In the one week that I’ve been in Barcelona, I’ve already managed to get lost several times. It always goes the same way: I search for the directions to a popular tourist site on google maps and start walking in that direction.
Then in the distance, I spot an architectural masterpiece casually blending in with the surrounding buildings.
Is that a church or a government building? I should at least get close enough to read the name so that I can ask my host about it later. Well, since I’m already this close, I might as well go have a look inside.
Okay, that was fun, but I guess I’ll be going back to my original destination now. Was I walking on this street or that one? Then in the distance, I spot another strange building.
I should go check it out.
A dichromatic pilar of windows and scaffolding penetrating the ground? Cool, that was really interesting, but I guess I’ll be back on my way n… Is that a pool? I’ll go have a look.
Okay, now I’ll definitely go back to the main road. I look around. I don’t recognize any of the streets in the area. There is a large public park where people are setting off fire crackers to celebrate the start of the summer, though. I’ll go have a look.
By this point, I’ll have no idea how to get back to where I had originally planned to go or even how to get back to my host’s apartment. The maps of the bus routes posted around the city are written in Catalán and my phone doesn’t get internet access here, so they’re not much help. Luckily, the people of the city are incredibly helpful. They’ll listen empathetically to my broken Castilian when I ask for directions and point me towards the Avenida Diagonal, the long road that runs through Barcelona, bisecting it into a lower and an upper triangle. If I just follow it, I’ll be able to get back to my host’s... is that a Dunkin’ Donuts?
On two such occasions, I gave up trying to navigate and called a taxi to take me back. Another time, I happened to run into some other students from the same study abroad program and rode the metro back with them. Most recently, I did manage to find my way back alone, albeit I ended up arriving half an hour late to dinner. At the very least, I think that I’ve gotten quite a few opportunities to practice my Spanish in asking passersby for help.
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<p>I am a student at Northwestern University student studying Electrical Engineering, Spanish, and Japanese. This summer, I will be experiencing the great city of Barcelona, Spain and reporting back on all my wonderful findings right here. I hope to inspire a few people to try adventuring out of there comfort zone, too.</p>