As I was crossing the Atlantic Ocean, I felt pleased with the plane’s air conditioning, cooling and caressing my body. Then, when I landed in Barcelona and stepped out of the aircraft, the opposing warm air told me that I entered a sauna. But in reality, I had arrived in the capital of Catalunya!

I felt as if I had just been given a race car, thrown into a NASCAR track, and instructed to keep up with the people of Barcelona. Grabbing my luggage from baggage claim, I immediately sought ways to arrive at the place I would be staying. I exchanged only a few US dollars for euros at the airport because I knew the exchange rate would be outrageous. With what felt like people going a thousand miles per hour, I bought a 48-hour TMB Barcelona Metro ticket and found my way to my new home. Along the way, I talked to many natives in Spanish, and their way of speaking shocked me more than I thought it would. I knew that they would talk fast, have a strong (lisp) accent, and use many phrases I wasn’t familiar with. But I have learned not to underestimate their way of Spanish because even I, a fluent speaker, have a DIFFICULT time understanding them.

Additionally, I had low expectations of their friendliness towards foreigners because I feel that anyone would be displeased with their city being invaded by many tourists, gentrifiers, etc. However, the people of Barcelona have been some of the kind and most hospitable people I have ever met. Once again, I learn not to have any predisposing opinions about these wonderful people.

I arrive at my destination, drenched in sweat and with a tan like I have been in the sun for hours. I climb three flights of stairs, open my apartment door, and put my luggage in my room. I took a deep breath and exhaled.

I thought to myself, and I smiled.

I’m finally here, the first of my community to travel to Spain and do everything I told my late friends I would do.

Within the first few weeks, I found that the NASCAR track that once went a mile a minute had slowed down and felt normal. I had adapted to the Barna way of life, including its pace. I have visited many places, including the Sagrada Familia, MACBA, and the Gothic Quarter, but nothing pales compared to the nature of the people I have met.

For instance, one of the roommates I have in my Barcelona apartment is a Brazilian student by the name of Richard. He is here to study Spanish and is one of the purest people in the world. My interactions with him made me so grateful that I have come to this city. I am learning so much and gaining new perspectives that I never had before.

Within my last weeks here, I hope to meet more drivers on this NASCAR track, whether advanced or beginner and note my experiences in my next blog.