The First Two Weeks: Adjusting to Spanish Life

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To say my first two weeks in Barcelona have been eventful would be the understatement of the century. I feel like I have done and seen more than I ever thought was possible in such a short period of time. To preface, this is the first time I have ever left the United States and also the first time I have travelled anywhere on my own. Like any other student in my position, I was feeling a lot of nerves before arriving, but the minute I stepped out of the airport all I felt was overwhelming excitement at all that was ahead of me. Since coming here, I have had some of my expectations for culture shocks met while also encountering new surprises. For example, while it sounds trivial, I didn't realize how uncommon ice was in drinks here, so getting used to lukewarm water has been an adjustment. So far, Barcelona has been an undoubtedly positive experience that has already taught me so much about the world as well as what I am capable of. Even just a year ago, the idea of flying solo across the Atlantic to spend the summer in a foreign country was laughable to me, but now that I'm here I can't imagine anything better.

Some of the highlights of my first two weeks have been exploring the city and all its foods, going to a fútbol game, and taking some trips to near by towns. Roaming around Barcelona has taken up essentially all of my free time. When I am not in class or at my internship, I just start walking and see what I might find. I have found some of my favorite parks, cafes, and gelato shops this way and also gotten to understand the layout of the city much better. In general, people walk places far more than in America. It certainly helps that Barcelona is an extremely walkable city as well. It has been incredibly refreshing to be guaranteed a safe route to walk wherever you need to go. I have also really appreciated the public transportation here. Whether it is within Barcelona or to locations outside of the city, every train and bus is highly reliable and for accessible prices. Another aspect of the culture here I love is the general slowness of life. At meals, it is commonplace to sit for hours just savoring your food and enjoying the company of the people you're with. The pace of life here has forced me to think more about the aspects of American culture that I take for granted, such as our emphasis on work as aspects of our personality. In Spain, when you are getting to know someone and ask them about themselves they will list hobbies and interests long before they tell you what they do for work.

On the topic of work, I have been participating in an internship here in Barcelona as well. I am a psychology major and my internship is at a non-profit organization that offers educational and other resources to children in one of the lower income neighborhoods of Barcelona. Most of the children come from immigrant families and the goal of the organization is to reduce the risk of them continuing the cycle of poverty. This internship has probably been one of the most challenging and fulfilling aspects of my time in Barcelona thus far. My supervisors and the children essentially only speak Spanish, and while I am at an intermediate level of speaking, it is no where near enough to keep up with native speakers. For that reason, the internship has been no easy task and has required my undivided attention while I am working. Nonetheless, I have already learned so much from the children I work with and seen first hand the experiences of people growing up in a different culture. Additionally, I feel that when traveling it is easy to only see the glamorous and superficial side of the place you're visiting, and I feel this internship has allowed me to gain a far deeper understanding of life in Barcelona.

With so many changes and new experiences just in these first two weeks, I have no doubt that the rest of my time here will be equally as unforgettable. I am excited to see what more awaits me and continue to document it all along the way!