Cataluña 2017

During the autumn of 2017 I went to Barcelona, Catalonia on a ‘study’ week with school. I put quotation marks around study because even though the teachers set it out for us to be very informational, I was hardly like that at all.


Obviously, the teachers did their best to bring across some history and language by giving a presentation and showing a film, Pan’s Labyrinth, which is set during the civil war but does not inform a lot. It does show how a girl copes with her fears of the war by creating a magical forest world with animals who talk to her and give her missions to complete. Another thing the teachers tried was teaching us Spanish and Catalan. While we were in the bus they gave us a paper with basic Spanish and Catalan sentences on it. Catalan compared with Spanish is just like Dutch and Frisian or Flemish. It is quite similar; some words are different and pronunciation is not 100% the same. When you are driving Catalonia and are looking for directions on the boards over the roads, the first thing you read is

in Catalan right underneath it is the Spanish translation. This shows the nationalism of the Catalan inhabitants. During our stay we had like three birthdays, and that meant we had to sing. So we sang the Spanish version of happy birthday:
Cumpleaños feliz
cumpleaños feliz
te deseamos todos
cumpleaños feliz.
So clearly I know this by heart now. It is the only Spanish I know next to “Hola amigos”.

The museums we visited can also be seen as educational without a doubt but the visits did not come across like that. We had a lot of freedom; we were able to walk around ourselves and if we felt like it we had the ability join the teacher

and listen to a little tour. For example in the Picasso museum, we were given earplugs so we could walk around on our own and looking at the things that you were interested in and at the same time still hearing the teacher explaining about Picasso’s life.
It is inevitable that not all the activities are amusing because everybody’s taste is different. What kept this trip from being a bore, was the diversity. We were giving information in all different kinds of formats. We watched a film about the civil war, as I have mentioned before, we cycled through the city with a tour guide, we drew like Picasso did and to top it all off we went to a few museums.

Around the time we visited Barcelona there was some tension in the air; this was all because of the Catalan independence. The Catalan parliament had held a referendum deciding if Catalonia should become independent from Spain or not. The Spanish rulers declared it to be illegal, and the was an uprising. People went out on the streets to protest, some were done peacefully however others ended in violence. On Sunday we were in the city centre and saw many people out on the street waving the Spanish and Catalan flag. A bit later on in the week we came across some protesters again. This time they were also waving the European flag. There were groups in favour of indecency, groups against it, and groups who just wanted a conversation to take place. I do not exactly know who was on which side, but that did not make a difference. On those days I tasted a little bit of the Spanish or Catalan culture… Everyone was so passionate and wanted to convey their message. It was marvellous to see.

We saw quite a bit of the city of Barcelona, we drove through it with the bus, we cycled ourselves and walked from place to place. During that time I was capable of noticing a few differences and similarities from Breda. To start everything was bigger, houses were taller, the sea of people was larger, the offer of places to eat or shop is considerably more than at home. Also I noticed a higher number of beggars, and they were rude too, and street acts. I know that Breda is not as important and touristy as Barcelona but also compared to other cities I have been to it was more. As we were cycling through the city it was hard not to get hit by a car or hit a pedestrian. There were barely any cycle paths and cycling on the road was no option because the cars do not take cyclers in to account, and that makes for an unsafe environment. And that is nothing like in Holland.

All in all, it was an entertaining week with some cultural aspects. We learned in a different way than we do at school and that is nice for a change. Very successful according to me!