Podcasting

Podcasting was at first believed to be a short-lived fad that was quickly loosing steam.  The idea behind a podcast was that in daily/weekly/monthly installments a podcaster would release a clip that ranged from storytelling to just brainstorming thoughts on a topic of interest.  Just as podcasts began to lose steam, they were revitalized by the quality and popularity of the podcast crime series Serial.  Premiering in 2014, Serial led the wave for podcasts to gain serious loyal listenership, and become a mainstream trend.  It is estimated that 20% of people aged 20-49 have listened to a podcast in the last month.

For me, I always saw podcasts as something an old person would listen to.  I imagined a grandparent that was not good with technology learning about podcasts and playing them from a desktop computer as they sat and read a book in the living room or cooked in the kitchen.  Then, I had an internship last summer that left me with a lot of free time sitting at my desk.  Eventually, I got tired of listening to music in my headphones, but I was at work so I could not watch videos on my computer.  This is how I ended up listening to my first podcast, “Stuff You Should Know,” by howstuffworks.com.  This podcast, released every few days, covers a different, interesting, niche topic with each installment- currently the last three posts are titled How Breast Implants Work, How Swearing Works, and How Corsets Work.  Each podcast runs 30 minutes to an hour, and provides information on something you should know, as evidenced in the title.  Listening to these at my internship changed my entire perspective on podcasts.  The podcast held my attention a lot more than I expected it to, and I actually found myself looking forward to a new installment.  I even would listen to and from my way to work and when I was bored at home.

My personal podcast today is about my experience abroad and what I have experienced from my first day touching down at the El Prat airport to my final week in Barcelona.  This experience has shaped me in ways I never expected, and am proud of.  Initially I was timid about leaving school and my friends and flying across the world to live in a non-English speaking country for four months.  I was not sure how I would adapt or if I would truly enjoy it.  In this podcast I talk about how far I have come from this frame of mind, and I give my advice for anyone considering studying abroad in the future.

Adjusting to Barcelona Lifestyle

My first day in Barcelona, I got to my apartment at 10pm and my roommates we’re there, getting ready to go out to the bars and clubs. I was shocked that they hadn’t left yet, as at home we usually go out around 10pm. Instead, they left to go out at 12:30am and I went to bed to catch up on sleep. I woke up at 5am to people coming back to the apartment; at home all the clubs close by 2am. This has definitley been a huge adjustment. I have been taking naps from 8-10 after class, then going out from 1-4:30 am, going to bed at 5am, and waking up at 9am to get ready for school. I’m not sure how long I can keep this lifestyle up and i’m really not sure when the Spaniards get their sleep. This is a huge adjustment as in the States I get about 10 hours of sleep a night.

CEA Barcelona Campus, Located in Placa Catalunya
CEA Barcelona Campus, Located in Placa Catalunya

Another big change has been adjusting to my new school schedule and responsibilities.  In America, I also have classes Monday through Thursday and each class is between 1 and 3 hours.  My classes in Barcelona start much earlier, 9am, and end much earlier, 2pm.  At Boston University I had classes that started at 12pm most days and sometimes did not end until 9pm.  Getting used to being up and alert in the morning has been a challenge, but thankfully the coffee here is strong.   Additionally, I have less work here which is more difficult of an adjustment than you would think.  I am used to going to the library everyday between and after classes, so never going to a library in Barcelona has been a welcomed adjustment.  That said, I think the classes are deceivingly hard.  They seem easy because you only meet twice a week and the homework is light, but in reality there is a good amount of material we have covered before midterms, which are next week.

Boston University Campus, Located Along the Charles River
Boston University Campus, Located Along the Charles River

Something I really like about being here is the opportunity to meet locals as well as other students in CEA who are from all over the United States.  In Boston I have a pretty solidified friend group, so having the ability this late in college to meet so many new people and gain friends from all over the US in something I feel very lucky to be able to do, and I am taking advantage of.  I have now traveled on weekends with students from many other schools.  Also, me and my friends met some Barcelona locals one night, who now live in London, and when we came to London we hung out and went out with them.  It was really exciting to have made this connection and to now know people all over Europe.

 

 

 

My Favorite Restaurants in Barcelona

Tamarindo Restaurant
Taquerias Tamarindo Restaurant

TAMARINDO

Located on Carrer de Balmes, Taqueria Tamarindo is a hole-in-the-wall, Mexican food gem located in the trendy L’eixample neighborhood.  I happen to live on the same block as this restaurant, and I have to stop my self from getting take-away every single day.  My personal favorites are the quesadillas with aguacate (avocado) and the classic Catalan dish patatas bravas with three different spicy sauces.  The menu also features tacos, nachos, cervezas, and other Mexican staples.

Taqueria Tamarindo Restaurant Decor
Taqueria Tamarindo Restaurant Decor

The atmosphere is fun, it is two-stories with papel picado (Mexican flags) hanging from the ceilings, and various Mexican trinkets placed throughout the restaurant.  I love this place because of the value of the food, location, and cleanliness.

Brunch and Cake Restaurant
Brunch & Cake French Toast

BRUNCH & CAKE

The most clichéd spot on this list, Brunch & Cake is a study abroad student staple.  There are four of these brunch restaurants in Barcelona, and two Cup & Cake bakeries which serve pastries and cupcakes.  I have gone to two of the locations, Brunch & Cake in L’eixample and Brunch & Cake by the Sea by Barceloneta Beach and the marina.

