My name is Jocelyn and this is my experice here in Barcelona.
I have always known that I wanted to study abroad. Traveling has been a large part of my life and now, my major and career has allowed me to continue this passion. As a Hospitality and Tourism Major at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the Tourism industry by traveling, staying in different hotels, and going on and giving tours. All these experiences have sparked an interest in really understanding how people live in other states, countries, and even continents.
Deciding where to study abroad was probably one of the harder decisions I had to make when first starting the abroad experience. In the end, I decided to come to Barcelona, Spain and complete an Internship at Amistat Beach Hostel. Working here has allowed me to fully immerse myself into the Catalonian culture and learn more than I would have just taking classes. As I have been to Spain before, I thought that I was prepared to study abroad in Barcelona. However, in the month that I have been here, I have learned and experienced so much that I was not expecting. Here are somethings that I knew before coming and things that have surprised me while being here:
Things I Knew:
Catalan Vs. Spanish
When coming to Spain you would think that everyone speaks Spanish and they do. However, in Catalonia, where Barcelona is the regions capital, they also speak Catalan. While being here, I have learned that Catalan is most people’s first language but then in grade school, all students are required to also learn Spanish and English.
Fashion in general in Europe is a lot better than in America. Rolling out of bed and going to class in your pajamas in not an option. Leggings are rarely worn and oversized sweatshirts are hard to find. In Barcelona, high fashion clothes are easy to find and usually priced very reasonably. With this, their “casual” dress is in between our casual and business casual.
For school, most students wear jeans, skirts, or a dress. For work, depending on the career, people wear anything casual (jeans and a blouse for women and jeans and a polo for men) to business professional.
If you think getting used to the time difference, getting used to the meal schedule is even more difficult. Coming from the US, I was used to three good sized meals. I would eat breakfast before going to class, around 8:30 am, consisting of eggs and toast or cereal. Lunch at noon wasn’t a huge meal but it was enough to get me through the rest of the day and then dinner was the largest meal around 6:30 pm. However, meals here in Spain are completely different. Lunch is their largest and longest meal starting around 2:00 pm and ending around 4:30 pm. This gives them time to catch up with family and friends and take a siesta. Breakfast before work or school consists of bread and meat or tomato and a Café con Leche (coffee with milk) and for dinner, tapas and a drink or a small meal will do as they eat around 9:00 pm. Want to learn more about traditional Catalan food? Read my other blog, Traditional “Must Try” Catalan Foods.
Things that Surprised me:
Work and School Culture
Being a study abroad student and an intern at Amistat Beach Hostel Barcelona, I have been able to fully understand a day in the life of both students and professional and how they differ from in the United States. In the US, classes start at 8 am and go throughout the day non-stop. However here, classes start at 9 am, there is a lunch break from 1pm to 2:30pm and then more classes which last two hours each.
Work here is a lot more leisurely than it is in the US. Stores and companies open later, around 8:30 am or 9 am. There is a longer lunch break in the middle of the day as lunch is their main meal and then they come back to work. Coffee breaks and smoke breaks are common in the middle of the work day as well
Barcelona is proud of their nightlife. With lots of bars and clubs, there is always something to do at night. The thing that surprised me the most was the timing of when they go out. Just like meal times, everything is a lot later. Most bars and clubs open around 12 am and stay open until 5 am. Looking to meet locals? Wait until 1 am to meet them.
From only taking public transportation every once in a while in Boston, figuring out the Metro here in Barcelona has been surprisingly easy. If you’re here for more 3 or more months, I recommend buying the unlimited three month pass for 100 euro. This pass allows you to take the Metro, the Bus, FGC, Tram, and Rodalies de Catalunya anywhere in Barcelona for an unlimited amount of times for the three months.
Trying to take a weekend trip? If you’re in Spain, going almost anywhere in Europe is only a two hour plane ride. Looking for a cheap flight, Google flights has been the easiest way to find the best price.
As a hospitality major, I look at how services differ from place to place. In the United States, tips are the main for or income for many people. With this, most people are a lot nicer, check to make sure you are all set and not need anything else and do whatever they can to make the guest happy. In Spain, everyone is paid a salary that they can live off of and tips are almost non existent. Because of this, the service is slower, you have to call over the server if you need something, and you might have to ask multiple times. This may seem a bit rude to American but it is the culture here in Spain as they don’t have to go above and beyond for tips. Want great service? Come to Amistat Beach Hostel in Barcelona.
Experience • By Jocelyn Spitz • March 19, 2019