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15 posts categorized "Homestays"

07/21/2017

Summer Programs, 2017, Newsletter I

 The value of a homestay

Ths summer programs are passing fast and some students have already finished their experience abroad in Barcelona. From the many experiences that a student goes through while abroad, living in a homestay is the one that makes students get immersed in the local culture and expand their intercultural competence and their skills to get adapted to a new environment. This is the case of three of our students and host families who want to share some experiences that show the students' engagement with the local culture.

Sharing the music

Kalen, from University of Colorado Boulder, was living with Carmen and Ramón. Besides spending their time together talking around the table for dinner, Kalen and Ramon share their interest in music. Kalen likes to sing and Ramon plays the guitar, so they practiced their hobbies together. What a great match!

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Sharing experiences

Taylor, from Texas A&M University, shared in her personal blog the importance of spending time with the host family. In her case, she had the chance to spend a day with some of the host family's relatives in a house outside Barcelona, far away for the city life. Taylor could experience first hand how it is to live in a bilingual society in which people speak two languages (Catalan and Spanish). As Taylor explained,  "...speaking your non-native language and see what you’ll find. I guarantee it’ll be worth it".  If you want to check the whole story, please, visit Taylor's blog.

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 Sharing the food

Nikki, from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, was so grateful and happy living with her host family that one day, Agnes, her host mother, offered her a particular cooking class on Spanish and Catalan dishes, as paella. Nikki did an outstanding performance and she shared such a delicious plate with all the family. Check here the results!

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04/09/2015

Mi vida en Barcelona

Ibrahima Host family

I was very nervous as I sat down at the hotel waiting for my host mom to come and pick me up. I did not know what to expect neither did I know what to do or say to greet her. Few minutes later, my host mom came and met me. She greeted me with two kisses on each cheek and said “Hola Ibrahima, Soy Piti”. I wasn’t very used to greeting people with kisses but from the kisses I knew she is very caring, kind and awesome. We took a cab and talked all the way to her house. When we got home, I met my host brother, Oriol and my host sister, Eulàlia. My host mom gave me a tour of the house and later showed me my room. Few minutes later I felt like I was at my own house in New York. Living with my host family has been an awesome journey. During dinner, we talk about everything. We talk about politics, social issues, cultures, and most importantly we always joke around. We always have fun. The food bonds and unites us. We usually start by asking how everyone’s day went and later kept the conversation going. I always leave dinner feeling satisfied, happy and ready for the next day. My host mom also does laundry for me at least twice a week and cleans my room once a week. She takes care of me well, and I couldn’t be happier. I had never lived in someone’s home before and the thought of it had made me nervous despite the fact that I am a very outgoing individual. However living with my host family in Barcelona made me more confident about myself and taught me how to interact with others, and I think these skills that I have gained will be very useful in the near future when I enter the professional world.

Ibrahima voluntariado

I was also lucky to be provided with a once a week volunteering opportunity at a local school called INS Ernest Lluch. At this school, I work with students who are about 14 years old on average. I am very happy to have been given this opportunity because I learn so much from them. They are very intelligent students who have so much potential and are very respectful as well. The volunteering opportunity is very flexible, and I was asked to have a conversation with these students in English so that they could practice their English skills. It was up to me how I wanted to go about this process. So, I decided to teach them things about the American culture and asked them about their interest, hobbies, goals and just life and not textbook lessons or whatnot. Since the volunteering was every Monday, I would always start off the conversation by asking how their weekends went and then follow wherever the conversation lead us to. The students always make me laugh. We always have great times. And, I think this is a great way of learning.  The students never want to stop the conversations. They always want to share their thoughts and this makes me feel great. Whenever I go to the school, they run to me to give me a hug and are always excited to talk. This has been a great opportunity as I got to immerse myself to the Spanish culture by learning these students’ daily lives in Barcelona.

