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Vamos a Barcelona, Mi Amor

(Photo by Ida Söderholm)

Go on exchange |   05. Oct 2021

Ida Söderholm

Student Writer

On 2 September, I arrived in sunny Barcelona, a city which I have now come to love for its uplifting atmosphere and people, stunning cafes, every day golden hours, perfect avocados and endless activities to explore.

Away from what the city has to offer me on its own, I am falling in love with experiencing new things as an extension of who I am, in a place where everything feels like a blank page of opportunity. As I walk down the streets, speak and act, I feel a sense of freedom, completely unshaped by others’ preconceptions of me.

And yet, similarly, spending a bit over two weeks on my own has made that blank page at times feel empty. Feelings of inadequacy, fear and occasionally also loneliness continue to sometimes arise in the morning, although I am beyond excited about everything I am experiencing and all the different types of people I am meeting and spending time with.

The sun is truly therapeutic, and so is the ocean. There is also the early afternoon wine culture here in Barcelona, which I am looking forward to indulging in more!

My yet brief stay here has amplified my thoughts that a life without self-inflicted stress truly is the life for me, something both Stockholm and Copenhagen have failed to convince me of.

They say that if you love something, you must love it fully – a belief that I have found myself applying both consciously and unconsciously as I experience what this city can offer me, enjoying my overnight chilled Barcelonan tap water with its aftertaste of chlorine every morning.

Barcelona, I actually think I love you. My appreciation of your chlorine-tasting tap water must be a mirroring of just that.

University Pompeu Fabra and where to live?

While staying here, I am attending University Pompeu Fabra at one of its campuses situated right by the Arch de Triomf. I visited her in the morning sun, and yes, she is stunning.

Arc de Triomf. (Photo by Ida Söderholm)

I can appreciate and understand that you would like my unbiased opinion of the university, and to be completely honest, it is fabulous. We all know that the grade jungle at CBS is a bloody one and that the warm exchange destinations are ranked high.

One of my reasons for choosing the university Pompeu Fabra was thereby its leftover spots during a few of the years before. I believed these leftover exchange places to be a result of the university education and quality, but I definitely feel like I was wrong.

At Pompeu Fabra, the teachers arrive with enthusiasm, some allow for a joint meditation in the middle of the class, talk about not weighing the students’ full grade on the final exam as they emphasize staying active and participating for the greater good of the class and for oneself. The course selection is wide, interesting and the teaching innovative. A Pompeu Fabra university fan? Si, soy yo. (In Spanish, yes that’s me).

View from University in Barcelona
View from the university. ( Photo by Ida Söderholm)

As a CBS student, if you want to attend Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, you are required to obtain at least 10 ECTS at CBS summer university. And yes, I get it, perhaps you find this too sounds draining. But maybe it will also change your life, as it did mine.

I took a course named “Change Management and The Values-Driven Organization” held by Ginger Grant and was required to write a paper containing my own perceptions and predictions as well as taking into account emotional intelligence and the emotional life of people in business.

It was life changing for me because I have never felt as accepted and capable in the academic sphere. If you feel like your competences aren’t brought to light in the regular CBS arena, I wish you the same feeling and revelation that your competences are equally valuable.

There is nothing more important than feeling like you have value, and the long beach walk in Barcelona with the sand and ocean on one side and the city on the other deserves to be praised. When I walk back from class with a delicious acai bowl in my hand, I just think to myself “Damn, what a time to be alive”.

acai bowl

(Photo by Ida Söderholm)

I bet if you’re reading  this, you’re looking for tips on accommodation for your future Barcelona enjoyment, and yes, I do have a good one to offer. I am staying at student accommodation called Livensa Living at its Marina location, a 12-minute walk and access to this beautiful beach. I pay 759 euros a month with all bills included, and the accommodation has both a small kitchenette, own bathroom, pool on the roof and a gym.

Beachwalk. (Photo by Ida Söderholm)

Overall, I’d give it a 9/10 top grade, with the -1 because I would like direct sunshine into my room in the morning. Sounds a bit greedy, perhaps, but that is my only complaint. For a simple and helpful booking procedure, I would recommend checking it out.

pool at accomondation in Barccelona

(Photo by Ida Söderholm)

Late night shopping, tomato heaven and Kombucha indulgence

A 10-minute walk in the other direction from my accommodation takes me to an area called Diagonal Alto and an inside-outside shopping center that for some reason looks stunning in darkness.

