01 April 2015

Exchange-ception: Barcelona, Spain

I might have told you before that I took Lower Intermediate Spanish class in Michaelmas and Lent terms at Cambridge. Because of that, I signed up for the exchange trip organized by Language Unit of Engineering Department here. 

I did not know how much improvement one week could make to my Spanish (especially, listening) ability.

Yeah Cambridge engineering students in Barcelona! The background was Camp Nou, the stadium for FC Barcelona, but I'm sorry you cannot see it.
The whole trip did not start really well. On my way from the airport to the hostel, I lost my wallet (which I strongly believe, it was actually stolen, considering how my daypack was opened). It was on the same day as derby match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Camp Nou, and the metro was packed with people, so I could not move around.

However, Barcelona was such a lovely city, that I fell in love with in the end.

The food was super amazing!

OMG. The best paella I have ever tried in my life. I usually don't like squid/ calamari, but this time I just love it, combined with clams, mussels, and prawns.
Fresh smoothies, with weird combinations. My friends' favorite is 'coco y mora', or coconut and blueberry. My favorite is banana, chocolate, and coconut. Super yummy!
Empanadas! Most of the fillings are vegetarian-friendly.
Giant Chupa Chups. I was really tempted to get one, but how am I going to finish it anyway?
Gelato Mango! It was just what I needed when the weather reached above 20 degrees C. It reminded me so much of Germany last summer, where I spent every single euro I had on gelato.
Really good seafood. I got a three-course meal in a restaurant next to the sea, which cost me just 11 euros! Amazing, right? 
Engineering Department of Cambridge University works with Universitat Polit├Ęcnica de Catalunya, and we had several lectures, lab tours, and visits with them. It was such an amazing opportunity to hear from the professors directly (in Spanish), on their current research project.

Visit to the Supercomputing Center in Barcelona. Such a strange place. They put the supercomputer in a church, and plays hymn. 
Clean room visit to Institut de Bioengiyeria de Catalunya.
Nuclear reactor simulation.
Learning how the old water distribution worked in Barcelona, at Museu Agbar de Les Aigues.
A visit to Tramvia (literal meaning: Tramway), the tram system in Barcelona.
I also had a great host, Sonia, who is a chemical engineering student. She is going to come to Cambridge on late April, and I am excited to show her Cambridge.

Barcelona is also famous with... its world-renowned architecture, mostly done by Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi is so famous with his strong-naturalist/ modernist architecture work. He liked to put natural components in his work.

Casa Batllo. You can see right away how unique this building is.
Park Guell part, which used to be Gaudi's house for a little while.

La Sagrada Familia. It was such an amazing experience to enter this basilica, because it was totally different than any of basilicas I had ever visited before. This cathedral is still an ongoing project, after more than 100 years. They put so much detail into it, and everything is carefully hand-crafted.
Besides Gaudi's works, there are also amazing places around Barcelona.

Don't forget to hike up the Placa Espanya when you come here.
And hike up the Park Guell to see the view of Barcelona from above (and see La Sagrada Familia + its cranes!).
Beautiful (and relatively warm) beach in Europe.
The Cathedral of Barcelona.
Parc de la Ciutadella.
Port Vell.
I will definitely recommend you to visit this place before you die. Brace yourself though, it's a favorite destination for couples. Coming from Asia, where PDA (Public Display of Affection) is not really common, it can make you feel awkward a little bit (or even lonely, haha).

Even though it was a short exchange, but I learnt so much from the people around me. One thing to note, they prefer to speak in Catalan than Spanish in Barcelona. So, another bonus: you can get exposure to another language at the same time.

Adios, Barcelona! I will see you soon.

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