#SeanAbroad – Studying Abroad in London and Traveling to Barcelona & Florence

I’m Sean, a junior in college, and a first time study abroad student. I am studying abroad at London South Bank University for this semester. As I’m abroad, I’ll be sharing my adventures, experiences, lessons, (and maybe even mishaps!) as I venture through my semester across the world. Please be sure to check back in and follow my posts on Twitter with the hashtag #SeanAbroad.

I am currently writing this post from my Hostel room in Florence where I am about halfway through a 2 weeklong trip through Europe. So far I have been to Barcelona and now Florence. I will end my trip in Santorini, Greece and you will probably hear more about Greece and Florence in my next post. But for now let’s talk about Barcelona.

Barcelona is an amazing place to visit if you are ever in Europe. But it also can be scary, and by scary. I mean that you need to be careful when there. Before I even left for Barcelona, people were telling me to be careful while I was there. It wasn’t just a normal “be careful” it was a “that place can be dangerous so always watch out” kind of warning. What people meant by that was that Barcelona is known to have a lot of pickpockets. These people will look for tourists and try to steal your wallet and phone if they can. I knew I was going to be a huge target because I am 6 feet 4 inches tall, kind of pale from the winter, and dress like an American. There was no hiding the fact that I was not a local. I knew I was going to have to be more careful while there.

The Bay In Barcelona
The Bay In Barcelona

Once we arrived at the Hostel we were staying at in Barcelona, the manager told us where to be on the lookout for pickpockets. The oldest, and most touristy, part of town was the first place, as well as the Metro (subway) and the beach. These were all places tourist, aka people who probably can’t speak Spanish and are busy looking at buildings, will be. Although just because this area, supposedly, has a lot of pickpockets, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid it. In fact, that’s I spent most of my time in Barcelona in these areas. That’s because these areas are what you come to see, besides the metro of course. The beach was beautiful and we had great weather while we were there.

Where we hung out at the beach in Barcelona.
Where we hung out at the beach in Barcelona.

We sat on the beach in the sun just relaxing, not swimming because the water was freezing. La Rambla, the main street, is amazing with a lot of restaurants and markets. And the metro is definitely the best way to get around the city. Really, all you have to do in order to be careful is just be a little alert.

Another thing you need to look out for are street vendors. In Barcelona, there are people selling everything from magnets to, supposedly, designer bags. And in Florence they do the same thing. It might seem like a good idea to buy from them because the prices are cheaper than normal but you need to be careful. In Barcelona, a lot of the stuff they sell might be stolen and in Florence, you can actually get in trouble and fined for buy things from these vendors.

Though, you can buy gifts from people who have carts or stands in both places.

Florence Center
Florence Center

It’s really easy to tell who is a legal street vendor and who isn’t. I really recommend the legal street vendors as they have a lot of cool stuff to buy such as bracelets in Barcelona and leather in Florence.

My main point this week is really just to tell potential people travelers to be careful when going somewhere very different from where you are from. Although you might not think it, you will definitely stand out as a tourist, which makes you a prime target to be pickpocketed. Even in London, a place more like the US, you need to be careful. Make sure you are always aware of who is around you and keep your possessions on you in a safe place. The last thing you want is to lose your phone, wallet, or worse, your passport.

Stay tuned for my next post and follow #SeanAbroad on GoEnnounce!

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