Written by: Nikiya Bechtle
“Everyone is collectively living life together” in Barcelona. This is what is so special about Barcelona according to my Art and Architecture professor, Craig. He explained: “as the seasons change, people will eat certain foods and go to certain parts of the country. People have their daily rituals and they are important for locals to live a unique life here.” This was a characteristic that stood out to me the most when I arrived in Barcelona. Being a sojourner in Barcelona has allowed me to find a reason to every rhyme in this busy city full of life. I got to dig beneath the surface of the iceberg to discover the eating habits of locals.
Walking into a restaurant or cafe full of locals on a Saturday is a humbling experience. Unlike the United States, there is no hustle and bustle, cell phones, or plates of food big enough to pop a human’s stomach open. The small coffee back home suddenly is a large. There are small shared plates on the table surrounded by people having intimate conversations without any distractions. It feels as if everyone just agreed collectively on a way of life.
When I asked my Spanish professor Meri why she chose to live in Barcelona she said: “the people in Barcelona are diverse and open-minded.” People watching is one of my favorite parts about living in Barcelona because you get to watch all walks of life interact with the same environment. Meri explained to me how influential studying abroad can be by “becoming in touch with other ways of living and being”. She said “it’s not only about what you learn in class but the experiences you have. Learning Spanish isn’t just learning words, it’s learning a culture.” Meri has taught in many different countries over the past 17 years and enjoys Barcelona, like most others, because of the food, weather and people. She enjoys teaching at Alba because of the intimacy of having less students who are more engaged.
The small classes at Alba create intimacy not only in the classrooms but outside the classroom as well. Alba provides a family atmosphere that is appreciated by everyone. There are group excursions, dinners, movies, and much more for students and staff to bond outside of the classroom. Last night I had the opportunity to experience Thanksgiving with a family away from home.
Furthermore, my professor Carles explained how Alba represents an atmosphere similar to Barcelona’s, “an unrushed, family atmosphere”. All of my teachers have lived in multiple countries for long periods of time and have a passion for traveling and learning. It is enlightening to see their knowledge about the world shine through their teachings. I couldn’t have chosen a better program to call my family and a better city’s culture to experience beneath the iceberg.