home sweet home

So I’ve officially been home for a week as of today and I have to admit it’s been SO nice! Catching up with high school and HPU friends, spending time with the family, having all of my favorite foods I’ve missed so much, sleeping in my own bed and much much more.

I do miss Barca but I have to remember that last week wasn’t goodbye it was just see you later– I will forever think of BCN as a second home and I will make it back to visit one day! Hopefully as a reunion with my AIFS family whom I miss so much :) Being back without them just wouldn’t be the same!

To all of you future HPU study abroad students I hope I’ve convinced you that Barcelona truly is the BEST city in the world to study and I wish you the best of luck! If you have any questions about Barcelona or study abroad in general don’t hesitate to ask! You can email me at Joycek10@highpint.edu

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My girls and I on our last night out at our favorite spot Ovella Negra

 

 

7 days…

Three nights ago we went to the AIFS farewell dinner…what do you mean farewell I feel like I JUST got here. I literally can’t believe that a week from today I will be on a plane back to the United States. I still feel like there’s so much I need to do! In seven days I need to pack, study for finals, and enjoy the rest of the time I have left here in this amazing city with the amazing people I’ve been lucky enough to meet.

Everything about coming home is bittersweet (sorry mum and dad :) haha) on one hand I’m so excited to get back home and see my friends and family after four months of being away but on the other hand I don’t want this experience to end. It went by way to fast! So, if I had to give advice to future abroad kids I would say to enjoy EVERY moment, even the little ones that don’t seem like much, because it really will be over before you know it!

Some of the girls outside of El De Tablao and some of the amazing performers:

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Enjoying my last Friday here in BCN biking around the city and at Parc de la Ciutadella!

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Thanksgiving

I have to admit it was really strange celebrating Thanksgiving away from home (actually I didn’t even realize it was Thanksgiving until about 2:30pm). Not only was I away from my family but I was also in class just like another day here in Barcelona. Since I couldn’t be home I can’t think of a better group of people I would have liked to spend this day with. My AIFS group truly has become a family. Not only did we go out to dinner on Thanksgiving with our program but we also cooked a traditional turkey dinner on Sunday. We spent the whole day together cooking, playing card games and just enjoying each others company just as any family would. It was probably one of my favorite days that I’ve spent so far with everyone! It made me realize how lucky I am to have done everything I’ve been able to do this semester and how lucky I am to have met all these AMAZING people from all over the country that I can not only call my friends but I consider my Spanish family.

My end of the table enjoying our turkey dinner out at the restaurant and all of the girls with Inma (our director) at dinner

Budapest

If sometime told me five months ago that I would be in Budapest November 16th I would have laughed…never in a million years did I imagine that I would go to Hungary, but I did and LOVED it. Well the city that is-not the people so much. I met up with Chris (friend studying abroad in Dublin) and Emily (his friend from Dublin as well). It was perfect timing seeing him because after a week of being sick all I wanted to do was be home so having a little familiarity this weekend definitely made everything better!

I went to Budapest without any expectations because I wasn’t really sure what to expect I guess. We did a hop on hop off tour and saw all of the main attractions Budapest has to offer: Hero’s Square, Szechenyi Bath (went at night and was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!!), New York Cafe (“most beautiful cafe in the world”), Gellert Hill (highest point in Budapest), Chain Bridge, Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Parliament. We also went ice skating near Hero’s  Square which was really cool and on a night cruise down the Dunube River–which separates Budapest into the two individual cities of Buda (western hilly side) and Pest (eastern flat side).

Overall it was a great trip! Ohhh Budapest also uses a different currency called Hungarian Forints (HUF) which are pretty interesting. About 220 HUF’s are 1 USD–so things got quite confusing. Who ever thought I’d be able to take 30,000 out of the bank and spend 19,000 on dinner!

Hanging out and shooting archery at Buda Castle

General Strike

 

The Spanish took to the streets yet again in another strike last Wednesday, November 14th, in  protest over austerity and the government. Until not strikes have been simply that the metro and transportation systems didn’t run for the day but this strike is different. This was a national strike where people roamed the streets with anger—and lots of it!

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Classes weren’t formally cancelled since teachers at UAB were not striking but we were advised to not come in order to avoid any chaos. The walk to school the next day was shocking–shops, banks, and many other businesses store front windows were smashed or destroyed by spray paint and many ATM’s were completely spray painted so they were inaccessible to customers.

I must admit that I am impressed with hoe quicklly the city cleaned up the messes. By Friday it was as though nothing had happened. All ATM”s and stores I saw were back to normal.

Mountain retreat

I have to admit up until last weekend I never thought I would enjoy a vacation up in the mountains–but did the Pyrenees prove me wrong. Everything about this weekend was amazing from the small quaint village we stayed in, Vall De la Boi, where we were just about the only ones in town because all locals were on vacation before ski season starts in 2 weeks to the gorgeous lakes and views the mountains had to offer during our hike. We even had to call the owner of the supermarket (more like convenience store to us) to ask her to open up for us so we could buy sandwiches to eat during our hike!! That’s how empty this place was. The joke of the weekend was that we were in The Hills Have Eyes or House of Wax movies. But, overall it was such a relaxing weekend which I think was perfect for everyone and it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience!

Unlike other programs AIFS only has 27 students in the program this semester compared to 227 like API or some of the other ones. Which a group so small we’ve really started to become close and dependent on each other. I’ve loved getting to know everyone in my program, and because we’ve done so I think this trip was so much more fun. Were not clicky were just like one big happy family :)

My favorite part of the weekend I’d have to say was either spending more time with the group just relaxing and having a blast in such a gorgeous place! …Or being able to watch TV and sleep in a comfy bed at the hotel haha

The whole crew!! –minus Michael, Mike, Kyle, and Dylan who didn’t come :(