There are a lot of ways life in Barcelona is different from life in America. For one thing, the mealtimes are very late. I don’t eat lunch until 2pm everyday, and dinner isn’t until 9pm or later. The Spanish also like taking their time at meals. I once walked past a family eating outside at a restaurant, and they were still there when I walked back three hours later. This is maybe the biggest difference I’ve seen between Spain and America (except the obvious ones, like universal health care). I feel like in America there’s pressure to always be busy, or at least appear busy. At my school, students often join multiple clubs, work a campus job, and play a sport while still taking hard classes. Many times I’ve heard people bragging about how little sleep they got the night before, as if it is badge of honor to be pulling all-nighters. Meanwhile, in Spain shops close from 3 – 5pm everyday specifically so the owners can take a nap. I feel like Americans could learn a lot from the more relaxed pace of life here. I’ve started looking forward to my afternoon siestas with great pleasure. I think if we Americans actually gave ourselves time to sit and eat with our family for three hours, we might all be a little happier.
I’ve been learning about other aspects of Barcelona’s culture as well. I recently toured Camp Nou, the legendary stadium where Barcelona’s soccer team plays. I thought Barcelona’s obsession with soccer was nicely summed up by the fact that Camp Nou actually has a museum attached, mostly so they have space to store all their trophies. I played a little futbol myself in some pickup games organized by IES Abroad, which was a fun way to remind myself that I have very little athletic ability.
My quest to become cultured also took me to the Picasso Musuem, where I learned about the life of Pablo, and the Joan Miró museum, where I learned that a single blue dot on a canvas is considered art. The best cultural experience I’ve had so far was touring the inside of the Sagrada Familia, the enormous, still unfinished church designed by Gaudí. The Sagrada Familia is awe-inspiring from the outside, and the inside is, if possible, even more incredible. I would say touring the church is number one on the must-do list for anyone visiting Barcelona.
One of the highlights of my study abroad experience so far has been a trip to Costa Brava and Girona, organized by IES Abroad. Girona is a beautiful city where much of Game of Thrones is filmed, so as a fan of the show it was pretty exciting to see the streets of King’s Landing in real life. We also visited the Dalí Museum in Figueres, and some fantastic beaches in Cadaques on the Costa Brava (the coast of Catalonia near France).
After my initial adjustment period, I’m settling into life in Barcelona quite nicely. I’ve even been asked for directions (twice!). Although I don’t think a month is long enough to make me a local, I do feel more at home in this city, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it in my last two weeks here.
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<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>