This is Kelly Bach checking in from Spain! I am a ’16 defender on the women’s soccer team, and I am studying abroad in Barcelona this winter on a transfer term with the Spanish program from Knox College, a little college outside Chicago. I have definitely been missing everyone on campus this winter, but finally having the chance to live in one of my favorite cities in the world has been incredible.
(2/19/14) I can’t believe it’s already midterm season back at Dartmouth!! Here at the University of Barcelona, I’m taking four different classes in Spanish—Novela de Barcelona, a literature/history class, Democracy of Spain, Spanish Art, and a grammar class. They are definitely interesting and we are learning a lot, especially in the grammar class, which helps with the day-to-day living in Barcelona and mastering the language. One of the best parts about the University, though, is that they don’t offer classes on Fridays, which has made traveling around Spain and Europe every weekend incredibly easy. So far, I’ve been to Madrid, Paris, and Sitges, with Sevilla and Córdoba planned for next weekend and Rome with our program the weekend after! Also, I have loved getting the chance to explore around the city of Barcelona itself, which you could live in for years and discover all it has to offer. Some of my favorite places to visit have been Montjuic, a mountain near the ocean that has an old castle to walk through and great views of the city; Park Guell, a park designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi that has a mix of cool buildings, big trees, and more views of the city; the Barrio Gótico, the oldest part of Barcelona that is filled with the narrow cobblestone streets and cute cafes that people often envision when they picture Barcelona; Barceloneta and the beach, which is always busy even in the middle of January; and the Park of the Labyrinth, an awesome park right on the edge of the Collserola mountain range that has a maze made out of thick bushes in the middle overlooking the city.
can’t forget one of the most exciting parts of the past few weeks—I was able to go to a FC Barcelona game!! Barcelona has been my favorite professional team for as long as I can remember, and I’m sure my roommates appreciate the Barcelona scarf that I give a place of honor in every one of my dorm rooms. Earlier this term, I went to a RCD Espanyol game, a team in La Liga just like FCB, but ranked a little lower. It was so exciting to watch soccer at the level of La Liga, and I was sure that I wouldn’t get the chance to go to a Barcelona game. But out of the blue, cheap tickets popped up online and two friends and I jumped on the opportunity. Walking into the stadium and seeing the team warming up was a dream come true, and I could hardly believe that I was actually at a FCB game the entire time. Unfortunately, I think us Americans were bad luck, because Barcelona lost for only the third time this season to Valencia, a team pretty far down in the rankings. Oops. Nothing could have ruined the game for me, though, especially getting to see Pique and Messi in real life.
More next time!I
(2/12/14) One of the biggest themes thus far in my trip has been the number of times my friends and I have turned to each other and remarked, “Wow, we are definitely not in Hanover any more.” Barcelona is about as far from Hanover as you could get. It has been fun, and at times certainly a bit unnerving, trying to figure out the public transportation in a city as huge as Barcelona. I live with a host family in a neighborhood called Sant Gervasi-Galvany in the northeastern region of the city, so I have around a thirty minute walk to the University every day for my classes. Thankfully, the walk is one of my favorite parts of the day—even early in the morning, the streets are busy, the sun is coming up in front of me, and the sounds of the city bustling around me wake me up for the day ahead. I have never spent more than a week in a big city before, so life in a city of 1.6 million has certainly expanded my horizons, and simply taking long walks and runs through the many unique areas of the city is one of my favorite activities. The best part of actually living in a famous city is getting to know everything that isn’t a big tourist attraction, and I have found some of my most gorgeous views of the ocean overlooking the entire city from little parks and streets that you would never find in a guidebook of Barcelona. The other advantage of staying away from the touristy streets is how easy it is to get robbed when you’re walking down Las Ramblas or on the beach—for pickpockets in Barcelona, the Program’s demand of “We Do One More” seems to be a mantra for how many unassuming travelers they can steal from.
I love the area of town where I live. A little ways away from the heart of the city, it is filled with young people and families, so there are cafes, restaurants, bars, and cute boutiques on every corner. One of my great discoveries in the neighborhood is the gym where I’ve been able to work out. It is a tiny place set in the middle of a row of apartments and bars that I walked past at least five times before noticing, but once you walk inside, you are met with a blast of humid, sweaty air and a big floor for workout classes. When I came home one day and told my host mom I had joined, she started frantically shaking her head and said, “No! You can’t go there! That place is for men! It is too hard!” I guess us soccer players are ‘men’ here in Spain, because I have been having so much fun learning how to box and going to lifting/cardio classes every night with the trainers shouting at us in Spanish.
There is a great park about a five minute walk away from my apartment where I can get my fix of trees and grass—city life definitely makes me miss the natural beauty of Dartmouth, so I love going to the park to do my homework and read the Spanish books that we have been assigned in my Novela de Barcelona class. What I haven’t missed about Dartmouth is the weather—here in Barcelona, we’re experiencing balmy 60 degree temperatures and sunshine almost every day. I even went swimming the other weekend in Sitges, a gorgeous beach town about a thirty minute train ride away from Barcelona. Splashing around in the Mediterranean was definitely very chilly and refreshing, but I just had to jump in so I could tell everyone in Hanover that I had gone swimming on the first weekend in February!