I believe that I am what many people call “directionally challenged”. I have the ability of getting lost trying to get to the grocery store in my hometown. The funny part is that I’m not afraid of getting lost. In fact, I rather enjoy getting lost and exploring something I’ve never seen before. My romantic notion of exploration met with the crippling reality of a big city during my time in Barcelona. This rude awakening was a struggle at first, but it soon turned into a positive metamorphosis.
Getting to class every day was a new challenge. For the first two weeks of classes I would show up drenched in sweat from following my Google Maps around random parts of the city. I made it much harder on myself when I decided to take classes at two separate locations, and so I dreaded every time I was forced to leave the IES Abroad Center. When I asked my classmates for advice, they would just tell me how simple the metro system was. Every night I would lay in my bed and ask myself, “How am I ever going to do this?”
Now I have been living in Barcelona for almost two months. I no longer feel anxious or stressed when I’m lost, I actually get excited (as long as I’m not late for something). There are days when I like to go out into the city and get lost on purpose. Being lost allows me to release myself from the tethers of an everyday routine. When I wonder around the bustling streets of the city, I can finally observe all the things that so many people miss. I am not limited to a set path ultimately ending up at my destination. There is freedom in walking around without needing to be somewhere.
More than anything else, getting lost around Barcelona has helped me gain perspective. Being lost gives me a heightened sense of awareness that has allowed me to notice things. Many people like to use the term, “getting a feel” for a place. I never really got a feel for Barcelona until I was willing to get lost and put myself at the mercy of the city. I was able to submerge myself in the natural flow of the city, and finally become a part of it.
My advice to anyone in a city like Barcelona for the first time would be to have no fear. Step out of your comfort zone and into the streets with the locals. Walk around with no direction or purpose. Only then will you finally get a feel for a city like Barcelona.
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<p>My name is Torin Anderson and I am a junior English major at Gustavus Adolphus College. I am involved in hockey and ultimate frisbee as well as the Gustavus Choir. Aside from making various painful puns, I enjoy writing just about anything, and will take any excuse to travel.</p>