U reader Amy O’Connor takes up studying in sunny Spain…
Depending on the type of person you are by nature, Erasmus will come very differently to you. For me, a compulsory Erasmus placement scared the bejaysus out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than two weeks in Spain, Portugal or anywhere hot for that matter. Two weeks is grand. The thought of six months abroad? Not so much. To some people six months is nothing, particularly if you’re addicted to travelling. Even in Ireland, you’ll be wearing a cosy jumper in winter one minute and then BOOM… it’s June and you’re wearing…well…a cosy jumper I guess. The furthest I had got to living away from home was moving to college, and even at that I came home every weekend to the comforts of a warm fire and a decent dinner. So yeah, the thought of moving to Barcelona for six months scared me to tears, but I’m doing it and it’s very exciting.
Barcelona in one word? Sensational. Barcelona city is fairly vast but no worries because their public transport system is ridiculously efficient. You can get from one side of the city to the other on the metro for a mere €2.15 and actually arrive on time.
I’ve been relishing being in the city for a month now and when you live in a cramped apartment in a native neighbourhood where no one speaks English, it encourages you to go out and explore the many phenomenal sights of this contemporary city such as Gaudí’s stunning Casa Batlló, Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. Sure, you have to pay around €20 entrance fee for the first two and €8 for the latter, but for anyone planning on travelling to Barcelona, these sights are essential. The nightlife here is crazy! Locals don’t go to the pubs until 12, the clubs until two and home until five or six. It’s hard to keep up when you’re first settling in but if the Irish in my blood is anything to go by, I’m sure I’ll master it in no time.
If you’re a shopaholic, then you’ll be overwhelmed by the wealth and fashion here. Passeig de Gràcia is a street laden with some of the most to-die-for shops I have ever encountered: Prada, Gucci, Bvlgari, Tiffany’s, Stella McCartney, Hermès, Chanel… ugh, the list is endless. If you want to feel really bad about your bank account, then I suggest a stroll down this street in the evening time. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s an opulent beach! A city and a beach combined. It’s more perfect than I could imagine. I arrived on 5 January and it was warm enough to relax on the beach for a while. In January. In winter!!
Is Erasmus tough? Of course it is. Do I miss home? Of course I do. It’s challenging to move to a foreign country and meet a whole host of new people in a new environment with a new language but it’s probably one of the best things I’ll ever do.