Goodbye Barcelona

As this semester is quickly coming to an end, I am experiencing a world wind of emotions. I cannot believe how fast this semester flew by. It feels like it was just yesterday my mom was dropping me off at LAX and we were saying our final goodbyes before I ventured off onto this journey. As I was boarding the plane to come here, I remember thinking to myself, “oh god what did I get myself into” and feeling as though I was not ready for the experience I was about to embark on. I had never even been to Europe before studying abroad, so I really had no clue what to expect. My experiences abroad have been characterized by the struggle of understanding the culture and the roller coaster of emotions.

Before I got to Barcelona, I was aware that the culture and lifestyle here would be different from what I was used to in the United States. However, I think I was a little bit blindsided when I got here and saw just how different it really was. First and foremost, the biggest cultural difference for me was the amount of people I thought were being rude when I first got here. Within the first few days I had encountered multiple people that ran into me walking without saying sorry, got stared at an excessive amount, and didn’t see anyone smiling at one another ever. All these things were really shocking to me because none of which are normal to experience that often in the states. It took some time for me to realize that all these things are just apart of the culture here in Barcelona. It is not that the people here are impolite, it’s just that their culture is different from what I was used to. After being here for almost four months now, all these things seem totally normal to me and I wouldn’t consider them to be rude actions. At this point in my study abroad experience, I have fully adapted to the cultural norms of Barcelona.

It’s safe to say I went through extreme highs and lows of emotions throughout the semester. As I learned in one of my courses at CEA this semester, it would be referred to as the “emotional roller coaster” that all abroad students typically go through. It starts arrival anticipation phase which happens before we got to Barcelona. This phase consisted of my extreme excitement to get here and dive right into whatever Barcelona had to offer. The next phase was denial and culture shock. As I talked about earlier I went through pretty severe culture shock when I first got here. I constantly found myself comparing everything to home back in the states and felt like everything people were doing here was “wrong”, rather than realizing it is just different. The third phase is the beloved honeymoon period. This consisted of me loving every single thing about being abroad. I felt like Barcelona was the greatest place in the world and that nothing could possibly affect me or make me not like it. Following the honeymoon period was the plunge phase. This is where I started having feelings of anxiety. I got very homesick during this time and just wanted to be with my family back in the states. Eventually I grew out of the plunge and went into the adjustment phase. This is when I begun to adapt the the cultural norms of Barcelona. Everything started to seem normal to me and I became very aware of my cultural surroundings. The final phase I have entered on the emotional roller coaster is the accommodation/assimilation phase. At this point I have fully embraced myself into Barcelona culture. I feel completely at home here and everything feels normal to me.

Overall, I am without a doubt, positive that I made the right decision to study abroad. More specifically, I am positive that I made the right choice when choosing Barcelona as my study abroad destination. A majority of my closest friends chose to study in Florence, which is where I thought I would end up as well. At the last minute, I changed my mind and chose to go a different route than them, which brought me to Barcelona. This was one of the first major things I have really done by myself and for myself, and I am so glad that I did. It taught me how to be more independent and do what is best for me. This semester was absolutely the best four months of my life. I learned that when people tell you studying abroad is a life changing experience, they aren’t lying. In fact, I would say that referring to it as a life changing experience is an understatement. I wouldn’t change the mistakes I made or the emotional roller coaster I went through here for anything. Barcelona officially has my heart and I will 100% be back here in the future.

La Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia is one of the main tourist attractions in Barcelona, Spain. The Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Church that was designed by Catalan, Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi. Construction of the church began in 1882 by Francisco Paula de Villa. It wasn’t until 1883 that Antoni Gaudi joined in when Francisco resigned as the head architect of the project. Once Gaudi took over he transformed the church using curvilinear art nouveau and gothic forms. When the project began, the Sagrada Familia was not intended to be a Cathedral. In 1926, Antoni Gaudi passed away, leaving the Sagrada Familia less than a fourth of the way finished. Once Gaudi passes away, the project was taken over by Domenec Sugranes, one of his followers, who finished building the final three towers of the Nativity facade.  




