A Glimpse of Barcelona: Persianas and Fresh Mercados

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Imagine stepping into a dorm room in Barcelona and being greeted with a breathtaking view. From the second-floor, your eyes are drawn to the charming brick facades of nearby buildings, adorned with colorful flowerpots and cascading greenery. Balconies are transformed into cozy havens, adorned with vibrant plants, bicycles, and tables and chairs. As you open the window, your eyes are drawn to the tiled sidewalk with locals going about their daily routines, and tourists walking the streets.

Since my arrival in Barcelona just over a week ago, I’ve been greeted by this view every morning as I draw up my window blinds, known as “persianas.” The streets below are alive with a constant flow of pedestrians and I am surrounded by so much greenery which I personally love and reminds me of my plants back home. As an architecture student, seeing the architectural diversity of the buildings, enhanced by their unique styles, colors, and materials, adds to my fascination for this beautiful city that prioritizes public spaces for its residents and inspires me to do the same as a future architect and designer.

I’m excited to be experiencing something truly extraordinary here in Barcelona, unlike anything I’ve encountered back home. I’ll admit, the first few nights were a bit challenging to sleep through due to the lively street sounds, but it was nothing that earplugs could not resolve. Unlike my suburban American hometown, where silent nights and relying on my car to commute is the norm, Barcelona embraces a different way of life. Locals walk to their neighborhood mercado (market) that offers fresh produce, bread, baked goods, meat, spices and artisanal cheeses. This commitment to freshness is very different to the dominance of supermarkets, big box stores and fast food chains back home. Which is why when eating out, I feel assured that the restaurant prioritizes fresh and quality ingredients.

During the first week I have been here, I have gained appreciation for the cultural differences between Spain and America. So far I have only experienced it through the architecture and cuisine but as my short-term residence here continues, I am determined to explore the local culture by engaging with the community, connecting with their art, music, and traditions that make it unique when compared to my life back home.