04/04/2014

Liberal Arts, Spring 2014, Issue III

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Our semester is coming to an end. The students have enjoyed their stay in Barcelona and we hope that they have gained intercultural knowledge after spending four months living in a different culture. We wish them a safe return home and many trips back to Barcelona in the future! Here you have some of the latest activities we've been doing with them:

Chocolate creations for Easter

One of our delicious traditions in Catalonia is the “mona” a chocolate cake creation that godparents give to their godchildren for easter. Nowadays, the cake is made into many different chocolate sculptures... from SpongeBob Squarepants, Disney characters and Justin Beiber to Barça football players. Chocolate makers display their "monas" in the windows of their shop during the Easter week and try to outshine each other with sheer creativity and inventiveness. Our students participated in a Chocolate Workshop at the Chocolate Museum of Barcelona where they made chocolate lollipops. They demonstrated their high creativity and were able to eat all the chocolate they wanted! After that, they visited the museum and were able to admire all the giant monas such as a representation of Guernica by Picasso, or la Sagrada Familia.

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Language Assessment

Starting last semester we have incorporated a new method of assessing students' language progress during their study abroad experience. They take a Spanish placement test before coming and another one a week before leaving. The results should be able to give us a better understanding of students' language outcomes.

Watching a Barça-Madrid game with locals

Club Quijotes students went to local bars around the city to watch the most important Spanish football game of the season: “El Clásico” between Barcelona and Madrid teams. The idea is to experience the game along with Spaniards in a local environment. Caitlin from University of Iowa said: “I loved to see the football culture in a bar during a game. Go Barça!!"

LA partido Barça-MadridHost family ties

One of the most enriching experiences while abroad is to live with a host family. Bridget from University of Iowa was shocked when her host family prepared a special birthday dinner for her. She wrote for our blog: “When I saw everything they did for me I thought, my host family really has become my family in Barcelona. Despite being far from my home, I realized their house is a place where I can be in good company and enjoy life with these people that I can call my family.” You can read about her special day here: Mi Feliz Cumpleaños.
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04/03/2014

¡Mi Feliz Cumpleaños!

Name: Bridget
CIEE Barcelona Program:
 Liberal Arts
Semester:
 Spring 2014
Home School
: University of Iowa

Las celebraciones de cumpleaños en mi familia siempre son una gran fiesta: pastel, globos, cenas, regalos, fiestas y tiempo con la familia y los amigos íntimos. Desde que era pequeña, nunca he celebrado un cumpleaños que no pasara con mi familia. Mi familia es pequeña, pero somos muy familiares y, por eso, los cumpleaños siempre han sido una gran parte de mi vida y de sus vidas. Al venir a España, mi cumpleaños iba a estar dentro de la primera semana de mi llegada y estaba triste porque no podría pasarlo con mi familia. Porque yo me crié en un hogar en el cual los cumpleaños son un acontecimiento familiar. Me entristeció saber que mi 21 cumpleaños no seria el cumpleaños más importante de todos. Antes incluso de que llegara mi cumpleaños, ya había decidido que iba a ser un día horrible porque iba a ser diferente a todos mis cumpleaños anteriores.

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Cuando llegó mi cumpleaños, estaba emocionada, pero triste por estar tan lejos de casa en mi día especial. Recibí muchas llamadas telefónicas y mensajes de texto de mi familia que me hicieron muy feliz, pero también triste al mismo tiempo ya que lo estaba celebrando en una nueva y gran ciudad donde casi no conocía a nadie. Conforme avanzaba el día, dejé de pensar sobre cuánto extrañaba mi casa y estaba lista para que el día acabara. Mi madre anfitriona me había ofrecido invitar a unos amigos para mi cena de cumpleaños, cosa que fue un lindo gesto y con el que intenté mantenerme positiva durante el día. Empecé a pensar: “!Tal vez no será tan malo después de todo!”

