Getting Acquainted

Martin Deutsch
June 2, 2017

It’s hard to believe I’ve only been in Barcelona for two weeks. I’ve already done so much since I got here; it feels like arrival day was months ago.

I’ve gotten settled in to my homestay pretty well at this point. My host mom, Maria, is incredibly nice and a very good cook.  However, she doesn’t speak any English, and since my roommate and I speak mediocre Spanish, communication mostly consists of single sentences and hand gestures. Thankfully, Maria has been very patient with us, and speaking with her has been a great way to practice what I’m learning in my Spanish class.

The best part of my study abroad experience so far has been the free trips organized by IES Abroad. I took a Ciclo Tour in my first week, where we explored some of the Old City on bikes. It was a great way to see a lot of Barcelona in a short period of time, although I personally found it hard to weave through pedestrians, cars, and street signs with the same nonchalance as our tour guide. I also took a walking tour of El Born, a trendy neighborhood near my homestay. The tour guides bought us all gelato at the end of the tour, so I’d call that a successful afternoon.

Last weekend, all the students in my Language and Area Studies program took a field trip to Tarragona, a port city with some really cool Roman ruins. We also learned about the Castellers, groups of people who enjoy forming gigantic human towers in their free time. If you haven’t heard of Castellers before, I recommend watching some videos of them in action – it’s pretty mind-blowing. We actually formed our own (small) human tower with guidance from real Castellers, so I can report from experience that a Castell is very hot and smelly. But, it's also pretty incredible how a group of people working together, even with no experience, can support two layers of people on top of them.

Although I’ve had some great experiences so far, honestly adjusting to life in Barcelona has been pretty tough. I caught a cold right before leaving, which made for an unpleasant flight and has really slowed me down since I’ve been here. I’m also still getting used to dealing with two foreign languages (Spanish and Catalan), one of which seems to be some strange combination of Spanish, French, and Wingdings. But the hardest part of being in Barcelona for me has nothing to do with being abroad – it’s that, for the first time in my life, I’m living in a city. Growing up, and at Colby, I’ve always been able to walk anywhere I need to go. Here, I have to take a subway just to get to school every morning. In Barcelona, I’ve taken a taxi by myself for the first time, gone to a bar for the first time, and been glared at by elderly men in Speedos for the first time (why they were glaring at me, I have no idea. Maybe because I wasn’t wearing a Speedo?). I’ve already had plenty of awkward encounters and stressful experiences. Its funny – I took this trip to get out of my comfort zone, but I didn’t realize it would be this uncomfortable.

I’ve spent the last two weeks just trying to get acquainted, with the other students in my program and with the city of Barcelona. I think I’m finally starting to find my place here – I will keep you posted on my future adventures in other blog posts. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Martin Deutsch

<p>Greetings! My name is Martin Deutsch, and I am a rising junior at Colby College. I am a computer science major, but I also enjoy reading, writing, hiking, and video games. I am super excited to share my adventures in Barcelona with you this summer!</p>

2017 Summer 1, 2017 Summer 2
Home University:
Colby College
Computer Science
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