Barcelona 2015

Friday…ILA Conference, the Beach, and Elvis?

By Kelsey Freeman


I think it is amazing how much one can learn after just a week in a different country. Barcelona has such a rich culture that it is difficult to even begin to figure out where to start. There’s the metro system I wish we had everywhere in the United States, the outrageously good food, and the fashion. Barcelona is amazing and I never want to leave, but I have new things to add to my view of the world.


Today a group of us went to a leadership forum being held in Barcelona. The number of people in attendance was astonishing! So many people coming together to talk about how to better the world as a whole is heart-warming. Many of the topics ranged from women in the workplace, and engaging youth in leadership roles. This was the first conference that I have been to on this scale and I enjoyed talking to new people and learning about some of the important topics prevalent to leadership in the world today. I hope to learn some more during my time there tomorrow!


After our morning at the conference, two others and myself went to the beach and enjoyed the shopping opportunity. I do believe that I may just stay here simply for the cheap clothes, and the sight of a sunset at the beach. The water was freezing, and the temperature dropped pretty quickly, but I could never forget how calm it was to sit by the ocean for a little while and enjoy the sound of the waves. After a lovely dinner, and realizing that while the clothes may be cheap but the shoes are not, we made our way to the metro. We have the metro system down by now and it is not as hard to navigate and switch between 3 different stations just to get back to where we are staying. To end the day on an interesting note, we met Elvis on our way to catch the train. Well, the version of Elvis amongst the many others that happens to be in Barcelona. We ended the day walking on aching feet, heading toward the metro, with the heavy-accent laden words of Elvis’s “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” hanging in the air.






Thursday…Awe Inspiring

By Morgan Jones

Today, we went to the Sagrada Familia. This is one of the most beautiful things that we have ever seen. The Sagrada Familia is a church that holds Catholic Mass. On the front of the church there are sculptures of the life of Jesus. On the back of the church there are sculptures of the days leading up the Jesus’s death and sculptures of his crucifixion.




In the Sagrada Familia there are these wonderful colored stain glass glass windows. Below is a picture of the sun reflecting through the widows to create a beautiful a ray of colors on to the wall of the church. Saudi’s vision was to let the sun reflect through windows and that would be the decoration inside the church. Gaudi, who designed the church believed that all of nature was the architectural design of God. Because of this, his buildings, including the Sagrada Familia, rely on nature for their design.




Below is a picture of the plastic model of the Sagrada Familia. In this model, the brown shows what parts of the Sagrada Familia have been completed since it was first begun in 1882. The tan color shows what has not yet been completed. Our tour guide told us that they hope to finish the tan parts by 2026, a bold deadline. Currently the Sagrada Familia has 8 towers, when it is finished it will have 18 towers. 1 tower will be for Jesus, 1 tower for Mary, 4 towers for the 4 Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and 12 towers for the 12 Apostles.



It is so hard to put into words how beautiful and awe inspiring this place was. This is truly a masterpiece of architecture and a honor to God.




Wednesday…The sun is shining in Barcelona!

By Morgan Jones

Today we went to Park Guel. It is a beautiful park with different parts built by the famous Spanish architect Antoni Guadi. The picture displays  a lizard which has thousands of broken pieces of tile used to create a mosaic. Many other parts of the park display the broken tiles. Guadi was the first architect to use recycled tile in his work.




Below is another picture from Park Guel. This is the highest point in the park. When you look out, you can use all of Barcelona from this point. You even see a tiny bit of the town next to Barcelona. Although the view breath taking, we really had our breath taken away by the very steep hills that you have to climb to get to this point.


We also went to the National Museum of Barcelona. This Museum told the story of how Barcelona became the city it is today. There were considerable amounts of the Museum that showed pieces of the old city. These pieces were found when the parts of the city were being rebuilt. We enjoyed learning about the history of the city. However, we also experienced a slightly disconcerting aspect of the changing culture in Barcelona. There is a tension amongst those native to Barcelona. They are beginning to resent so many tourists coming into their city. Many tourists are disrespectful to the city and the people living in it. This has led to a loss of some of the trademark hospitality that Barcelona has been known for. While at the museum we often felt unwanted and unwelcome. We have attributed this to the changing culture. It will be interesting to see what happens to Barcelona and her tourists in the coming years. Below is a picture of some of the ruins in the museum.



Tomorrow we’re off to more adventures. It will be interesting to see how we continue to experience the people of this beautiful city.





Tuesday…The Rain Won’t Get Us Down

Today we share a photo blog. All photos by Nicole Wilkerson.

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Monday…The Gothic Quarter

Today we got to explore the oldest part of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter. We were amazed by the architecture and the history of the city. It seems as if everyone wants a part of the city for themselves. However, it is the Catalonians who most desire their independence. Barcelona has its own unique culture but the Gothic Quarter has an even more distinct culture. It was as if we found a city within a city. Throughout the Quarter you could see evidence of the many influences on the region. Clearly evident are Roman influences as seen in the recently uncovered cemetery and in the Roman columns below.


Sign leading to the columns.


Roman Columns believed to have been build under the reign of Tiberius.

There’s evidence of importance of religion in the region as seen in the multiple churches within the quarter. The most impressive of the churches was the Cathedral of Barcelona.


Finally there was beautiful architecture everywhere we looked.



Finally as the day drew to a close several of us had the opportunity to volunteer with the International Leadership Association as they have their 17th global conference. We worked with volunteers from Spain, Columbia, Japan, and Denmark. Later this week we will get to volunteer more and will also get to attend this conference. This is a great opportunity of us to meet some preeminent scholars and practitioners in the leadership field.

Tomorrow will be another full day. We’ll be having class in the morning and then exploring more of the city in the evening. So far this has been one of the greatest experiences of our lives.



Sunday…we finally arrived!

There are fourteen of us who traveled to Barcelona. After a very long couple of days, which included a lay-over in Munich, we finally arrived in Barcelona. When we landed in Munich it was obvious that we were no longer in the states. We were surrounded by people speaking numerous languages and rushing off to their next destination. While in Munich several of us took the time to sample some German food and enjoy European coffee while in the airport. After a few hours we finally go on the plane to Barcelona.

Our first glimpse of Barcelona was seeing the magnificent blue Mediterranean Sea. Upon landing and gathering our luggage we were greeted by our hosts for the week. They are very generous and excited to tell us about their city. We couldn’t stop watching the landscape go by as we drove to our residence. This is such a beautiful place. Just look at this picture which shows the few from one of the windows in the residence.



After settling in we took some quiet time to shower off our travels and rest. Then, we went to explore the city a bit and find something to eat. The food here is amazing. After eating we found ourselves back at the residence and ready for bed. It has been a long few days. Can’t wait for more!