Accommodating and assimilating into a new way of life is extremely difficult. Wrapping my head around the idea that I would be living in a new country for three months was something I could not fathom. I did all the research and planning I could, asked friends of friends for advice, and even made lists of things to do around my apartment. As someone who had never traveled outside the country before or lived in a big city, I was nervous about what was to come and what to expect. How would I get around? Would I like the food there? What do I do if I don’t speak enough Spanish or Catalan? However, all my anxieties have melted away over the past week and a half. I quickly learned that Barcelona is a city that is easy to navigate and is an open environment for practicing Spanish. Additionally, there is a mix of cultures to be found here as well.
Because the city’s public transportation is accessible, it has been easy to practice my Spanish, and many people from different backgrounds inhabit Barcelona. I believe that Barcelona is the best place to study abroad for students traveling out of the country for the first time. All these reasons have made the transition to living in a new country more bearable.
To begin with, the metro system has been straightforward and a quick, easy way to get anywhere in Barcelona. I had never ridden a metro before and it looked overwhelming at first sight. However, different apps have made it easy to find a route between each place. Also, buying metro tickets was affordable. There was even an option to purchase tickets in English at the ticket booth’s interface! It has been fascinating to see how the whole city is connected through this. The metro has taken us from the beaches to the mountains!
Next, many people in Barcelona also speak English. Signs will often have English directions and some restaurants even have English menus. This has been a huge help! However, I have still tried to practice my Spanish-speaking skills when ordering food or making conversation. It is nice to know that I will be able to revert back to English, though, if I need to. I have even had some locals at the market help me practice my Spanish or ask me where I am from which have been very sweet interactions.
Lastly, there are people from all different backgrounds that live in Barcelona. This was something I didn’t have any prior expectation or knowledge about, but it has been relieving to see others that share my Asian background in this new country. This aspect of the country even translates into the food that they have. There are authentic restaurants from all over the world and it has been so much fun trying out new foods, including paella, a traditional Spanish dish, of course. This has even helped me adjust because if I miss home, I can easily find some food that reminds me of it!
Not to mention, the city has a fantastic art scene, history, and excursions. The opportunities to explore and immerse yourself in the culture of Barcelona are everywhere! There is truly something here for everyone and it amazing many activities that are just a walk away from your apartment. I have really enjoyed getting to explore museums, mountains, beaches, and new restaurants so far. I am excited to go on more adventures in Barcelona and enjoy everything it has to offer!
Written by: Hannah, Spring 2024 Barcelona student from University of South Carolina