Sitges- A Hidden Gem

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Sitges, Spain is a small beach town located just 26 miles southwest of Barcelona and is most commonly known for sandy beaches, clean water and windy cobblestone streets. The small alleys consist of cafes, bars, local shops and delicious gelato. When exiting the alleys you will be led to a beautiful beach where the sun is shining almost 100% of the time. It is small enough to be explored in a short time period, so be sure to plan a day trip when visiting Barcelona! Here is some history and tips on how to do Sitges right.

“Sitja” in Catalan, silos which are deep pits in the ground used to store grains is where the 2552405name “Sitges” came from. It is suggested that approximately 53,000 years ago, many silos were located in Sitges. In the 1700’s Sitges was bombed during the War of Succession. They fought off soldiers demanding food and shelter, as well as pirates and bandits coming up the coast. The people of Sitges stayed strong overcoming these hardships and building a warship as well as a rock formation called “La Fragata” where they rebuilt the church. The church stands strong today and still has a canon out front in remembrance of the 6 canons used to protect the town.

antiguas2186 la puntaThe church that still stands in between the beaches of Playa de la Fragata and Playa de San Sebastion is called “Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu I Santa Tecla.” It is considered to be the towns most famous monument and is often used in postcards. As wars continued during the nineteenth century, Sitges continued to make remarkable improvements and as ties with Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Americas became closer, business started booming. They were able to invest in banking, vineyards and railways to nearby cities. This continued through the nineteenth century as they progressed and economic growth boosted.

In the mid-twentieth century piped water, the telephone and electricity was introduced. They specialized in the shoemaking business and nearly 75% of their workforce was in the shoemaking industry. As Sitges became more IMG_4993popular it was soon known for a home to
sculptors, painters, poets and singers. During the Franco regime, tourism picked up and they began building museums, art galleries and hotels around the town. After Franco was seized, they were allowed to continue their culture, traditions and culture such as “Carnival” which was banned during the dictatorship. Sitges is now known for its gay vibrant night life and its relaxed, laid back vibe.

Now that you have a brief history of what Sitges once was, lets learn about how to make the most of your visit to this beautiful town.

How to get there:

One of the best parts about Sitges, is that it is located just outside of the beautiful city of Barcelona and it is SO easy to quickly get there. If you find yourself by Passeig de Gracia (one of the more popular streets located in central Barcelona), all you have to do is pop down the stairs in the metro stop and buy a ticket for the R2 Renfe train. The tickets are just 8 euros round trip and you will have a view of the beautiful beaches along the coast the entire time.

Once you hop off the train, grab a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop and keep walking straight. After just a few blocks, you will be greeted by the sight of sunny skies, blue water and sand soft enough to sleep on. It seems that everything in Sitges is within walking distance, so don’t rely on needing cab money!

While you’re there:

Although Sitges is far less touristy than Barcelona, there are still so many enjoyable and interactive things to do. From exploring museums, viewing historical landmarks, to relaxing on the beach and eating tapas or drinking cocktails along the coast.

Museums:


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Although most people know of the common beverage, Bacardi, most people don’t know that it has a strong connection to Sitges, Spain. Facundo Bacardí Massó was actually born in Sitges in 1814. After many struggles and hardships, him and his wife began distilling rum and created the first ever white-rum. There is a museum built after them where you will learn about the history of Bacardi, how it is distilled and you even have the chance to sit back and enjoy a free cocktail at the end of the exhibition with your ticket.

 


Cau Ferrat Museum

Cau-FerratIf drinking is not your thing, or you are with children this museum might be more your speed. With ancient art, modern sculptures and works by famous artists including Pablo Picasso and other local Spanish artists. With new exhibitions opening all the time, you are sure to get a glimpse into the history of Sitges along with the artwork connected.

 

Landmarks:


Passeig Maritim

This is a walk you cannot miss. This marble street is lined with restaurants, shops and sculptures on one side, with bars, sandy beaches and an ocean view on the other. Although this street can be slightly crowded (nothing in comparison to Las Ramblas), it is perfect for an evening stroll or a sunrise walk. Be sure to keep an eye out for locals selling their beautiful works of art and steer clear of the vendors attempting to sell you knock off purses.

