Museum Visits 

During my last two weeks in Spain, I visited the museums exhibiting the work of three major Spanish modern painters: Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dalí. In this post, I will share my brief impression of their museums.

Pablo Picasso’s Museum is in the center of Barcelona, on Carrer Montcada, right by the Gothic Quarter. Picasso’s private secretary, Jaume Sabartes, opened the Museum in 1963 when Picasso was still alive. The Museum occupies five medieval mansions that are restored and turned into a gallery with numerous exhibition halls. The Museum presents the work of Picasso in chronological order. The highlight of the Museum, for me, was the “Las Meninas” collection. Picasso’s analysis and interpretation of Diego Velasquez’s famous painting from 1656. 

Joan Miro’s Museum is also in the city of Barcelona. Miro’s Museum is in Montjuic, on the upper part of the mountain, where the 1992 Olympic Games took place. The Miro Museum is slightly further away from the city’s touristic center. The Miro Museum has a stunning view of the city. The most remarkable feature of the Museum is that Joan Miro himself was the architect of the building. Miro designed large rooms with high ceilings to display his giant paintings and sculptures. The space and artwork interact with each other in a different way than all other museums I have ever visited.  

Salvador Dali’s Museum is an hour away from the city of Barcelona. Dali’s Museum is in his hometown, Figueres. The Dali Museum was formerly a theater. Dali himself led the restoration work to turn the public theater into Museum. The Museum’s exterior and interior mirror Dali’s character, humor, and artistic vision. The exterior of the Museum is decorated with egg-shaped sculptures. Each room in the interior offers a different atmosphere for each visitors’ own unique interpretation. 

Visiting the Museum of these three major artists was a unique opportunity for me to understand the culture and political history of Spain and Europe. It was fascinating to see how World Wars and dictatorship impacted painters differently. 

Time to Pack!

An unforgettable experience is ahead of me. I will be taking a six-week intensive Spanish language course at the University of Barcelona. I am incredibly excited to learn one of the most widely spoken languages in a beautiful city. I will regularly share some reflection pieces on my blog in the next two months. In my first post, I will highlight a couple of things I look forward to experiencing during my time in Barcelona. 

I will turn language learning into a joyful experience. Integrating social and cultural activities into my language learning process will be the path I will follow. For example, I will watch shows and read about the city’s history and architecture in Spanish. I also anticipate that I will play basketball with locals because playing basketball is my favorite hobby. Luckily, basketball is the second most popular sport in Spain! So maybe I will make new friends by playing basketball with the locals. 

I promise myself not to be shy in making mistakes in Spanish. I know that memorizing vocabulary, learning fundamental grammar rules, and spelling words correctly are central to gaining confidence in speaking with native speakers. But, in my view, the most crucial element of learning a new language is one’s ability to overcome the fear of making mistakes. After learning German and English, I realized that making mistakes in a foreign language is part of the learning process. I will try to speak Spanish correctly but making mistakes won’t discourage me this time. 

As a peace studies student, I hope to meet some professionals working or studying for peace. Barcelona hosts multiple international peace research institutes. I hope to meet with practitioners and experts working on or for peace in Barcelona. Learning about their work will help me improve my vocabulary on the subject matter I am interested in most. 

Now, I need to finish my packing. For now, Adiós! You will hear from me again soon when I am in Barcelona. ¡Hasta luego!

Procrastination at its finest (Gabriel, Costa Rica)

Just as my usual self I procrastinated this pre-departure blog post until the last minute… actually the last few hours. This unintentionally turned into a great opportunity to express these last minute thoughts, emotions, ideas, and feelings because as I sit in the airport now, it’s real. All of the planning, scheduling, and budgeting has paid off. Realizing that this trip is about to begin I’m feeling…all sorts of emotions. For the most part excitement is kicking in. This has been a moment I have been looking forward to for months now and the thought of how in just a few hours I will be in Costa Rica makes me almost impatient as I sit here (4 hours before my flight because my mom didn’t want me to be late). I’m optimistic in thinking about the future or what I hope to gain for this trip. Language and culture learning ‘through the fire’ or trial and error is what I am focusing on the most. I understand that my biggest downfall and obstacle that has been holding my language skills back is my attitude towards failure. I hesitate to write that this trip is going to change that. Because I know that this change must come from within. But I also know that I am committed to this. Changing my outlook on failure has been something that I have been working on for weeks now in preparation. Rather than writing this trip is going to change my nervousness to speak and take risks, I feel better writing that this trip is going to be an opportunity for me to showcase these changes. With this, I am able to come to terms with the idea that I am going to mess up. I am going to be at a loss of words.  I am going to have to shake my head up and down smiling even though I know darn well that I didn’t understand a single thing that this person just said to me. But I am ok with that, I am not going to be perfect but I will be trying.

Ok about my program, for 4 weeks I will be located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, a small town located on the coast of the pacific ocean. During my stay I will be taking private Spanish lessons, while living with my assigned host family. Manuel Antonio is a great place to be able to start my lessons because of the smaller town and location near great outdoor getaways. After this, I will be ‘moving’ to San José, the capital of CR and will be not only attending private lessons but also volunteering at a local community children’s center. This location gives me the perfect opportunity to apply what I have already learned and use the change of scenery to practice in different settings. The big city also gives me the chance to help those less privileged than me and in tern they can help me in my learning. To make my time even more worth it I plan on fully immersing myself. What can be more immersive than living in another country you may ask. I will be strictly listening to only Spanish music, writing 100% in Spanish, changing my phone settings language, and even THINKING in Spanish. We’re going ALL IN. I will be translating my future blog posts so don’t worry, you can still keep up with what I’m doing. 

Until next time,

Pura Vida!

Gabriel Belt

Why Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica is a Great Coastal Getaway | Anywhere
*Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
*San José, Costa Rica