Final months in Barcelona; Marseille, Andorra and Tarragona

Trips to Marseille, Andorra, Tarragona, rounding off uni and internship preparations, time flies! I am back already but I really enjoyed my time in Barcelona.

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Marseille
I went by bus to Marseille for 2 nights. It took 6 hours with a stop in Montpellier. Beautiful city and great opportunity to practise my French and drink a lot of wine.

Balcony of Catalunya and Andorra
Me and my travelpartner in crime Frederique went on a day trip to Andorra. We did a stop at the Balcony of Catalunya, impressive nature! It felt good to breath in some fresh air as Barcelona is really polluted. We continued our trip to Andorra.

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Andorra is strange but interesting! It felt like a combination of Austria and Spain with the main language Catalan, Spanish food and a lot of advertising and shopping malls (the tax rate is lower).

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Barcelona
Finally, after living in Barcelona for the second time I visited the Sagrada familia. Although I have seen many churches this one is very impressive and different.

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WhatsApp Image 2017-06-10 at 10.58.23My mum and auntie visiting, lot of fun drinking a lot of wine and showing my place and favourite parts of the city. We consumed a huge amount of pan con tomate.

As like everyone in Barcelona, my phone and driving licence got stolen. I lost all my pictures. In the second week I lost my debit card and it took a month to get a new one. The final week we got cockroaches in our appartment. They are huge and red, I was so done I just didn’t enter the kitchen anymore. All part of the experience I guess?

What I love about Barcelona that you end up at random amazing things. I ended up at a concert under the ground, a rooftop party, a few street festivals and so on. I also met up a few times with Larissa, who I lived together with a few years back in Barcelona, and by chance we both lived there again. As she is a singer now I even went to her (Brazilian) concert!

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Random Catalan fiesta

I finished all the exams and suddenly it was already my final night in Barcelona. I went with my roommates and friends to a cool hidden bar in El Borne. As every night in Barcelona, we came back extremely late and needed to eat a lot of Spanish ham. I had to fly back home a few days earlier because of my American embassy appointment in Amsterdam. Sad to leave this city but as I already came back the second time I am sure I will be back.

 

 

 

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Cultural differences ES -NL

Please note that these are just observations, it is not meant in a negative way, only to point out differences.

The university is very different from mine, it confirms the difference in punctuality between the Dutch and Spanish culture . In the beginning I was afraid I would be too late when my class started at 9.00 and I would go enter at 9.05. Now, I take my time, buy some coffee, todo tranquilo, and enter the class around 9.15. However,  I am still early and I just chill and wait. When the class starts, students enter now and then around 9.30. In terms of deadlines the rule is different as well. In some classes you can submit your work later and there will be 10% of your grade deducted every day.

Teachers talk a lot. We have classes of 3 hours and in some cases the teachers talk most of the time. They talk a lot about not that much. A lot of examples. A lot of jokes. No interaction. When no one listens they keep talking. Sometimes a lecture of 3 hours could be done in 30 minutes. We Dutchies are used to having a full speed lecture in 45 minutes, so it took me some time to adjust to it and not get distracted.

I have stayed in Spain many times and what always fascinates me is the cleaning culture. It seems to be very important that the hallway is perfectly clean including the entrance, the glass and the stairs at the outside (the part other people see). Inside the houses there will be cleaned with a broom and a mop, I have never understood how a house will become clean this way and because of my dust allergy I am no too happy with this custom.

Spanish people love their benches. Despite the weather, there are always Spanish people chilling on benches outside everywhere. Especially the elderly love it. It is busy around the benches, sometimes they are full and I see people looking out for other benches. People sit down and do nothing. Nothing. No phone, no music, they just sit down and watch. We can learn from this! What I really enjoy is that people, again despite the weather, start entering the terraces around 11.00 or 12.00 and start drinking beer. Then at 15.00 or 16.00 they order a full 3 course lunch including more drinks. For both the benches and terraces, it does not matter if they are next to an extremely busy and noisy road.

The majority of the doctors do not speak English. I had to visit a doctor because of an eye infection and I decided to go to the doctor at my university. Although my Spanish level is quite high, a medical visit requires a different and specific vocab so it would be just easier in English. Much later I got the papers and I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up the medicine. The lady handed me the 2 types of medicine without any explanation and she replied in Catalan. I had the feeling she did not want to speak in Spanish although she knew I did not speak Catalan (Note this is an assumption). I asked her very politely in Spanish to explain the use of the medicine because I did not understand the paper in Catalan and I was not in my own country and I didn’t know what to do. Then, she changed her attitude and explained me the medicine in Spanish.

The Spanish-Catalan topic is a sensitive one. It seems to be slightly comparable with the Dutch and Frisian language and culture. However, a lot of horrible stuff happened in the past so I am starting to understand it is more than just a pride thing. People want to speak their own language. However, I have also learned that some teachers don’t know Spanish well enough to feel confident enough to do their class in Spanish.

Every female will be greeted with guapa or carino a lot, although this does not mean the person actually seems to think you are good looking or cute. I have seem people being greeted with guapa of which I am quite sure they are not cute. It is still good for your self- esteem though 🙂