These 3 weeks that I have been living here in Barcelona, I have recognized the cultural differences and atmosphere. As I took a walk along the city, I paid more attention to the details of Spain that surrounded me. I think this exercise helped me to open my eyes up even more. I have noticed that everyone here takes their time and they never seem as though they are in a rush. In America, we are always on the go, and we will wolf down our lunches as we walk to work or class. In Spain, you will not see many people speed walk, nor eat food while moving towards their destination. There are also many gatherings in the streets because it is uncommon for Spaniards to bring guests into their homes.
The sidewalks look very clean because storeowners will sweep them, and at night the workers will clean the sidewalks. There is also a lot of beautiful street art. There are times when I am walking however and it smells terrible. I am not sure exactly why but the stink will come up in random small parts of the city. As I am someone that grew up in a small town in Connecticut, I have really noticed the sounds of the city too. Down every sidewalk, you will hear the sounds of the motorbikes and cars racing down the street, and the occasional honking of drivers as they warn pedestrians to move quickly out of the way.
The fashion over here is also a detail I took note of. When the locals are in public, no one is ever dressed in sweats. Everyone dresses nicely and leather jackets are a big style choice over here. Since I took my walk on a warmer day, I would say that about 75% of the people that I walked passed were wearing a leather jacket. It is interesting to see how important appearance is here in Barcelona.
While taking this walk I noticed other customs of the locals. For example, they greet friends and family with two kisses by the cheeks. They also tend to stare more at others here, and the personal space when talking to a local is very minimal. I think walking around a foreign city is good however, to open up our eyes to the new culture surrounding us. This walk helped me to notice the details of Spanish culture, and some of the things that you just cannot learn in a classroom. As we continue to emerge ourselves into a new culture, we start to gain more knowledge and really become a member of the community. “Once we have completed these tasks and found our bearings, our first steps to becoming an accepted presence in the community are over” (Slimbach 3617).
For my travelogue, I chose to read Greta Paa-Kerner’s A Guiri’s Adventure: Barcelona Through the Eyes of an American. In the beginning, Paa-Kerner first describes the word “guiri” as a foreigner in Spain, and in the end she later defines it as a person who has grown and learned from his or her experiences, and has changed into a new person. As I read through her travelogue, it was clear to understand the process of liminality that she was going through. Greta and her husband decided to achieve their dreams and move to Barcelona. They left family, friends, and their dog behind and moved into an apartment in the city. Greta mentions the many challenges they faced with the language barrier, the currency, the nightlife, and the long workdays. I think I was able to relate to her book and some of the differences she mentioned. The first week that I came to Barcelona was definitely an adjustment, but as time goes on I have been adapting to the culture.
I took this picture the day of my walk when the sun was setting. This photo describes the walk that I took because it shows just a small portion of the beauty of Barcelona. As I took this picture I felt at peace and happiness, because I am living in a beautiful city and experiencing a new culture.