El Born

Our third field trip was really exciting because I was able to visualize more about how my beloved Barcelona was many years ago. Everyday, I walk the streets and explore this beautiful city, but until now, I wasn’t aware of the meaning of many of these ancient buildings and locations.

Our teacher toured us to many monumental areas of Barcelona where he explained to us much of the city’s profound history. The Llotja, for instance, he said was the stock market where everyone exchanged goods. I would have never realized how profound the Llotja was to the people, because for me, it appeared as an ordinary, square-like building.

Another historical topic our teacher stressed to us were the Guilds. He said they were very detrimental to the economic success of Barcelona, and they were the workforces in society. Ultimately, the Guilds consisted of the owner of the business and the workers. The owner lived at the bottom of the building with larger windows, while the apprentices lived on the top.

Guilds were very hierarchal, for an individual with a well-known, successful guild was highly regarded in society. Furthermore, the guilds shaped much of what the city looks like today for they were strategically placed according to the profession.

I thought this was really interesting because our teacher pointed out how today’s Barcelona society is shaped from the past. The street names, for instance, are modeled after the Guilds. Furthermore, a corner of town may be called something because it reflects what guilds surrounded it. In addition, the buildings are still structured in similar fashions. They are long and narrow with different window sizes.

One thing our teacher mentioned on our field trip that I found really interesting was how the women always walked on the inner sides of town. The reasoning behind this was that people always threw waste outside the windows, so the women were being sheltered from being hit. 

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Jewish Quarter

For one of our field trips, we visited the Jewish Quarters. I really enjoyed this experience because I am Jewish and I loved learning about its history in Barcelona. We learned that the Jews faced many struggles and were persecuted under the rule of Franco. We also learned, however, they were very successful in business for they were merchants and consultants to the king. I found it very interesting that the Jews were discriminated against and killed, yet they were also worshipped for their skills and expertise. Their position in society was very controversial.

My favorite part of this field trip was when we visited the oldest temple in
Barcelona. Though most of it was destroyed, there were still many bits and
pieces of it remaining. We walked through a very small door where a kind lady
explained to us that we were walking over, on a glass board of course, many of
the remains of the temple. Though it may have only looked like small chunks of
stones and rocks, it was really neat to know that they once formed a place of

We were also shown a large Menorah, which represented different days of
the week. Before leaving the temple, I left a small donation to the woman who
gave us a tour, and I hope it will be utilized for a good cause. Though it has
already broken, I even bought a Jewish star bracelet.

The lady briefly explained to us some of the Barcelona Jewish history, and I felt
very privileged to be part of such a special moment. After exploring the
ancient temple, we continued our ventures throughout Barcelona. We learned that
the architecture of the Jewish quarter was modest on the outside, yet lavish
on the inside.

I found this field trip to be very enlightening, and I can’t wait to return home
and share my new knowledge with my family and friends who all feel like they
can relate to Jews worldwide.


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I slip into my gym shorts and tee, pull my thin socks over my ankle tips, and lace my overworn, spotted sneakers. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and visualize my path. Dark, sparkling sky, desolate, clinging roads, clean, breezy air. I softly blink, wrap my iPod to my forearm, and close the apartment door behind me, walking into the outdoor, whispering winds that soon guide my run.

I begin slow. Right foot, left. Inhale for three seconds, exhale for two. Right, inhale. Left, exhale. I pump my arms faster, I lift my legs higher. I’m swift, I’m fluid, I’m free. I can do anything I want. I can be anything I see.

Thoughts begin to flood my mind. I close my eyes and allow my sweet fantasies and dark dreams to drown me. I emerge myself into these thirsty thoughts, and I feel as if a new person has taken over. I am better, I am stronger, I am happier. I applaud my accomplishments, and I silence my mistakes. My feet carefully guide me as my mind continues to soar ahead on my twirling running path. All of my previous worries and griefs have been erased. My anxieties, my pain, my negativities, vanished.

I gain speed, and I race under the dark, starry sky that blankets around me and pushes me down the road. The bright stars twinkle light upon me, and urge me to continue my run and lose myself in the blackness of the night. Don’t stop, they say. Keep running.

