Navigating the Spanish Lifestyle

Hola a todos,

These last few weeks have been nothing short of energizing, filled with vibrant experiences, academic challenges, and a few unexpected adjustments.

As someone who is used to the hustle and bustle of an American lifestyle, I found it initially difficult to adjust to the relaxed Spanish way of life. Spaniards tend to follow a slower pace and run on their own time (punctuality often takes a back seat). The concept of “Spanish time” has been an interesting change, but I’ve managed to adapt. I take pride in my organizational and analytical skills which have greatly helped me plan out my semester abroad. Before even coming to Barcelona, I created a detailed plan with goals to achieve and places I wanted to explore. By holding myself accountable and making minor adjustments every week, I’ve been able to make the most of my few months here.

However; that’s not the only cultural quirk I’ve encountered. In Spain, staring is not only common but completely normalized as a source of entertainment. Think of it like overt people-watching. It can be a bit disconcerting at first, especially when you’re alone on the metro. However, I’ve learned to embrace it as part of the culture and have found it funny at times. By now I have reached a pro level in staring contests and residents dare not challenge me.

Recently, I’ve encountered a little ambiguity in my assignments. Some class tasks are open to interpretation, which can be a bit worrying. I’ve overcome this challenge by collaborating with other students and seeking clarification from my professors. This challenge has become less of a problem the more I get to know my professors and the kind of standard they expect from our work.

Aside from my schoolwork, I’ve had to make several adjustments in my daily life. Unlike back at Pitt, I’m not on a meal plan here. Instead, I’ve had to embrace frequent grocery shopping trips, and I’ve come to love my regular trips to my local Aldi.

Navigating the city has been surprisingly easy. Thanks to my experience with the Pittsburgh Port Authority buses and the outrageous Pittsburgh hills, I felt well-prepared to take on Barcelona’s transportation network. I also have made good use of my metro and train pass, which I use multiple times a day to navigate the city. However, be wary of bringing tote bags or backpacks onto the metro, as pickpocketing is treated like a competitive sport here.

Living in Barcelona has brought its fair share of challenges, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve learned to embrace the Spanish lifestyle, stay organized, and adapt to cultural differences with an open mind. As I continue my time in this gorgeous city, I can’t wait to see what other challenges and adventures lie ahead.

Hasta pronto,

Adeline Jay

Views atop Montjuïc Castle

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