Week 1: Bienvenido a Barcelona

It’s been one week since I arrived in Spain and my nerves have already greatly decreased. Shortly after landing at the airport and going through customs, I was whisked away in a taxi to my homestay, where I would be living for the next month. I’m staying in a cute flat in the heart of Barcelona with a couple and their two children.

My room is small but has lots of storage. It’s the only room in the house without air conditioning. That was very hard for me to accept at first, but with the help of a tiny fan by my bedside I’ve learned how to make it work. It helps that the weather here is about 20 degrees cooler than Tampa’s summer. My bathroom looks like something out of a fairytale — the floor, walls, and ceiling are covered in this brilliant green tile.

Life with my homestay family has been a million times better than I expected. I truly feel so lucky to have been placed with them. Belén is a pharmacist who’s been married to her husband and best friend Sergio for over 20 years. Their daughter, Lucia, is an 18-year-old college student studying to be a pharmacist as well. I’ve joked that Lucia is the Spanish version of me — we have so much in common and get along very well. Lucia and I have plans to get our nails done and shop at Zara together while I’m here. Their son, Hugo, is 17 and loves to go out and party with his friends. He’s always inviting me to come along. The family is incredibly social and always has other families over for dinner or goes out with friends. They are also very active and love practicing yoga. They make an effort to speak to me in English, but also help me practice my Spanish. They’re genuinely interested in my thoughts, opinions, and lifestyles. They have already truly cared for me as if I’m their own daughter.

The Solores family, some friends, and I (Lucia not pictured)

I’ve also enjoyed the day trips with our program, Barcelona SAE. On our first full day in Barcelona, we toured the Hard Rock Cafe in Plaça de Catalunya and ate lunch there. Afterward, we took a guided tour through the gothic part of Barcelona, the oldest area in the city. La Catedral was stunning, and we explored the area where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella first reigned together.

The next day, my friends and I went to the Time to Eat fest at the Estrella Damm, where we sampled authentic Spanish food, beer, and wine. They also had a DJ playing American music and we danced a little. It was a great time!

On Sunday, I went with my homestay family on a boat in Lloret de Mar. This was one of the highlights of my trip so far. The view was gorgeous — something my iPhone couldn’t capture. We grilled chicken on the boat and popped open a bottle of wine. The water was way too cold to swim, but I did try paddleboarding. Also, unrelated, but I had the best guacamole I’ve ever had on the boat and I will be tracking it down.

After Sunday, things went downhill for me. I ended up getting really sick and missed out on our tour of Sagrada Familia and a few events with friends. I tested negative for COVID but had to go to the hospital anyway because I felt too ill. The doctor told me which medications I should take and said I should be okay, but I still needed to rest. After leaving the hospital, I caved and got McDonald’s. I needed some familiar comfort food after a hard day. Don’t worry, I still feel guilty about eating McDonald’s in Europe…

Because I was sick, I also missed my first day of class and my internship. But on Tuesday, I was feeling (mostly) better and got back up on my feet. I took the metro to the office that I’ll be working at for the duration of my internship. This month I’m working as a marketing intern for a company called ATOM.BIO, a company that allows you to connect all of your social media links in to one website. I started brainstorming some TikTok ideas for the company, and also performed a competitor analysis for social media. I feel confident in my abilities and am looking forward to the rest of the work I’ll complete for ATOM.BIO.

After my work week was over, it was time for a weekend adventure. Barcelona SAE took our group on a day trip to Tarragona, Spain. In Tarragona, we toured the old Roman empire and saw the arena that the gladiators used to fight in. After the tour, we ate authentic paella for lunch. I had a veggie paella because I hate seafood, but it was still just as delicious. Then, we had some free time to take a quick dip in the ocean before getting on the bus to return to Barcelona.

That’s all for my first week in Barcelona. I think I’ve started to get a bit more comfortable now. I don’t feel extremely homesick, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of my stay here. ¡Hasta la próxima semana!

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