We love this city for many, many reasons, and we are convinced that it is the perfect place to enjoy an amazing study abroad experience.
For that reason, unlike many other programs, ours is unique to this very special location.
Allow us to explain it’s main features, so you can begin to get excited about what Barcelona has to offer.
BCN in a Nutshell
Bathed by the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by mountains, Barcelona is a modern city with a historical background that stretches all the way back to the Roman Empire and beyond.
With great weather and a strategic position within Europe, the city has managed to nourish a rich culture and a healthy economy throughout the years, allowing for it to become a multicultural hub and ultimately a reference for the quality of its lifestyle.
You may know Barcelona for being the home of the best soccer player in the world, or maybe because of its beaches, but the truth is that there is so much more to the city than that. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a region filled with an exquisite cultural background, exciting history, and amazing traditions. Here’s a short-list of things that make Barcelona a unique study abroad destination:
In the heart of Catalonia, the northwestern region of the Iberian Peninsula, lies Barcelona: A fertile valley alongside the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by the Collserola Mountain range, and the rivers Llobregat and Besòs.
Although Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain, it is far from being a complicated megalopolis. Both its size and integrated transportation systems, have made Barcelona famous for being easy and enjoyable to navigate. Proof of it is that it takes only half an hour to either cross the city center on foot or travel by bus from the mountains to the beach.
Quite like any other city, Barcelona is grouped into quarters and neighborhoods. In this case, what makes the city so unique is the fact that these quarters are a result of organic urban growth. In other words, each corner of Barcelona is a consequence of a certain historical period, a frame of mind, and a way of life. Altogether, the city stands out as human-centered and diverse in nature, as it offers us a wide range of neighborhoods each one different to the next.
Catalonia is a region with a very rich cultural heritage that lives within its inhabitants and flourishes in every aspect of their daily life. From the market-places to the lively terraces, passing through local festivities, food, and social commitment.
What if we told you that Catalans celebrate Christmas completely differently than you do, that they are world champions in making human towers, and that giants walk and dance their streets year-round? All of these traditions may sound like fiction to you right now, but we assure you, they are real, deeply rooted traditions within Catalan history and expressions of a unique cosmovision.
Participating in the local traditions is not only great fun but also a very important part of your study abroad experience: Acknowledging and respecting different cultures.
In the past years, the region has been in the culinary spotlight for leading the gastronomical scene under the wing of internationally renowned chefs such as Ferrán Adriá, Carme Ruscalleda, and Jordi Cruz. Nevertheless, the Catalan gastronomical excellence wasn’t born in the kitchen of these star chefs, but on the farmers’ field and at the traditional food markets that open every day to provide the city with quality local produce. With centuries of culinary heritage and dishes that go from “Barceloneta Bombas” to Adria’s Michellin-winning “Smoked Foam”, there is no doubt that Barcelona is one of the best places to put your tastebuds to a test you won’t regret.
Barcelona is made of layers and layers of overlapping history. It’s one thing to learn from European history by reading all the books, but it is something else to be able to stand on the stones that pathed the path to modern society.
Past to present
The capital of Catalonia has come a long way to become what it is today: The city has gone from Roman colony to medieval port, king of the textile industry, Olympic host, and modern-day touristic destiny and business hub. More than 4.000 years of European history can be encountered at the turn of any corner.
Art and architecture
Every single step of Catalan history has left its creative trace on the city itself: The cobblestone streets, the medieval wall, the industrial chimneys, the XIX century urban plan, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the Olympic mascot. It’s all right here on the streets of Barcelona as proof of a cultural prolific past, but most importantly as the very material capable of inspiring an immediate artistic future.
Public spaces play a key role in local daily life. Not only is the city safe, but it is specially equipped for people’s leisure and enjoyment.
People tend to lead a healthy life here, as they make use of sports centers, the beach area, and the surrounding mountains to practice all sorts of sports and activities on a daily basis. It is very easy to keep up with your routine under great weather conditions, the right public facilities, and a sporty environment.
One thing that might surprise you when you come to this city, is the incredible amount of concerts, live shows, expositions, and cultural expressions, happening for free (or for a very cheap price) every single day at different venues around the city. One thing is for sure: you will never run out of things to do and see in Barcelona.
Barcelona through a student’s eyes
Learn more about this wonderful city through the articles written by ALBA students
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All About Barcelona!
Coming to Barcelona presents a wide variety of new and intriguing places and experiences to explore, whether it be shopping, eating, studying, relaxing, or sightseeing. These suggestions give you a look into my life as a college student studying abroad, searching for and discovering the [...]
This is our special map with data pulled together from former students. Give it a look and you’ll find cafes, restaurants, clubs, shops, parks (the list goes on).