Meet My Class

One of the four courses I’m taking at CEA is called Spanish Youth since 1975: Challenge and Achievement. The year 1975 is remarkably important for Spaniards because on November 20th, 1975, the country’s dictator (more like dicktator, ammiright?) Francisco Franco died.

Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco

I love this class. Over this semester I’ve learned more about Spain than I think I know about America, which is pretty embarrassing, but the point is that this course has totally enriched my study abroad experience by teaching me about Spanish culture, traditions, and political scandals. 

For example, we learned about Castells, an activity that is very representative of Catalan values and integral to its culture. A castell is a human tower traditionally made during large festivals. It represents Catalan strength, balance, courage, and common sense. Videos of fallen towers would make great submissions for America’s Funniest Home Videos.

The only thing is that my class only has four students. It wouldn’t be such a problem if my classmates knew how to speak Spanish, but since they don’t the hour and a half lecture is basically directed towards me. That’s okay though, because my teacher happens to be cool as fuck (as most of the teachers are in CEA). Sometimes I get the feeling she thinks I’m too much of a smartass because I carry the weight of my class, but sorry, not sorry! To understand the dynamic of my class, I need to explain the characters in it. All names are changed to preserve anonymity.

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17th Century Gun

Profesora (the teacher): Her catchphrase is “chang” (pronounced ch-ah-ng) and she’s a certified MILF. Her hair is always blown out beautifully, her outfits are chic and borderline inappropriate for class, and she wears only one bright, blue earring on her left ear because the other one fell out and she doesn’t feel like finding a replacement for it. I’m not sure if she’s married, but she always talks about the love of her life, her 16 year old daughter. Sometimes Profesora will bring in cool stuff for show and

tell, like a 16th century pistol, or 12th century books. These antique items comes from her household collection which she claims is haunted by ghosts. Prof can be easily distracted; one time my three classmates and I spent fifteen minutes during class trying to explain to her what the huts that sell marijuana in Freetown Christiana are like.

Megan, classmate #1: Megan is a student at Binghamton majoring in Spanish. Megan doesn’t know how to speak Spanish. Megan is also enrolled in two courses with me that are taught in Spanish. When Megan does her homework, I am very proud of her. Since she can’t understand a word that either of our teachers say, Megan plays on her phone as long as she can until Profesora says “CHANG!! Megan, if you don’t put away your mobile, I am going to take it home with me!” But Megan is lucky, because Profesora is a sweetheart and she never takes away her phone. Chang!

Derrick, classmate #2: Derrick is kind of cute, but he doesn’t really pay attention in class and he’s too skinny for me to develop a crush on. I’ve seen his friends though who are much hotter than him. I wish they would replace Derrick. Derrick is pretty boring. I don’t have much to say about him, except that I translate most of what Profesora says for him. Also, he once emailed me asking if we had any homework due for class, so I know he’s totally trying to get into my pants.

Catherine, classmate #3: Catherine never speaks during class. She also doesn’t really know how to speak Spanish. Sometimes I forget she’s even there, because I sit in the front of the class, like the asshole A+ student that I am. Catherine is very pretty but so fucking boring that her looks don’t make up for it.

Chang!

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Marta Alonso: Taking Instagram by Storm

“So you want to know how I am so successful at such a young age?” said Marta Alonso, a guest speaker for my journalism class.

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Marta (left) and me (also the left).

She sported an oversized tan suit jacket over a classic white top, dark denim jeans, and leather high heeled booties that screamed “I’m cute, but don’t fuck with me”. Before she even began the lecture she prepared on her rise to success I knew I wanted what she had; ambition, confidence, and a hot bod.

After graduating ISDI (Institute Superior para el Desarrollo de Internet) in 2008 Alonso said it was difficult to even think about finding a job because of the global economic crisis. At least she had an excuse for being bleak about her future, it’s 2016 and I can’t even think about getting an internship! But, as her successful story goes, she caught a break and began working at Thinklink in 2009. Alas, her “break” lasted about five months when the company closed; but as one door closed, another opened.

