October 19, 2015

The Ongoing American Experience in Barcelona

Since I was young, one of my upmost goals was being able to study abroad in the USA. I had already been there before a couple of times. When I just turned sixteen I spent one month in a host family nearby Los Angeles, in the Orange County. Throughout this month abroad, I visited a couple of university campuses, which made up my mind about studying there at some point in my life. That was my first contact with America, but I knew it would not be the last one.

New York, the city that never sleeps, that was my second destination. When it came the moment to decide what to do with my future, among other obvious reasons, I chose a degree that allowed me to study abroad at least three academic months.

Following this goal, I managed to get the minimum GPA required to apply for one of the best public universities in the States, the University of California in Santa Barbara. I spent there six months and I really felt like home. One of the things that I valued the most while I was abroad was having local people helping me and showing me around. I was really interested in their cultures, lifestyles and traditions.

Back to Barcelona, feeling homesick, I got the offer to continue being "abroad" in my home country. Along with another Catalan girl, we were in charge of an American group of students who were about to begin their studies in Barcelona. One of the activities was a trip to Costa Brava, a region in Catalonia with the most precious villages and beaches in all Spain. Back in the States, I was used to do a lot of weekend trips with local people, so even though I went to this one as a tour guide it was as exciting for me as it was for them. We had plenty of activities scheduled throughout the weekend, from historical and cultural to more chilling and relaxing activities. This combination of activities made the weekend very enriching and worthwhile. We started off the weekend by going to the Dali's Museum, which is in his hometown Dali, Figueres. Dalí said:

"I want my museum to be a single block, a labyrinth, a great surrealist object. It will be totally theatrical museum. The people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream"

What an impressive building! After this we went to one of the most famous beach villages in Costa Brava, Cadaqués, where we had some spare time to go to the beach and enjoy its streets and shops. At night we had a pleasant family dinner altogether at the hotel where we were staying. The aim of it was to make them experience what is a “menu” in Spain. It consists on three courses, a first course, a second course, which normally is fish or meat, and a third course, the dessert. They got the chance the try out some of the most typical dishes in Spain. The second and last day of the trip we went to the Empuries’s Roman ruins. Empurion was an ancient colony founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC, later occupied by the Romans, who created their own town in the 1st century BC. We ended up our short trip in a beach nearby, where all the Americans got crazy about “Bocadillos”. Their excitement at every little detail of our daily life and their willingness to learn the Spanish culture reminded me about my time in the US. On top of everything, one of the best parts was how this trip really brought us together and let us get to know each other in a more casual manner.

March 10, 2014

Be Rich and Smart, Be Bilingual!

Being bilingual makes you smarter...and richer! So, welcome to the clever (and wealthy) region, CATALUNYA, where 84.7% of its population speak both Spanish and Catalan.

By in large, bilingualism increases executive functioning and decision-making abilities! If still you are not convinced: bilinguals earn on average $7,000 more per year than their monolingual peers. There is even evidence that it delays the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia as well as other neurological problems. Hablamos? Venga, Som-hi! Si us plau!

References: Gray Matter, Why Bilinguals Are Smarter, in The New York Times, March 17, 2012 and Generalitat de Catalunya, Department de la Vicepresidencia y Secretaria de Politica Linguistica, Catalan, language of Europe,



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