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01/17/2014

First Impressions: Arrival in BCN

Name: Lena
CIEE Barcelona Program: Architecture & Design
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: Unviersity of Colorado Boulder

Lena1Sunrise at Newark Airport

And off we go! Barcelona bound from San Francisco, with a long connection in Newark. I left SFO in a memorable California sunrise, and just minutes before we landed in BCN the sun started to glisten over the water. Not only was I lucky enough to get a window seat, but my side of the airplane got to experience the view of the Barcelona coast line, stretching around the W hotel, all the way to the mountains!

I arrived just in time for my guardian angel (local student guides that work with CIEE) to pick me and other students up from the airport. The moment I saw her I was wondering if the people here were just as beautiful as the city! Me being the usual fashion obsessed girl, I was lugging two huge 65-pound bags, more than double my weight! As I started lugging them behind me, a guardian angel helped me to the bus.

Lena2Sunrise at BCN Airport (Finally arrived!)

The moment I stepped onto the bus I still felt as if I were dreaming. We took a 15-minute bus ride from the airport to our hotel—let me tell you, 15 minutes was not long enough! The entire trip I was in awe looking at all the gorgeous architecture. It seemed to me that in Barcelona the architects and designers put more emphasis on the looks of their buildings rather than how well they function.

We arrived at the hotel and were greeted with coffee, fresh squeezed juices, finger sandwiches and pastries... oh the coffee was needed! Next, our guardian angel took us on a tour of the city. The whole time I was regretting not bringing my walking shoes! I was so distracted at all of the buildings as well as the shops that I forgot about my scrunched toes! The stores were full of so many amazing things. Being just a few days from the holiday the angels told me to hold back and wait for the sales! Ah so hard for me, but I know I have to save my money for traveling.

Lena3With Mireia Viladerrams (my guardian angel)

We made our way back to the hotel. While we waited for the second group to arrive and then had a short orientation meeting with Magda and other advisors from CIEE. Next we waited to meet our host families! I was so nervous because I have no grasp of the Spanish language but luckily I am doing shared homestay with my good friend Annika who has studied Spanish.

The moment we met our host mother Elena I knew she didn’t speak any English, oh gosh! I realized in the end this would help me more than hurt me. To make it worse we had to figure out how to fit our entire luggage into a scrunched car. After a few tries, and with the help of our architectural minds, we fit it all in! When we got to the apartment we were greeted by a door man and a small elevator (ascensor). We had to make three trips up!

When given our housing assignments weeks before we were curious what Atico meant—when we got here we found out it meant the top floor! Immediately we went out on our homestay mother’s gorgeous, spacious, and green balcony (covering a 200 square feet and flooded with exotic plants). We were astonished by the view. Next we unpacked and our mother directed us to our nearby metro stop and informed us how to buy our tickets.

Taking the metro for this first time? Well that was exciting. We met up with our CIEE group for coffee and pastries at Arggi and I headed back home. All the CIEE students are so welcoming, friendly, and excited—I know I will develop lasting friendships with some of them. Next Annika and I headed home for our 9 pm dinner…SO LATE. I am used to dinners at 5 pm! Or should I say 17:00? This military clock is really starting to get to me. The moment we walked through the door it smelled magnificent. We had three courses of vegetables, salmon, and then a candied apple for desert. As soon as I had tasted her masterpiece I knew I made the right choice committing to homestay!

Lena4

 On my tour around the city for the first time.

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