12 Truths About Being a Foreign Student in Barcelona

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Catedral de Barcelona
Catedral de Barcelona, photo via @barnadrift

Student life anywhere is an unforgettable experience. Being a student in Barcelona is something extra special. For those lucky enough to spend a semester or more in our splendid city, there are some habits they’ll be likely to develop and others things they will become accustomed to. Read on to see what we’ve noticed about student life in Barcelona.

 

1. You’ll spend hardly any time at home

Barcelona is a bumping city with so much to do, any day at any time. With your classes, study dates, new friends and a beautiful city waiting to be explored, you may find yourself leaving the house early in the morning only to come back early the next morning.

 

2. You’ll make friends from all over the world

Barcelona is a hot spot for international tourists and students. With so many good universities and programs, you won’t be the only outsider in your classes. Because a lot of those people aren’t local, everyone will be excited about meeting new people and making friends.

 

3. You’ll stay out late

Once you’ve adjusted your eating habits to the Spanish horario, the time you leave the house to leave for a party will follow. Spaniards are notorious for staying out until the sun is up and it’s easy to get into this flow since some clubs don’t even open until 12. It’s normal to see people drinking out on the streets in the wee hours of the morning too.

 

4. You won’t be checking your weather app

The weather in Barcelona is pretty consistent throughout each season. It hardly ever rains, so you can forget about thinking whether or not to bring an umbrella with you. Summer is hot hot hot, while in winter, it’s smart to wear layers for the chilly, shady areas and the sunny, warm patches.

 

5. Weeknight parties will be normal

What’s a great thing to do after your classes have finished for the day? Having a caña, of course! Student life in Barcelona is one of those things that just creeps in. No matter how hard you think to yourself “tonight I’ll stay in to study”, it’s so easy to just step out of the apartment for one drink, it’s impossible to say no. There are so many weekday events too, that you might as well give in and join the party.

 

6. Locals will treat you as a tourist

Unless you look Catalan or Spanish, you will be labelled a guiri. What gives you away? Perhaps your blond hair or you accented Spanish or the fact that you’re speaking a different language with your compañeros. You won’t be considered a local until you’re speaking the city’s language, and that’s if you’re lucky. Most foreigners that have been living here for years are still guiris in a Spaniard’s eye.

 

7. You’ll know the cheapest places to eat and drink

The typical student is usually on a student budget. Barcelona is not necessarily a “cheap” place, but you will surely find venues catering from jaw-droppingly cheap to unimaginably expensive. As a student, you’ll quickly learn to sniff out the places that accommodate your particular monthly allowance. The bar with the cheapest caña, tapas, café or the low-cost supermarket will be your best friends.

 

8. You’ll know when to go on a treasure hunt

Living in a student apartment in Barcelona, the furnishings might not always be the chicest or most luxurious. There is a day once a week (different in each neighbourhood) that is allocated as the day to throw out furniture. As a student, you’ll be looking to spiff up your room and “garbage day” is the perfect day to go scouting out new treasures.

 

9. Cheap places to travel on weekends

Weekend getaway to Blanes, anyone? With a beautiful coastline to discover both North and South of Barcelona, as well as mountains all around, one of the best things to do is hop on an inexpensive train and hightail it out of the city. Grab your new friends and enjoy what the little Catalan towns have to offer.

 

10. Get used to biking or walking everywhere

Although Barcelona is a big city, the centre is rather small and easy to get around. If you’re living in the central neighbourhoods, you can expect to get anywhere on foot in under 20 minutes. The city’s bike-sharing programme Bicing is super affordable to residents at just under 50€ for a whole year! If you get tired of that, you can always take the reasonably priced metro, FCG or Rodalies to the parts of town that are further away.

 

11. Group work will turn into group drinking

The Barcelonian way of life is super tranquilo and it’s easy to fall into the lifestyle. When doing group projects, students tend to gather in a local bar, cafe or even at home. To ease the pressures and stresses of the task, one might offer a cerveza or a copa de vino. Once the good ideas are flowing, the alcohol might as well, too!

 

12. You’ll (hopefully) learn to hold your liquor

For Spaniards, drinking is in their blood. They are introduced to it at a young age. Some children as young as 10 are given a bit of wine to drink with their Sunday lunch. Because of this early exposure, you could say they are seasoned drinkers, never imbibing to the point of belligerence. As a student in Barcelona, you may pick up on this habit simply by being surrounded by it.  

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