Church of Sant Bartomeu y Santa Tecla

Getting up close to this old church is a must do. Known as the “post card picture”, it is the most famous landmark in all of Sitges. Be sure to go around sunset because the shining of the light on the church results in a magical view of the up close detail. If you want to get inside the church, try to avoid entering on the weekends as there are typically weddings.

 

Beaches:


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La Playa de Sitges

This is the largest and most prominent beach in the area. It is known for being clean, safe and full of entertainment. When you enter the beach you will quickly notice the lack of trash, resulting in laying on the most clean sand you will ever see. There are typically people playing fetch with their dogs, playing games or practicing musical instruments. The fun never ends!

Playa Balmins

If you prefer peace and quiet while laying at the beach, this is the one for you. It is more secluded and less crowded. It is a perfect place to hang out all day and enjoy the sunshine without being crowded by many people.

Food/ drinks:


When in Sitges, you just cant go wrong with food. Almost any restaurant with great tapas and better company will not disappoint. If looking for cheap tapas and delicious drinks, start roaming the narrow alleys through out Sitges. Not a far walk off the beach, you can find small bars and delicious gelato! Whenever in a small town, it is never a bad idea to check out a local fresh market to find some locally grown food. So, if you’re looking for a cheap DIY dinner, stop by a market, grab some snacks, bring a blanket and go eat and enjoy a sunset on the beach- you will not be disappointed!


Overall, Sitges is a must see if visiting Barcelona. Because of the easy transportation, quick walk and most importantly, lack of tourism- Sitges is a place that anyone will enjoy.

Valentí Santjuan

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Santjuan is a journalist who has used his passion, strength and determination to compete in many strenuous events. He started off running marathons and almost a dozen ironmans (which consist of a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bike ride and a 42.20 km run… without a break). But most impressively, completing to Ultramans which is a 3 day endurance challenge composed of a 10 km swim through the ocean, 145 km bike ride (I’m not talking a flat bike ride through a city, they endure climbs of up to 6,000 feet) on day 1, a 276 km bike ride climbing up to 4,000 feet on day 2 and ending with a casual 84 km DOUBLE marathon (because why stop at just one?). When hearing about Valentí Santjuan, I was expecting a bland journalist, not someone so strong, driven, inspiring and passionate about his life and past times even when enduring many hardships along the way.

While Valentí was conquering the world with his strength, he was also running a Youtube channel. Many years ago, Valentí started working in the journalism field. He quickly realized that he was not a huge fan of having bosses and coworkers tell him what to do. He also went through a difficult time ending a long relationship and sadly losing his mom in the process. He realized life is short and this is when he started up a Youtube channel with videos including talk shows and interviews.

Valentí has a couple different Youtube channels based on what the audience is maxresdefaultinterested in. One is radio/talk show style and another  focusing on sports. He explained that is important to make content for everyone or the amount of viewers/ subscribers will be limited. Combined with multiple channels, he has more than 100,000 subscribers and millions of views. His Youtube channels have helped him grow into a popular social media presence.

dddddddThe cool thing about what Valentí does is that he does not have one specific boss. As mentioned in our class he has multiple bosses: his audience, the brands he promotes, his Youtube channel and most importantly himself. His audience is what keeps his channel going, essentially they are the reason his Youtube channel is considered his job. He stated that “without his viewers, he would be nothing.” Second, sponsors request that he incorporate and promote their brand into his Youtube videos or social media platforms. They will pay him for each las-cosas-importantes-deben-entrar-listas_media_1-1441653414395advertisement resulting in lots of money made. Youtube is another one of his bosses in the sense that they control what he can and cannot post. Without the help of Youtube, he would not have viewers. Lastly, he is lucky enough to call himself his main boss. He is in charge of what he wants to promote and post as well as what he does to reach the level he has reached.

While Valentí considers himself a journalist, he also is a Youtuber, a brand, a producer, an entrepreneur, an athlete and an inspiration to people all over the world.

Citizen Journalism in Syria

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A citizen journalist is defined as ‘a citizen or group of citizens with an active role in different processes: picking up news, analysis and spread news and information.’ Citizen journalism only requires a recording device, a notebook and a desire to gather information so it is easy for anyone to become a citizen journalist no matter the situation. It is very controversial as many people, especially journalists, do not agree with the term.

