It feels like just yesterday I was trying to figure out how to buy a metro pass, and now I know most of the subway lines throughout the city like the back of my hand. The fact that I am already halfway through the semester baffles me, and I know that the second half will go by even faster than the first. This past weekend, I was exploring around Barcelona with a few of my roommates when it hit me that I LIVE in this incredible city instead of just visiting for a short time.
I remember having a strong sense of culture shock my first few weeks here, trying to get used to this unfamiliar lifestyle. The meals were at different times, cars don’t wait for you to cross the street, and hardly any grocery store is open on Sunday or after 9 o’clock. Since my initial move in at the beginning of January, I have come to love everything about this city. Every day I wake up excited to explore new parts of the paradise that is Barcelona.
On any given day, I can wake up with a delicious café and take a swift ride on the L3 Metro Line into the heart of the city. Exiting at the Catalunya stop, you have quick access to some of the most beautiful and unique areas of the city. It’s an easy stroll from the bustling Plaça de Catalunya, Las Ramblas and La Boqueria Market area to the historic Gothic Quarter. After getting lost in the maze-like skinny side streets of the Gothic Quarter, you’re only a short walk away from catching some rays on the beach of La Barceloneta. These are hot spots for both vacationers and city residents, making it a great place to connect with a wide range of people.
If I am ever unsure of what to do, visiting one of the dozens of local markets is a great way to spend an afternoon. There are always pop-up markets around the city that bring in tourists and Catalonia citizens alike, mixing cultures from all over the world. These small markets provide a direct link to the rich culture of Barcelona and a representation of how the city has held strong tradition through its innovation and modernity. Locals are very welcoming to outsiders and patient with visitors. Admittedly, I relied heavily on pictures and hand gestures during my initial time here, but now I can confidently communicate with the residents after spending eight weeks discovering Barcelona.
Directly immersing myself in a foreign country with a different native language hasn’t always been easy, but I have adapted and grown so much as an individual in my short time here. I have found that Google Maps has taken a backseat to my newfound metropolis navigation skills, and my Catalan diet consists of delicious tapas and fresh fruits. I have only lived here for two months, but I am proud to call Barcelona my home.
Andrew is a spring 2018 SAI Barcelona student from University of South Carolina.