I have no sense of direction. None. Zip. Once, I ended up in LaGrange when trying to drive back to campus from Chinatown. As a result, going to unfamiliar places is always an interesting experience because my "internal compass" is so out of sync. Studying abroad in Barcelona for the quarter, I have had to learn my way around, and, although the zigzag streets of the Raval area are still a wonder to me, I have learned how to get to a few key places. For instance, I know I'm at school when I see the huge Burberry on the corner! How simple!
Life is good in Barcelona, and only three weeks into the trip, I can safely say that if you have the opportunity to study abroad, you'd damned well better jump on it. You have the chance to get out more, that's for sure. Get out of the country, travel, experience new things. These are things you ought to do before you get a real job where you can't just take off for three months to meander around Europe.
Now, this is not to say that studying in Barcelona is absolutely stress-free. I still have daily trials and tribulations just like at the good ole U of C. Sometimes I have to wear a sweater AND a jacket. The hotel maid who cleans my room everyday often wakes me up when I sleep in on the weekends. I have to fight the crowds because our hotel, Hotel Atlantis, is located on the shoe-shopping street, and people are constantly browsing. Sometimes I just get tired of going out to dinner. Sigh.
And, obviously, there are things that I miss about the University of Chicago, especially during winter quarter: the Reg, the slush, the windchill. No, actually, there are things that I genuinely miss, but the great thing about the quarter system is that you can leave for an easy 10 weeks which is long enough to become immersed in the study abroad locale and short enough to still feel like vacation. The friends, the city, and the Psi U parties will all be there when I get back, and if Doc had been a little more considerate of my schedule and my needs, I wouldn't be missing their Audrey Hepburn series either.
As for the whole school factor, I am thrilled to death to be squeezing my total Civiliations requirement into one quarter. Civ is not really my thing, and having to take a full year in Chicago may or may not have been the death of me. Supplementing the classes with visits to museums and actual ancient Roman cities definitely brings life to the material in a way that black and white photocopies of a Roman wall can't manage. Being so close to the source makes it so much more real.
Guapo/a, you need to get out morereally get out and take advantage of the study abroad opportunities that the U of C has set-up for you. Maybe you'll realize that the U of C dating pool isn't as bad as you once thought when you see all of the Catalonians with their Mohawks, mullets, and random cheek-piercings. OK, so much to my dismay, I may not come home with a European lover.
Take a plane with final destination Barcelona (BCN). Hop in a cab from the airport for about 35 euro ($44) to Hotel Atlantis. Alternately, take the shuttle bus for 3.5 euro (about $4.50) or the metro for 1.1 euro (about $1.50) to Placa Catalunya. Walk about a block to the hotel.
For more information and list of programs, check out http://study-abroad.uchicago.edu.