Una vez llegué a casa, después de un largo día de clase, entré en el apartamento y nos saludamos inmediatamente con abrazos con mi hermana anfitriona. Miré a mi alrededor y vi la mesa de la cena tan bonita, mi mama anfitriona estaba cocinando en la cocina, y mi compañera Caitlin estaba sentada en la mesa. Yo estaba en estado de shock y no me podía creer todo el trabajo duro que estaban haciendo por mi. Entonces se me ocurrió. Actualmente estoy estudiando en el extranjero, y pensé que mi familia de acogida podía llegar a ser mi familia de Barcelona. A pesar de estar fuera de casa, me di cuenta de que su casa es un lugar donde puedo estar en buena compañía y disfrutar de la vida con estas personas a las que puedo llamar mi familia. Me cayeron hasta las lágrimas y me reí un poco cuando vi todo lo que habían hecho por mí. En ese momento, se produjo un cambio en mi que no esperaba.

Una vez que mis nuevos amigos llegaron, nos sentamos todos alrededor de la mesa para comer una cena deliciosa y me pusieron a la cabeza de la mesa. Mi madre anfitriona comenzó pasando alrededor con un increíble plato de paella y yo me quedé asombrada de cómo era de deliciosa la comida. Estaba tan excitada de que ella hubiera hecho una cena especial de la cultura española para mí! Nos sentamos todos alrededor de la mesa y disfrutamos de la buena comida y la buena compañía por un rato y, a continuación, trajeron un postre de helado con la luz de las velas. Mi hermana anfitriona Gala comenzó con la canción de "Feliz Cumpleaños" y toda la mesa, me cantó con una sonrisa. No me podía creer que la gente que tenia alrededor hubiera preparado para la celebración tan especial para hacer que me sintiera como en casa. Gala me hizo una tarjeta bonita con divertidos dibujos, mi madre anfitriona me dio unas flores, y una manta para hacerme sentir más como en casa. A pesar de que estuve fuera de mi casa en ese momento, me di cuenta de que estaba creando un nuevo hogar al mismo tiempo. 

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02/12/2014

I could not have been more wrong

Name: John
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language & Culture
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: Providence College

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I really wanted to live in a residencia when going abroad for a semester. I am a big fan of my alone time and I thought it would be an easy way to meet other Americans that were abroad. Luckily, my friend Alex convinced me to join a homestay with him and live with a family. I was reluctant at first because I thought it would be awkward living with strangers for a semester. When I received an email detailing my living assignment I had mixed feelings and even regretted my decision to live with a family. I could not have been more wrong.

From the moment I meet my host mother she has been much more than just a guardian. She is an actual mother to my roommate Alex and I. She immediately made us feel welcomed and comfortable in this very different world we now lived in. My host mom is an Argentine that moved to Spain several years ago with her two sons Alex and John (weird coincidence). She is an amazing cook. We have not had the same dish twice since arriving and it has been a little over a month. Every day she comes up with something new and exciting. For example, last night I ate rabbit for the first time in my life. I was not the biggest fan, but I love trying new foods. My host mother in the first few days I arrived in Barcelona dissipated all of my worries about living with strangers and has made my stay in Barcelona infinitely better.

My host mother is amazing and so is the neighborhood I live in. Our apartment is very very far from the average homestay in Barcelona. In fact, I believe we are the farthest away from the center of Barcelona. This may seem like an obstacle, but it is actually a blessing because I get to see things others do not.  My neighborhood is supposedly made of many different kinds of immigrants from Latin America and other places in Spain. I would not know because here they really do not speak English (unlike most places in Barcelona where you kind find many people that speak English). The markets here are not Americanized the way most other markets are closer to the center of the city. They sell assortments of fish, meat, and spices that I have neither seen nor heard of in my entire life. This may seem scary to some, but it is really a lot of fun.

Every day I wake up and am reminded to not waste any of my time abroad because whatever I am thinking of that day is replaced by the wonder of being somewhere completely foreign. Not to mention we live very close to a beautiful range of mountains and on a clear day can see the Mediterranean Sea from the terrace in my homestay!

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My Commute
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View from my terrace
 

01/27/2014

Peanut Butter and other reasons I love my homestay

Name: Ellen
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language & Culture
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: University of Colorado Boulder

Before coming to Barcelona I was really torn on which housing assignment to choose. Long story short my advisor from home convinced me to do a homestay and I can honestly say it is the best decision I have made so far. My host family consists of a single mom around the age of 65. She is the absolute cutest women in the world and from day one treated me like her own child. The first time I left the house she ran through a long list of things I may have forgotten. She asked if I had a coat, the keys, an umbrella in case it rained, money, my phone, and my metro ticket. Typical questions my real mom would ask.

A few days after we moved in she heard me talking about how much I love and miss peanut butter. Spoiler alert: they do not eat peanut butter here. The next day I walked into the kitchen for breakfast to find a jar of peanut butter sitting on the table. Not only did she manage to find peanut butter, but she also set out every possible type of bread or fruit that you could eat peanut butter with. She laughed as she watched me try it on all the different things she set out, and I eventually convinced her to try in on a cracker. She loved it.

One detail I forgot to mention, my host mom only speaks Spanish. At times this is a little challenging but we always manage to either laugh and forget about it, or find a dictionary to look up the words we don’t know. Imagine trying to explain how you blew the fuse in the bathroom with your hairdryer in Spanish. I definitely did not learn those vocab words back in the states. No matter what the situation is, it always ends in both of us laughing and eventually figuring it out.

Living in a home stay has made my transition to Barcelona so much easier. Although I am half way across the world from my real home or family, I already feel like I can call this place home. I am beyond excited for the rest of the semester with my host mom!

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01/21/2014

Business & Culture, Spring 2014, Issue I

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The Kings Have Arrived... And so have the students!

The students arrived in Barcelona tired and jet lagged on January 2nd. We threw them immediately into a week of orientation meetings, talks and tours, but they were saved by a day off on January 6th to celebrate Kings Day and the end of the Christmas season. 

What is Kings Day? Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas and marks the day the wisemen arrived in Bethleham with their gifts. Dia de Los Reyes is as important as Christmas itself here, especially for kids, as this is the day when they get their presents! Read more about the three kings.

Students went out on Jan 5th to watch the parade with their Guardian Angels (local student guides) as the kings arrived in the city, ready to distribute their toys. Thanks to Eric, from University of Vermont for the photos! See more of his incredible photography on his blog.

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Celebrating the Holiday with Host Families

A popular tradition on this day is to eat a Roscón, a sweet, donut-shaped bread. A plastic toy and a bean are buried inside the mixture. He or she who finds the toy gets good luck for the next year and is king for the day (with a crown and all), he who finds the bean, pays for the Roscon.

Asya, from Indiana University, wrote a blog post about living with a host family. On Kings Day "about 15 members of Ana's family came to her house for lunch... which lasted until dinner, where we chatted and shared the interesting differences between our home towns and Barcelona. It was awesome and kind of reminded me of Thanksgiving. Cynthia and I both got the king in our slices of the bread which was cute and exciting. And We woke up to gifts (a scarf, gloves, a book on Barcelona, and candies) from "the three kings" outside of our doors!" Read more here.

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Wildlife Sighting

While hiking up Tibidabo Mountain behind Barcelona on a CIEE Day Trip last weekend, we were greeted by 5 baby boar (javalí) searching for nuts. The boar are a common sight in the Collserola National Park, although they rarely come out during the day or that close to common paths. We were lucky to be able to see them, and even luckier that they didn't come with an angry mama!

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After the hike we went to a restaurant to try calçots, a typical Catalan winter treat. Onions are roasted and then steamed, at which point it is time to get messy. The difficult part is taking off the charred exterior, and then you can dip the onion in romesco sauce and lower it into your mouth. Joe, from University of Minnesota demonstrates with skill:

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01/20/2014

Kings Day with our Host Family

Name: Asya
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: Indiana University

I couldn't be happier with my decision to do a home stay! I chose it originally because I really want to learn Spanish. I know it has helped immensely already because the first day of Spanish class, all the home stay kids thought it was pretty easy!

