a lot smaller than I expected.

We ended the day with tasting local cheeses and figs at the stands along the market. I don’t even know what kind of cheese I was trying. I just took all the free samples. It was all delicious! I haven’t had figs since I was a kid and used to eat Fig Newtons. It was like a taste of my childhood, except a lot more fresh and lot better tasting. My day at Montrerrat was a great one!

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Titanic 3D: Podcast

Last week, my friends and I saw Titanic 3D in theaters. Although we were only about six years old when the movie originally came out, it is still one of my favorite movies. A young Leonardo DiCaprio…what could be better? It´s a timeless love story, one of which I know almost every line to, and there was nothing I wanted more than to see it again on the big screen…in 3D!

The movie was amazing. At home, I love going to see movies, but since I have been in Barcelona, I have not had the opportunity to. The three hours flew by and by the end me and my three friends couldn´t take our eyes off the screen. Like the emotional girls that we are, we sat in our seats and cried for about 10 minutes before we could even move. Hysterically cried, I might add. Thankfully we didn´t know anybody in the theater because they defintely would have judged us.

I have seen other James Cameron in theaters before (heard of that little movie Avatar?) and other 3D re-releases, like The Lion King. I think it´s really cool that older movies are being re-released for a newer generation to see or for the original generation to experience again with updated film technology. However, the 3D aspect is definitely better in movies originally created in 3D, like Avatar, than it is in movies that are being re-released in 3D, like Titanic or The Lion King. I found that the 3D wasn´t used so much in Titanic and that it did not reall add anything to the movie. The experience would have been the same if it were re-released in 2D.

Seeing Titanic 3D was a great experience. I remembered every line and every seen. I still swooned over Jack and cried when Rose had to let go. Titanic is a movie the will stand the test of time. Its success creating two of the world´s most famous actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and in doing well in theaters 15 years after it originally came out is proof of that.

Titanic 3D Podcast

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Web 2.0 Marketing

These days, corporations don’t only have websites they have blogs. Major corporations such as Disney, Google, Starbucks, Marriot and General Electric have taken to social media and have some of the mostly highly rated corporate blogs with the corporate world. There are pros and cons to this tactic. The pros are that it gives consumers a more personal look at the company. It shows people that behind the official, rigid face of the corporation (this can be found on a company website) that there is a personality and group of people working to make you happy (displayed on a company blog). However the cons are that these blogs are controlled by the companies- the posts, comments and feedback all have to go through screening. This means that only the best aspects of the company are displayed on the blog. An angry comment is likely to be eliminated and if the truth is not what the company wants the public to know, it may be stretched in a blog post.

A lot of marketing goes into these corporate blogs, as it is a major part of the reason the company’s create these blogs. Viral marketing is a huge piece of the field of marketing now, so these corporations need to start incorporating it into their marketing techniques.  The six types of viral marketing are: 1. sending messages to consumers (SMS messages), 2. incentivized viral (receiving money to send messages), 3. masked marketing (sending mysterious messages that don’t appear to be part of an advertising campaign), 4. rumor marketing (spreading exciting rumors to draw attention to a person or product), 5. social database (online services for customers) and 6. invitations (often used by services such as Gmail and Facebook).

Weighing pros and cons and taking the different strategies into account, corporate blogging definitely is more beneficial than harmful. People like the personal touch of a blog. It makes a company seem more “real.” Viral marketing is the best type of marketing now because that is how people gain their information. Information spreads on the web- via Twitter, YouTube and Facebook– faster than it spreads anywhere else. So if companies aren’t on the web, they are going to fall behind.

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Spring Break: Lagos, Portugal

For spring break, my friends headed over to Lagos, Portugal for a week of  vacation. Although the trip was great, it definitely wasn’t the relaxing beach vacation we expected. And it all started with the bus…

We flew into Lisbon, only realizing three days prior that we needed to take a four hour bus into the wee hours of the night to get to the south of Portugal to Lagos. It was a bit miserable, but we tried to keep our spirits up. Then it started to rain. This spring

break was off to an excellent start. When we finally got to Lagos, our hotel informed us that the weather was supposed to berainy all week. Ok, so we had to make other plans besides going to the beach. We filled our week with a boat trip, walking around town, trying new restaurants and lots of bars. All of our friends studying in Florence were also in Lagos the same week so it turned out to be kind of fun.

My friends and I stayed at Vila Mos Aparthotels, while our friends visiting from Florence stayed in the Rising Cock Hostel, a popular place for study abroad students to stay in Lagos while spring breaking in Lagos. It was through the hostel that we were able to go on a day boat cruise. This was particularly fun because a lot of student from University of Maryland were there. It was nice to see some familiar faces.