In 2010 Alonso’s boss asked her to help him create Muuby which would be one of the first digital media and social advertising companies in Spain. “I had no idea how to build a company, but I had nothing to lose. So, I put in all the savings I had towards Muuby and gave it a shot,” said Alonso.

Release a breath of relief, because the risk the young entrepreneur took paid off. Alonso created a campaign for Spain’s Doctors Without Borders called “pastillas contra el dolor ajeno” (pain relief pills).

The campaign sold tins of pill shaped candy whose proceeds would go towards actual medical pills. Muuby’s successful Doctors Without Borders campaign won them their biggest client, Spanair.

For about two and a half years Muuby’s staff was on a high. But, as life goes, the airline went bankrupt in 2012. Not only was this a serious loss for Spain, and an inconvenience for citizens with cancelled flights, but the end of Muuby and Alonso’s second career. spanair-operations-suspended

“It was the experience I had because in two years I learned how to build a company – after all, it was a good learning experience,” Alonso said.

This is the part when her story starts getting good. Alonso had always been interested in Instagram and used it quite frequently to find out the hottest fashion, travel, and food trends. She was one of the first people to join Instagram in 2010 when she created @IgersBCN (Instagramers Barcelona). Initially it started as a hobby, but within one month she had 1,000 followers.

Alonso invited all her followers to meet at a bar to get to know each other and to bond over mutual interests in photography, art, and travel. 200 people showed up, and at that moment something clicked for Alonso.

“When I saw that everyone who came was posting pictures from the meeting and talking about it, I realized the potential of Instagram as an advertising platform,” Alonso said.

This realization is what head speared her title as Instagram Guru. As @IgersBCN grew, people from all over the world slid into her DM’s asking her for Instagram strategy help to create a community like she did. Today there are over 400 Igers groups in 60 countries that congregate regularly to take photographs together while meeting new people.

Alonso’s curious spirit that created Igers landed her another gig from a different airline, Vueling. The company wanted her to create a campaign to commemorate the 50 million passengers who flew Vueling.  Alonso utilized Igers by asking users who flew Vueling to submit photographs of their travels. The photos were then pasted on an airplane to create the first art exhibit in the air.

Alonso’s ability to use Instagram as a tool for advertising attracted the Catalan Tourism Board. They wanted her to invite the ten best Instagramers around the world on an all expense paid visit to Barcelona to promote tourism in Catalunya. One of the perks of being a journalist, Alonso said, is that they’re invited by companies to do shit for free all the time because then they’ll write about it.

After freelancing for a while and absolutely #winning at the game, Alonso landed a job as Head of Digital for Edelman-Spain.

Marta Alonso @ Edelman-Spain
Marta Alonso @ Edelman-Spain

“Huge corporations are like turtles, they’re slow moving. It’s hard to make innovations in a fast way. I felt like a bird trapped in a small cage who couldn’t fly free,” said Alonso.

After quitting Edelman-Spain, Alonso was able to spread her wings and in 2014 she create Circle Line, a digital storytelling agency, where she continues to work today.

“Instagram is a global display that lets you sell your product globally,” Alonso said. “Many companies don’t even have stores, instead they give products to influencers who Instagram themselves wearing them”.

Although excessive social media users receive a lot of backlash for constantly taking photos and tweeting and never being in the moment, Marta Alonso managed to make a high paying career out of it, as have many other Instagramers.

In March, 2015 Alonso released her first, “and I think last” book, called “We Instagram”.

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The Evolution of Graffiti in Barcelona

Street art in Barcelona is vibrant. It’s colorful. It’s wild. It’s everywhere. Graffiti covers the exterior of trucks, shopkeeper’s shutters, side streets, and stop signs; but as unregulated and unruly as the craft appears to be, there is a certain etiquette that the graffiti community must follow.

