I learning spanish at the moment and looking to study in Spain for a month before returning to university. Ie managed to narrow it down to Malága or Barcelona. Since I have never been to either of these places, I was hoping for some opinions on the place. My main concern with Barcelona is that they mostly speak Catalán. Would this be a problem for me?
I was in Barcelona in December/January just passed.
I speak no Spanish only English and got along fine.
From what I could tell they are bilingual and have signs in both Catalan and Castillian!
I had a great time in Barcelona, but cannot compare it to Malaga as I've never been there
My parents lived in Spain for four years outside of Cadiz and spent a fair amount of time travelling up and down the coast. One of my dad's favorite places is Malaga, if that helps any! Getting down into Malaga, you're more likely to start encountering the Andalucian accent (read: "Andaluthian"), but as far as differences in Spanish dialect, it's different everywhere you go. You'd be fine in either place. I'm not sure if anyone speaks the Spanish they teach in any school anywhere!
My choice? I think I'd opt for Malaga; it's a bit more laid back, but Barcelona has excellent schools. If you need any info on Barcelona schools, let me know. I'm meeting with one of my bridesmaids tomorrow, and it just so happens she lived in Barcelona for eight years and actually worked for one of the universities. I'll be sure to ask her a few questions for you!
Plenty of people come to Barcelona to learn Spanish and plenty of people speak it here but I'm glad you mentioned the subject of Catalan - so many people aren't even aware of it. It is the first and official language though almost everyone in Barcelona can (though they may not choose to) speak Spanish. This isn't true outside of the city in the rest of Catalunya where many people only speak Catalan and can't (or won't) speak Spanish.
I live here and speak Spanish and have never really picked up Catalan and you can get by fine, but speaking Catalan can open more doors and hearts for you. The people here are very proud of their language and some do resent people coming here and speaking Spanish.
Having said that it's a very cosmopolitan city and I think most ex-pats coming here learn Spanish and use that to communicate (or English!). But if you want to avoid the feeling of learning a 'second language' go to Malaga.
Apart from that, yes the two cities are very different. I've only spent an afternoon in Malaga but from what I know if it, it is maybe more 'Spanish' as most of us may think of Spain - the old cliches of sherry, flamenco, tapas (sometimes free) and party-loving, gregarious people. Also there are loads of other great places in Andalucia you could visit from there.
In Catalunya the locals, though generally friendly and helpful enough, are more closed and private and less open to strangers. We've generally made friends with other ex-pats (Cubans, South Americans and non-Catalan Spanish as well as other Europeans) rather than Catalans. And there are a lot of ex-pats, especially north europeans. Culturally it's interesting with lots of galleries, art house cinemas and film festivals, good music venues and festivals. There are great bars, clubs (it's not generally a party all-night every night town, though - although you can buy cans of lager (and other substances) on certain street corners at 5am) and especially restaurants - for traditional Catalan food and inventive modern cuisine.
Another thing to consider is cost. As Barcelona's become more and more popular prices have really risen. Renting is pretty expensive if you want your own place but you can get a reasonably priced room in a shared flat for long-term stays. Check loquo.com and www.catalunya-classified.com for some idea of room/flat rentals. Generally I think you'll find Malaga cheaper for most things.
For a real immersion in 'Spanish' language and culture I'd say go for Malaga, but you'll have a great time in either place.
In Barcelona, the nightlife does go all through it, especially in the Old Town district of Barcelona.
It's really not that difficult to pick up Catalanian. Even if you speak Spanish only. You just catch it from the locals as they pass you on the street. It is smooth and rhythmic and really fast. It flows. Oh, you could probably take a course in a school in Barcelona to learn it.
I haven't been to the other city, Malaga, so sorry I cannot aid that comparasen.
hey ive never been to malaga but id definetely recommend barcelona-its such a compact city and the 'town' is all manegable by foot-language is not a problem at all and the city itself is absolutely amazing-a very cosmoplitan feel to it-definetly barcelona! The only downside is if you're female-leery men and if you're not quick off the mark pick pocketing but coming from a city myself it hasnt been a problem personally. Good luck!
I would also recommend Barcelona since there's much more to do, and you can easily make weekend trips to other places by train if you want. Plus you get the chance to learn some Catalan if you want. But if you're into beaches, then Malaga should be your city of choice, since it's on the (very touristy) Costa del Sol.
Hi, I studied in Malaga for 4 weeks in Nov 2003 and again in 2004. ( I have been to B/lona but not to study).
A previous poster is correct. Malaga is much cheaper, good nightlife and lots of excellent beaches.There is not the problem of Catalan/Spanish. Malaga is more Spanish with most people familiar with English.
Unlike B/lona , Malaga has a all year round climate. you will problably get cheaper hotels there too.In 2003 I travelled into Malaga daily from Fuengirola ( solely to take advantage of the cheap hotels there.)
For learning Spanish I can reccommend (1) The University of Malaga .The University is outside the city but the language courses are in the city centre.Excellent classes BUT!!! homework every day including week ends!
2)Instituto Picasso. Again in the city centre near to the Picasso museo. School is a bit down at heel but very good but friendly teachers and lots of trips, social events.
Good mix of students,Canadian,German, Japanese & Hungarian while I was there last year.
Obviously the Instituto is cheaper.Free internet & daily newspaper, El Mundo, is included.
Just an update. I've decided to study Spanish in Barcelona. Despite the less Spanish culture I've been told about, I think Barcelona will be more me. And since I've only been abroad once, I'm sure whatever I see there will be a comeplete change to my "normal" life.