Although it was not beach weather, Lagos was a great trip. It was a relaxing week where we didn’t need to be running around sight seeing. It was also great to see friends who I don’t get to see every day. With my study abroad experience coming to an end, it was an enjoyable trip.

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Multimedia Project: Study Abroad Barcelona

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.


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Paris

It has always been a dream of mine to go to Paris. With seven years of French class in middle and high school combined with Carrie Bradshaw‘s Parisian experience, I always seemed like the most amazing place to visit.

So when the time came for me and my friends to finally visit Paris, I imagined looking something like this:

In reality, it was more like this:

A lot more cold and a lot less glamourous. Oh well, I may not be Carrie Bradshaw and my friends may not be Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, but that didn’t mean we weren’t looking for Mr. Big in the City of Lights. Well our fantasy came down crashing and burning when we went to the actual bridge where Carrie found Mr. Big in Paris. Seeing all the locks was, how should I say this, depressing.

It is tradition for couples to write their names on locks and put them on this bridge in Paris when they get married.

However, that didn’t stop us from enjoying our tour… and crepes! We went on numerous tours and saw the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge and Versailles. Although my French is rusty from high school, I still tried to use it! Not successfully though. Oh well, when all else fails get a Nutella crepe! That’s the motto we lived by. It’s Paris!

My friends and I in front of Versailles.

 

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Catalunya Radio

My Journalism 2.0 teacher, Pipo, was nice enough to take my class on a tour of Catalunya Radio, where he works on a radio show. I have gone on tours of TV stations before and seen news rooms, but never a radio station. Although I have never listened to Catalunya Radio (I can assure you I would understand approximately zero percent of it), I will still excited to see the inner workings of a radio station. It was pretty much what I expected and quite similar to a news room.

When I worked at a news station back in the U.S. last summer, the news room was set up with a lot of desks for the reporters, researchers and writers. Next to that were the news sets for the morning news, nightly news and weather report. Behind all that was the control room. The Catalunya Radio office was not so different. There were desks set

up all throughout the officer for different shows to work together as teams. Then there are the different studios where the radio shows take place. And of course, there is also a control room area.

At home I am used to listening to radio stations that play music, like Z100 in New York. My visit to Catalunya Radio made me realize I should start using the radio as a means of information gathering. There are many options in the U.S., such as NPR, that can provide me with vital news. This experience helped me realize I should open my eyes to that.

 

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Madrid

My friends and I went on our first trip within Spain…Madrid! With all this traveling throughout Europe, we almost forgot about how much traveling we need to do within Spain itself. So, where better to start than the capital?

Honestly, I had previously heard that Madrid was not people’s favorite trip, but this was a free trip offered by our program, CEA, and it is the capital of the country we are staying in so how could we skip it? The trip was off to a rough start. We went to a concert on Thursday night, almost disregarding that we had to be on an 8 a.m. train on Friday. Unpacked, we woke up on Friday morning at 7:40 a.m., panicked, and realized we had 20 minutes to pack and get to the train station. Not a great start.

Throwing anything we saw into our bags, we thankfully made it to the train and were on our way to Madrid, very tired however. As soon as we got there we were doing a walking tour. As soon as our tour guide told us about the convent cookies, we knew we were gonna have to split and get some of those cookies. Let me explain: In Madrid, you can go to these convents, ring the doorbell, and buy cookies from the nuns. We had to try it. We rang the doorbell and got let in, only to find it was the quietest place we had ever been in. We wandered around for a bit until finally we were able to purchase the cookies from the nun from behind a wooden revolving door (we couldn’t see her). The result was delicious!

Digging into the convent cookies!

The next day we decided to do something more touristy and go to the palace. We did an tour of the inside and I have to say the inside was beautiful. Every room was decorated so gorgeously, with gold highlights everywhere. It looked very royal.

A view of the palace!

Obviously touring the palace built up an appetite, so what else to do but eat (again…) We clearly finished our convent cookies, so it was time to try another specialty of Madrid- churros and hot chocolate. Being Americans and still so oblivious, we were expecting the kind of hot chocolate you get when you go skiing on Mount Snow and the churros you get at Six Flags. But this was just so much better. It was literally melted chocolate and the most amazing churros I have

ever tried in my life. Being a fan of white chocolate I had to try that kind. It was a deliciously fattening snack and a great way to wrap up Madrid.

Churros con chocolat!

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