Johanna's Portfolio Weblog

dijous, de desembre 02, 2004

And now the end is near so...

Yeah, amazing how time runs so fast. Now it's already second of December and really only few weeks to go. On the one hand I'm glad, that all the school works will be done soon and I do miss Finland and friends but on the other hand I would like to stay longer. In three months you get to know this city, culture and people quite well but you're still only scratching the surface.

I have enjoyed this journey a lot. You learn and experience so much more while being abroad than you would if you were at home the same time. I look at Barcelona now differently than in the beginning. Right now I feel that I took too many courses at school, I have been very busy almost all the time, I would say too busy. In the beginning I was so excited and wanted to have many interesting courses, but there was much more work than I thought. Talking about school, it would have been nice to have more classes with Spanish students to get to know them better. Now we have had only some workshops with Spanish students. I think you really need longer time to get good friends. Catalan people seem to be more close and shy than I thought. Ofcourse it varies, but in general it's not so easy to get to know them. Language has also a lot to do with this thing. I hope there would have been more Spanish classes to learn more. Beside school, I haven't had time or money to take any extra classes in some other school.

Things that I liked here... It's a pity that I didn't try more Catalan food. I don't really like seafood, I like fish but not shrimps and all that. I like Cava. It is cheap and you can buy it just from a food shop near you. I like patatas bravas, which are really good in Bar Thomas, like many students know. After all, I don't think that Catalan food is tremendously good, but something new to experience.Now I'm looking forward to spend the Christmas here and see the traditions and taste some typical Christmas food. Most of the Christmas food this year is anyway going to be mostly Finnish, that I'm going to make.

This city is big in my point of view,in Jyväskylä, there is only about 83 000 people. It's lovely to wonder around the town and find new little streets and shops. Recently I have been dicovering more areas in Barcelona. When you just take a metro to some strange metro stop, you might find a whole new world. In Barcelona, there is always something going on, some people walking down the streets, festivals, live music. And I like the idea, that you can stay out all night. Undergrounds should stay open later, allthough I haven't had problems, because to Paral. lel nightbuses are running quite well. Although Barcelona is big, I have felt quite safe here. I haven't got robbed even once, lucky me. It's still sad to know that so many people are being robbed every day, especially tourists. You have to be careful with your bag all the time.

People in Barcelona are quite bohemian. Many dress up in a very artistic and different way. Barcelona is full of design shops, which I still can't afford. I like shopping in Barcelona, but I have bought just few pieces of clothes until now. I got to have a whole day for shopping if I want to do it well. Barcelona is also great place for another kind of art, music. I'm not very keen on Catalan music, haven't either listened it much, but what I have heard until now.

I didn't take all the advantage of Merce, when it was going on. The little part that I saw of it was great combination of different kind of arts. The highlights of this trip, to choose only some, would be flamenco musical, Tarantos, Magic fountains and just common party night with people from our Erasmus group. Tarantos was first flamenco performance that I saw and I really liked! When flamenco singers started to sing, I was amazed! Such a strong feelings! A party night together with our group was a different kind of experience. I felt so great to be together with young people from different countries and simply have fun!! About magic fountains I don't have to say much, it was magical!

I missed many times fresh air and some peace and quiet here in Barcelona. I lived with 5 other people, so it didn't help much in the situation. I still hate the smoking here. They smoke everywhere and don't really care about other people, also inside the houses. I have also seen that here people start smoking and using drugs already when they are quite young. Many young people have quite free relation to drugs. One thing that I have been missing here, is more friendly customer service and a little smile. I also wonder, why people don't use more bicycles here. Maybe the city has to prove the infrastructure to support it.

I'm going to spend also Christmas and New Year here, so there is more to come. Maybe I this time have the opportunity to see the fireworks above the sea lighting the whole city. To new students I would say, take all the advantage of what you see and what opportunities you might have because time is really running fast, faster than you would think. Take care of yourself and don't work too much. Exchange is more about exchanging new experiences and ideas with other unique people. It's something you can't live back home.

That's basically what I had in my mind! I know I will come back to Barcelona one day, even that I didn't drink from the fountain...

And thanks Graham, it was fun to work with you!

dimarts, de novembre 30, 2004

To be or not to be .. Spanish or Catalan?

I interviewed three women about this thing being Catalan or Spanish.

First person was 30 year old and original Catalan. She used to live in a small village in Catalnunya, but has been now living in Barcelona for maybe eight years. She said that she felt more Catalan when she lived in that small village, but when she moved to Barcelona, her feelings changed a little. In Barcelona there are many people from all parts of Spain and also other countries. Barcelona is getting more and more international. She still feels like Catalan, but not so strongly.

She thinks that the independency of Catalonia is now impossible and she wouldn't want it anyway.

The second person was 22 years. Her parents are from Spain but she lived all her live in Germany. Now she has been living in Barcelona for about four months. She speaks fluent Spanish and German. Her mother comes from Galicia and her father from a town near Madrid. Hr grandparents and sisters live now in Spain. She said she feels Spanish. In her opinion, she doesn't want Catalunya to be independent and she also thinks that Catalnunya wouldn't make it on its own.

