My journey began at JFK airport on August 30th as I lugged around a backpack, a carry-on bag, and one large suitcase. Despite thinking about my separation and writing my letter, it was still extremely difficult to say goodbye to my boyfriend, friends, and family that morning. I couldn’t imagine not seeing them almost every single day and I wished more than anything they could come with me. Saying goodbye to them was way harder than I anticipated and one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Although the goodbyes were difficult, their endless love and support made me feel more comfortable. As I boarded the plane, my departing sadness turned into excited anticipation because I knew that only a seven hour plane ride stood between me and my study abroad experience in Barcelona.
The first night in Barcelona we had Orientation and stayed in a hotel in the center of the city with the other students in the program. I was so excited to start exploring that I never really felt the jet lag. The night in the hotel felt more like a two day vacation and I was eager to start the actual experience and move into the apartment. I felt like my permanence in Barcelona wouldn’t be solicited until I moved in and had a place to call my own. When I moved into the apartment I instantly felt at home. I met my other roommates and we instantly began to bond over this common experience. They were my communitas because we all are going through the exact same experience. We have the same worries, questions, and excitements. We learn from each other, help each other, and bounce ideas off of each other. I’m so lucky to have 4 other amazing roommates to be by my side during this experience.
Living in a city like Barcelona, we have faced many challenges. Between the language barrier, public transportation, and difference in food, it has been a lot to navigate. I absolutely love the city, but it can be intimidating if you don’t know how to get around. The metro, which is similar to a New York subway, is the most popular source of transportation in Barcelona and is the easiest way to get around. After jumping on many wrong metros, trying to get on after it was closed, and walking in circles in the station, I have finally figured it out. I can’t believe I ever struggled with it because it is easy and convenient. The language barrier, however, is a lot more difficult than I anticipated. I thought a lot more people in the city would speak English, but that is not the case at all. I find myself racking my brain to remember the Spanish I learned during my four years of high school to order food at restaurants and interact with locals. While it has been frustrating, it has also been an awesome learning experience. Adapting to their culture rather falling back on the comfort of speaking English has enriched my experience and has been a key part of my liminal phase. Slimbach demonstrates this saying, “Our mental programming is upset. What we’ve come to know as “normal” and “natural” isn’t normal or natural anymore” (Slimbach 152). One thing that has really has taken some adjustment is that stores close here during siesta, which is a break for 3 hours in the afternoon where people eat their biggest meal of the day and nap. Not being able to go to the market or a lot of shops during that time was originally frustrating, but now I use it as a time to catch up on homework and sleep. I’m used to fast-paced American society where it is not normal to ever slow down or work in time to relax. Trying to speak Spanish, learn their mode of transportation, and act like a local has been a huge part of the creativity of being liminal.
I can’t believe that I’ve only been here for a week. I’m so excited to see everything that Barcelona has to offer. I want to see everything and get involved in everything that I can. Last night, we went to a cooking class where we learned how to make tapas and other Spanish food. In addition, I’m starting a language partnership program next week where they pair up an American student with a local Spanish speaking student to practice both languages. I’m so excited for what is to come over the next 3 months.
The picture I am posting is from a bus tour we took this week of the city with my roommates Lovisa and Ashley. During the bus tour we wrote all of the places we want to go back to and explore in Barcelona. I can’t wait to start crossing things off of our list. This picture signifies the beginning of our time in Spain.