Half of the PKP program has now been completed and I will be starting my last class soon. It was a stressful few days but my friend (ELLIE <3) and bought last minute tickets to Barcelona and the trip made it all better.
During Week 4, I had my last round of seminars and lectures before taking two finals at the end of the week. I was super stressed out because I did not know what the grading/quality expectations were. I am an International Studies major at UCI and the essays I have written weren’t that hard for me and most of my finals were multiple choice so the essay format of the finals here at Cambridge got me really really scared. Anyhow, I turned in my “long essays” which are take home, super early and started mass studying for my two Module 1 classes. My schedule was pretty busy with four classes most days (lectures and seminars combined) so I was mostly asleep for all my classes…which means I knew zero parts of the information.
terrible STUDY TIPS for Cambridge:
- Don’t kill yourself reading ALL the class material. Skim and highlight. For the subjects you’re really into, read into it by all means. Cambridge courses have a heavy reading load but don’t stress yourself out about it.
- USE THE LIBRARY. The libraries at Pembroke and King’s are both 24/7 so use them as a place to study (especially when it gets hot) and a place to easily grab a book.
- There is no need to buy course textbooks because they’re in the library (unless otherwise stated).
- Pay attention to what the professor wants and the topics he/she is emphasizing because that’s most likely to be on the test questions.
- For take home essays, just write out everything in your mind first. Don’t try to make a perfect first draft. If you can write a thesis, write the bodies first. Write out your topic sentences. Copy and paste all the outside information you think you will need under them and cite them so you’re not looking back and forth. That flow map from elementary school really helps.
Finals: You’re given two hours for each final. Honestly I was really scared about taking them because I wasn’t really familiar with the information but what happens happens right? I did my best to prepare for them and that’s what counts. Effort will make you do a better job.
My European History course final consisted of one long essay (with fourteen…FOURTEEEN topics to choose from; you’re bound to know one of them) and five IDs which were really short. I surprisingly retained a lot of historical information from studying a few hours in the morning before the test.
My Bloomsbury course, which I absolutely fell asleep during each class (it was always after European History and I was super tired by then…sorry), was the largest worry for me. The final consisted of two essays and with two hours, there is plenty of time to plan them out. I actually finished in one hour (oops) and didn’t realize it until I checked my phone after I left the room. Hopefully I was following all the directions but if not…um anyhow I was more excited go to Barcelona so yeah.
Deciding to go to Barcelona may have been the best choice I have ever made (haha, bad life choices anyone?). Honestly I didn’t know what to expect there but Barcelona blew me away. Everything was beautiful here and it was a great escape from the crowded, tourist filled streets of London and Cambridge-which is surprising since Barcelona has a huge tourism industry too.
We left for Stansted right after my last final at 3:30PM even though our flight was at 8:00PM because we wanted to be there early. Our flight ended up being delayed because of weather conditions (raging storm in Barcelona) so my friend and I went to every single store inside the terminal and probably bought drinks in every coffee shop there. We finally boarded at 9:30PM which is not that bad of a delay-at least we got on the plane. BUT THEN we didn’t leave! They reopened the doors and the police came in and literally everyone on the plane were turning there heads back and forth between the flight attendants at the front of the plane and at the police who were going through the overhead baggage compartments. It was super scary because no one knew what was going on and seriously with all the terrorism going around the whole world lately, everyone was super paranoid. The ended up taking a guy off the plane and it was later announced that he was being uncooperative (?) and we finally took off at 10:30PM. Five minutes into the flight, the air conditioning started leaking water onto the seats in front of us and they had to stuff tissues into the crack LOL our plane was so old.
We finally arrived in Barcelona at 1:00AM on Saturday. The last Aerobus to city center had left a few minutes before so we took a taxi to our airbnb. The ride was super cheap and the airport was super close to the city. First impression of Barcelona was that it looked a lot like California with its relatively shorter buildings. We got to our airbnb where we found our room smelling like lemon and burnt fish (apparently our host CANNOT cook) so we grabbed the spray from the toilet and sprayed down the room.
Next morning, we woke up super early to beat the tourist rush at La Boqueria Mercat which was literally five steps away from where we lived on La Rambla (10/10 recommend living here, your life will be 120% easier because everything, from food to public transport is on this road). We ordered more than two people could eat of tapas and just kept on saying “THIS IS SO GOOD” after every bite we took. We’re little children (who drinks in the morning though) so we got fresh squeezed orange juice which was also SO GOOD and the guy who made it was laughing at us. After eating we shopped and shopped and shopped along La Rambla. My IPad charger was failing me (it went through the laundry and two years so that’s okay) so we went to the Apple store which was HUGE AS HECK. The dude who helped me check out was so nice.
Dude: Where are you from (for the recipe)?
Me: *where am I from is this question directed at my ethnicity but that’s random am I from California where am I. I’m from Los Angeles right, haha there are so many options oh my gosh how do I answer this okay maybe I should say Cambridge since I left from there???* L-AA-A? Los A-a-angles? Sorry I was thinking about where I’m from.
Dude: Sorry that my English is terrible.
Me: *there is no right English anymore what is this i just insulted someone i’m so sorry omgomgogogmogmogmogmogmog* No dude, your English is so good. I can’t speak a word of Spanish or Catalan.