However, the situation in Syria has caused news sources to stay away from sending AP-Foley-Manu Braboreporters to the area and has required them to rely heavily on the use of citizen journalism. Since the beginning of the war in 2011 over 450,000 deaths have occurred in Syria. Dozens of those deaths have been journalists and reporters from around the world. Because of the constant violence, bombings and mistreatment of people it has made it nearly impossible for journalists to safely travel to Syria. There have even been reports of ISIS targeting journalists and kidnapping or killing them. This has required news sources gather information in a safer, more interactive way.

rami_jarrahCitizen journalists are definitely essential in Syria right now. They are a key source for live and on the ground perspectives that international news media outlets are unable to do. Although they have to be careful about what they say and which side they take, they typically just report what is going on around them every single day.

While it may be safer for Americans to rely on these journalists however, the citizen 140956933_3448b081b8_zjournalists in Syria are risking their lives every single day to crucially report on the awful situation in Syria, specifically Aleppo. They are risking their lives every single day to shed light on the current state of the country. No, they are not trying to take jobs (mots of these citizen journalist’s in the riskiest areas are not even getting paid) or reduce the level of information released, they are simply trying to lower the risk of putting American journalists on the ground in such dangerous conditions.

A woman pushes a baby stroller as she rushes away after what activists said were airstrikes by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on a busy marketplace in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus, SyriaAfter further research, it seems that female citizen journalists seem to have the hardest time in these circumstances. Women are not allowed to simply roam around Syria without a male guardian. This reduces the amount of journalists on the grounds greatly because being a woman in Syria is hard enough, let alone traveling alone gather, recording and reporting difficult and controversial information.

Sitges, Spain

 

img_3834Sitges is a small town located on the coast of the Mediterranean in Spain. It is best known for its sandy beaches, sunny days and the infamous carnival. After visiting Sitges twice now, I have realized that it is one of my favorite places in Europe. However, the two experiences I have had there have been completely different and I think that is what makes it so special.

Day trip:

My day trip to Sitges was actually an AICAP for CEA. We started off in El Penedes, Spain at a winery with a traditional Catalan meal. To be quite honest, I had no idea that afterwards we were heading to Sitges. We were dropped off right in-front of the beautiful beach and the first thing I noticed was the lack of tourists (well, besides the big bus of college students that rolled up for a tour).

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Supposedly, Sitges has an average of 300 sunny days per year. This doesn’t surprise me whatsoever as the sky had been filled with clouds all day until we arrived. I think that is something truly amazing about that quaint beach town. Not only do they have one of the cleanest, softest, most relaxing beach I have ever been to, but sunny blue skies to accompany it. I remember sitting there on the creamy, smooth, delicious sand and never wanting to leave. Besides the beach and blue skies, the narrow streets filled with tiny shops, patatas bravas and some of the best frozen yogurt I have ever had.

 

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Night Visit: 

The night visit was completely different from the day trip because of one major factor: the Sitges Carnival. Each year leading up to Lent (a Catholic holiday), the town throws a week long party for people to let loose before Lent begins. Yes, they celebrate Carnival everywhere (basically Mardi Gras), but no one does it like Sitges, Spain.

We decided to go on the last night, and typically the most crowded night of carnival. It was Fat Tuesday so people were drinking and eating, dressed up in drag and silly costumes to go crazy one last time. There is a huge parade that makes its way down Rua del Extermini. There are huge groups of people drinking and dancing, giant floats and lots and lots of loud music. The parade is something I’ve never seen anything like before and I am not exaggerating when I say that I was finding confetti in my hair and clothes for days after. So. Much. Confetti.

Overall, I would say that Sitges is a hidden gem that everyone should get the chance to visit. It is beautiful, quiet, quaint and full of life. The people I encountered are some of the nicest people in the world and they really seem to follow Catalan culture. And if you’re ever near Spain for Carnival- make it a priority to dress up and have the time of your life roaming the streets of Sitges.

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(This is a photo of me thriving at Carnival, if you look at the ground you will understand why confetti was falling out of my boots for days.)

