I have been here in Barcelona for over a week now. I have to say this city has actually surprised me. It does not entirely feel as though I am in a new country. Maybe it has not hit me yet? I’m not quite sure. Let me explain. When I was home, my cousin described Barcelona as Los Angeles while Madrid would be New York. I think I know what he meant. Barcelona seems to be a blend of all these different people all gathered into one place – similar to LA. You can clearly see this when going to almost any restaurant. There are several versions of the menu in multiple languages. I found that very interesting. Because of this, the language barrier is not as tough as I thought it would be. Almost everyone speaks enough English in order to communicate. However, having a detailed discussion is a bit harder.
In regards to separation, I am not sure if I have fully separated because this city reminds me of an American city. It isn’t until I go in the deep side streets do I start to truly feel like I am in a foreign land. One of the best things I have done is just get lost. It is the best way to find the niches of the city. It was only last night where I ended up finding this grand courtyard with local restaurants surrounding it deep in the city. It was great. I would say so far that it is challenging to fully separate. There are just so many things that remind me of the states. It’s only been a week, but I think so far there are more things that remind me of the states then I find new. I think once I branch out more in the city as well as Spain as a whole will I finally be able to truly separate. At least, that is what I heard.
I found this chapter pretty interesting because I enjoy comparing Slimbach’s experiences to that of my own. He quoted Clifton Fadiman in this chapter. He said “a foreign country is not designed to make us feel comfortable; it is designed to make its own people comfortable” (Slimbach 2862). Right when I read this quote I thought about Barcelona. Because there are so many different types of people here, Barcelona is trying to make everyone happy, and I think they are doing a great job of that – it could be why it is one of the most popular cities to go abroad and visit. Very interesting.
To add on, Slimbach briefly mentions the “honeymoon phase” (Slimbach 2935). If I had to answer the question of whether I am in culture shock or not, I would be inclined to disagree. I previously only heard of the honeymoon phase when relating to the beginning of a new relationship. I never considered it in this scenario. I think I still might be in that phase – after all, I have only been here for a week. Slimbach says we might find ourselves gradually easing into our field settings, “especially if our field program or backpacker enclave provides us something of a halfway house between complete strangeness and homespun familiarity” (Slimbach 2935). After reading this quote I am almost positive I am gradually easing out of the honeymoon phase. Barcelona has a lot of “halfway houses” that make this transition slow and gradual. This chapter really hit home!
The picture I chose to describe my journey to date and where I am at moment I this picture I took at the Arc de Triumf in Barcleona. Leading up to the arc there is a long pathway with palm trees on either side. The roads are wide and there are always people all over the world walking through the arc. I think this is a great picture to choose because I picture myself on the pathway about to cross through the arc. The arc is where I fully separate from life at the states to that of life in Spain. The arc is almost like a rite of passage for study abroad students to go through. Walk along the pathway and once you walk through the arch you are that a citizen of Spain (for the semester J) Funny how it all comes together?
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.