Gaining Life Experiences While Interning in Barcelona

Jacqueline Tierrablanca

Jacqueline Tierrablanca is a senior at Texas A&M University majoring in International Studies. She plans to attend law school next fall and I am currently participating in a four-month law internship program in Barcelona through Adelante. 

Opening up for new experiences with an Internship in Barcelona

I started looking for internship abroad opportunities last summer because I wanted to learn about a new culture, and I wanted to improve my Spanish. Both my parents are from Mexico, and I have grown up speaking Spanish at home, but I can say that Spanish is very different in Spain compared to Mexico. 

As someone who has never traveled abroad for longer than a month, I was worried about the challenges I might face in Barcelona like missing home, making friends, and getting used to a new rhythm of life. My worries quickly washed away when I arrived here and was greeted in such a kind way by the locals, and my roommates. It was hard at first to adjust to the way of life here in Barcelona, especially coming from Texas and a seven-hour time difference, but around a week in I started to really enjoy being here. When I first arrived here, I got a huge culture shock because of how large the city was and how beautiful the architecture is in Barcelona.

Barcelona cathedral
Cathedral
Law intern in barcelona
Law Intern

Adjusting to life in Spain and learning Spanish language differences

There seems to be an infinite number of things to do here, and I didn’t even know where to start at first! It’s great that I attended the Language School because my teachers kept giving me recommendations of where to go and the most efficient ways of travel. The workers at the school are amazing, and I miss the classes since I started my internship. I got to meet so many different individuals from different parts of the world, and we even created a group chat for going out to eat! I learned a lot from my lessons especially different words that are used in European Spanish compared to Latin American Spanish. If you are a native Spanish speaker from Latin America, there is so much to learn by coming to Barcelona!

Prior to my international experience, I prepared by speaking only Spanish to my family and by having my mother correct my Spanish grammar on documents I completed from work. I also read various Spanish books with my sister about the history and nature of Mexico. I wish I would have focused more on diversifying my greetings and goodbyes before arriving in Barcelona. This is because the culture is very different here, and many people greet each other in unique and closer ways than in the United States. I also wish I would have studied more Spanish that pertains to legal work.

Learning the little things in Barcelona

Some things I have learned while being here that everyone needs to know are how to properly take out the waste and how to efficiently shop around Barcelona. Recycling is very important in Barcelona and at almost every street corner there are huge bins for different types of recyclable materials. I learned to separate my trash into paper, glass, and organic waste as it makes it very easy to take out waste efficiently. Another tip is to look around and find a supermarket that meets your needs. I had to search three supermarkets to find one I really liked, but that’s also to say to not be afraid to purchase from local vendors. I live above a fruit vendor, and I really enjoy going downstairs to purchase fresh produce from locals. The quality is usually amazing for a lower cost, and you get to build relationships with people around your community. 

adelante law intern in barcelona
Jackie in Barcelona

Best things about Barcelona

The best things about being here in Barcelona are definitely the food, nightlife, and the efficient way of life people live here. The food choices here are extremely diverse, and I was pleasantly happy that wherever I went I could find something to eat as I am vegetarian. I love exploring the different varieties of pasta dishes here and the different types of tapas! The way of life here is also very efficient for example travel is very easy and I definitely recommend getting a TMB ticket for longer stays especially the T-Joven through this link as it makes taking public transportation much more affordable. I love how fast you can get to the other side of Barcelona by simply getting on the metro, and I was very lucky to be only 5 minutes away from the metro entrance!

The nightlife in Barcelona is spectacular, and I recommend that if you are ever in this amazing city to see the nightlife near Plaça de Catalunya. There are street vendors selling high-quality goods, and an abundance of bars and restaurants to try out. I am really excited to spend three more months here and to learn more through my law internship. If you are interested, Adelante is amazing at pairing up travelers with internships and study abroad opportunities, here is the link for more information over-applying.

Work culture is different in Spain

Another quick insight is that the work culture in Barcelona is very different from the work culture in the United States. In Barcelona, the work culture is a lot more laid back, and there is even a two-hour break in between the hours of 13:00 and 15:00 to enjoy lunch with friends or family. Unlike the United States where there is no long break for lunch, this break allowed me to explore restaurants and shops around the area that I intern at. However, this doesn’t come without disadvantages, during this time many family-owned shops close, and usually, the big clothing or accessory stores are the only ones open. I will also advise that you arrive either on a Saturday or Friday because on Sundays almost everything is closed, including grocery stores and businesses that we find essential in the United States. If you arrive on a Sunday, just make sure to already have some toiletries ready like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and any other hygiene products. This is not to say that there are no specialty shops that are open on Sunday, as there are, but they tend to be very expensive and have a limited supply of food and items. 

Barcelona architecture
Cathedral
streets of barcelona
Streets of Barcelona

Advice for anyone considering interning abroad

To any future Adelante Abroad Program candidates, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people! It may be daunting at first, but go to bars, cafés, or even some shops and introduce yourself to Spaniards or even travelers from your home country. I was scared at first, but in the end, I got to meet some cool new people that I would have never met before. I would also advise you to talk to the people in your language group at your school/class; there are so many people you can make connections with at the school. Likewise, I met a lot of interesting people from all around Europe at the school, and even went to get lunch and dinner with some of them throughout my time in Barcelona. 

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