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Rule #1 was broken

Rule number one: don’t cover someone’s work with your own. However, breaches happen all the time because sometimes an artist is young and foolish, or the mural wasn’t good enough to keep around, or because the perpetrator had beef with the artist and wanted to give him a big “fuck you”. An artist whose work never gets tagged by someone else shows that he well respected by the street art community.

Rule number two: “You should always ask permission to take a picture of a graffiti artist when he’s painting” says Mike, a tour guide for Barcelona Street Style Tours  “or they might end up with a fat fine”.

An artist faces immense danger when he holds a spray can in public in the dead of night. In Barcelona, a graffiti writer can be fined up to 3,000 euros for their art. The city council considers street art to be something that holds no purpose other than to vandalize the streets with its distaste, but others admire the colorfully painted walls that ooze with creativity and provoke introspection with their social commentary.

“Graffiti is not the lowest form of art…The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit…They say graffiti frightens people and is symbolic of the decline of society, but graffiti is only dangerous in the mind of three types of people: politicians, advertising executives and graffiti writers,” English graffiti artist Bansky wrote in his book, Wall and Piece

“The law regards graffiti as something that soils the public space, devalues our heritage and visually degrades the urban fabric,” a city spokesman told The Guardian.

But the imposition of new laws in 2005 prohibiting street artists to decorate Barcelona with tagsthrowups and murals might not inhibit their artistic motivation.

“I don’t think the laws are ever going to stop the graffiti movement because there’s something mischievous about doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. Now there’s this rush of adrenaline that artists feel when they create something, and that high is addicting” said Mike.

C. Berkeley professor Greg Niemeyer once said, “Graffiti is a life force in a city, that says to every citizen, I’m alive, the city is alive. A city without graffiti is like a field without flowers.”

So why is the government so intent on plucking the flowers of Barcelona, a city that was once referred to as “the mecca for graffiti” where artistic restrictions never exited and painters were free to express themselves and communicate their frustrations, successes, and opinions with their neighborhood?

Graffiti emerged in Barcelona in 1975 after the death of Francisco Franco, the Spanish tyrant who had suppressed Catalan culture for the entirety of his reign. Upon his burial in the Valley of the Fallen, Barcelona entered a countercultural movement called The Madrilenian Scene, or La Movida Madrileña, characterized by freedom of expression, recreational drug use, and an uplifting sense of liberty and repossession of Catalan culture.

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And thus, the Bohemian Culture was born and nurtured by writers, photographers, painters, singers, and graffiti artists. Barcelona graffiti really exploded in the 90’s with the influence of MTV and the hip-hop culture overseas in America. In 1992 painting public walls was criminalized in the effort to clean up the city in preparation for the Olympics.

Of course, that didn’t stop the movement from growing. In 1994 two young entrepreneurs, Jordi Rubio and Miguel Galea, changed the graffiti industry when they created Montana Colors, the first store to sell a spray can that met the needs of graffiti writers. The fame and success of their store helped promote the cultural revolution spreading across America and Europe.

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Painted with Montana Colors

Barcelona enjoyed its golden years of graffiti from 2000 up until 2005 when tourism began to boom. In order to attract more investors and tourists, the government imitated New York’s 1990’s Times Square clean up, which was allegedly accredit to Rudy Guiliani. The former mayor of New York used the “Broken Windows Theory” to reduce the high rate of crime in Manhattan. The theory was created by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling who found that crime begets crime, and minor criminal acts lead to larger ones. Graffiti was thus considered to be a gateway to grander misconduct, and thus it became the government’s goal to remove it from from the premises.

The irony behind this strategy to remove street art lies in its inception. When graffiti emerged in New York in the 1960’s it was used as a way to protest urban policies that failed to prioritize certain parts of the city, like the Bronx neighborhood. Citizens living there felt the quality of their life deteriorating. They translated feelings of abandonment by the state into feelings of rage, which they expressed through graffiti. And so, ironic to say the least, urban planning, the catalyst of the graffiti movement, is what then attempted to remove it without addressing the underlying social and economic problems behind it.