I become a hungry animal released from its’ cage as my feet kiss the pavement and my fingertips caress the cool, breezy air. The soft howl of hte wind and gentle sway of the trees hum in my ears, and the clean, dampened smell braises my nose. It feels so good. It feels so perfect.

I turn my music up and allow the sounds to vibrantly rush through my body. I become the music, I become the song. My steps follow the rhythm, and my heartbeat beats to the tune. I once again allow myself to dive into my fantastic fantasies and deep desires.

It is always an hour of utopia ecstasy. It is always a time to create total peace and happiness. Running is such a passion of mine, and tracing my footsteps through the roads of Barcelona has been an unexplainable experience. Even when tired and gasping for air, the run held precious moments and thoughts. I will miss my path down Diagonal, and I will miss my sweet Barcelona surroundings. But, I will never forget those majestic, fantastic runs that will cling to me forever.

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Don’t look. Close your eyes. It’s staring at you, it’s playing games with your mind. Don’t do it, dare you to keep walking. No. Have to stop. Have to look. It’s magnetic. It’s pulling me. I’m attached to a strong string, and it’s wheeling me in. The mannequins in the glass window look too cute. They are waving at me to enter. Their clothes are too perfect. Ilove them. I want them. I need them.

I step into the store, and I rummage through the clothes leaping at me from their hangers. I try them on, and I smile at the happy reflection staring back at me from the mirror. The clothes cling to my skin and beg for me to buy them. I can’t say no. I can’t say goodbye.

So, I walk to the counter, pull out my cash, and make the scary purchase. New clothes to be hung in my closet, and new outfits to be worn at night.

All of my life, I have loved shopping. A new pair of pants or a sexy dress always brings a smile to my face. Living in Europe, however, has deepened my shopping cravings to a whole new level. The style here is so wild, so unique, so free. Anything goes in this fantastic, vibrant city, and that has given my incentive to buy more and explanation for my impulsive purchase behavior. The stores here are all amazing and beam rays of light to my curious eyes, and the brands are all different from the United States.

Walking down Las Ramblas roads, Passeig De Gracia, El Born and more are all fun hobbies of mine. I love to explore the streets and wander the shops. I hope that when I return home to the United States, I will bring a new flavor, a new zest with me. This Barcelona style is so interesting to me, and it will always be a small part of me.

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Cultural Experience

My friends and I could not wait for our first, hands-on, cultural experience. Since my arrival to my beautiful Barcelona, I have wanted to blend in and assimilate with the Catalan citizens. I was sick of individuals pointing and saying, “oh the American.” I was sick of sticking out like a sore thumb on the streets when I journeyed to class and my other daily activities. And I was sick of cooking my easy omelets, turkey sandwiches and salads. So, I decided a cultural experience in the near future was a must. I needed to make drastic action, and I was quick to make up my mind.

Bus2Alps had contacted the CEA students about a paella, sangria and tapa cooking class. We were of course greedy to sign up and pay the 20 euro damage. Mom and dad would understand that I just wanted to learn how to whip up a good Spanish meal, right? I could bring some Barcelona culture back to the states, and I could transform more into a Catalan woman, a person I had so much respect and admiration for.

So at the end of my Wednesday night, when darkness swept over the light sky, several friends and I ventured down the black streets and met the cooking group at a small restaurant tucked in the corners of Barceloneta.

We sat down to a small table where we eyed monster bowels towering with toasted breads and separate plates containing different seafood toppings and sauces. We were to make our own unique, individualized tapa. The spreads were taunting, and the bites were delicious. I explored the different options, and I experimented with all toppings. By the end of the night, I was a master maker of tapas, and my belly was filled with all of the small,delightful appetizer-like meals.

After finishing exploring the tapa world, I progressed to the sangria. I crushed the ice, I mixed the juices, I added the alcohols, and I squeezed the fruits. I then stirred up my tasty fabrication, and sipped at the sweet, refreshing flavor. Our whole table shared pitcher after pitcher, and of course each concoction was slightly different from the last. Some added more fruit, while others drowned the drink with more alcohol. Each had his or her own preference, yet each taste was a pleasurable treat.

