Cristy’s Ultimate Barcelona Study Abroad Guide! May 23, 2012Posted by lifealgo in Barcelona!.
Tags: Georgia Tech, guides, travel
Last year some friends of mine were going to study abroad in Barcelona in the summer, so they made a group to coordinate activities. Seeing as it was the same program I’d done a year before, I thought I’d maybe write a couple of tips and share it with the group. Long story short, I ended up writing over a thousand words! I only shared it with the group, but recently I thought: why not just put it online for future Georgia Tech Barcelona students? So without further ado, I present…
Cristy’s Ultimate Barcelona Study Abroad Guide!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What to bring
- Barcelona Living
- Around the City
- Other Good Places
- Miscellaneous (and other important details)
What to bring:
- Although you have internet at Onix (residences) IT IS NOT WIRELESS!! So bring an ethernet cord (or get one from the front desk for 5 euro)
- Outlet converters! These are the ones used in Spain and most of Europe: http://www.beautywests.com/ProductImages/new4/11142.jpg
- You may need a voltage converter. To see if you do, check your electronics/chargers to see if they say “input range: 100-240V” or something like that. If they do, you don’t need the converter; otherwise, they are designed to handle only American voltage levels and will short-circuit when you plug them in!
- I brought a big bag (24-in in height), a carry-on (21in in height), and a big bookbag, and I was fine with the amount of stuff that I brought (~20-30 shirts, ~4 pants, ~4 shorts, ~6 pairs of shoes…)
- Bring your laptop and charger and battery (someone didn’t bring theirs to save up on weight… DON’T DO THAT!!)
- CAMERA!!! I brought two 2GB memory cards and ran out of space – granted, I took ~6000 pics during the whole trip. If you take a lot of pictures, bring enough memory! :)
- All rooms have AC, windows, and blinds that literally block out all light
- You will also have a fridge, microwave, and two stoves that heat up very quickly – also, they don’t match up with their knobs (you’ll know what I mean)
- If you’re living in a double, you will share a room, kitchen, and bathroom with your roommate
- If you’re living in a single, you will have your own room and bathroom. You will share your kitchen with the adjacent room. Your kitchenmate may or may not be from the Barcelona program
- All rooms come with a chest of drawers in which the top drawer locks with a key; however, not all rooms will have the key for it. If you’re lucky/live in a double, you might be able to lock up your stuff (extra cash, passport, etc) in a shared drawer (your roommate’s)
- There is a pool on the roof
- Your beds in Barcelona will have blankets, bedcovers, pillowcases, etc
- Onix has maids who will take out your trash and wash & change your sheets once a week
- Speaking of which, you can trust the maids – I never heard anyone complain about “missing something”
- The rooms won’t have toilet paper when you get there so you’ll get to see the supermarket on the first day! (It’s right around the corner)
- The bottom floor has a computer room, a gym, a TV room, and vending machines for coffee and junk food. It also has some nice open study areas
- Official list of stuff the rooms have: desktop lamps, 2 chairs for each person, twin bed, closet with shelves and hangers, minifridge, microwave, stove, kitchen sink, tiny lunch table,3 pots and 2 pans, forks, knives, spoons, glasses, cups, corkboard, trashcans
- There’s a pool on the roof of Onix
- The beach is about 20 minutes away (walking)
- The BCN metro system is pretty awesome
- You will walk pretty much everywhere, so bring comfy shoes!
- You will live less than a block away from a supermarket, Mercadona. They have fresh food, toiletries, frozen goods, etc… if you want fresher food, the area on top of the supermarket has a bunch of local vendors
- You will spend most of your time moving along the grid – this is known as the Ensanche. This means that blocks are shaped as octagons instead of squares, and every block has a recreational area in the middle. If you’re taking any of the ARCH/COA classes get ready to hear a *lot* more about this :)
- It rained a total of 3-4 times in the 10 weeks I was there
- The first couple of weeks it was around 70 degrees in the morning
- By the end of the summer, however, it will be really warm (high 80s-90s)
Around the City:
- Catalan and Spanish are the official languages. Almost all signs will be in Catalan, Spanish, and sometimes English. Most other things will be in Catalan.
