By Devin Fisher, University of Dayton
Barcelona is finally starting to feel like home. After being here for more than a month, what once was culture shock is now my daily life. Between hopping on the metro 5 times a day or eating bread with every meal, my time in Barcelona has been very wholesome– and it’s just past the halfway mark!
So far this semester, I have gone on plenty of adventures yet my favorite thing to do is to pass time with my new amigos in the Barcelona SAE program. Since we can all keep in touch in one big groupchat, everyday a big group of SIS students tackle a new adventure in Barcelona. Some highlights include visiting the Bunkers (a great sight-seeing location), visiting the beautiful Stairway to Heaven, and setting up a few blankets on the beach for an entire Sunday afternoon.
The culture in Barcelona is very rich. There is life on every corner, especially with the Cataluyna-Spain disagreements as well as the week of Carnival. When I first arrived, I had trouble trying to understand the culture of Barcelona because I was trying to relate it back to my experience in the United States. However, I realized that the two cultures cannot be compared as they are just simply different: different politics, different society, and different societal feel. Once I was able to understand this, my mind opened up and I am now able to take in the beautiful environment of all things Barcelona. Although I may not understand some practices or ideals, the best way to learn is to emerge yourself and figure it out through experience.
One challenge that I took on this semester was purposely not connecting my phone to any cellular service. I felt that if I did, I would constantly feel the urge to either check my social media and miss what’s happening in the present or constantly post about my experience, making it less personal. In the first two weeks, I struggled without any connection to the Internet, mainly because I needed directions. However, no connection lead to becoming a master at using the metro. I also improved upon my Spanish since getting lost meant I needed to ask a local for directions. Looking back, I am glad that I did this challenge as I don’t feel any pressure to connect back home or to be addicted to my social media. However, I am looking into buying data now and also suggest getting data from the beginning because connection to the internet definitely connects you with friends easier, makes directions more accessible, and creates an overall greater feeling of safety.
Overall, I am beyond happy I chose to study abroad through Barcelona SAE. The adventure and the fun started on the first day I arrived and has continued every day since. I feel challenged and rewarded by my classes: I’ve learned so much about the history of Catalunya through class field trips, improved my Spanish immensely, and improved upon my international marketing skills. My adventures are only starting as I have trips planned to visit Morocco, Sevilla, and Amsterdam. Traveling is so much more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined. I found that the greatest experience is to completely emerge yourself in another culture.