However, upon seeing the success of Guiliani’s project, Barcelona followed his example. But what the government fails to understand about the essence of street art, its core and soul, is that it is a form of self expression. An artist will not put down his spray can because he is told to by the law; instead he will be inspired by the new social injustice to paint even more to communicate his fury with his neighbors.

Community members of the Raval area dedicated a small garden surrounded by walls colored with street art to represent the injustice of the death of a local business owner, Juan Andrés Benitez, a homosexual man who was allegedly murdered by the hands of policemen. Despite being known for its abundance of homosexuals, Catalan police are known for abusing their power and mistreating gays. After separating a fight between Benitez and another man, El Yazid, Benitez was handcuffed and given five blows to the head. He reportedly died from a heart attack caused by the punches.

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“If you assault one of us, we will all respond”

The graffiti on the walls that enclose the garden communicates the neighborhood’s sentiments towards the gross discrimination and total misuse of power by the policemen who have yet to be punished. The fury that the people have against this injustice is what provoked the graffiti on the memorial; but not all street art comes in the form of angry messages to the government.

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Chef Love

Chef Love is a particularly notable street artists who uses food and soda cans to communicate happy messages.

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El Pez

El Pez, or The Fish, is notorious for the smiling fish he paints all over Barcelona. The artist uses the smile on all his paintings because it communicates a universal message to all passersby; be happy!

In an effort to reclaim the celebrated reputation that street art had before the imposition of laws tainted it with a negative stigma, Mapping Barcelona Public Art and On-1st film produced Las Calles Hablen, (The Streets Speak)a documentary about graffiti. The movie serves to educate the community on the importance of street art by explaining its history, motivations, and cultural significance to Barcelona.

Amores Minúsculos

I’ve always said that in the future I think I’ll get divorced. I’m not like planning it ahead of time, I haven’t even been in a serious relationship yet (yes gentleman, I’m single!) – but I grew up in a split household and that exposure strongly influences my marital day dreams. No pity necessary; the best thing my parents did besides have my three brothers and me is getting divorced.

The better explanation as to why I think divorce is inevitable for me is because I believe in having multiple best friends. Allow me to explain, if you will: a best friend is someone who you turn to to bitch about everything and nothing; who you don’t mind texting 15 times in a row with no response; who you don’t have to cover your pimples up for; who you trust to look through your phone because you’d never talk shit about them; whose sorrows and successes are your own and vice versa; a best friend is your soulmate.

My mom thinks that I throw around the word “best friend” too loosely, like some kind of floozy. But I can’t restrict myself to having just one soulmate BFF! I’ve got my fat camp best friends, Jewish day school best friends, and college best friends – none of whom I could ever rank on a scale of who I like the most. There’s so much pressure to have one favorite color, one favorite movie, and one best friend – but with so many incredible options it’s impossible to choose.

It’s true that my past holds a graveyard of lost friendships which I thought would be eternal; but such is life. I’ve fallen out of love with many best friends who I used to hold very dear to me. They say that the person you marry should be your best friend – your best friend who you fuck and are totally not platonic with. But if I can have numerous amounts of platonic best friends who can leave my life as quickly as they entered it, how can I have faith that a marriage will last forever? How do I know which best friend is the
right one to commit my life, mind, body, and soul to?

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Cartoon by Alfonso Casas

The answer to my seemingly unanswerable questions came to me this past weekend when I saw a play with my dad at the Club Capitol theatre. Amores Minúsculos (Tiny Loves) was the only performance he could find spoken in Spanish instead of Catalan, Barcelona’s dominant language. It’s a short stage adaptation of a comic written by Alfonso Casas.

