Before coming to Barcelona for the semester I had envisioned the city as an ever-sunny haven. I had spent several days in Barcelona during August a few years before and thought that the weather would be the same as it had been on those summer days: warm and bright. My roommates had a similar image in their heads. When I mentioned that I was writing this my roommate chimed in from the other room, “the rain is only supposed to fall on the plane! At least that’s what I was taught in My Fair Lady…” Suffice to say, none of us expected rainy days, but that ended up being exactly what we got during parts our first week here. And, honestly, that turned out to be a perfect introduction into our new home.
On my second day of classes I woke up with a plan. I told my roommate, Lauren, that I wanted to check out this little xurraria (churro shop) during our lunch break. The xurraria was only a twenty minute walk from school and it would be a good way to get a Spanish treat while also exploring our new city. Lauren was on board with the plan and the two of us sat in class thinking about our midday snack (and what our professor was saying…). About halfway through the lesson I started to notice grey clouds overtake the sky and raindrops began to steadily fall against the window. When class ended, Lauren and I took stock of the situation and decided that we still wanted to go to the xurraria. As we came to this conclusion we noticed that the light rain had shifted into more of a downpour. This was definitely not the weather that I had expected from Barcelona. Regardless, we were determined and decided to find a way to make the trip work.
The two of us ran out of school and into the nearest shop to buy an umbrella. For five euros we bought a small umbrella for the two of us to share and started making our way down the winding streets of the gothic quarter. About halfway through our walk, two things became clear: one umbrella was not enough and my backpack was not waterproof. Lauren and I ducked into another shop along our path and bought another umbrella. In broken Spanish, I also asked the man working in the shop whether he had a plastic bag that I could use to cover my backpack. At first he gave me a shopping bag, but it was too small for my backpack. When we saw this, the three of us laughed and the man motioned for us to wait a minute. He then walked towards the back of the store and removed the plastic protective bag that was covering a suitcase sold there and gave it to me. I laughed, thanked him and proceeded to wrap it around my bag so that it covered the majority of it while still giving me access to the straps to wear on my back.
With ourselves fully protected from the rain, we quickly finished the journey to the xurraria. As soon as we got through the door our chaotic trip through the rain was worth it. The shop was a little space with a few stools and the smell of fried dough and chocolate filled the room. We each ordered some churros and hot chocolate to dip them in. As we sat and ate the warm churros covered in sugar and chocolate we watched the rain pour outside. While I watched the water dripping down the glass door I felt overtaken simultaneously with a feeling of nostalgia and adventure. In some ways, this experience was like rainy days that I had spent at home with a blanket and hot chocolate on the couch watching the puddles form outside my window. At the same time, however, I was doing something completely new. I was eating a food that I had never eaten before, in a shop that I had only just heard of in a neighborhood that I moved to only one week before. In my eyes, this seemingly contradictory combination of comfort and discomfort is what it means to be somewhere new. To be abroad is to be open to new cultures s while drawing on old experiences to inform the way that we see this new environment. I am looking forward doing this over the next few months while I travel Barcelona, Spain and other parts of Europe.
Charlotte is a fall 2019 Barcelona student from Drexel University.