Bethany Green - 2014 Program Participant

Cooking classes in Barcelona, Spain

Cooking Classes in Barcelona.

What made you select Spain for your internship abroad?

I chose to intern abroad in Spain because I have a minor in Spanish, and I have always been very passionate about the language. My interest in travel did not stop at language, however, and I wanted to be surrounded by the art, architecture, and food that a European country like Spain could so richly offer. The fact that I was living in Barcelona, a coastal city, was of course the icing on the cultural cake!

Why did you pursue an internship with Performing Arts Abroad?

I decided to pursue an internship through Performing Arts Abroad because Indiana University did not offer a program in which I could go abroad for the summer and focus on dancing, which is always my top priority when it comes to programming. Performing Arts Abroad did! The PAA team was incredibly accommodating and was quick to design an experience for me that encompassed all of the qualities of a summer abroad that I could have ever wanted. I was able to dance every day, in addition to performing managerial and administrative duties for the dance school, on top of attending Spanish classes and group trips. It was a dream internship, really.

The Courtyard of San Jose, Parc del Carmel

Courtyard of San Jose, Parc del Carmel.

Where did you stay in Barcelona? What did you like about your housing arrangements? 

While abroad, I stayed with a host family in an apartment in the city very near my internship (across the street, in fact!). I would not trade this experience for anything. The family had a large, gorgeous apartment that had ample room for three exchange students as well as their two sons. It was a bustling household, full of laughter and incredible food. My favorite part was the apartment’s terrace, because some evenings we would hang a sheet up outside and project movies onto it for an outdoor movie marathon. I loved speaking solely in Spanish with my family and roommates, which greatly improved my conversational ability over the course of the summer.

What was a typical day like for you as an intern in Spain?

My typical day in Spain started with getting up at around 9 a.m. to eat breakfast with my roommate, Emily. This was always pan tostado con tomate, a cultural classic in Catalunya. I would then walk to the dance studio and take classes there from about 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then I would return home for a little siesta (one of my favorite parts of Spanish culture).

For several weeks of my program I would spend this time attending Spanish classes at Barcelona International College. Afterward, I would return to the studio and answer phones, talk to prospective students, and perform various administrative tasks until around 4 or 5 p.m. Then I would go home for Margarita’s incredible dinners, and Emily and I would decide where to go around the city that evening. We had so much fun exploring all that Barcelona had to offer!

What is your favorite memory from your time in Spain? 

My favorite memory of my time in Spain was a performance I attended as a part of Barcelona’s Greek Festival—a weeklong event that features a myriad of performances in every discipline and style imaginable, and many of them were free! This particular performance took place in the open-air Teatre Grec amphitheater at the top of Mount Montjuïc, and was one of the headlining events. It was German contemporary dance company Hofesh Shechter’s Sun. I was completely awestruck by the talent and athleticism of each of the dancers, and the choreography simply blew my mind. The concept was moving, yet unsettling, and I left the theater trying to wrap my mind around what I had just seen and yearning for more of it. It was truly unforgettable.

Also worth a mention is that King Juan Carlos I abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Felipe VI while I was in Spain. This created quite a stir as it sparked new conversations about the fate of Catalunya and its potential for independence.

Gaudis Parc Guell

Gaudi's Parc Guell.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while interning in Barcelona?

The biggest challenge I faced in Barcelona was navigating two languages at once. More than two, really, because as a popular European city Barcelona has speakers of many, many languages that are living there or visiting at any given time. The two that posed the greatest challenges to me, however, were Castellano (Castilian Spanish) and Catalán. Catalán is the language of Catalunya, and sounds like a fairly equal mixture of French and Spanish. This is spoken by those native to Catalunya, and is a great source of pride for them as it represents their rich culture that they are still rebuilding after the oppressive reign of Francisco Franco until 1975.

Would you recommend interning with Performing Arts Abroad to other interested students?

I would absolutely recommend Performing Arts Abroad to others because of its uniqueness in designing a program that you help to design for yourself. If you want to be a student, have an internship, get hands-on training, volunteer—PAA makes it happen. Their team both stateside and on site in Barcelona was incredibly supportive, and a joy to work with.

Did you experience reverse culture shock when you returned home?

The reverse culture shock coming home was a difficult thing for me to navigate. In Barcelona, I had become nearly addicted to learning so much every day, trying new foods, meeting new people, and seeing new sights, that coming home to the familiar felt very much like getting stuck in a rut. But, in time I learned to integrate the things I loved about learning and navigating a new culture into my life here in the States, and my life is truly enriched because of it!