As the deadly coronavirus ravages the planet, some continue to select education as their priority. Although the pandemic is far from over, students from all around the world have still managed to beat the odds and have journeyed to Barcelona for their Erasmus semester. Arriving from a multitude of locations, including Hungary, Mexico, Belgium, and Portugal, we at Aula News have interviewed a small (COVID- friendly!) group of exchange students studying at Abat Oliba CEU.
“From hanging out at the bunkers to socializing with my flatmates, there are no boring days in Barcelona!”
Anna Teréz Hári: Anna arrived from Budapest, Hungary 2 weeks ago to study at Abat Oliba CEU University.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Barcelona?
A: My favourite things are the random palm trees and orange trees on the streets. I cannot get used to them, but I love them so much.
Q: What’s your least favorite thing about Barcelona?
A: Octagon streets in Eixample are driving me crazy.
Q: What are your struggles living here in Barcelona?
A: I have been having problems with finding specific food! I cannot find anything that I need in the supermarket. In addition, the city is bigger than expected- it doesn’t affect my stay but my arrival here was a little difficult.
“My Barcelona big 3; Weather! Nature! Architecture!”
Filipa Matos Rosa: Filipa is a 26 years old student from the university IADE in Lisbon, Portugal who arrived in Barcelona 3 weeks ago.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Barcelona?
A: It’s hard to choose, but my top 3 are the weather, the nature and the architecture Barcelona has to offer.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do in Barcelona?
A: I love walking around the city. As a result, I got lost a few times and discovered so many amazing places!
Q: How has COVID impacted your stay?
A: We are obviously having a pretty different Erasmus experience. We are not meeting people in the same way that we used to. Similarly, we basically have to socialize through a computer screen, and that makes it hard to connect sometimes. In addition, we’re also not going out as much, which I feel like is a big part of an Erasmus experience.
“I can’t wait until the nightlife in Barcelona opens up again!”
Paola Ricchiuti Ovalles: Paola is an exchange student from Mexico who loves football and loves a fun night out.
Q: How has COVID impacted your stay?A: I have not had the chance to go out at night, which Barcelona is known for. Even going out for dinner with friends is not allowed. These are the kinds of things I miss doing, but I realize that the restrictions right now are probably for the better. I also wish I could go to campus more often, but hopefully those restrictions will change soon.
Q: What do you like the most about Barcelona?
A: I love to play football a lot, so naturally I’m a fan of the Barcelona football team. I also enjoy learning about the history and architecture of the city.
“I love Barcelona for the beach, the culture and the architecture.”
Malena de Souza Bareilles: Malena is a Portuguese student from Algarve who arrived in Barcelona at the end of January to study at Abat Oliba CEU University.
Q: What is the thing you were looking forward to the most in Barcelona?
A: I’m very interested in Catalan culture, so I looked forward to learning more about it. I’m very interested in the language and I’m excited to get a taste of the Catalan lifestyle.
Q: How has COVID affected your stay in Barcelona?
A: The covid restrictions are actually less strict than in my country right now, I feel like there are more things to do here. I realized now, that I really missed being able to meet up with a few friends or going out for lunch. In fact, these small things make life in Barcelona much more exciting than in Portugal.
Q: What is your least favorite in Barcelona?
A: The rent prices in Barcelona are very high, which makes it hard to find good accommodation, especially for a student.
“I love the beach, it is always fun to go there with some drinks and music to have a good time.”
Femke Gardelein: Femke is 20 years old and is originally from Ghent, Belgium but moved to Barcelona one month ago to study communications at Abat Oliba CEU University.
Q: What is the biggest difference between Spain & Home?
A: There are always a lot of things to do in Barcelona, and I am never bored. The Covid-19 restrictions in Barcelona are quite a bit milder than the ones in Belgium. In fact, it is nice to be able to have the freedom of doing new things and meeting new people.
Q: How has COVID impacted your stay?
A: Firstly, the touristy sites of Barcelona are very nice to visit during this period because they are not crowded. You can visit them peacefully. The fact that wearing a mask is mandatory, doesn’t bother me a lot. However, the curfew at 22h is the only thing that has a big impact on this experience so far. Additionally, I have classes until 20h30 every day, it’s hard to go out and get home in time for the curfew. In conclusion, although these regulations might have a negative impact on my experience, I think it is for a greater good and the regulations are here for everyone’s safety.
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Written by Ameerah Akhtar and Louise Koninckx