Sunday, 7 October 2012

¡Hola Barcelona!

Having reached halfway of this masters marathon, the month of holiday in August came as a welcome break to our tired bodies and minds. For most, this involved travelling to our respective home countries to replenish ourselves by catching up with family and friends, filling up on all our favourite foods, daytime soap operas and simple delights such as being able to read signposts, while also having some time to take stock of the whirlwind of a year we have had. For others, their travelling experiences continued as they took the opportunity to venture even further across Europe and beyond. As if we hadn't had enough travelling as it was.

At the beginning of September it was yet again time to pack our entire lives into suitcases and boxes, find accommodation and begin our next adventure in the beautiful city of Barcelona. As a tourist destination, this was definitely the city we were most looking forward to visiting. And I can tell you now, it has not disappointed. Barcelona is a city teeming with culture, amazing architecture, festivals and music, with the added bonus of incredible weather and beaches! It is also steeped in history and the people here take enormous pride in both their region Catalonia and, of course, the famous Barcelona Football Club.

Castells, a truly Catalan construction
Thus far, the highlight of our stay has been the festival of ‘La Mercè’. This festival took place a week after a festival campaigning for Catalonian independence from Spain and only two weeks before that there was another festival in our local area of Les Corts... for no particular reason! The Spanish really do love to party and they know how to do it well! ‘La Mercè’ celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy - the patron saint of the city. A jam-packed schedule included; free concerts, circus acts, the building of 'castells' (human towers), a fire-music-fireworks parade known as 'Correfoc', more free concerts and the biggest fireworks display I have ever seen to finish off the celebrations. It was a truly magical weekend!

But of course, the reason we have the privilege of enjoying these marvellous experiences is ultimately to become flood risk managers. Therefore, it was with fresh brains that we began our studies in Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) under the guidance of Prof. Allen Bateman. After some inevitable registration and logistical confusion that seems to follow us everywhere we go, we eventually returned our noses to the grindstone. The courses here have been carefully planned so as not to overlap with any material we covered in either Dresden or Delft. This has led to a diverse and interesting timetable with numerous new concepts and approaches being taught. Our classes here cover; drought management, debris flow and flash flood risk, coastal risk management and the use of radar in flood early warning systems. A key feature of our work at UPC will be that all of our grades will be based on continuous assessments - projects or presentations completed in groups or individually, depending on the subject. This allow a more practical and application based approach to be taken to the subjects, accounting for us only spending 3 months here.

A major academic issue,burning a hole in the minds of the entire class, is the upcoming selection of thesis topics. Our first preliminary list of topics has just been received and makes for a very ‘thought provoking’ read.  So, just as we settle into our lives in Barcelona we are already looking forward to the future with curiosity, wonderment and only a mild sense of dread! It seems to be the FRM lifestyle!


  1. thanks for your nice post. Barcelona not only a football city, but also has a great university. your pal
    jilbab gaby

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