If you don't already know I'm in the beautiful city of Barcelona for the next couple of months studying abroad!
I'm pretty much going to use this blog as a way to keep everyone updated and document everything! This past week has been really crazy and busy, but here's what's happened so far...
Saying 'Bye' at the airport (my mom is going to love this picture)
There was a dude randomly dancing which set a good mood for the takeoff flight. Strange behavior in an airport is always a good sign, right?
And this is my tiny, tiny plane from Indianapolis to JFK where I caught my flight to Barcelona!
They even fed me! I was surprised at how much food they gave us, and definitely couldn't eat it all. Basically everything in a package went into my purse. It didn't help that we were all sitting with our knees up to our chins for 7 hours. If planes get any smaller they'll have to cut our legs off at the knee to ride. So uncomfortable.
Arriving at the airport at 7am (Barcelona time) was awesome because our program coordinators weren't supposed to be there until 9. Most of the IES kids on my flight (there were a lot) set up camp in a cafe after we all got our bags. There was a lot of going up to random people and saying "American?" (luckily we're pretty easy to pick out). When the IES people finally arrived we were taken to a mini-orientation and then sent off (alone!) to get a cab to our respective accommodations.
Home sweet home! (There is street art on all the business window covers, not just my street, and Barcelona is famous for it!)
We are right down the street from Plaza Catalunya and Las Rambla, which are both near the center of the city (full of tourists and shopping!). We are also really close to our program headquarters.
The first day I met my host parents Enrique and Selin (who doesn't speak English) and my roommate Ashley. After a little siesta ma familia took us down to Barceloneta, a barrio of Barcelona by the Mediterranean Sea.
(I would have a beautiful picture of the coast here but I can't get my camera to connect. Boo. Hopefully soon!)
To show us a bit of la vida d'España we went to a small bar ran by a fellow who spoke Catalan and looked like Robert de Niro. The bar was small with only 2 people working, but a lot of people eating. Against the wall were 8 or 10 BIG barrels that all had wine in them. (While we were there a fellow checked the level of one like you would oil in a car). Nothing better than locally made Catalan vino! To accompany our wine we had an array of tapas (or tapes in Catalan)
From left to right: Cañaillas with olive oil (sea snails, basically), las Gambas (shrimp), Gambas y huevos (like egg salad kind of, but better), y pan con tomate (bread with tomato, a very very common Spanish dish). Not pictured: Platos des carnes which had Chorizo picante y Jamon (spicy Chorizo and ham, sliced)
Accompanying our meal was Vermut (the drink pictured here), which tastes kind of sweet and bitter and a little like licorice, and also Vino (wine) which you drink con agua carbonatada (or at least my Señora Selin does. We did, as well.)
A funny thing about Spanish culture is that it doesn't matter what time of day it is, Spaniards will drink. It's not at all uncommon to see them drink a beer or wine at lunch, or for them to drink a bit of brandy in their cafe. For them it's just something they do, so sharing a bottle of wine at lunch isn't a big deal at all to them. (Followed by a cafe, of course, so you don't get too sleepy)
My favorite was the Cañaillas, believe it or not! My roommate likes to say "Cuando en España..." (meaning "When in Spain") and when you're in Barcelona, you HAVE to eat the sea food.
Since it was an extra special day we also went out later for dinner.
This is octopus covered in olive oil (as is typical for most dishes in Barcelona) with some sort of herb on it. It was sooo good. We also had a plate of chorizo y jamon again, as well as 'fuet' which is sort of like a sausage, but is very specific to Catalunya. And of course pan con tomate. We ate less at dinner, but probably drank more.
As is typical with Spanish meals out, we shared another bottle of wine (unmarked, in an unassuming glass bottle mmm) with the agua carbonatada again. After dinner, Enrique taught us the wonder of 'Omertà' (meaning I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing) which is apparently an Italian code of silence (and might be something the mob uses but eh, it serves our purposes in Barcelona too haha).
In the spirit of this sentiment you'll have to ask me about the rest of dinner in person haha. I can tell you we also learned about the Spanish tradition of the 'penúltima,' which isn't so bad in itself haha.
We then went back to the house (it's midnight or so, the Spanish like to stay up LATE) and crashed from a busy day, little sleep, and jet lag.
This is my room, by the way, just for a last visual.
So, as you can see I've been REALLY BUSY and experienced a lot in only 10 days. I will update again soon and will (hopefully!) get my camera working!
This was only the first day.
I'll try to keep posts lighter on reading in the future but it's hard because I want to explain the context of everything! If you have any questions or want to talk about it email me or comment here!
My skype name is mdreynolds22
(keep in mind I'm 6 or 7 hours ahead of everyone stateside!)
If you want to contact me that way.