A Semester of Firsts

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21 

Lexi hugs her brother at the Boston airport
Finally making it back to Boston and reuniting with my family!

In the fall of 2019, I studied away at the IES Liberal Arts and Business Program in Barcelona. Going abroad is full of firsts and I got to experience plenty.

  1. Studying away in Barcelona was my first time going to school in a city. I remember setting the alarm the night before my first day of class attempting to calculate how long it would take me to walk there. I found myself using mapping skills I learned at Conn. I decided it would take about the same time to get to class in Barcelona as it takes me to walk from the North Complex (The Plex) to Cummings Arts Center on Conn’s campus. 
  2. On Monday afternoons, my roommates and I would meet at the market across from campus to get our ingredients to meal prep for the week. This was my first experience grocery shopping and meal prepping on my own. At Conn, I go to the dining hall for meals.
  3. In Spain, it is extremely uncommon to have a drying machine, so I had to learn to air dry my clothes. The hardest part: I had to wait about a day to wear them again.
  4. Soccer is huge in Europe so I had to go to a game. It was my first time going to a professional soccer game. Go FC Barcelona!
  5. While in Barcelona I discovered a new favorite food: patatas bravas. This is a classic tapa dish that I still miss every day consisting of fried potatoes, served with a spicy sauce that differs between every restaurant. 
  6. My first time ordering and catching a cab in a different language. By the end of my semester abroad, I had learned a few phrases, but the first few weeks all I was familiar with was my apartment street name, “Carrer de Muntaner.”
  7. I can honestly say I had never gotten lost in a city before going abroad. While my new friend Sofia and I were exploring the neighborhood Gràcia, which we heard had beautiful shops, we ended up so turned around that we weren’t sure we’d ever find our way home. We were terribly lost until we stumbled upon La Sagrada Família, the most famous basilica in Barcelona, and were able to get our bearings

 

An image of La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família, the most famous basilica in Barcelona

8. At Conn, I always get my best work done in the library. While abroad, I found myself craving Barcelona’s amazing restaurants and beautiful coffee shops as alternative study spots. I discovered Honest Greens, my favorite lunch spot, and it became my new niche to study and work.

9. Because Spain is within the European Union, it is relatively easy to travel to other countries in Europe on short notice. During my semester abroad, I booked a plane ticket and headed to the airport that same day, which was a first for me. I brought all my packed bags for the trip to my Thursday afternoon class so I could head directly to the airport after. I felt funny, but before I knew it, it became the norm.

10. My first time being stuck in an airport alone. On my trip back home to Boston, I missed my connecting flight and spent the night in the Madrid-Barajas Airport. Hopefully a first and a last.