Cindy Mergen - 2011 Program Participant

Cindy and another Barcelona SAE intern with the program director, Rich Kurtzman.
Cindy and another Barcelona SAE intern with the program director, Rich Kurtzman.

Why did you want to intern in Barcelona over other cities in Spain?

I wanted to experience big city life. I grew up in a semi-small town in Missouri, so living in Barcelona for the summer sounded so chic and modern to me! (Turns out that I like greenery more than I like the concrete jungle, though!)

Why did you choose Barcelona SAE over other intern program providers?

The Study Away office at Missouri State didn’t have intern program options in Spain, so I found Barcelona SAE online and became the first MSU student to participate in the program. BCN SAE offered all I wanted: college credit, homestay options, and the perfect internship placement (teaching English at a non-profit in the city).

Describe the program in three words.

Engaging, enriching, invaluable.

What was a normal day like interning in Spain?

Since I taught afternoon and evening classes, I spent many mornings on the beach (a ten minute walk from my flat) and going to outdoor markets. I went home for lunch with my host mom and then spent some time preparing for my classes (lesson planning, making copies, etc.).

I’d take the metro to the non-profit in the outskirts of Barcelona and teach from about 4:00-7:00pm. After that, I’d either explore the city with new friends, write for my travel blog, or meet with a Catalán friend for a Spanish-English language exchange. I took side-trips on weekends and then backpacked through Europe via train for four weeks after my internship ended.

What are the things you miss the most from Barcelona? And Spain in general?

I miss the public transit system in Barcelona! It was so affordable, and you could literally get anywhere in the city either by underground metro, bus, or tramway (all included on the same unlimited monthly pass). About Spain in general, I miss warm nights drinking delicious and cheap wine with friends over tapas.

What lessons or things did you learn while interacting with the locals?

I learned that Cataluña is NOT Spain, and most people in Barcelona don’t want to be considered Spanish. They are Catalonian and very proud of it.

What important tips can you give to future participants of the program?

Take advantage of every opportunity you get to explore a new part of the city, hang out with people you might not normally hang out with, or do work that you might not have very much experience in. EVERY MOMENT during the program is a chance to learn more about yourself and the amazingly diverse world that is Barcelona.