Eric Gutierrez is a fourth year UCSC history and latin american studies major who spent his 2013 Spring semester abroad at the University of Barcelona. Eric managed to stay in Europe for 10 months, and visit over 14 countries during his study abroad experience. Eric spends his time studying Spanish and History, dreaming about traveling, and wishing he was back in Spain. We asked him a few questions about his study abroad experience.
Q: What was the hardest part about moving to Spain?
Oh, okay so the hardest part of moving to Spain was adapting to their meal times and different meal portions. I was used to an American breakfast with pancakes, and eggs, and bacon, and toast… In Spain, the typical breakfast is a cup of coffee or orange juice. And a tiny muffin. Like A TINY MUFFIN. Also, dinnertime was around 9pm. And that was the hardest part.
Q: What’s one activity every student who studies in Barcelona should make sure to do?
Walk around the different neighborhoods in Barcelona. Every neighborhood is very different, for example, Gracia is a youthful, hip, and fairly new district, with great cafes and bars. This is were you will also find some of Gaudi’s artwork. L’eixample is where all the people who are native to Barcelona reside, where you can find cheap restaurants and the main street in Barcelona, Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes. The Gothic district is where you will find some ruins, amazing architecture.
Q: What’s one of your favorite memories from your study abroad experience?
At the end of my abroad experience, I traveled alone to Budapest, Hungry. I was afraid of traveling alone at first, but once I arrived in Budapest I was determined to make this 3-day trip worthwhile. After only being in Budapest for a couple of hours, I met a guy from the Netherlands who was also traveling alone. We became buddies and spent both of the days touring the city, eating meals together and going to the famous baths. The second night we went out to some local bars were we met some Australians and British travelers who were about my age. After hanging out for a whole night we exchanged contact information and hung out out my last night in Budapest. During my last night, I was having an AMAZING time in Budapest that I decided to stay with my new Australian and British friends after they convinced me to go with them to Sziget Music Festival- one of the biggest music festivals in Europe. My fourth day in Budapest was EPIC! I went with my new friends to a music festival…I LOVE MUSIC FESTIVALS. We raged so hard to Dizzee Rascal, Nero, Nicky Romero, Regina Spektor and Chuckie. After a whole day/night of partying with my new friends, it was time to say goodbye because I had to rush to my hostel to shower and rush over to catch a 7am train to Vienna. Budapest by far was a city that will hold a special place in my heart! I miss my Australian, British and Dutch friends!
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to students looking to study in Barcelona?
I would say, do research in regards to the politics of Catalonia, which is one of the seventeen autonomous communities in Spain. People in Barcelona will usually consider themselves Catalan and it helps if you know about their history because they will essentially be more welcoming. Also, if possible, you might want to learn some Catalan before you go.
There is never a dull moment in Spain. Take every second in your abroad experience to explore the city and while you are abroad in Barcelona try to speak Spanish. It will help you become friends with the locals and meet new people. Also, be outgoing! Barcelona is an international city and the best way of meeting these international people is to be outgoing and start a conversation whenever possible.
Q: Why would you recommend Spain to prospective students looking to study abroad?
Because Spain is a beautiful country! It has a lot of history, art museums. The architecture is amazing! The nightlife is one of the best in all of Europe. You will fall in love with tapas and sangria. You’ll enjoy all the art you’ll come across, such as Gaudi and Goya. Spain is an AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL country! It will change your life.
Eric Gutierrez is also a peer advisor at the UCSC International Education Office. If you’d like to chat with him more about his experience, come visit our office in the Classroom Unit Building during our drop in hours (Monday-Thursday, 9-12 & 1-4).