Coming back, everyone asks me about my trip and what was my most favorite experience. I honestly sit on that question because I can not put together the words that describe the summer I had in Barcelona. It was honestly an experience I cant describe.
Reflecting on my Summer just wants to take me back. From the Travel, to my job to the people I met, this summer changed me as a person. I feel like I learned so much more about myself, how to be independent and adapt to change.
I saw so much of the world and now have a desire to see more. The people, culture and architecture in every place were unique and a sight to see. It made the past seem real and the old seem older. Traveling was a mind blowing experience and something I can talk about for the rest of my life.
My job was awesome and helped me develop some much needed skills to move forward in my career path. Working abroad gives me resume a competitive edge and was a great experience. I will honestly never have that opportunity again and am so thankful i took advantage of the people, work, and skills learned.
Finally, the people. The friends I made abroad will be in the life forever. There’s nothing like emerging yourself into a new culture with a small group of people that will bring you together. These people are my family and I made so many amazing memories with them. The friendships i made living in Spain made the trip worth it alone.
So there really is no words that can sum up my summer besides, an experience I cant explain and memories I will never forget.
Before arriving to Barcelona, I learned that a staple of their cuisine is tapas. Most Spanish teachers that I’ve had throughout my life have been from Spain and always rave about this type of food. As expected, I was pretty excited to see what all the fuss was about with these so called tapas. When I arrived to Barcelona, I was greeted with sheer disappointment. These tapas were incredibly small portions of various meats and snacks, all at an overpriced cost. I am a pretty big guy (6’5″), and three tapas would cost me easily 11 euros; however that is not enough to provide me with a substantial meal. In order to be satisfied, I would have to spend upwards of 15 euro, which is pretty ridiculous for a meal. Instead, I had to turn to different alternatives.
I searched the internet for hidden eateries in Barcelona and my curiosity turned out to do me well. I found various “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants that served delicious food for affordable prices. For example, Bo-De-Be in the heart of Barceloneta provided amazing chicken or beef sandwiches for a measly 3.50 euros; it’s hard to argue with prices like that. Another place we found was an Argentinian steakhouse called La Malandrina. From the exterior, one would think this place would give you food-poisoning, but that would be the complete opposite. For just 7 euros, you get a thick cut of sirloin steak and a side that rivals most 5-star steakhouses in America. Perhaps the most poplular place to grub among the program members was a place called Wok-to-Walk. It was an asian restuarant that offered numerous combinations of meats, veggies, starches, and sauces, all cooked in a quick wok and served to go. The food was delicious and most importantly, affordable.
In conclusion, myself and most of the group included found ourselves eating non-traditional Spanish food. Not because we didn’t like that food, but because we wanted the most for our money. Overall, I give the food in Barcelona great praise; it was delicious, diverse, and plentiful.
For my last block I have decided to talk about the cultural shock of living in Spain. I grew up in Mexico and came to Tucson during my sophomore year of high school, therefore before going to Spain I have had some experience with cultural shock. Mexico and the US have some similarities as well as some differences just like with any other countries. My first language is spanish and as a result the fact that the language is difference from the US was not going to give me any difficulties. In a way, I felt very confident at work or when I was touring the city. Seeing how some of my friends from the program struggled to understand or communicate at times really got me thinking how lucky I was. I started thinking what would I do if I could not speak the language at all. I could only imagine a very stressful stay in Barcelona. This made me realized that communication is essential in any culture and country.
An area where I personally had a difficult time adapting to was customer service. In most service businesses like restaurants or pharmacies the employees were so rude and seemed very uninterested of our requests. It looked like they hated their jobs. Even at Starbucks’ employees where rude, an American company that sells coffee but also distinguishes itself with the excellent customer service they offer. I can actually say I was not able to adapt to this type of service during my stay in Barcelona. I think 90 percent of the time I ended up comparing Spain to the US, which I know was not ok for me to compare both because they are two different cultures.
Even though I had a difficult time adapting to some of the traditions of Spain I still enjoyed my stay very much. I met all types of people and I learned a lot from them. I will miss Barcelona very much because it gave me something to remember for the rest of my life. Beautiful memories were made in Barcelona and no regrets.
It didn’t take very long for me to realize that I am no longer in Barcelona. I have experienced a bit of a culture shock even returning back to the States. Its depressing to think about not being in Barcelona anymore. I miss the laid back attitude and easy-going culture.
When I first arrived back in the states, after 44 hours of traveling due to a missed flight, my sleep schedule definitely was a problem. I was tired before dinner and awake long before breakfast. This took a couple days to wear off, but im still experiencing a bit of a jet-lag.
Barcelona and the experiences I had will always have a place in my mind and heart. The people I met and the network I created will not only be beneficial to me professionally, but personally, as well.