Travel Log 5: “Conversations”, by Nicoline Lovisa Tegnell. Barcelona, Spain.

The person I chose to have the conversation with is my professor for Mediterranean culture and history, Toni. I chose to have the conversation with Toni because in class he is extremely blunt and honestly pretty offensive, which made me think that he would be extremely honest regarding what he thought about the differences between Spanish and American cultures. Toni talked to me about the drama regarding the president of Catalonia, who is currently facing charges against Spain and also talked to me about Catalonia wanting to be independent- two very controversial issues currently in Barcelona. He also gave me a real shock regarding the differences between American and Spanish culture from the cultural value sets. The first value that he mentioned being extremely different was the reliance on family. In America, children are expected to move out of the house and become independent from their families at age 18. However, Toni told me that in Spain, many children do not even choose to go to college right away, they take a gap year to either travel or work and save up money. Also, after college many children move back into their family’s home and stay there for several years while they begin their careers. The second value that Toni and I talked about was materialism. Toni told me that in Spain everyone thinks of Americans as materialistic. He told me that in Spain material items are nice but they are not the most important thing. He said that in Spain people would rather spend money on experiences rather than on things. Having the biggest apartment or the nicest car in Spain does not mean nearly as much in Spain as it does in America. I loved this part of the conversation because I felt so connected to the Spanish in this sense. I would much rather spend money on experiences like I am doing now while studying abroad than on materialistic things. I think happiness is gained through experiences and not through things. The last point that we talked about that had radical differences between Spain and the United States was about youth versus age. In the United States, youth is valued while the elderly can sometimes be seen as more of a burden than as a home to wisdom and knowledge that age provides. In Spain, Toni said the elderly are extremely respected. I have noticed this as well. On the metro, if an elderly person steps on, multiple people will get out of their seats to allow the elderly person to sit down. I like this fact because the elderly should be respected, they have been through much more than someone my age and can provide so much more knowledge and wisdom than I could. I found this conversation to be one of the most valuable I have had in Spain thus far. I got to hear opinions of Barcelona from someone who was born and raised here and had so much insight to tell me about it. I felt this experience opened my eyes to so many culture differences between the United States and Spain that I had not noticed before. It truly made me appreciate the Spanish culture even more than I already do because I felt I could relate to many of the values that the Spanish have that Americans do not necessarily have. Toni also told me he was very happy to have had the conversation. He told me it was rare for an American student to care so much about Spanish culture and learning about where they are studying, and he really appreciated this assignment and thought it was an extremely beneficial one. He even said that he learned more about American culture through our conversation as well. I did not feel comfortable asking Toni for a picture but instead have posted a picture of the delicious coffee I got at the Sant Pau campus cafe during our meeting.

A coffee I drank during my meeting with Toni. Fall15.

A coffee I drank during my meeting with Toni. Fall15.

An activity that I do not participate in at Quinnipiac is sports. I do not participate in any sports because I am honestly extremely unathletic and have always felt like I would be embarrassed and make a fool of myself if I signed up for any. Also, to me, school is always my priority. I would rather have an extra hour to study than spend an hour playing a sport. There would definitely be a lot of value in sitting down with a member of the sports team because they could tell me about the pros there are to playing a sport that I am obviously ignoring, such as making friends and being on a team. I think if more people were able to meet with representatives from groups they are not apart of, people would be able to open their eyes so much to things that they are scared of or blind to. It would benefit everyone by allowing us to experience new things and find new things we might love.

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