The romantic comedy followed the story of five characters: Nacho the homosexual hunk who works at Bershka but dreams of publishing his comics; David, a heterosexual male in an unhappy relationship who unknowingly is the protagonist of Nacho’s comic; Jaime the dork in search of inspiration for his novel, which he finds in Eva, a mysterious, hot girl who claims to know the day she will die; Laura, an uptight accountant and Nacho’s best friend; and Carlos, a DJ/singer/producer who finds himself uncharacteristically falling for Laura.amoresminusculos3.jpgThe message that the play gave to its audience is that there is no “grand love” but rather “tiny loves.” There is no such thing as a perfect soulmate that lasts forever. What’s real are the relationships you fall and thrust yourself into with all your heart and body, because you’ll never know what the expiration date is. It could be as little as three days after opening yourself to that person (without refrigerating) to as long as 70 years. And if it spoils, so what? On to the next one.

 

Fake it ’till you make it

“If you’re smart, funny, or ridiculous enough, you can have your own show,” said Valentin Sanjuan, the director and host of the hit Catalan YouTube show, Visto lo Visto.

For a 10 euro entrance fee, audience members receive a night full of laughter along with a little bottle of rum. The segment can be described as a combination of American Funniest Home Videos, whichever late night sho

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Visto lo Visto hosted in the Alexandra Theatre every Friday from 9pm-11pm

w Jimmy Fallon is hosting, and stand up comedy.

Last week my teacher invited his ex worker and friend Valentín Sanjuan to speak before my Journalism 2.0 class about how he built his brand and represents himself on the media. When he walked into the room I was thoroughly surprised by his choice of outfit; garbed in what I would call “douche attire” he donned a faded green hat with an american flag, skinny jeans, and a floral pullover that hid a presumably fuckable physique. Unfortunately the picture I took with him got erased when I broke my phone, so you’ll have to rely on my eloquent and accurate description of him to build a visual of him in your imagination.

After being booted from his job working at Catalunya Radio where he hosted Vist i no Vist i (Seen and Unseen), Valentín picked himself back up from the ground and created a program that would exclusively be aired on YouTube.

The benefit of using an unconventional channel such as YouTube to air Visto lo Visto is the ability to auto-edit. “No one can tell me that I can’t say “dick” on my show,” said Sanjuan. YouTube allows for more freedom of speech and has no limitations – a quality that Sanjuan built his brand around.

valentisanjuanWhen he’s not promoting his show, Sanjuan travels around the world with his camera filming his adventurous expeditions that test his mind and body. He posts daily videos of his adventurous conquests on his more famous YouTube account that has over 108K followers and nearly 800 videos.

Sanjuan is most famously known for completing several Ironman Triathlons and two Ultraman World Championships.

Through recording these events that tested his limits and pushed his boundaries, Sanjuan cultivated a strong brand for himself that attracted a large audience hungry for more Valentín.

The self-described journalist acclaims his success to his golden rule, “fake it ’till you make it.” After getting the boot from his job working at the radio station, Sanjuan had nothing. But instead of laying in the debris of his crumbled world, he cleaned up the mess and created Visto lo Visto. 

In order to make his new YouTube show worth seeing, Sanjuan called upon celebrities that frequented his old radio show and asked them to the station’s “new location,” and by new location he meant “my show that has a similar name to the radio segment I worked for in the past but is totally different, and I’m omitting that pertinent information to coerce you into helping me become successful”.

Sanjuan admits he didn’t make any profit during the first four years of producing Visto lo Visto, but he worked around his lack of income by living off his rule, “fake it ’till you make it.” He secretly redid his kitchen at no cost by promising to publicize all the products on his show, and continued securing A-list celebrities by reassuring them that other well-known people had been on the show too – even though they never were.

Who wouldn't trust those big, black cartoon eyes?
Who wouldn’t trust those big, black cartoon eyes?

Like a modern day Aladdin, Valentín supported himself by tricking the system until the system worked for him. The arabian prince faked his royalty to Princess Jasmine until he actually did become a prince – except unlike Valentín Aladdin had help from a magic genie.

“Until we’re successful, it’s not going to stop,” Sanjuan said, referring to his golden rule. Sometimes you just gotta act like you’re hot shit until you become hot shit – like when I post three Instagrams in a row because that’s what celebrities do.

