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10/07/2013

Barcelona!!!

Name: Ally
CIEE Barcelona Program: Architecture & Design
Semester: Fall 2013
Home School: University of Florida

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My housemate, Paige, and I :)

I’ve been having the time of my life! Seriously. Words cannot describe how happy I am with the decision to study abroad. I highly reccomend this to anyone and everyone in the whole world. The world is beautiful! Magnificent! But there are no guidebooks on the planet that can truly prepare you for moving across the world. Traveling is one thing... living here is just unbelievable.

It will be 4 weeks on this upcoming Tuesday… 1 whole month!! I can proudly say that I’ve had the best day of my life every single day for the past 3 1/2 weeks & I plan to have an amazing 3 more months!

What have I been up to? Let’s see.. in just this short period of time there have been 2 huge holidays. The first being September 11th (the day of Catalunya) & the second being La Mercè, the 5 day festival of Barcelona. And get this, each of those holidays I didn’t have class! I had the day the celebrate and roam and just have a splendid time here in Catalunya! 

I also went to my first professional fútbol game, and started practicing with a local team.

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Espanyol vs. Bilbao :D

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First day of practice!!! It felt amazing to be on the field again.

The day of Catalunya was amazing. I witnessed history this day. For the very first time ever, local Catalans decided to organize and human chain to cover the entire length of Calatunya... 400+ km & I was a part of it! I definitely passed the Catalan pride test with flying colors... it wasn’t until they heard me speak that anyone thought I wasn’t anything less then a very devoted Catalan local. Haha!! It was pretty fun..I cannot even count the number of people that stopped to take my photo.

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The history of this day is great, yet kind of strange for me. This same day that I was celebrating here in Catalunya, my fellow Americans were having a solemn day at home. It definitely felt weird to have an absolutely wonderful day on 9/11. However, the “Day of Calatunya” is not exactly a celebration for the reason that you might think. On 9/11 in 1714, the Catalans lost the war for their independce from Spain. Strange right? Well after much thought and research, I realized that they are celebrating their strength and ability to pull through and still stand tall. Whether they lost or not, they still claim that they are separate from Spain and on this day they, in a sense, celebrate how great it is to not be Spain (technically or not) and commemorate the men and women who worked hard, and still do work hard, to let their voice be heard. Beautiful.

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The human chain (open to see the full size).

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 With my host mom’s daughter and brother’s family.

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Catalan pride at it’s best :)

The second holiday (La Merce) was actually a 5 day long festival that is only celebrated in Barcelona, and is awesome!

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Castellers- The ‘sport’ of Barcelona. Basically really brave people who make human towers!!

Fire-breathing dragons, human towers, talented circus and street art performers, sounds from Catalonia and from across the globe… If you have had the good sense to plan your trip to the Catalan capital during the festival of La Mercè, you will have the opportunity to delve into its veritable soul. Over the course of the festival, Barcelona is filled with music, revelry, fireworks, traditions and street arts in a unique blend of festivities, which not only reveals the most avant-garde and creative side of the city but also offers the chance to discover traditions that define the nature of the Catalan people in general and of the people of Barcelona in particular."

Yep. Pretty much. Thousands of artists to hear and watch and things to do and see & when they say fire breathing dragons they’re not lying. “Among the most striking features present in Catalan festivals. In the correfoc, a group of individuals will dress as devils and light fireworks. While dancing to the drums of a traditional gralla drumming, they will set off their fireworks among crowds of spectators.”

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 This photo was so worth the burn on my leg!

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…ouch! Pretty freakin’ intense. I was having an amazing time run through the streets with my housemate and then 5 minutes before we head home... boom. Firework straight to the thigh!!! It’s been about 4 days now and I think it’s about time I go to the doctor.

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I’ve been meeting some great people and have made amazing friends. My roommate, Paige (we share a homestay) on the left, is awesome! Seriously would not have been having such a great time without her. And in the middle is my other awesome Florida gal, Christina! 

Stay tuned for more awesome stories, because there are surely more to come.

*See more of Ally's stories on her blog: http://ak2spain.wordpress.com/

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