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As someone who is from Boston, born and raised in a suburb just 20 minutes outside of the city, I have always felt comfortable with public transportation systems.

From the T in Boston, to the Subway in NYC, to the bus and train system I learned while living in La Plata, Argentina for two months, I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I trust myself with figuring out public transport in different cities or countries. 

When arriving in Barcelona just about two weeks ago, I was immediately told that the Joven Metro Pass was the way to go. For 80 euros, I could use the metro and busses unlimitedly for three months––perfect for studying abroad for the semester! After sitting through our orientation with SAE after my first week and playing with Google Maps, I felt confident enough about trying the metro and busses to get around. However, despite this comfort, I have not used the Metro a lot here in Barcelona because often when I check my route in Google Maps, it’ll take 23 minutes to walk and something like 19 minutes to take the metro. As someone who’s about efficiency, staying active, and learning about the city, walking almost has always seemed like a better option. 

However, this week on Tuesday, when I was visiting a friend’s house of one of my fellow study abroad classmates at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (a girl from Cairo, Egypt), I decided to go with public transportation. I live by the Marina Station, which is closer to the beach, while she lives about 2.5 miles from my residence. This time, taking the metro and a bus seemed like the smart and efficient route (especially with the 10pm mandate curfew for Covid). In order to arrive, I had to take one metro and then one bus–which I thought would be so easy! Here is the route I was following on my phone (not at the same time I was leaving): 

However, it wasn’t as smooth of a journey as I had hoped. I have attached here a video that I took after an unfortunate event that occurred after I had successfully reached the bus stop. This video is essentially me ranting about the issue for a minute right after I had not necessarily missed the bus, but almost as if it had missed me. Check it out below, and make sure you watch to the end to learn the new information I learned from this mini disaster.

A quick summary if you didn’t watch the video: I was waiting for the bus I needed, saw it and got excited that I did in fact wait in the right place, BUT it didn’t stop for me. I ran after it, in a busy area of the city, looking like an idiot (while also laughing at myself), to realize that I knew the bus definitely was not going to stop for me chasing after it. I did in fact learn from this experience that in order to get a bus to stop, even if you’re at the stop, you have to wave it down. 

Although this was a tough experience for a Bostonian gal who likes to pretend I know how to work the public transportation system anywhere, it was a learning experience nevertheless. It might take me a bit to build up the confidence to take a bus again, but at least this time I know now I have to wave it down. Wish me luck!

Tara Snapper

Tara is an Economics and International Studies Double Major at the University of Michigan, and studied abroad at the UAB during Spring 2021.