It was the 21st of December. The sun was shining over the busy street that I was walking down in my light spring coat. It was the first time I’ve lived somewhere where I could wear my favourite clothes in December and still be warm and happy. I couldn’t stop smiling even though I knew that it was only hours left until I would leave this town. Barcelona had that effect on me.
Four hours later I was on a plane across Europe on its way to cold and snowy Sweden where I would spend a month before going back to university in Scotland. I left a city behind that I’ve grown to love with all my heart, but that’s not how it all started. No, it all started with a room in a flat where I paid my rent in cash without a contract and a city lit in flame because of a riot. Let’s just say that it all started pretty differently then how I left it.
I moved to Barcelona in September 2019 as a voluntary part of my degree at University of Stirling in Scotland. The opportunity to do a semester abroad opened up, and I decided to take it. When looking back at it, it might not have been my brightest moment academically, since the system of courses at Universitat Pompeu Fabra was very much like a game of king of the mountain. You got your courses on a first-come first-served basis, which resulted in heaps of international students wondering how they would get their well-needed credits in order to go back and finish their degrees at home. Academically, my four months in Barcelona was worrying, but not unachievable, and with hindsight: totally worth it.
Because what I learnt in a city almost ten times larger than where I use to live was so much more valuable than what I ever could have gotten taught from a book.
Barcelona is the city where I managed to always keep an eye out for my bag and my valuables while still being happy, talkative and friendly and not getting robbed. As several students in my class got their phones stolen while walking down the busy street called ‘Las Ramblas’, I managed to keep attentive and stay safe.
It is also the city where I learnt that going alone to events doesn’t make you lonely, it makes you strong. Before knowing anyone in this lively city I had to tackle every social event that the school planned alone and even after I made a few close friends I sometimes attended walks and museums alone because I wanted to. Being in a city full of life somehow made me feel stronger too.
However, what Barcelona taught me the most was that you meet the loveliest people in the most unexpected places. I received many new contacts and friends that I’ll keep for life. Three of them are friends that I couldn’t imagine what life would be like if I hadn’t met them.
Clara’s top tourist-tips when being in Barcelona:
- The foodmarket La Boquería on las Ramblas
- The beach!
- La Sagrada familia