It is also here I visit my favorite SuperMercado. I don’t know if you agree, but supermarkets in foreign countries can definitely be an area of passion. I love going there when they open with all the oldies trying to avoid the crowd and deciding which will be the future day’s selection of juicy tasty tomatoes.

tomatos

(Photo by Ida Söderholm)

Also, can you wrap your head around Barcelona offering 4 perfectly ripe avocados for only 2 euro, aka 15 kroner? As the avocado-lover I am, I am still in shock and awe. In Copenhagen, I buy one for around 30 kroner and am already annoyed doing it, anticipating my disappointment at its brown inside.

Indulging myself in this fabulous Barcelona existence does, of course, include doing much of the activities I already hold dear to my heart – a la Barcelona style! Trying out cafes, cappuccinos, different delicious pastries and vegetarian food options is wholeheartedly a passion of mine. If you are a curious café and restaurant lover just like me, I encourage you to check out my upcoming guide on the best ones to visit in Barcelona.

a store in Barcelona
Kombuchaheaven. (Photo by Ida Söderholm)
(Photo by Ida Söderholm)

Until then, I have two fabulous sneak peeks to share. The first one is Flax&Kale with its beautiful setting, vegan pastries, delicious food and Kombucha selection that I think might be unbeaten world-wide. If real heaven and kombucha heaven are situated nearby, I still don’t want to go yet, but will fully enjoy when the time arrives.

On my way to a second-hand shop, I also stumbled across this delicious bakery by the name of “Pastisseria La Colmena” right by the metro station “Jaume”. Deliciousness overload!

As excited as I am to be enjoying the heat that Barcelona is still offering in late September, I am also really anticipating that time when October turns in to November and the sunny weather is accompanied by a fall breeze that feels like one from late spring. If you are looking for me, chances are you’ll find me in the Ciutadella park, in my yellow beret, sipping a delicious cappuccino whilst people watching. I am trying to romanticize my life, have you noticed?

park in Barcelona

Ciutadella. (Ida Söderholm)

You deserve to romanticize your life

Yep, I am going in for the assignment wholeheartedly with the ultimate aim to romanticize my life whilst still telling the truth. Have you thought that crying is a form of romanticization? In a world where we are often told to suck it up, permission to be just as we are and feel just the way we do is so damn healing for our insides. And since romanticization is all about enjoying moments fully, crying is also just that.

Last week, I cried in the morning and then went to the beach and enjoyed the morning light. If looking for a more wholesome and uplifting combination of practices, I think I would have to accept it being too difficult to find.

And isn’t Spanish just the most attractive language on earth?

As I lie on the beach pretending to read in my big shades, I was sneakily listening and imitating the sentences of Spanish people to be able to adapt my personality more to the language. Although I am studying Chinese at CBS, Spanish is still the language that makes my heart take an extra beat.

wall painting
(Photo by Ida Söderholm)
Delish fruit
(Photo by Ida Söderholm)
Harbour in Barcelona
(Photo by Ida Söderholm)

And yes, it is important that I approach my learning with determination, considering I will be moving here next summer after my graduation. That is, however, not where I gather most of my Spanish learning motivation from, but instead from a future scene in my life currently under manifestation where I compliment my future Spanish-speaking lover on how stunning he looks in the soothing morning sun. With these specifically constructed scenes that I am concentratedly studying for, I will probably end up magnificently good and hopefully charming in some areas of conversation, yet still very bad and incompetent in others. It will be solved when I become a permanent resident, I think.

As I will be apartment hunting, I figured I could start neighborhood hunting already. If you crave that historical residential feel, want to live centrally right in between the most popular shopping streets with a 20-minute walk to the beach, you can enjoy the aroma of incense and occasional strong breezes of weed, perhaps the gothic area is perfect for you. While walking through the neighborhood, I was reminded of my fantasy, awe and envy of the Barcelonan jungle balconies that can be spotted at some places and sometimes, all over.

house in Barcelona

(Photo by Ida Söderholm)

I think my soul resided in a Spanish speaking climate before being born into my current physical vessel. I was probably also that lady who spoke to the jungle on her balcony. It would explain my deep craving for re-experiencing that existence in this lifetime, and also why I feel so sad about not being able to give my plants optimal living back home. In this current existence, I am ranking low on the scale of optimal plant mom. When I move to Barcelona permanently, it will be a pleasure revisiting those skills of my previous existence.

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