Wow. October’s almost over? This could possibly be the fastest month I’ve ever experienced. After getting into the groove with my courses, getting to know the various neighborhoods around the city, and starting to teach English classes at the University of Barcelona, I know deciding to study abroad for a semester was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It’s a whole different world over here and adapting to it not only tests my versatility, but also helps me appreciate the connections between what I know and what I’m learning.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to do some traveling outside of Barcelona this month. First, Valencia, Spain! My study abroad program organized a trip where we were able to visit the famous “Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” (City of the Arts and Sciences) which is home to a huge interactive science museum, Imax theatre, opera house, and much more. It is one of the most treasured attractions of Valencia. I had never seen anything quite like it and the science museum had me feeling like a kid again with all of its interactive experiments.
Second, Porto, Portugal! A perfect opportunity to practice my Portuguese. The city had beautiful parks and gardens throughout and is considered the birthplace of Harry Potter! Apparently, J.K. Rowling used to be a teacher in Porto and, word is, she began writing the Harry Potter series in this city and was influenced by certain aspects of the culture. I didn’t really see big connections at first but as we were walking home from dinner one night, we walked past a large gathering of cloaked college students who seemed to be chanting. We didn’t think anything of it, really- thought it was probably a LARP session or an a cappella group trying out a new approach, so we just walked on by.
When we arrived at our hostel, however, we asked one of the Porto locals and they explained that what we saw was a form of “initiation” that some of the local university students do as a tradition to welcome the new first-years. Our friend then told us that this tradition is considered, by some, as one of the influences on the Harry Potter books. The cloaks, chanting, and forbidden forest scenery had Hogwarts written all over it, why hadn’t I seen it before? I don’t know if the Harry Potter connection is true or not but it was cool to be there, nonetheless.
There are so many more places to go and things to see. There are a couple countries I still want to visit but I know Barcelona has a lot more for me to explore. So until then, stay posted on the international adventures!
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