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Notes from Barcelona


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We have been here in Barcelona for a full week now and everyone is feeling more settled in. We are staying at a student residence close to the Arc de Triumph, which signals the beginning of the old quarter of Barcelona. At the Arc, there are often performers, people practicing creative roller skating, or dancing, or even doing Tai Chi. Here are a couple of our boys at the Arc:

A typical weekday for us begins with breakfast in our rooms. Each student room boasts a kitchen shared with one other Abbey Road student. We meet for announcements, then begin Spanish class. Today I went out with the class to interview Spaniards at a nearby park about festivals in Spain. It was great to follow up with the Spanish teacher and the students when they came back and reported (in Spanish of course) on whom they met and how their conversations unfolded.

After lunch we either have a group activity in the city (tomorrow is a visit to Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s amazing and still unfinished church) or an elective course. Some students are in Spanish conversation, others are in art history and architecture, and another group takes digital photography. In each course, students get out and about in Barcelona and engage with each other and with the locals. In the evening we sometimes get out to a museum (yesterday we went to the Picasso museum) or go out for a group dinner. Or  sometimes, like tonight, we stay in with a pasta dinner and a movie. We have some free time in the mix too, in order to catch up on e-mail, get out to the grocery store for toothpaste, recharge the mobile phones, or get back to that shop to buy that perfect bag.

Barcelona is so beautiful, with each neighborhood having its own character, but still rich in architectural detail and atmosphere. Here is a shot from the old city, very close to our residence, in a neighborhood called the Born.

Another mind-blowing aspect of the city is Gaudi! We took one afternoon to visit a house he designed called Casa Batllo and also an apartment house called Casa Mila or La Pedrera. I could barely get one student out of the first house because he was so awestruck! Here are a couple shots of students in Casa Mila, which Gaudi designed to feel like it had been formed by the sea.

To close out our night last Friday, we joined the throngs at the Magic Fountain, which is set dramatically in front of the massive Art History Museum of Catalonia, with lasers forming a headdress of lights around the dome of the building. The fountain itself spurts out a mesmerizing display of water effects set to lights and music. Amazing!

-Jeremy Phillips

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