So that was my embarrassing moment and existential crisis at an Apple store in Barcelona.
After shopping we went to the Gothic Quarter and it was getting hella hot so we stopped at a random coffee shop and we chose right. Both of our drinks were made so well, I don’t think I’ll ever go to Starbucks again (yay, save my money) even for casual coffee. We kept on praising the coffee and the people working there were just laughing their ass off. After that we walked towards Parc de la Ciutadella where we were once more stunned by the beauty of Barcelona (our little Californian heads were about to implode from everything we were seeing) and then to the beach and I really regret not bringing my swimsuit because the water temperature was the most perfect thing ever and the color…the color of the water was so beautiful. Californian waters are mostly freezing cold and green, but this was the perfect refreshing cool and blue.
We went back to our airbnb after going to Carrefour to purchase an air freshener and took a nap before going to dinner. At this point we basically had the same reaction to everything we have been eating in Barcelona: “OH MY GOSH WHAT HAVE I BEEN EATING MY WHOLE LIFE.” Cambridge food will know taste like dust to me. For the price and the quality of the food you get, I felt like I was getting robbed in England. We ate at Cera 23 near La Rambla and the filet steak was worth every cent. I feel like I have ascended to heaven or something after eating that.
Day 2 was the day we got down and dirty (not really) and visited all the iconic attractions of Barcelona.
Early morning we woke up to eat at a churro place near the Picasso Museum but then…they were on vacation so we went to a bakery next door where-you guessed it- we started raving about the price of the food and the coffee again. IT WAS 1€ FOR A GIANT ASS PIECE OF BREAD and 2.50€ TOTAL FOR CAPPUCCINO AND BREAD! In Cambridge, 2.50€ will probably get you a no-brand soda.
I forgot all my tickets so we walked back to the airbnb which wasn’t that far to fetch them and we sat for thirty minutes under the stone arches inside the museum because we were only two hours into our second day and our ankles were already dying (Californians drive…we don’t walk ever). It was so comfortable to sit there, we didn’t want to move. Anyhow we eventually made ourselves climb the stairs to the museum and honestly, the planning was so good, I cried. We went to Tate before and it was cool and all, but the Picasso Museum really let you understand the artist and each piece of art. Best planned art museum ever. The security guard freaked out when my friend used the elevator to get to the restroom and started questioning me though HAHAHA and he was like oh, the restroom oh yeah.
We rode the metro (which was super new and clean AND BIG compared to London and Paris-I’m sorry for ragging on you two) to Alphonse X where we were hoping to get some Korean food but since it was Sunday, everything outside of city center was closed so we wandered around until we got to a bus stop where two old ladies very voluntarily guided us about which bus to take to Parc Guell even though they couldn’t speak English. They just knew we were dumb tourists HAHA, but I was very very touched and also a little ashamed that I couldn’t speak a word of Spanish or Catalan. The bus came and they frantically waved at us to board it and when we were a stop before the park, an old man pointed at us and simply said, “Parc Guell next,” like holy cow I’ve never experienced this before with people voluntarily helping you out.
Parc Guell was amazing and we sat under the shade away from the heat and wondered how these buildings could be built. We tried to reenact Cheetah Girls but there were a lot of people so that didn’t happen. After Parc Guell, we followed everything down the hill to take the metro to La Sagrada Familia. Turns out the recommended metro stop for Parc Guell is super far so good thing we got lost and took the bus which landed us right in front of the park.
We arrived at La Sagrada Familia and let me tell you, if you are playing Pokemon Go right now, this is the place to go. There were SO MANY rare Pokemons here we weren’t even paying attention to what was in front of us. It wasn’t our ticket time yet so we sat in McDonald’s (McDonald’s coming in clutch in every country) and managed to capture the La Sagrada gym where our team and some random dude proceeded to beat up Team Instinct (lol) everytime they tried to take over. TEAM VALORRR. I’m so proud my first gym was La Sagrada Familia.
La Sagrada Familia was amazing. Exceeded all expectations and not like any other cathedral in the world (obviously). The glass with the sunlight filtering in, the detail, the architecture. We bought tickets for the Nativity Tower but the elevator broke so we couldn’t go up but that’s alright. WE WILL BE BACK.
We were super tired after La Sagrada but we hadn’t tried paella yet so we Yelped (Tripadvisor-ed?) some places and even though we didn’t want to walk anymore we made up our mind to go to this one restaurant and thank goodness we pushed ourselves to go because the environment and the paella was everything we could hope for. Fresh ingredients and we made it just before the dinner rush. We were iffy about going to the restaurant (Arume) since people said in the reviews that it was in a dangerous part of town but we had went there the day before and so we just decided to go. So good.
Last note before we left Barcelona, but we went to the airport super early again and bless. We were the only people sitting in the terminal and we saw some people wearing the FC Barcelona shirts and thinking it was a school group we ignored them until we heard “MESSI MESSI” and in our half awake state, we looked up from our Pokemon Go game to find Messi right next to us. Holy cow, I was so starstruck. Okay, first impression though because he bleached his hair, I thought he was an old man. BUT HOLY COW THIS JUST COMPLETED OUR BARCELONA TRIP LIKE WHAT????? So we were hyperventilating and we should’ve asked for a picture but all we have now are stalker pics. I’m so sad. but yeah…back to school.