During my time abroad, I have taken quite a few weekend trips. For this post, I am only going to talk about my trip to Barcelona. As you might not be aware, Spain has four official languages. Cataluña, the province that Barcelona is a part of, is the origin of one of these languages, Catalan. In Cataluña, there are quite a few people who don’t speak Castellano (or Spanish as we call it). I ran into quite a few issues with this while in Barcelona, including: restaurant menus, subway maps, asking for directions on the street, and more. Nothing makes you feel more inadequate then when someone speaks to you in Catalan, you try to respond in Castellano, and they just start talking to you in English. While Barcelona is an incredibly tourist friendly city, just be prepared to add another language barrier.
When preparing to travel to Barcelona and all the other places I traveled to, I did a couple things to prepare. Firstly, I made sure that I had enough currency for the trip with me, as well as, a back up card. One of the best things that I did, was to by like a hiking backpack and use that and my purse as my carry-ons and didn’t have a checked bag or a wheeling carry-on for my trips. It made it so much easier to get around and a lot quicker in the airport! Another thing that I did before traveling anywhere was to look up places that I wanted to visit in each city. This was really helpful especially when no one was sure about where to go or what to do once we got there.
Some advice I have for anyone interested in taking trips while studying abroad is to be prepared for the amount of money you will spend, budget flights and food and more because it can get really expensive. I would also suggest traveling with someone you know or at least like. It can get really uncomfortable going places with people you don’t know and it’s hard to speak up and say if you want to do something. So I suggest getting to know people before you go on a trip, like during your classes or when you have free time. It can be really beneficial.
Taking small trips during study abroad programs is one of their biggest draws, its an awesome opportunity, just make sure you plan for it and budget it.