Similar but Different to the Triwizard Maze

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Da Labyrinth

Calling all Harry Potter fans: there’s a dope labyrinth park in Barcelona and you don´t have to be a Triwizard Champion to enter it. Located in the district of Horta, the Parc de Labirint d’Horta is home to a beautiful 820 yard long maze (disclaimer: apparently maze is not synonymous for labyrinth, but for the purposes of my post I will continue to upset those who find my misuse of the word disturbing because ain’t nobody got time to differentiate the two) that transports you back to the year 1791 when it was built by Joan Antoni Desvalls of d’Ardena. It´s kind of a trek to get there since it´s not in a touristy area, but that´s what makes it all the more appealing. Fuck tourists, ammirite?

Me, taking touristy pictures in the park.
Me, taking touristy pictures in the park.

I´m a huge HP nerd, so it was no question that my answer would be ¨fuck YAAAS!¨ when my roommate asked if I wanted to take a 40 minute metro ride to get lost in the labyrnth after class. Like the millennials we are, we put in our headphones to help pass the time, aka avoid the boredom of interacting with one another. While she jammed to her “good vibes” Sound Cloud playlist, I opened the podcast app on my iPhone (Apple should be sponsoring me for this advertisement) to listen to If I Were You, the only advice podcast on the internet hosted by Jake and Amir.

Once we arrived in Horta I wrapped my headphones around my PopSocket, and prepared myself to enter the Park and experience something mystical. Despite studies attempting to show spiritual effects of labyrinth walking, there is no empirical evidence that supports the disputed ¨labyrinth effect” besides Dumbledore´s claim that “people change in the maze,” which is enough evidence for me.

Me, struggling to find my way in the labyrinth
Me, struggling to find my way in the labyrinth

Unlike the Triwizard Maze which hosts the Triwizard Cup, in the center of the Barcelona labyrinth, located inside the neoclassical garden, stands a statue of Eros, the goddess of love. Unbeknownst to my roommate and me, this is a hot spot for lovers. I was expecting to find a sphinx or a water fountain, not a bunch of adorable couples sucking face.

Eros, goddess of love. Similar but different to the Triwizard Cup
Eros, goddess of love. Similar but different to the Triwizard Cup

The reminder of how terribly single I was almost made me wish the statue of Eros was a portkey meant to transport me to the Little Hangleton graveyard to face my death at the hands of Voldemort – but then I remembered that being single isn’t as bad as having to probably smell Voldemort’s breath before he curses me. Can you imagine the Dark Lord brushing his teeth twice a day with a Darth Vadar toothbrush, flossing, and using mouthwash after a tiresome day of splitting his soul into horcruxes? I don’t think so.

I know what you’re thinking; this dope ass park must cost like, one hundred million dollars to get into! I’m just a broke college student, how can I afford that?  WELL dear reader, you’re absolutely wrong! Entrance to this magnificent gem is as free as watching the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight on Periscope!

There’s much more to be explored in the Labyrinth Park in Horta, but you’ll have to check it out yourself (because I’m too lazy to write about it/the Labyrinth is the most important part). In the meantime, brush up on your Goblet of Fire knowledge with this quiz I made on riddle.com. Let the odds be ever in your favor! 

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The Triwizard Maze

How well do you know what went down during the third task of the Triwizard Tournament?

