A Familiar Kind of Foreign
Charlotte, Barcelona, Fall 2019
January 16, 2020

Last weekend I took a trip to Fes, Morocco. I had been looking forward to taking a weekend trip to Morocco since I arrived in Spain. Morocco is so close and I had always drawn inspiration from the ornate patterns in Moroccan design which are so full of color and texture. My excitement stemmed from the fact that I would be seeing something that I recognized on a screen firsthand.

When I landed at the airport in Fes, I was excited by the design of the airport. I had never seen such an expressive airport design before. This same feeling carried on throughout my few days each time I walked past a mosque, gate or even wall in the old Medina in Fes.

I came to Fes with the history of craftsmen and design in mind. When I arrived, I also had the opportunity to experience a completely different culture with a different language, attitude and social norms. Since I am also a visitor in a new culture in Barcelona, I hadn’t expected myself to feel that different as a tourist in Fes than I do as a visitor in Barcelona. Yes the two cultures are very different, but I had built an association the feeling of being new in two different places. Although I was enjoying myself in Fes, after a few days I started to miss Barcelona. That’s when I realized that I am not as new to Barcelona as I once was.

I still don’t speak Spanish very well; I don’t have more than a couple of friends who are actually locals in Barcelona; I still prefer to have dinner in the early evenings. From the looks of it, I am a visitor in another country, not a part of the culture. Yet, nonetheless, I have a favorite coffee shop that I like to go work in or sit in and just drink a cup of coffee. I also have a routine in my little world within Barcelona. Most importantly, when I spent a weekend in another country, I started to miss my little temporary home in Barcelona.

By spending some time in a different culture, we can genuinely be impacted and, even if it’s small, we can adopt a piece of the culture into our own lives. As foreign to my past experiences as Barcelona is, it has become more of a comfortable space to me as time as gone by. When this semester is over, I may not have left my mark on Barcelona, but Barcelona will have left its mark on me.

Charlotte was a fall 2019 Barcelona student from Drexel University.

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