The blog abroad: Dispatch from Barcelona!

Greetings from lovely Barcelona, currently home to an unfinished church, a rather good soccer team, and at least ten Brown students.

I’m one of them, and I’ll be blogging here occasionally to share anecdotes and observations about life and school abroad. I’ll try not to gloat about the weather too often and focus on some things Barcelona and Brown have in common. Topic one: volunteerism.

Apparently there’s some economic trouble here, and the public schools can’t afford to pay language assistants anymore. Instead, they’ve been training native English speaking students to help with small group conversation. I started today, working with groups of five 16-year-olds who had been instructed to ask me questions about my exotic American life. Aside from “Do you speak Catalan or Spanish?” (I do, but I’m supposed to pretend I don’t) the most common question was, “Where are you from?”

Not counting one H.P. Lovecraft fan, “Providence” drew blank stares, as did “Rhode Island.” Finally I went with, “It’s forty-five minutes south of Boston by train.” That sentence may have included too many prepositions, because afterwards the students just wanted to hear about Manhattan.

Eventually, though, I hit a breakthrough. As it turns out, sixteen-year-old girls in Spain really like Gossip Girl, and Gossip Girl’s beautiful blonde heartbreaker, Serena van der Woodsen, almost went to Brown. “That’s where I go to school,” I said. And their responses?


“¡Que guay!”

“Wait, how do you say guay in English?”


— Emma Berry

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