Travel Log #4 “Studying Abroad… It’s More Than Just A Walk In The Park” Barcelona, Spain By Andrew Rivera

A whole new world, one phrase that I’m sure many of the study abroad students can use on a daily basis. Everything that surrounds me is new. Brand new home, friends, places, sites, and scenery, everything I look at I am astonished by. You even notice the little things. Here in Barcelona personal space isn’t a thing, especially on the metro (subway). On my way home from class, which is around 5:45 the metro gets packed and there is no room to spare. Everyone in Barcelona takes the metro and you can definitely tell on these packed rides. Shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, it’s like you are dancing with someone with such little space. Another observation that I made was the way people look at you, mainly Americans. On numerous occasions I have caught people just staring at me, when walking on the street, waiting for the metro, and ordering food at a local spot. In the states you are taught not to stare at people and that it is rude, but here that rule doesn’t apply. That is one thing that I have learned to get over and just let it go, it’s just that different places have different cultural standards that you just have to accept.

When I went on my walk I noticed something that happens so much. The language barrier between me and the people I am trying to talk to. My Spanish isn’t great by any means, but every time I hear someone speaking Catalan or Spanish I always want to know what they are saying but I physically can’t. Which gets to me because they can be saying anything, not particularly about me but I would like to understand what people are saying since I am around it 24/7. Being in another country where English isn’t the primary language propels you to try and learn as much of a new language as possible. Now that I am living in Spain I want to in the future learn a new language like Spanish or Tagalog (which is the native language of the Philippines).

As Slimbach mentions in his book “walking” is one of the greatest “teachers.” I believe in his theory for many reasons. First because when you walk, especially by yourself, it forces you to look at your surroundings. Not only about what is in front of you but what is above you, under you, and what makes the place you are in so much different from home. Sometimes on the first go around you might miss something and I am a prime example of that. When walking with friends you might miss something huge that is right in front of you, or in my case directly behind you. When me and my friends were talking the metro we got off at the wrong stop and we had to walk 20 minuets to our apartment. But the funny thing was that the Sagrada Familia, one of the greatest pieces of architecture, was right behind us when we left the metro stop. We didn’t even know it.  After revisiting the church, I noticed that I have been here before and it just so happened that if we took a second to look around we would have seen the church. After this happened I always take a second just to look around whenever I am in a new place.

Now that I have been in a new country for about three weeks now I have noticed when writing these travel logs many of the rite of passage concepts that we discussed in our orientations session. Communitas comes up many times because there are so many students in the same situation. They are in a brand new country and don’t know that many people, if any, and everyone is trying to see who they fit in well with. I also see separation in my personal findings because of how close with my family. Not being able to talk on the phone or even text regularly has been different, but good. Good because I can now be more independent and rely on myself rather than my parents who have been with me all of my life. In the travel book that I choose Robert Hughes loves to talk about the art and history about the city. This is special because after reading about the landmarks and different places and stories that he tells I can actually go out and see them for myself. One artist that he loves to mention is Gaudi which is one of the most famous architects in Barcelona. Overall I would say Hughes mentions the global community and connecting the world to his art. Many people from around the world flock to his artwork and that is a global community in itself.

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This picture describes the walk I took because it is one of the places that I pass every day and when I walked down the street (Las Ramblas) on my own I noticed so many stores and places that I didn’t see when walking previous times. This street has everything, from food spots to a mini market, whatever you are in the mood for there is definitely a store that you can fulfill your craving. Overall this brings me happy emotions and thoughts because there are so many places to explore and I have only scratched the surface of what Barcelona has to offer.

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