Paella, Flamenco, and Spanish Speaking in Barcelona, Spain

Guest Post By: Anna Butler, a Junior studying Marketing, Human Resources Management, and the Sales Certificate. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through ALBA Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, during Winter Quarter 2023.

When I arrived in Barcelona, Spain for my study abroad experience with the ALBA school, I primarily used what some people refer to as “survival Spanish”. This consisted of me fearfully ordering a “cafe con leche” (coffee with milk) in broken Spanish, hoping the waiter at the cafe wouldn’t ask any follow-up questions. I had never been to Europe when I embarked for Spain this past winter quarter 2023, and although I was excited to experience the Spanish culture, I was fearful that my high school Spanish would not be enough to get me through 3 months of living there. I wanted to fit in with the local culture, and it was so clear when I got there in January that I had a lot of learning to do. But by the end of my quarter abroad, my outlook had changed, and I felt like a true (American) local of Spain. 

So what changed while on my study abroad? I learned the benefits of pushing myself out of my comfort zone to achieve personal and professional growth. Going into my study abroad, I would consider myself a very weak chef, and struggled to make anything more complex than pasta with red sauce. I have always wanted to learn, but my busy schedule in Washington inhibited my cooking time. With nothing else to do in Barcelona but learn, I took cooking classes with our ALBA Barcelona school and learned to cook traditional Spanish foods. My favorite dish we cooked was paella, a common rice and seafood dish that was so yummy! 

In a similar way, I also never considered myself a strong dancer, but when the opportunity presented itself in Spain, I jumped at the opportunity to take a Flamenco class with fellow classmates. I was nervous, but I went in with an open growth mindset, and have since realized that I love dancing. It was a life-changing class!

Throughout the rest of study abroad, I continued learning and by the end of the experience, I confidently held Spanish conversations with employees while ordering my classic “cafe con leche”. In my personal and professional career back in Washington, I continue to have a growth mindset and push myself to try new things, whether it be food, activities, roles in RSOs on campus, etc. I am so grateful for this experience through Foster and their partnership with ALBA Barcelona!