When the plane first started to land in Barcelona, I excitedly looked out the window to have a look at the beautiful city that would soon become my new home for the next four months. After landing in Spain from a six-hour flight, grabbing my luggage, and loading all of our belongings into the airport pickup vehicle, I was ready to arrive to my apartment and explore the city. As there were about 10 of us sitting in a large van, we made our departure from the airport and drove around the city to drop off each person to their new home. After driving through the streets of Barcelona and seeing where each person was living, my two friends and I were the last stop.
Once I settled into my apartment I immediately felt the excitement of being in Barcelona. I sent my mom a picture of my room and looked out of the window to my new surroundings. The first week was definitely a bit of an adjustment. In Barcelona they normally do not eat dinner until 10 p.m., and with the time difference my sleep schedule was a little off. But I instantly fell in love with the culture and city. During the first week I walked around the city a lot, visited the Park Guell, and tried different foods. I have been working on learning the language better by speaking Spanish in each store I go into, and I feel that with that I have learned more here.
With the separation process, I feel that I have had a smooth transition. At times it can be a little difficult with the time difference, but with all of today’s technology I am able to keep in contact with my friends and family easily. I have setup a time to FaceTime with my parents each week, and with the surrounding Wi-Fi and WhatsApp, I am able to keep in contact with my friends from home. Although I do miss my family and friends, I have been continuously growing in love with Barcelona so much that I would say I do not feel homesick. There are so many beautiful new things to do and see here that time moves so fast and you start to lose track of the amount of days passing.
In our workshop we discussed communitas as individuals that are facing the same challenges and experiences with one another. As I am living in an apartment with 6 other girls who are studying abroad in the same program as me, I realize that we are all going through the same challenges of being separated from our homes in the U.S., our families, friends, and sense of comfort. I feel that being in this foreign country, my roommates have been a comfort level and have helped me adjust better, as we are all going through the same process. With the idea of communitas I have noticed that many people in this program are open to meeting new people and bonding over the idea that we are all going through this experience together. I think one personal strength I have is that I am always open to meeting and interacting with new people. Within my first week here I have actually met a local student here at the University of Barcelona, and she is hoping that I can help improve her English, while she helps me with my Spanish.
I think the challenges we go through in life are vital for us in order to grow as an individual. We are each diving into a different culture and experiencing the process of liminality. “A first step in this direction is to mentally brace ourselves into the realm of the unknown” (Slimbach 2877). It has been a challenge for me to learn the Spanish language, but each day I push myself to speak to locals in order to grasp more of the language. I have learned that here in Spain, they are more affectionate and up-close with their interactions between each other. Back in the U.S., people usually like to have more personal space.
Some of my friends from Quinnipiac are with me in Barcelona, but I hope during this experience to meet more people and interact with the locals here. I have met a few students in my classes, all from different parts of the U.S., including California, Michigan, and Ohio. Since I have already made a friend that lives here in Barcelona, I am hoping that I will be able to learn even more about the language. This picture here was taken on my fourth day in this beautiful city when my roommates and I decided to explore more of Barcelona. I think this picture portrays my excitement to learn more about Spain’s culture and to embrace my new surroundings. I am looking forward to the journey I have ahead.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub. LLC. 2010. Kindle. Web.