</p></section><section><h3>Who were the Triwizard Tournament champions?</h3><p>Harry Potter, Dudley Vernon, Paris Hilton, Fleur Delacour</p><p>Victor Krum, Hermione Granger, Donald Trump, Harry Potter</p><p>Harry Potter, Victor Krum, Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour,</p><p>Harry Pooped-his-pants, Victor Muffin-Krums, Edward Cullen, Fleur Delahotasfuckcour</p></section><section><h3>Where was the maze grown?</h3><p>The Quidditch field</p><p>The enchanted forrest</p><p>Dumbledore’s bathroom</p><p>The basement of Hogwarts</p></section><section><h3>What’s a portkey?</h3><p>A delicious dessert</p><p>An object that can be used to transport someone when activated</p><p>A teacup pig</p><p>A key</p></section><section><h3>Who had to answer the sphinx’s question in the maze?</h3><p>Fleur Delacour</p><p>Cedric Diggory</p><p>Homer Simpson</p><p>Harry Potter</p></section><section><h3>Who grew the maze?</h3><p>Professor Sprout</p><p>Professor McGonagall</p><p>Hagrid</p><p>Molly Weasley</p></section><section><h3>Who is hottest?</h3><p>Cedric Diggory</p><p>Viktor Krum</p><p>Harry Potter</p><p>Ron Weasley</p></section><section><h3>Which schools participated in the Triwizard Tournament?</h3><p>Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry, Solomon Schechter Hebrew Day School, Harvard Law School</p><p>Pigarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry, Durmstrang Institute, Fashion Institute of Technology</p><p>Indiana University of Witchcraft and Wizadry, Durmstrang Institute, Barcelona Beauty School</p><p>Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry, Durmstrang Institute, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic</p></section><section><p>undefined</p><p>undefined</p></section><section></section><section></section></div>

 

10 Reasons Why Parc de Joan Miró is the Tits

A key component to a good park is if it has a playground. The second component is if it has a swing set large enough for my Argentinian butt to fit in. Lucky for me, Barcelona is home to some of the most beautiful parks I have ever seen.

One of my favorite parks in Barcelona, (besides the Parc de la Ciutadella which is basically Central Park on crack) is the Parc de Joan Miró. My roommate and I stumbled upon its glory while exploring our neighborhood, Eixample, and by exploring I mean walking three blocks down the street from our house.

As an ode to the park, I present to you these 10 compelling reasons for why you should visit the chillest spot (in the vicinity of my neighborhood).

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1. The red jungle gym

This red web made up of sturdy metal is where the cool kids hang out. I met a couple of down bitches  who were climbing on it after class, and I know they were chill because one of them was wearing polka dot leggings which is just so fashion forward. I didn’t get their number though because they were like eight and probably don’t have phones.

2. The dog park

If I were a dog the highlight of my day would be coming to this park in the afternoon. A sandy area is set aside for dogs of all ages to run around with/hump their friends while their owners smoke cigarettes and watch them play. The dogs in Spain are different than they are in America; they’re scruffier and more down to earth. Recommended for dog lovers.

3. The baby park 

It’s like you have to either own a dog or a baby to enter the park, of which I have neither but am definitely open to. If you’re a social outcast and not a huge dog lo
ver, there’s various playgrounds for babies to toddle around that you can admire. The babies of Barcelona are so fucking cute, especially when they’re swaddled in sleeping bags in their stroller and nothing but their faces can be seen. To give you an idea of how cool the baby park is, if Timmy Turner went to Parc de Joan Miró in an episode of The Fairly Oddparents, he would wish to be a baby so he could play on their dope ass playground.

4. The public library 

Attached to the park is a lovely public library surrounded by a moat. It’s free to join, but their hours are totally wack. They’re closed on Sundays, open Monday and Saturday from 10am-2pm, and open Tuesday – Friday from 10am – 2pm and 3pm – 6pm. How’s a girl supposed to be on that daily work grind with those obscure times?? Logistically speaking, the library is not live. It is nice to contemplate studying next to a gorgeous park, though.

Entrance to the library
Entrance to the library

5. Parc l’Escorxador

In 1979, post Franco’s death (you know, the tyrant whose death brought forth La Movida Madrileña, AKA the countercultural movement characterized by recreational drugs and freedom of expression?), Barcelona’s municipal slaughterhouse was destroyed to make way for the Parc de Joan Miró. The construction of the park and demolition of the meatwork facility was carried out to fill new social needs, but Catalans still refer to the landmark as Parc L’Escorxador to remember its origin.

6. Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird)

Spanish artist Joan Miró, to whom the park is dedicated to, collaborated with Joan Gardy Artigas, a famous ceramist, to create the 22-metre high sculpture located in the upper level of Parc de Joan Miró. The colorful, vibrant, abstract masterpiece stands in a pool of water and is a sight for sore eyes. The artists named the figure Woman and Bird so that there would be no confusion as to what it is supposed to depict. In my opinion, it’s a 22-metre high penis.

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Dona i Ocell

7. The bar

You can find approximately four coffee shops on every block in Barcelona, and the park is no exception. Spaniards love their wine and coffee, so it’s no surprise that Parc de Joan Miró includes a bar; and how convenient is it that it’s  located right next to the library? After a few hours of being cooped up indoors you can have a study break and saunter back to the library post a beer or two (or three).

8. You never know what you’ll find.. 

Strolling around the park one fine afternoon I found empty bottles of alcohol that someone littered on a beautiful patch of grass. Appalled, I took it upon myself to act as a civil servant and throw away the glass. On the way to the garbage can a single file line of adorable nursery school kids passed by me, silently judging me for my perceived alcoholism. Ashamed, I threw out the bottles with my head hung low. Inside the trash was a large backpacked that looked like it was filled to the brim with treasure, so being the curious spirit that I am, I opened it. Instead of the bags of cocaine I hoped I would find upon unzipping it, I was instead greeted by a stale, sweaty-boy stench and old gym clothes. Moral of the story: not everyone’s garbage is another’s treasure. Pro tip: always bring purell with you – you never know when you’ll need to sanitize your hands after sifting through garbage cans.

9. The palm trees

Entering this park situated in the middle of a city is incredibly refreshing. The palm trees sprinkled across the sandy ground, and the vibrant flowers Joan-Miro-Parkpeeking out from every corner pulls you out from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona and allows you to self-reflect and appreciate nature. As Henry David Thorough said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” Whether it’s with a blunt in your hand or not, visit this incredible park and enjoy all the beauty it has to offer.

10. It’s absolutely free!

Some of the best things in this world are pricele$$ (but also a lot of the best things cost a lot of money – I hope I am successful and/or marry wealthy).

Day 25

So I waited until the 25th day of being abroad to post my first entry, but who’s counting anyway? Loads of important stuff happened on the 25th day: January 25th, 1721, Czar Peter the Great ends Russian-orthodox patriarchy; February 25th, 1497, Italian troops reconquer Taranto on France; March 25th, 1634, the first settlers arrive in Maryland.

Maybe I did it on purpose because my birthday is on Christmas and I associate with the number 25, or maybe I wanted to convince everyone that I was going to defy the odds and be the only girl from Indiana University in Greek life to not have an abroad blog (sorry to disappoint). Then again, maybe I’m just fashionably late to the party to attract more attention for my big debut. The most likely of reasons, though, is that I would have never made a blog about my study abroad experience if it wasn’t mandatory for my Journalism 2.0 class, but keep on speculating!

While brainstorming a topic for my blog I instinctively decided it would be about sex, since that’s what most of my articles for Odyssey are about. But after thinking long and hard (sexual innuendo inserted: ✓) about the impact of my blog, I chose to follow in the footsteps of my ancestral sisters who traveled overseas before me and share my experiences in Spain with the approximate 7 people who will read this: my professor, three brothers, parents, and probably one friend who will keep up with it for the first few weeks until the Full House reunion airs and becomes their main priority.

So nu, what’s my twist? What will set my wordpress account apart from every other punny abroad titled blog clogging your Facebook feed? Well, after blowing most of the funds my parents so graciously supplied me with (thank you Ma and Papi) on various plane tickets, groceries, drying racks and taxis, I realized I needed to conserve the little I had left in my bank account to last until the end of my viaje (that means “travels,” folks). I’ll share with my loyal six followers how to enjoy studying in Europe without having to spend vast amounts of euros on VIP tables at Opium.

Join me on my voyage as I metro my way around Spain in a sombrero while holding a coffee cup that screams American tourist.

subway and sombreros
subway and sombreros