With the passing of Antoni Gaudi, the progression for the construction of the Sagrada Familia moved at a very slow pace.  The only funding for the project at the time was through private donors which played a factor into why construction was moving so slowly. The construction was also delayed due to the Spanish Civil War for quite some time. In 2010, the Sagrada Familia reached the halfway point of its completion. It is currently in its final phase of raising the six immense towers. The way in which the church is constructed now, differs from how it was constructed in the 20th century. Now they use a CNC milling machine to shape the stone off-site, where as in the 20th century it was carved by hand. The expected year for the construction to be complete is 2026, exactly one hundred years after Gaudi’s death. Added on decorations to the church are not expected to be complete until 2030-2032.


The cost of entry to visit the Sagrada Familia is a bit pricey ranging from 15-29 euros. The prices ranges depending on the amount of access within the church you have. The lower level tickets don’t allow you access to the towers. However, these hefty entrance fee’s do not stop the tourists from visiting. These fee’s finance the annual budget of 25 million euros for construction. This means that roughly 1.5 million people visit the Sagrada Familia per year. Tickets are available for purchase online or in person at the main ticket office. It opens to tourists at 9am year round and closing time varies from 6pm-8pm depending on the month. Ticket sales stop thirty minutes prior to closing time. Both individual and guided tours of the Sagrada Familia are offered. Tourists that choose to do an individual tour will be provided with an audioguide. The individual tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and the guided tour lasts approximately 50 minutes. An important thing for tourists to know is the Sagrada Familia facility recommends a strict dress code before entering the church. Tourists wearing skirts or dresses that don’t reach the knee, shorts, low cut tops, tank tops, sleeveless shirts, crop tops, or any clothing that is considered to be flashy and distracting will not be allowed inside the church.




With all the effort that has gone into the construction of the Sagrada Familia, the board members take all potential threats very seriously. In March of 2010, the construction of the AVE tunnel began. The Ministry of Public works of Spain stated it in no way would cause any harm to the Sagrada Familia. However, the architects and engineers building the church completely disagreed. They claimed there was no way anyone could guarantee that this underground railroad would not affect the stability of the church. The Sagrada Familia board led a protest against the AVE railroad which did not end with a success. As of today, there has been no reported damage to the Sagrada Familia.

The interior design of the Sagrada Familia is just as intricate as it is on the outside. None of the pieces on the inside are flat and all consist of abstract shapes. Much of the inside decor is pointy and sharp. When designing the Sagrada Familia Gaudi’s intentions were to use his architecture to express Christian ideology. These beliefs were showed through his interior design of the church. There is eighteen towers within the Sagrada Familia with each of them having a direct reflection on Christianity. The tower in the center is devoted to Jesus Christ. Surrounding the center tower, are four
other towers through which the Gospel is represented. The Virgin Mary is represented by the tower above the apse, which is topped off by a star. The twelve apostles are represented by the twelve remaining towers. The branding columns on the exterior are meant to symbolize an invite to everyone in to practice prayer and celebrate the Eucharist. Antoni Gaudi stated, “The intimacy and depth is that of a wood, which will be the interior of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia”. As a way to allow natural light into the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi implemented skylights into the design using green and gold tiles and glass. The apse consists of stained glass which helps create an environment appropriate for introspection. The stained glass windows also play a role in providing bright light inside. Gaudi claimed that “color was the expression of life” which is why he felt it was necessary for it to be incorporated into Sagrada Familia.





The Basilica is the place of worship within the Sagrada Familia. It is help in the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence. On the Sagrada familia website, is where the public can find dates of masses they are allowed to attend in the Basilica. It is rare that there are any open to the public, but if they are, the Sagrada Familia website is where a person would be able to find them. The next upcoming mass is April 1st at 6pm for an Easter concert. Then again on April 9th for Palm Sunday Mass at noon.