Hello there! It’s officially been one week of my study abroad in Barcelona and I have learned so much about this city in such little time. There are so many pleasant surprises that have come my way so far.
To start off, the locals are so very kind and helpful. Anything I have ever asked about (especially directions), they are always happy to help. I am currently studying Spanish, so I don’t have the language completely down, but I do know quite a bit. There isn’t any judgment, however, and I am always met with a smile anytime there is a language barrier. I have never been met with such a warm welcome and acceptance, so it makes this unique and intimidating experience much more comfortable.
The next thing I learned quickly was how much walking I had to do. I come from a suburb, so anywhere I go to is drivable. Within the first couple days, I was already walking about 7-8 miles per day, and that still includes taking public transportation across the city! I have never had to do that before in my life, so it was a huge adjustment. My legs and feet did not thank me for a couple days, but I eventually got used to it, and it was no longer a struggle for me.
A huge culture shock I experienced was how laid-back the typical day is in Spain. Things aren’t as rushed. Locals take their time in what they’re doing, such as eating a meal with loved ones, taking a stroll, and just enjoying the present moment. The typical day starts pretty late in Barcelona, but the sun sets around 9:30 pm, so the day ends way later. You can find people spending hours sitting at a restaurant, and that is completely normal. It is the Spanish way of relaxing and spending quality time with family and friends. Compared to the United States, customers usually leave once they finish a meal, while also tipping the wait staff pretty generously. Tipping is not common in Barcelona, but is definitely still appreciated.
During this first week, I attended an FC Barcelona soccer game, and it definitely lived up to the hype I had been hearing about. I had a good seat right above the North goal, so I was able to be amidst the loud crowd of Spaniards rooting for their team. The energy and support for the FC Barcelona team was nothing that I have seen before. There were constant chants, clapping, and jumping all throughout the 2 hour long game. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I was happy to experience such a special and major aspect of Spanish culture.
As the days go by, I have grown more in love with Spanish culture. From the amazing people, to the beautiful language, and the exciting social life in Barcelona, everything has been a learning experience. I’ve learned to appreciate this culture and how different it is from the cultures I am from. I absolutely love it here.