 

Adjusting to Life Abroad

Ever since I was little, I have been the person that everything bad happens to. It actually runs in my family. “The bad luck Bunkenburgs” some may call us. A couple examples: my mom bought a brand new car only for it to be smashed by a tree the same night during a thunderstorm. My dad got a hole-in-one while on a golf trip but no one saw, so he didn’t win the money. In the past year, my brother has gone through 4 iPhones simply because of bad luck. I could go on and on about events that have gone completely wrong in my life. Maybe it’s pure stupidity, maybe its karma for shit talking my friend in high school or stealing $20 from my mom to buy drunchies, 13346803_882830291827777_4801652900513557985_nbut anyone who knows me truly believes it is simply just bad luck. No, I am not trying to have a pity party about my “sad” life because I truly believe that all things happen for a reason and I am a better person because of the struggles life has so generously thrown at me. But because of the constant struggling and having to jump over obstacles to complete simple everyday tasks, my parents were very worried for me to live in a foreign country for 4 months.

They warned me that life abroad would not be all sunshine and giggles and as much as I hate to admit it, man were they right. From day one, adjusting to life here has been quite difficult. Met my roommates, we went to dinner and drank a couple of glasses of wine to come home and remember we had no sheets and no towels. Our first thought- lets go to Target and get some! That is when reality sunk in… they don’t have Target… where will we buy anything ever?! We tried to find some sort of store near us that would sell some sheets when we realized everything was closed besides the 24-hour supermarket next door. We bought some paper towels and cheap shampoo and faced the reality that we were about to use paper towels to dry our bodies after a shower and we would have to use a couple of sweatshirts as blankets until we found where to buy a blanket.

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(my roommates)

The first couple of weeks were easy. Everything was so new and freshIMG_1568.JPG and our schedules were quite busy. However, something bad was bound to happen at some point because bad luck follows me. We were running so late for a flight to Morocco to meet up with my roommate’s dad who was there for business. We were full on sprinting through El Prat airport. I was about to board the plane when we realized that the wrong persons name was on my ticket. After many tears and begging, the reality hit that they were not letting me on this flight. I sat there in shock watching the plane with all of my friends in it take off while I was trying to figure out how to get back to my apartment. I ended up taking the Aerobus (which by the way is one of the greatest things out there) and got dropped off at the wrong location. I was standing outside and it started completely down pouring. I stood there in the rain trying to hail a taxi completely bawling my eyes out.

I got back to my apartment and was sitting alone and I will never forget being so homesick and just wanting to talk to my mom so I gave her a call and she told me she couldn’t talk because it was 4AM in Minnesota. I just lost it… I’m talking tears and snot running down my face for hours. Everyone who saw me was terrified and to be honest, so was I. How could this happen? How am I alone in Barcelona on my first weekend? How could I be homesick when I am living in the greatest, most beautiful city in the world? I felt selfish and ungrateful but it had to happen to make me realize that our time here is limited and I cannot focus on the negative because I will forever regret not living everyday to the fullest.

So yes, this has been an adjustment and everyday is a struggle but it has been an unreal experience. Everyday I pinch myself and try to convince myself this isn’t a dream and I am living the best life I ever will live again.

 

The Real Side of Study Abroad

From what you have seen on my social media everything is perfect, right? I am going on trips, eating delicious tapas and making so many friends! There have been no bumps in the road, everything has worked out perfectly and I have an endless load of money left. I am across the world and living the perfect life! If you were to stalk my multiple social media accounts you would probably think that all of the above statements are true and I am living the ultimate study abroad life. In no way am I saying that you’re wrong; my life here has in fact been absolutely amazing, but what you see online is so much different than what my everyday life entails.

(Expectation vs. Reality)

I rimg_3636-1emember creeping on my friends Facebook album of her studying abroad in Barcelona. It looked absolutely perfect. From traveling to lavish cities on the weekend to taking long walks on the beach in between classes and eating delicious food with extravagant drinks on the side. I pictured myself strolling down the street with a coffee in hand and not a worry in the world.

