Guest Post By: Senior studying Information Systems, Aidan Feliciano. During Winter 2022, Aidan studied abroad with the ALBA program in Barcelona, Spain, and is also a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient.
My time in Barcelona and Europe was nothing short of extraordinary. The opportunity to live in a foreign country for three months and experience the ins and outs of Barcelona, its culture, and its people was something that I will never forget. People have asked me “how was study abroad?” since I’ve been back in Seattle, and while I love that people are interested in how my experience was, there is just no way to explain my time in Spain in fewer than a thirty-minute-long conversation. There were so many incredible experiences and memories packed into a ten-week span that it is impossible to touch on every part.
I was fortunate enough to stay in a really nice apartment with four of my best friends, and we were located in the middle of the Gothic Quarter, the most beautiful and lively part of Barcelona. I am an architecture nerd, so just living in such a historic and architecturally beautiful part of the city was incredible. I was ecstatic to wake up every morning and explore the city, which I usually did via running. It was also really cool to see so many other active people running throughout various parts of the city.
My favorite building in the entire city of Barcelona was La Sagrada Familia. Seeing the work of Antoni Gaudi almost finished after over 100 years of construction was surreal, and it was the most unique and beautiful representation of architecture that I have ever seen. The vibrant stained-glass windows, the hundred-foot-tall vaulted ceilings, and the two facades of the building (the Nativity and the Passion) came together to form the church in such a unique way.
In addition to the stunning architecture, the food was also a definite highlight. I had never experienced Spanish cuisine before, but all of the local food ranging from the tapas and wine to the paella was phenomenal. I got to try so many things that I had never eaten like cuttlefish, mussels, rabbit, and other Spanish delicacies. Our program also had a cooking class included, which was easily one of my favorite parts of the entire program. We got to work with Mariella, a lovely and very talented cook, to craft different Spanish cuisines. I don’t traditionally enjoy cooking, but it was so fun to learn the different parts of Spanish cooking.
Outside of Barcelona, I travelled to eight different countries with my friends, which created experiences and memories that I will cherish forever.
We went to Lisbon, Portugal, Venice and Florence, Italy, Nice, France, Monaco, Budapest, Hungary, Prague, Czech Republic, Zermatt, Switzerland, and Madrid, Spain. Being able to travel to all these places and explore new cities was probably my favorite part of studying abroad. I want to experience as many cities as possible, cultures, and places during my life, and I was able to get closer to that goal during my time in Europe. It was so cool that I could hop on a two-hour flight and land in a country thaerland, but that is largely because I am a passionate skier and was able to ski at the world’s most highly rated mountain resort in Zermatt. Other than Switzerland, Prague was my favorite country. I instantly fell in love the architecture, and I only met people who were extremely friendly. It was invaluable to experience as many places as I did, and I will definitely be returning to Europe in the future to explore even more places.
Overall, I would not spoke an entirely different language and had a wholly different culture and history. My favorite country I went to was Switzt have traded my studying abroad in Europe for anything. It was easily the most fun that I’ve had in my life and probably will be for a long time. Barcelona was the perfect city to study in, as it provided so many opportunities for fun and exploration by itself, and it was a great location from which to reach other places in Europe.
If I could recommend one thing to any high school or college student, it would be to study abroad. It was the most life changing experience I’ve ever had, it provided me with memories I will have forever, it allowed me to experience an entirely different city and culture, and every single person who has the opportunity to study abroad should do it.