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When you’re younger, you are taught certain customs that you learn to live by. One thing that sets Europe apart from the U.S. is most definitely how immersed and knowledgeable Europeans are of each others’ languages and cultures.

Even though I am immersed in Hispanic culture back home, I was still hit with cultural shock the first few days of being here in Barcelona. Being raised in American society definitely had an impact on the amount of culture shock I experienced. It made me realize how naive we as Americans are of other cultures. I saw cultural shock to be a benefit because it helped open my eyes to the world around me, beyond the United States.

Slowly, I am starting to become aware of the cultural shock and the language barriers that I am put up against. I believe the best way to learn something new is by being around it all day and that’s exactly what I am trying to do with learning Spanish. It is a little difficult to get around places and communicate with locals when you know only a few words in Spanish but I promise you that eventually the language barrier gets easier and easier. 

As of right now I still know only a basic amount of words and phrases but one of my favorite phrases that they use here in Spain is vale. It’s like their slang for okay. I always hear people use it when they are replying to someone explaining something, telling them what to do, etc.

It is so interesting because without prior knowledge to how Europe is, I always assumed that the lifestyle was all going to be the same but I was totally wrong! Not only is each country in Europe very different, but within Barcelona alone, each barrio (neighborhood) has their own way of living, dressing, acting, etc.

The barrio I live in is “El Clot” and everyone here is pretty laid back with how they act and dress, and there are dogs and families everywhere. In other barrios you are more likely to see that the locals may dress up a little fancier, there are fewer families and more young people, and the entire vibe is different. That is one thing I have noticed and genuinely grown to love about Barcelona is that every barrio is uniquely different from one another. It’s so diverse, which makes Spain so special.

Maxine Lucero

Maxine is a Fashion Merchandising major from New Mexico State University, and studied at SIS in Summer 2022.

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