Week 2: Settling Into Spain

During my second week in Barcelona, I finally started to settle in and get more comfortable. I finally went grocery shopping and bought snacks and toiletries to make life a little more comfortable. I was delighted and surprised when my total was only 26 € because if I bought all of the same items at Target at home it would’ve easily been $70. Life here seems to be a lot more affordable. I also worked up the courage to take myself out to eat for the first time. My meal was definitely more Mexican than Spanish, but who can turn down tacos?

Monday, June 6th, was a holiday in Barcelona — Lunes Segunda Pasqua (Second Easter). Because there was no work or school, my host family took me to Castelldefels to go paddleboarding with their friends. I’ve tried paddleboarding before and I’ve never been any good at it, so I was nervous about going out far into the ocean in a foreign country to try again. But once I got out there and took a deep breath, I pushed myself up onto the board and found my balance. We were out there for two hours and I kept up with the group the entire time and didn’t fall off my board at all. I was so proud of myself for being brave and taking on the challenge. I think I’ll paddleboard more often when I get home because my boyfriend enjoys it as well.

The work week picked up again on Tuesday and I really dove into my internship. Waking up early and commuting so far isn’t very pleasant, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the work I’ve done so far and feel like it’s been productive and educational. My main focus has been marketing on TikTok, but I’ve also been working on blog posts in both Spanish and English, graphics, videography, and LinkedIn posts. Outside of work, I’ve also been busy with my classes. We’ve had a few group assignments and are working on a marketing plan for our study abroad program, Barcelona SIS.

During the week I didn’t have much time or energy to do any significant exploring after work and school. However, I have gone out to eat a few times and I need to share my obsession: patatas bravas. I’m actually embarrassed to admit how much of this stuff I’ve eaten. It’s just diced potatoes with a spicy sauce and mayonnaise on top, but I’ve been hunting all of Barcelona for the best recipe. I might have to make a list ranking them before I leave. And find a recipe for when I get home…

On Friday, we took a day trip to Sitges. I love day trips because the guided activities make it easier to immerse yourself in the culture and I get to spend time adventuring with the rest of my group. Our first stop was Codorniu Cavas, a winery producing cava. They gave us a cellar tour, including the underground caves where the cava is fermented and aged. We even got to ride on a little buggy around the entire labyrinth. We ended with a tasting, which was everyone’s favorite part of course.

After our winery visit, we had some free time in Sitges. My friends and I ate lunch and then spread out on the beach. There were vendors all over the beach trying to sell everything, from drinks to towels to clothes. Some ladies were even offering massages. We did cave and enjoy some more strawberry mojitos, but only because the sun was blazing…

On Saturday I decided to take a solo adventure and check some places off of my “To Visit” list. I took the metro to L’Arc de Triumph and then walked through Citadel Park. In its heart, there was a gorgeous fountain with steps up to a gazebo decorated with golden statues. I could hear music at the top so I went to investigate. At the top, there was a lively party with cheery couples dancing. I was so thrilled to experience something so genuine and fun.

After my walk through Citadel Park, I went to the Picasso Museum, where I spent an hour admiring his collection in Barcelona. Typically, I don’t enjoy museums or history lessons. But something about being in Spain has made me appreciate art and culture so much more. Picasso was a talented artist that practiced a large range of styles, and it was fascinating to watch his work progress and change over the years.

While Spain has grown on me and I know that this experience is so enriching and special, it’s still been hard. I’ve felt more homesick lately. It’s getting hotter outside, which means hotter inside as well, so I’ve been having a harder time sleeping. Walking everywhere has become less charming and more of a chore. I’m reentering the culture shock phase and it’s been difficult. I miss my life back home. But I’m trying to shift my mindset to avoid missing out on everything that’s right in front of me. Studying abroad is not an easy experience, it’s not always roses, rainbows, and sunshine. It’s challenging, it’s uncomfortable. It requires you to give up everything you know and surrender yourself to an entirely new way of life. But it’s also an incredible experience that has already taught and grown me so much. We just passed the halfway mark and I’m excited to see what else Barcelona has in store for me this summer. Thanks for reading.

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