Brunch & Cake Restaurant Decor
Brunch & Cake Restaurant Decor

The decor is as breathtaking as the plating of the food: white beachy decor with pops of color.  Every food item features some kind of hot pink food coloring or purple edible flowers, it is an instagram-foodie’s dream.  My favorite is the yogurt and granola, served with various bright-tinged fruit.  You’ll usually have a wait time of at least an hour, so don’t come too famished.  The food and experience are well worth the wait.

Surf House Restaurant
Surf House Restaurant Outdoor Seating

SURF HOUSE

I had my first hamburger here and perhaps this is why I have such a sweet spot for this coastal spot.  Indoor seating is small, but the main event is outside overlooking Barceloneta beach.  Again, usually a wait time here but well worth it.  The menu features burritos, burgers, brunch food, smoothies, salads and much more.   This fun thing about this place is that they hold weekly events: they offer paddle boarding, beach workouts, ladies happy hours, and much more.  The vibes were great and I could have stayed all day after lunch, drinking and hanging out with friends, but they try to have fast turn-over as there is always a line down the block on nice spring and summer days.

La Padella Restaurant
La Padella Restaurant

LA PADELLA

This find is the best bang for your buck.  La Padella is located on Carrer de Balmes in L’eixample and features a menu starting at 3.80 euros.  It is a pasta bar where you pick the type of noodle, sauce, and toppings.  My favorites are fusilli agli olio with chicken and spaghetti pesto with spinach.  They also offer salads, pizza, and nice desserts.  The staff is extremely friendly and they have a punch card system (I’ve already gone through 2).  It is an informal setting but still nice to sit down and get a quick bite to eat for lunch or dinner.

Interlaken

Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland

I am an English language speaker with basic capabilities in Spanish.  One reason I chose to study abroad in Barcelona was because of my familiarity with the language (I studied Spanish throughout middle and high school and did a month abroad in Málaga during high school), so I knew I could get by with the vocabulary I already possessed.  Easing into life abroad in Spain was made easier by enrolling in Spanish class at CEA, giving me the opportunity to practice and expand my knowledge of the language weekly.

I spent this past weekend exploring  and adventuring in the Swiss Alps in Interlaken, Switzerland.  During this trip I learned they spoke two main languages in this area of the world: French and Swiss German, neither of which I knew a lick of.  Going to a country where I knew none of the language, and outside of tourist spots people do not speak English, was a huge culture shock.  It feels isolating and desperate not to be able to communicate with the humans around you.  Asking for directions or asking for a restaurant recommendation were sometimes  not options, so me and my friends felt like we were on our own to navigate our way around the town.  For me, it put into perspective how new immigrants must feel when they enter the US and have little to no knowledge of English.  A common phrase heard around the United States is “speak English, you are in the United States”.  This statement, already ignorant, felt even more uneducated and moronic as I stood at a ski store trying to explain to the storekeeper which items I wanted to purchase and received a blank look.  I cannot imagine living long term in a country where I knew none of the language, and would be expected to learn “on-the-job”.  As far as I have seen, in the US people do not make an active effort to speak to foreigners in their native language, and many people only speak English, so this task would prove almost impossible.  This experience has given me a new perspective and insight to the experience of non-English speakers who come to work and live in the United States, and I definitely empathize with their plight.

This empathy I gained is relevant at a time that the United States is considering policies that bar immigrants from visiting, working, or gaining permanent residence in the US.  As an outsider in Switzerland, all I wanted to do was enjoy the country and experience the area for myself without causing disruption.  This is how I imagine most American immigrants feel, they are just trying to enjoy a new place and start a new life , and just because they have not yet mastered the English language, does not mean they do not deserve a chance to enjoy America.

Social Media + Travel

I am thankful everyday to be studying abroad in the age of social media.  My reliance on Google maps, Yelp, and travel planning apps is undeniable; I am not sure how I would navigate Europe without these tools in the palm of my hand.  In a connected world crowdsourcing- the practice of obtaining information by enlisting the services of a large number of people- is an essential tool in knowing where to go and what to do while you travel, using the knowledge of others who have visited places you have never been before.  I find insider knowledge through a wealth of tools including:

airbnb-a8707ed9_original

The most mainstream app I use is Airbnb.  Stranger to few now, the apps allows you to book a room or entire home of another Airbnb user.  You can search by location, price, time-table, number of guests, rating, and more.  The tool I find most valuable on Airbnb is user reviews, detailing the cleanliness of the space, location in the city , and reliability of the owner by people who have already rented the home.  This is often the deciding factor in my decision to stay in a particular place.  Additionally, My Guide Book will help you find the most popular destinations to visit in the cities you travel to.

planning-travel-and-leisure-50apps0217

Another favorite app of mine is Travel and Leisure magazine’s Travel Guide.  It gives an overview of the city you plan to visit including best time to visit, transportation, weather, languages spoken, currency used, and types of electrical outlets used.  Hotel, bar, restaurant, and shopping recommendations are also available through the app.  The interface is extremely easy to use and being that it is created by Travel + Leisure, the photography and art  used is superb.  This is great to skim for last minute recommendations as you pack.

tripadvisor-for-ipad

Trip Advisor is a tried and true classic.  A great example of crowdsourcing, all recommendations are based off user reviews.  Because Trip Advisor is one of the older players in the game, it has a catalog of locations and reviews unmatched by similar sites.  Trip Advisor is what I go to as my final decision maker; if a hotel or restaurant has a bad rating on this app, it’s over.  Use this app before you book that hotel that looks a little too nice for the price ( I learned this the hard way when I booked a hotel in Paris without throughly vetting it through Trip Advisor, and found out later about bed bugs and crabs).

For more travel apps that use crowdsourcing and social media tools, look below:

Trover

CouchSurfing

Lonely Planet