21:37 BCN //
I am currently sitting outside on my balcony that is connected to my bedroom window really feeling like I’m in a dream. I have just finished eating dinner with my host mom, Anna. She cooked me her favorite food: white rice, a fried egg, with salmon. While she ate cheese, ham, and bread with tomato (the famous appetizer of Catalunya), alongside me. We usually spend around one to two hours just eating and talking about our days. It’s my favorite time of the day.
Dinnertime in Spain is typically around 8-10pm. A shocking 2 to 4 hour difference of the American household across the sea that typically eats between 4-6pm. Dinner is also spent eating at the dinner table with the whole family lasting 2 to 3 hours endlessly talking about different subjects like their day, a new joke, theories, dreams, and goals. I really enjoy how much they value eating and spending time with others. In fact, Spaniards eat 5 times a day: desayuno breakfast, almuerzo light lunch, comida largest meal of the day, merienda late afternoon snack, and la cena dinner. Each time leisurely talking with friends and family while enjoying a beer, cocktail, or the infamous tinto de verano, a popular Sangria in the summer. I do want to clarify that this is more common to see during weekends and holidays because of course people are busy here with their schedules and work hours that only allow a few people to maintain this routine.
The main dish you will find here are tapas, which is actually a collection of small portions of food that you share with other people at the table. Las croquetas, patatas bravas, and jamón iberico de bellota are my favorite tapas. Usually, when I go out with friends, we fill up the whole table with little platters of food, sharing everything. Another famous dish to share with friends are las paellas, a classic rice dish made with saffron, vegetables, chicken, and seafood cooked and served in one pan. Overall, I love how Spaniards like to share food with each other and most importantly spend their time together as well. It’s a refreshing change from the US where I usually eat one meal a day at times in front of a tv. I definitely intend to change my ways when I get back home.
I think the biggest culture shock was how much time they really spend with one another. When I go out to eat for example, no one is on their phone at all. Overall, I never see people on their phones unless they are taking a picture. They also live a very leisurely lifestyle. Everyone walks at a decent pace and between the hours of 2pm-5pm, everything closes for nap time! During this time, the city really is empty and shops are all closed. This is so pleasant because Americans are always on their phones and living a fast paced life.
It has been 5 weeks since I arrived in Barcelona, and I really do love it here. I have been enjoying the city as much as I can and exploring it more and more every day. I have been to the beach, swam in the Mediterranean, visited the Sagrada Familia, a large unfinished Roman Catholic minor designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, celebrated La Merce, a 5 day festival held in honour of Mare de Deu de la Mercè, the Patron Saint of Barcelona, visited Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, started started school at Universitat de Pompeo Fabra, and so much more! I even got the pleasure of experiencing a cooking class with my program, where we made a paella and crema catalana. Everyday is truly a new adventure and I am so unbelievably happy with my life right now. I can’t wait to experience more of this new life, while leaving my old life 6 hours behind…
// 3:37pm USA