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Cynthia and I live with Ana and her son (in his mid-twenties), who is usually gone but stops in every couple of days. Ana is wonderful and absolutely caters to Cynthia and me and really cares for us. She's a primary school Spanish teacher which has been a huge help with the language barrier as well- as she understands what concepts foreign speakers struggle with and can assist us.

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She also has a daughter who lives in Switzerland and came to visit for three king's day which was an awesome experience. About 15 members of Ana's family came to her house for lunch... Which lasted until dinner, where we chatted and shared the interesting differences between our home towns and Barcelona. It was awesome and kind of reminded me of Thanksgiving.

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Cynthia and I both got the king in our slices of the bread which was cute and exciting. And We woke up to gifts (a scarf, gloves, a book on Barcelona, and candies) from "the three kings" outside of our doors!

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Ana is the sweetest and I am sincere in saying I couldn't imagine a better situation! Seeing the culture of Spain and learning the language as fast or as well simply wouldn't be possible without the home stay option and the help of Ana!

THREE KINGS DAY

What is Kings Day? Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas and marks the day the wisemen arrived in Bethleham with their gifts.

"January 6 - Dia de Los Reyes in Spanish - is virtually as important as Christmas itself in Spain, especially for kids, as this is the day when they get their presents! The fun starts the evening before, when the three kings lead their procession through the streets, throwing sweets to the children. The next morning, the children wake up to find their presents have been left overnight (rumors that Santa moonlights as the Three Kings when times are hard are unfounded). Read more about the three kings.

A popular tradition is to eat a Roscón, a sweet, donut-shaped bread (though much bigger than a donut) covered in glacier cherries and sugar. A plastic toy is buried inside the mixture, so don't dive in too quickly. He or she who finds the toy gets good luck for the next year (double the luck if they also ate the grapes on New Year's Eve!)." - From http://gospain.about.com/od/christmasinspain/f/three_kings_day.htm

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!

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 On my tour around the city for the first time.

02/29/2012

Vegetarian in the land of ham

HannaName: Hanna
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Language & Culture
Semester:
Spring 2012
Home School
: St. Catherine University

Two of my biggest fears prior to my study abroad experience had to do with (believe it or not) food. Since I have been a vegetarian for 9 years, I was worried that:

  1. I wouldn’t be able to eat anything in Barcelona because it is a city that is well known for meat products.
  2. My host family would be insulted if I didn’t eat meat if they prepared it for me.

Since my stay in Barcelona, I have found out that my initial fears regarding food were wrong. I live in Gràcia with my host father, Ramon, and my host sister, Roso. Ramon is an artist who in his 50’s and Roso is a senior in college and is 23. From day one, they have been incredibly hospitable and do everything they can to make me feel comfortable in their home -when I first arrived to my homestay, one of the very first things that they asked me was what I wanted for breakfast the next day!

Ramon and Roso are vegetarians (although they do occasionally eat some meats and fish), which was a relief for me. My host family is also very ecofriendly and prepares meals similar to what I would eat at home with a Catalan twist. I haven’t had a meal with them that I did not like! I have even been given the opportunity to help my family prepare traditional Catalan foods like “pan con tomate” (bread with tomatoes, olive oil, and salt) that I would never have tried if I hadn’t choosen to live with a host family.

Hanna1Today for lunch we had a mixture of cooked and spiced vegetables with “avena” (a type of oats, but they look and taste similar to brown rice) and lentils.

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Although I eat the majority of meals with my host family, I have also had the chance to explore some of the many restaurants and markets in the city.  In addition to regular supermarkets, Gràcia is the home to many ecomarkets that sell organic, fair trade, and vegetarian/vegan foods (similar to Whole Foods in the states but much smaller and independent stores). I love shopping for groceries and snacks at these locations. My favorite ecomarket is called Boca Bio, which is located off of Carrer d'Astúries in Gràcia.

Through this experience I have learned not to set expectations for something without experiencing it first.  Initially, I had expected to have a difficult time finding foods to satisfy my vegetarian diet in Barcelona, however now that I am here that is not the case at all. I am excited to bring a little of Catalunya back home with me to the United States by preparing foods like pan con tomate for my family!