Crista Pillitteri is a student at Rowan University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Crista is currently studying abroad in Paris on an ISA Summer 2 Program.
Barcelona, Spain may be close to Paris on a map. But there is not much else that these two cities have in common.
During the last weekend of our program abroad, my friend and I decided to explore the wild city of Barcelona. When we arrived, we were greeted by a culture much different from the Parisian one we had become used to. We stayed by Placa de Catalunya, which is a center area of the city. It was an interesting change from the quiet Paris lifestyle.
Here are some differences that I took away from my experience:
In Barcelona, everyone talks much louder than in Paris. They yell through the streets at each other and at you- in a good way!
People in Barcelona show more skin than my experience in Paris. Parisian women wear scarves to cover any skin that their shirts may have missed. The women in Barcelona wore shorts and sometimes half tops. You weren’t expected to be dressed a certain way there.
Barcelona’s nighttime clock is set much later than that of Paris. The streets in Barcelona stay loud until the morning hours of the night. In Paris, if you are continuing your evening past normal hours, it is probably inside a building and not on the streets of the city.
In Barcelona, I think I actually felt more comfortable to make a mistake in public.
In Paris, you don’t see many groups of Parisian people walking together or drawing attention. But in Barcelona, attention was a good thing. We even saw groups of Spanish people walk through Placa de Catalunya blowing whistles and singing Spanish songs.
In Barcelona, we bought juice drinks from a market for just 1 Euro each. That was the best juice I had ever tasted.. Ever. It was so fresh. And sweet with real fruit sugar. The plastic cup was empty before we even got to take a picture.
Barcelona and Paris are very different in the aspect of social behavior. I like the classiness of Parisian life, where the people always appear well-kept and reserved. But I did enjoy the freedom of Barcelona, where the people surround you in loud groups and tell you to take a picture with them, where the men at the tourist shops bargain their prices so you don’t leave without buying something-anything, or where the bartenders at the restaurants sing Rihanna while they take your order.
It was exciting to be able to experience such opposites of lifestyle during my trip abroad. Barcelona was fun for a weekend, and Paris was exciting for the long run. I can’t say I like one city more than the other. But I can say I really enjoyed the atmosphere and culture of the people in Barcelona, Spain. It was an exciting city.. with loud people….. just my type.