As beautiful as the Universitat Pompeu Fabra is, I did not want to spend my limited time in Spain sitting in a library. The most challenging part of any study abroad program is finding the balance between exploring the city for yourself while simultaneously making sure you are caught up on your assignments. Luckily, summertime in Barcelona happily allows for both.

When I did the program, we stayed at the Residencia Onix, which quickly becomes your home. It is about a 15 minute walk to campus, 25 minute walk to Barceloneta and the beach, 25 minute walk from La Sagrada Familia and conveniently a 5 minute walk to the Arc de Triomf and Metro!

*The Arc quickly becomes a reference point of how close you are to home*

When my friends and I did not want to read in our dorm rooms, we would first take advantage of the rest of the Residencia Onix. They have a lounge on the basement level with couches and tables to study at, and even a room open at the late hours of the night where other international abroad students are studying. It’s a great place to meet other people from all over the world and USA who are in different programs. They also have a movie room, a television, and ping pong tables (which seems to be a big thing in Spain apparently).

Another perk of this residence is the roof! It is open 10AM-8PM, so if you catch yourself home during those hours I would definitely check it out. It has a pool with some lounging pool chairs and is festively decorated. Sometimes, my friends and I would take a dip in the pool to cool off and then read or do our assignments under the warm summer sun. There is a great 360 view of Barcelona where you can see the Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter to the Sagrada Familia and Barceloneta. 10/10 would recommend taking advantage of it.

Right around the corner, there is this cute little coffee shop called BRACAFÈ. From delicious pastries to great lattes, this cafe is a gem I wish I found sooner. There is inside seating, but the weather is so nice in the evening that I would recommend sitting at their outside tables — and YES they have Wifi!

If you’re looking to get out of the Residencia Onix area, my favorite part of the city was the Gothic Quarter because this is where all the tiny streets seem to criss cross one another in an no particular pattern. In these lovely streets, my group found Boheme Bakery Cafe during one of our group project ventures. We took time to break from our scavenger hunt-like assignment to refuel with some lattes and sweet goods. It is found around the corner of the Picasso Museum and one of the coolest little streets for the arts. I had a caramel latte (of course) and red velvet cupcake with cute little white chocolate hearts all over it.

So the Polka Dots from the title of this post go hand-in-hand with one of the most well-known tapas restaurants my friends and I happen to find! *Tapas are like Spanish appetizer-like dishes, a must-have when in Spain* But really, before visiting a museum, we were really hungry and just Yelped the nearest restaurant and luckily we came across Casa Lolea (which apparently usually needs a reservation FYI!). They are most known for their patatas bravas, a type of tapas dish, because they make them in their own special way. I actually really liked them, and that’s saying a lot being that I’m a picky eater lol. I also did myself a favor and ordered a slice chocolate cake because I’m on vacation, so why not?

Paulina Hernandez studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain in summer 2018: