Whew! What a whirlwind it has been acclimating to the beautiful city of Barcelona. Still can’t decide if this place is actually real.
I have finally sat down for long enough to ponder the couple weeks I have spent here without exhaustedly falling asleep with my laptop still open. From walking through parks to wandering the impressive architecture of La Sagrada Familia, I have been in a constant state of motion. The study abroad program started off with a week of museum and culture tours, geographic acclimation, and new friendships. Since I am naturally challenged at following street directions, it has taken a little bit longer than a week to feel comfortable with the several streets surrounding where classes take place.
The classes I am taking are far more interesting than I ever had imagined. The Spanish don’t abide by the same grading system as the United States and instead of the A,B,C,D,F grades, they give you a number score in the range of 1-10. It’s a little strange for me because I am so used to letter scoring but it’s not that difficult to adapt to. In order to receive a required culture credit, students can choose among an array of classes or apply for an internship at a local Barcelona company. Not only did my mom subtly (but not so subtly) suggest that I do an internship, but I also saw it as an opportunity to experience international business (hello to my second major) firsthand. I was placed in a small Spanish company that offers online/software assistance to other local companies and they needed me to help them with graphic design. As I have been working with them the past two weeks I have taken note of drastic changes in the work environment culture as opposed to the United States. Some of the most interesting ones include:
- Bringing your kids to work
- Taking a middle of the day “siesta” or mental break that can last for 2 hours
- Wanting to get to know your personal life before doing business
- Fostering a relationship with each coworker, which breaks any company hierarchy
I am still getting used to the informal work environment!
Now, don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all work and no play for my first three weeks of Barca. I have probably consumed enough carbohydrates to shock Betty Crocker, and I have regretted nothing. The only thing stopping me from roly-polying my way out of Barcelona is my necessity to walk everywhere I want to go. There is a fantastic metro system that comes every 3 minutes but all of the classes, restaurants, and sites I have attended are a solid 5 blocks or more away from the nearest metro stop. I’m not complaining, because it’s a fabulous way to work out and people watch.
It’s safe to say Barcelona and I are getting along just nicely.