To say I have been walking a lot in Barcelona is an understatement. Walking has become my main form of transportation, followed by the metro, which is also in frequent use. The walk that I took this past week though, was definitely the most memorable walk I have taken thus far in Barcelona because I went on the walk by myself. I started my walk from my apartment in Barcelona on Carrer de Padilla, near La Sagrada Familia and began to walk around a really long diagonal road near my apartment called Avenguida de Gaudi. This street is lined with endless shops, restaurants, cafes and mostly people. One thing that I noticed on my solo walk was that when I have been walking around in the past with a group of friends, we get more looks of people who can tell we are tourists. We also get lots of waiters asking us to eat at their restaurant. But, when I walked down the road by myself, with my head held high with confidence, people did not stare or bother me as much, because I must have blended in more like a local. I definitely liked that feeling. I also loved walking around hearing both Catalan and Spanish languages being spoken around me. I felt so immersed in the culture. When I passed the smell of churros, I could not help but stop. I even practiced my Spanish and ordered my churros y chocolate in Spanish. I learned that my Spanish accent definitely needs a lot of work considering the waiter had a lot of trouble understanding me. I decided to keep my adventure going and wander down to the Hospital de Sant Pau which is close to the Sant Pau campus of UAB where I take the 4 classes I am taking here. The hospital is absolutely beautiful. I have posted a picture of the hospital above. This walk was an amazing teacher for me because I felt like I gained so much knowledge and independence on the walk. I had to navigate the streets on my own using just street signs, I had to speak Spanish to order my meal, and I also had to talk to locals which helped me feel so much more immersed in the Barcelona culture than I ever have before. As Slimbach says in “Becoming World Wise”, “The walk-story is a journey unto itself that you can recall forever with gladness, longing, and a humble pride” (Slimbach, pg. 182). This is exactly how I felt, I felt proud of myself for completing this small journey on my own. I decided I am going to take a walk like this at least once a week.
Reading my travelogue, “A guiri’s adventure: Barcelona through the eyes of an American” by Gret Paa-Kerner was definitely like taking another walk in the park for me. In the travelogue, Greta experiences her first year of living abroad in Barcelona, Spain. She experiences the highs and lows of living abroad especially during a time when Europe was going through many changes. It was so much fun reading this travelogue because Greta experiences things that I have already experienced, like learning about soccer in Spain, “Soccer is supreme,” she says (Paa-Kerner, pg. 60). This is a fact that I have also come to learn very well, as I see all the Barcelona natives wearing their jerseys on game day. It was also fun to read about Greta walking down avenues that I have also walked down, like Avenguida Diagonal and Passeig de Gracia (Paa-Kerner, pg. 38-39). It was also nice to relate to some of the challenges that Greta faced, that I spoke about in earlier blog posts as well, which is not being fluent in the Spanish language. “Sometimes my inability to completely comprehend Spanish […] got me into trouble when it came time to communicate” (Paa-Kerner, pg. 24). This is a challenge I have faced too many times when attempting to speak broken Spanish and being completely misunderstood. Greta also talks about the American friends she made, or communitas, just like I have made so many friends here that I have leaned on for support. She says, “I’ve met plenty of other Americans that are also living abroad and I’ve paid special attention to how they adapt their “Americanism” to their environment” (Paa-Kerner, pg. 167). This also relates to how I have also been trying to adapt my “Americanism” to my environment.
The picture I have chosen to describe this journey is posted below. It shows my emotions
because I was so happy and excited for the walk I took on my own because I felt so independent. Also, it shows my thoughts of being lost and finding my way through an unknown city on my own. Lastly, it shows my behavior because it shows me in the places I was finding and the journey I was walking as I took the walk alone.