Firstly, I cannot say enough great things about my visit to Spain and interning here. There is beautiful architecture around every corner, amazing cuisine everywhere you go, and endless exploring opportunities. Although my trip was extraordinary, there are definitely some things that I wish I had known beforehand that would made my adjustment easier.
1) Be prepared for the heat! Most places in Spain do not use air conditioning and leave their doors open all day to welcome in the outside weather. This is an adjustment that takes time to adapt to and you will just need to get used to sweating a lot.
2) As of right now (summer of 2022), masks are mandatory on public transportation, and you can be kicked off it if security catches you without one.
3) Beware of pickpocketing! Pickpocketing happens all over Europe, but especially in Barcelona. The best way to prevent this is to always have your bag zipped and where you can see it. Many pickpockets try to distract you with conversation or other methods to take your things while you’re unaware, so if you get approached on the street by a stranger, hold on to your things. Also, always eat with your purse on your lap in restaurants (instead of on a nearby chair or on the floor).
4) You walk everywhere! If you’re going for style while packing your outfits, make sure your stylish shoes are comfortable.
5) Denim will be the death of you. Jeans and other denim clothing are hot and heavy and will cause you to sweat more. Make sure to pack clothes that are light-weight and breezy; linen is always a safe choice.
6) The people of Barcelona don’t just speak Spanish. I thought that my years of learning Spanish in school would be enough to get me around Barcelona, and although it has been helpful, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of Catalan there would be. Catalan is very different than Spanish, and it’s everywhere. There’s Catalan writing in supermarkets, on menus, and on street signs. Oftentimes people will greet you in Catalan as well. Learning a few Catalan words and phrases will take you a long way.
7) You can’t escape the smoking. Smoking is extremely common in Barcelona and all over Europe. Many people do it and it is acceptable to smoke almost anywhere.
These words of advice address the biggest culture shocks that I personally experienced when visiting the beautiful city of Barcelona. No matter what, your trip abroad will be an amazing time in your life, and I hope my recommendations will prepare you for the change in culture.