The Abroad Experience- Initial Thoughts

The great thing about Wake Forest University is the various study abroad programs they offer and encourage students to partake in. I chose to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain as a part of Wake Forest’s Business and Global Studies Program. The first few weeks here have been a whirlwind of novelties, culture shocks, adventures and explorations. While I’ve enjoyed getting to know my city, there have been a lot of major differences that I’ve noticed while living abroad:

Language barrier- By far the biggest challenge I’ve experienced so far is communicating with the locals because most people here do not speak English very well. Unless you are in a major touristy area, people tend to speak Catalan and Spanish to one another, often mixing the two languages. I definitely regret not brushing up on my Spanish before coming here.

Portion sizes- You don’t really realize how large of portions we consume in the U.S. until you travel to Europe and see how much smaller the dishes and drinks are here. It took me two weeks to find a coffee that was bigger than the size of an espresso shot. (Pictured below my wonderfully large coffee and apple and brie sandwich from El Arbol located in the L’Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona).

Daily routine- People in Barcelona are extremely relaxed compared to rushed Americans who tend to be extremely time oriented. Many people take siesta breaks in the middle of the day to nap or run errands. Almost all workers take at least an hour lunch break to sit down and enjoy a nice lunch with family or colleagues, unlike in the U.S. where many people will often eat lunch at their desks when they don’t have time to take a long lunch break. That being said, living here has made me appreciate a good sit down meal and time with friends.

Overall, everyday brings new adventures, findings, and lessons. The thrill of travel is addicting and compelling. I’ll continue to document my abroad experience over the next four months as I travel throughout Barcelona and beyond.


Photos courtesy of Haley Callicott