I have been in Barcelona for three weeks now and have been having the time of my life. I seriously don’t want to go back. This is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to and the weather is amazing (sunny and 60 almost every single day). Whenever you move to a new place you learn a lot of things about that area and the people there, and that increases by 10 when you live abroad, even if it only is for four months. So these are the things that I have learned thus far and my handy tips (about Barcelona specifically).
- “Coffee” in Spain and a lot of other places in Europe is served in a cup that is comparable to a dixie cup and a lot of people will drink five of them a day.
- Always be on the lookout for “specials”. A lot of restaurants that aren’t located in the super touristy areas have deals like coffee and a croissant for one or two euros. They will also have lunch specials during the week that include a drink, entrée, and dessert (or something of the like) for 9-11 euros, and if you see it for more than that they are trying to rip you off.
- Walking really is the best type of transportation. I love walking around this beautiful city that I am temporarily living in and enjoying the sun shining down on me. On my walk to school I get to go by the Sagrada Familia which literally never gets old to look at. Most of the time if I were to take the metro it would only save me a couple of minutes, and I would miss all of the views; plus, walking is way better for you.
- Spanish is not (really) the primary language of Barcelona. I did my research before I came here and knew that a lot of people speak Catalan as well as Spanish. What I didn’t know was that many people prefer the Catalan language to Spanish, and how important it was to learn a few phrases.
- The media way overplays the “conflict” going on over here. Yes, the people of Catalonia would like to declare their independence from Spain. Yes, there are demonstrations once or twice a week. What they don’t tell you is that these demonstrations are not violent. They consist of big crowds getting together with their Catalonia flags and chanting through the streets. These people love this city and would never do anything to harm it. If there is any violence happening for their independence, it’s happening in Madrid.
- Citymapper is a life saver. I learned of this app after a couple days of being here and it’s better than google maps. It has all the possible ways of transportation in multiple different cities, and gives you a million different ways of getting to one place. It has saved me a couple of different times from getting miserably lost (at least in Barcelona, it didn’t work as great in Paris).
- They REALLY do not like tourists in Barcelona. They even have a special name for them (guiri). A lot of people I know have had run ins with the locals where they get glared at on the metro or a passerby mumbles something at them in Spanish, but if you stay out of their way, try to blend in, and not be the typical “American” you really don’t run into any problems (at least I haven’t).
- They absolutely love it when you speak Spanish to them. I’m pretty bad at this just because I am self conscious about my Spanish, but I have been making myself speak it more recently and you can tell how much they appreciate it. Some people will even thank you for trying to speak their language, even though its covered by a terrible American accent.
- Rarely anything is free here. You seriously have to pay for water and bread. It’s because a lot of people think the tap water is gross (although perfectly safe) so they serve you fancy bottled water. Usually whatever they give you for free (if anything) is something you wouldn’t expect. One time I got served giant chunks of parmesan cheese.
- Last but not least, go somewhere new every day. Whether it’s walking down a new street you haven’t before or going to that little café you’ve been dying to try. Whenever I do this I never regret it because I get to experience more and more of beautiful Barcelona.
All of this doesn’t even come close to everything I’ve learned, but it’s just a couple of insights to give anyone who is reading this something you might learn. It is crazy to think about how much I have learned in three weeks, and how much I am going to learn in three months, especially since I am going to be travelling all over. I honestly can’t wait to see what my future has in store for me.
Until next time