 

 

img_4335-1Well people, I am two months in and I have somehow (not sure how) scavenged up enough money to buy a small latte from a local coffee shop so I would have a quiet place to study (because why would they have an easily accessible library). The music is blasting, someone is changing their babies diaper on the table next to me and the wifi is going in and out. When connecting to the wifi, you are required to check in on Facebook so people think I am drinking a cute latte in a little shop and just relaxing when in reality I am plugging my nose so I don’t smell a dirty diaper and trying not to make eye contact with the creepy man staring at me in the corner. What a life. This is just a sliver of the real side of the so-called perfect life I am living over here.

I truly think that only people who have studied abroad will understand that every single day is a struggle. From trying to figure out the metro to explaining to the pharmacist that I would like cough drops and not cough syrup in Spanish. By the way, after all the years I have taken Spanish you would think that I would know how to say the word “cough” or at least how to say that I am sick. Anyways, who would have thought that figuring out how to take a bus from the airport to a hostel in London located next to Big Ben would have been such a pain. “London is Americanized”- yeah right. People think that we just landed in a new country and immediately had everything figured out with a glass of wine in our hands but they have no idea of the hassle we go through to get there.

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(Struggling on the metro)

Everyone here would agree with me that the littlest tasks here are made into a big struggle. When will they wake up and get a Target here and when will they realize that splitting the checks into separate bills would make things so much easier for everyone involved?! However, the small everyday struggles are what makes this experience so amazing. I love that everything is an adventure and it is a journey to get anywhere. I love that I don’t have a car so I am forced to figure out public transportation. I love when I accidentally walk past my apartment (7 blocks past, to be exact) and end up finding my new favorite croissant place. The best memories I have had here are the most unplanned and unexpected events and I wouldn’t change a thing about everything that has happened so far (besides putting off studying until the complete last minute- HA).

MOJO

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What is Mobile Journalism?

Mobile journalism (also known as MOJO) is a newer form of multimedia that journalists use to gather, edit and share news stories. Mobile journalism is argued to be just as good as any news source however, you must relay on a trustworthy news source. Journalists use cameras, smart phones and tablets to gather all of the information which is later digitally published. However, all you really need to become a mobile journalist is a smart phone. Journalists who use mobile journalism are known as MOJO’s.

How to become a mobile journalist?

Anyone can become a mobile journalist and there are many different tools and tips on how to become the best MOJO. To start, you’re going to want to learn all of the basic steps.

  • Portable Power Device:
    • It seems as though phone battery life is getting shorter and shorter and the most important device needed for mobile journalism is a charged phone. It may seem obvious, but it is probably one of the biggest things that journalists will forget when reporting on a story.  You can get a portable power bank on Amazon for very cheap.

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  • Microphone
    • iPhone microphones are perfect for simple tasks but when it comes to recording important stories or interviews, you may need to invest in a microphone extension. That way you can be sure to get the best sound and footage possible. All you need to do is plug the device into your headphone jack and it will make things easier to record. You can find the iRig Pre on Amazon for just EUR 40!

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  • Call Recorder
    • A lot of times mobile journalists may have to do over the phone interviews. This may be complicated to record as your device will already be in use. MOJO’s have invested in an app called TapeACall where you can easily record calls that you’re already on or calls you are about to make. This helps keep all of your recordings on one device instead of multiple, helping organization. You can get TapeACall on the app store today!

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  • Periscope
    • Periscope is something that has really caught the eye of journalists. Periscope is a video streaming platform used by people all around the world to live stream events, videos, interviews and everything in between. It makes it easy to live stream footage to your followers. People will get a notification whenever you are live streaming and they can rewatch the stream for up to 24 hours after it is officially posted. Periscope is free and easy to use.

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A few tips on how to be good mobile journalist:

  • Always have a fully charged phone.
  • Always have your phone on airplane mode as this will stop incoming phone calls and internet notifications from disrupting your filming.
  • Hold your phone horizontally so that the footage is easy to work with and not accidentally recorded upside down.
  • Always make sure the microphone is not being covered by your hand or being tampered with.
  • If you are recording in a louder area, sick to headphone microphones as they will be closest to the mouth.
  • Check the audio multiple times throughout to make sure nothing goes wrong.
  • Make sure to focus the camera on the person or object you are recording.
  • Make sure you have a stable shot. Preferably use a tripod if possible.
  • Have a backup light source incase you are in a dark setting.
  • Lastly, keep a pen and paper just incase something goes wrong with your device.