- Everybody in Barcelona will know Spanish
- Barcelona has a lot of museums and art. If you’re really into them you can get a pass that allows you to ge into like ~7 museums for ~22 euro
- The beach is 20 minutes away if you walk to the right from the Onix exit and it’s pretty much a straight shot
- La Sagrada Familia is about 25 minutes away (7 blocks) if you want to the left from Onix, and it’s a straight shot so don’t miss it! :)
- The Barcelona Zoo is pretty good
- Shopaholics beware: Barcelona partakes in a country-wide, month-long period of sales that begins in July. If I recall correctly, it applies to all products
- Spain is known for its pork products – if you can’t eat pork, make sure you always ask if your dish contains any of it! This also applies to meat in general, so make sure what you’re eating suits your diet
- If you can eat ham, please, please, please make sure you have jamon serrano before you leave and, if you can, try to have jamon de bellota – it’s a really expensive but extremely delicious kind of ham
- TAPAS. Tapas, more than a type of food, is the concept of going to eat with a group of friends and sharing your order with everyone else. Please have them, and have them a lot!
- FANTA LIMON AND FANTA NARANJA. DO IT
- Manchego cheese is a Spanish staple
- While Paella is associated with the Mediterranean coast of Spain, it is originally from Valencia. If you’re not planning on going there, you can still have it in Barcelona but beware: it is mostly available in extremely touristy places
- Lastly, Nutella. They’ll have jars for 2-3 Euro. The record for my year was 12 jars. Just sayin’
- Tipping: so while generally in Europe people don’t tip, from what I’ve heard it has become a custom among Barcelona’s most touristy areas. At these places, tipping some change up to a euro is customary.
- Parc Guell: Park designed by Gaudi (Barcelona’s pride, famous architect)
- Montjuic and Tibidabo (there’s a castle and amusement park at the top)
- La Sagrada Familia (one of Barcelona’s biggest tourist attractions!)
- Casa Milla/La Pedrera, Casa Batllo, and the rest of the houses in Passeig de Gracia/Illa de la Discordia (Block of Discord) – you don’t necessarily have to go inside, but you definitely should see them from outside!
- If you’re into music, there are two festivals that take place during the summer: Primavera Sound and Sonar – google them for more info
- Montjuic the Nit is a free music festival that takes place during the first week of July – it’s a lot of fun if you don’t have anything else to do that night!
Other good places:
- Montserrat: mountain, a one-hour train ride away
- Barcelona Cathedral: this is different from La Sagrada Familia!!
- Mercat Santa Caterina: fresh food market that has a crazy awesome roof
- Las Ramblas (watch your pockets/purse!)
- All your classes will be in the same room
- The right-hand side of the room has lefty desks
- There are 3 different cafeterias on campus that you can go to during lunch – the food is good, pletiful and pretty cheap
- If you’re hungry or want to have a full meal I highly recommend the Platos Combinados: they have several combinations but all of them bring some mix of meat, carbs, and salad
- UPC (host university) is pretty much the Tech equivalent of Barcelona – the prestige and the ratio are preserved
- Barcelona is a safe city as far as violent crimes are concerned
- That said, it is known for being a thriving city for thiefs and pickpocketers
- GUYS: DON’T PUT STUFF IN YOUR BACKPOCKETS, EVER!!!!
- GIRLS: ALWAYS KEEP YOUR PURSE BY YOUR SIDE!!! Put it in front of you if you have to!
- For everybody: on the metro and other crowded/touristy places (i.e. Las Ramblas), put your bookbags/bags to the side or in front of you (NOT LIKE THIS: http://swapsliners.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/woman_use.jpg) – swing them to the front
- There is no need to be paranoid; as long as you’re mindful and aware, you have little else to worry about
- That said, please use common sense and try to be safe whenever possible: avoid walking alone late at night by yourself (especially in touristy areas) and be mindful of the people in your group and the people around you (read: possible thieves)
- Figure out if your bank has any partners in Europe, since the ATM fees won’t be as great when you draw money from the partner banks
Hopefully you found this helpful! If anything else needs to be added or fixed, let me know in a comment :)