After the sangria, it was time to learn how to cook paella. Unfortunately, this portion of the class was a small disappointment for the teacher did not offer much hands on experience. Rather he did a demonstration in front of all of the excited learners, and we watched him mix in the many different ingredients, spices and seafood chunks. When he was finished piling up the paella palace into the massive mixing bowel, we participated in the lesson by mixing everything together. We then scooped the delicate rice and chunky particles onto our plates, and we dove our forks into the utopian paella taste.
It was a delicious, filling meal, and better yet, we could make it on our own time. I was now a more cultured American, and I had just taken a small step in assimilating more into the Barcelona way of life. Now, I would have to find my sexy Spaniard so I could cook him tapas and paella and savior his aftertaste with sweet sangria.

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I love coffee. Since I was a young girl, my father always was the first to wake up and was the designated caffeine brewer. I would wake up, wipe my sleepy eyes, and sit down at the kitchen table to my steamy hot, delicious coffee. Of course back then, this “coffee” consisted of a warm cup of milk and sugar with a small swirl of caffeine. But I liked to pretend that I was a grown up. I liked to have my morning cup of coffee.

As I grew up and became a young woman, my cup of warm milk soon warped into a large mug of black coffee sprinkled with sugar and milk. My morning was not complete without this simple beverage, and I was now sitting at the table with my father and drinking the same, bold flavorful gulps of hot liquid.
Sometimes when driving, I would have a lingering crave for this satisfying taste. I therefore would speedily drive to Starbucks where I would order a grande Chai Latte, or a Latte with soy. Each gulp satisfied my coffee thirst, and I drove away in happiness and peace. Little did I know, this utter obsession would be taken to a whole new level when I left the United States and my Starbucks heaven, and arrived to Barcelona and ventured the cafes. 

When I came to Barcelona, my coffee cravings would be turned upside down, shaken around, and perfected into a new, transformed passion. No longer would I thrive for my large, oversized beverages. But I would thirstily yearn for a European espresso, a cortado, or a small cafe con leche.

The espresso, however, was my most exciting discovery. I love the small buzz that rushes down my veins as I sip the final drop. And I love that my stomach does not uncomfortably bulge from excess liquid. After living in Barcelona, I no longer need my massive Chai Lattes. I want my small, tasty caffeinated drink. I want to sip. I want to enjoy. I want espresso.

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Before Barcelona, I never really understood the concept of tapas. Being an American, I am used to enormous meals at restaurants and a breakfast, lunch and dinner meal. Europeans may call it gluttonous. Furthermore, tapas contradicted everything that I previously stood for. They were small, they were not filling, and they were plain. Why did all of Barcelona love these tapas? Though I was stuck in my own eating habits and I was initially ignorant toward this different lifestyle, I knew I had to give in and try. I would experience being a European eater once, and I would see if it was for me.

Several hours and tapas later, I had made my decision. I loved these small pieces of toasted bread covered in sauce and vegetables. I loved my stomach´s content of not being painfully stuffed with too much food, yet having my hunger spot be quenched with a small delicacy. I finally understood why these tapas were so mavelous, why everyone loved them so much. I finally understood the concept of a tapa.

My two friends and I had eaten at Divinus off of Passeig De Gracia, and we all had ordered different tapas. My chosen few consisted of a small piece of bread with vegetables and tuna, and another lathered with creamy crab. They were both delicious, and they both hit my food craving spot. 

I now love this European eating lifestyle. They don´t stuff themselves thick with three obnoxiously large meals like I had often done in the past. They rather have a large meal or two and enjoy a tapa for an afternoon snack. They can sit down with friends and relax and talk, while coating their slightly hungered stomachs with a tasty treat.

I have really enjoyed tapas in my Barcelona abroad experience. I love the intimacy of the meal, and I love the perfection of the taste. A thousand choices to order, and a million conversations to discuss. I am so glad that I experienced this wonderful treasure, and I hope that everyone is as lucky as I and can sometime enjoy such a tasty treat.

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