I interviewed also third person. She is 21. She was born and has lived all her life in Barelona. Her mother is originally from Barcelona and her father from other part of Spain. She said she feels both, Catalan and Spanish, maybe because of her parents and family. She is not interested in politics and doesn't really want Catalunya to be independent. She thinks it's not a good idea at all.

dilluns, de novembre 08, 2004

Winding things up

Hi Johanna!

Now that you have tasted more than a little bite of the culture, what would you say has made the biggest impression on you? What things have you really liked, and what would you not recommend? Imagine you are writing to a future student coming here next year. What would you say to them?

dimecres, d’octubre 06, 2004

Finally my experiences and impressions

I came to Barcelona three weeks ago and experienced a lots of new things. My really first picture or impression of Barcelona was in my mind. Before travelling I didn't have a change to talk with Finnish students, who have been there before. Actually, from our school there was one group of students in a Food and Wine- tour in Barcelona. A friend of mine showed me afterwards pictures from Barcina and this school, also from a few sights. It looked very attractive to me. I tried to study language and the city at home with maps, guides and Spanish book. And my expectations rose higher. All the things I heard from people who visited Barcelona, mainly in a vacation, where admiring. So I made a picture of Barcelona in my mind. My Barcelona was full of culture, warm weather, beaches and happy Catalans, which I considered more like Spanish.

Few days before travelling to Barcelona I received e-mails from friends from Barcelona. They we`re two girls, who I met in Finland while they we`re doing their exchange in my school in Jyvaskyla. I had written them happy letter about coming soon to beautiful and hot Barcelona. They we're trying to calm me down, because the weather had been very rainy two past weeks. They also urged me to really study Spanish and be ready to meet and act with people with almost no skills in English at all. I think I didn't quite get the point before I actually landed to the

This was a new situation to me not to understand and not been understood. I had some travel experience before, but I always had the change to communicate mainly in English or other common language. I really like the language and feel like I have the greatest chance to really learn Spanish in practice. In these three weeks I feel that I have improved my Spanish and got the courage to speak it. My impression of the people is now still of course a bit superficial. Mainly because of the language and also because I know only few Spanish or Catalan. The common language is like the main key usually to get to know people and their way of thinking.

The impression of the people haven´t really changed a lot yet. I had some knowledge of the culture and met some Spanish people before and the way I think about them is still quite same, like I said. I see Spanish and especially Catalan gente hardworking(this wasn't my opinion before, but has changed), strong, energetic, temperamental , happy and proud about their language and culture. One assumption I had before was that all, well not all but most of the Spanish people could dance the latin dances and would be fond of doing that. Well, I was a bit wrong with that, I think, after speaking with people. Maybe this is more popular in South America.

Now I see Barcelona from a quite different point of view. I have got so much information in these weeks and seen so many things, that it might be still a bit hard to form my opinion of Barcelona. Maybe after longer time here, I would have a quite clear picture of real Barcelona in my mind. I can still tell some things that I feel and have experienced here. Barcelona is a rich cultural and historical city. It has been interesting to learn it's raise to the top turist attarctions.
To mee all I see is the real Barcelona. I do not doubt many things yet and it feels like it has looked like this always. I like the feeling that the sea is so near, but have heard that the beaches for example are not the best here but a little bit outside. Well, that's quite obvious to me. I have been used to swim quite far away from the cities and cars. I have tasted just a little bite of the culture of Barcelona. Although I think the culture is not just the museums and sights but it's everywhere and I experience it every day 24 hours. For me for example to go shopping to the local market is a cultural event, how funny it may sound.

Of course I have visited some of the main sights in here and been amazed by the imaginative architecture all around. It's like the mark of the city, from where it's known. From me the different things compared to other big cities is the weather and culture in common. Food, drinks, people, way of living etc. For so far, I like the food. I like Cava and it's also cheap. I don't usually drink red wine, but a well made sangria tastes good to me. One thing that is really different compared for example Finland, is that they sell all kinds of alcohol and spirits in the common food shops and you can buy them just like that. That' s strange. I'm not used to and don't really like the custom that they smoke almost everywhere, also at homes. I'm either not used to the hot weather. I like warm weather but sometimes it's really exhausting, cause it feels like the air is not moving at all and you can't breath fresh air anywere. This is my first time in Spain and in the ¨south¨like we say in Finland and mean the warm Mediterranean and Atlantic countries, where Finnish tourists go for a holidays a lot when it's cold and dark at home. I like the fact that I can swim and lie on the beach still in October.

Barcelona is now within my reach finally, cause I¨ve wanted to see this city for some time. So, now I'm finally here and wan't to make an effort to learn the language and just absorb the rich atmosphere. Ican explore this city in a way I could have never done while being here as a tourist.

dimarts, d’agost 10, 2004

Welcome to Catalonia

Hello and welcome to the course!