Series: My Semester at Sea
Valencia and Barcelona: The Pretty Cities
By Chanel Watson
I know everyone wants to visit Madrid and Barcelona when they think of visiting Spain, but I definitely encourage everyone to visit Valencia. The beauty of it will blow your mind.
At “Semester at Sea,” each class participated in a field lab, similar to a field trip. During a field lab, we attended a location that relates in some way back to our class and the culture of that country in particular. In Spain, I had a field lab for my Managerial Finance class. We went to the Stock Exchange of Valencia where we had someone from the marketing team explain to us the purpose of the stock exchange and how it worked in the best English she knew how to speak (which wasn’t that good, but we got the point.)
The second part of the field lab was a scavenger hunt around Valencia. We had to look for different stores and shops that were a part of the Valencia Stock Exchange. Needless to say, scavenger hunting in a foreign city definitely made it easier for us to sight-see and take in the beauty of Valencia.
We were able to walk around the shopping district of El Colón, as well as see the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, which was the sight of their famous aquarium. Valencia had a nice balance of being a city surrounded by all of the shops and necessities needed to live in a metropolitan area, but at the same time wasn’t as congested as the major cities in America.
One thing I can definitely say about Europe is that the architecture is beautiful, but the cities look no different than America. The major difference you come across is the behavior of the locals and the fact that they speak a different language other than English. A smile is definitely universal and will definitely open locals up to helping you out. Spain was definitely much easier to get around because most of us on the ship already knew some of the basic words in Spanish to ask for help and get around, but being nice to the locals was a plus because they helped us find some of the stores for our scavenger hunt.
When we did go to Barcelona, the major event was the Barcelona Football game, or as we call it in America, soccer. The soccer game is an event in itself. After we climbed up what felt like millions of steps to get to our seats, we were able to see the entire stadium filled with 100,000 fans cheering for the game to start. Everyone is wearing their red and gold jerseys and eating foot long hotdogs waiting for the team to run out. There was a community amongst the supports of the Barcelona team. Every time the team scored, you could hear the whole stadium yelling “GOOAAAL!”
The next day my friends and I walked around the city and took in the beautiful architecture of the buildings and family homes. The restaurants smelled like chicken and beans outside, kids played soccer in the parks, puppeteers performed in the streets and musicians played music on the sidewalks.