Barcelona: Not a Tourist, Not yet a Local

Brittany Quirarte is a student at Arizona State University and an ISA Castañeda Correspondent. Brittany is currently studying abroad with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.

Lots of Luggage, Lots of Excitement; Sky Harbor International Airport

The first Spanish word I spoke on this trip was “lo siento”. “So this is how the trip will be going,” I thought, “Already saying sorry when I sat in the wrong seat on the plane. The plane ride gave me a lot of time to think about the coming year. Yes year. I think that is the part I still cannot get over, I’m going to be here for the whole academic year!!! When on the plane, I also had so many expectations, questions, and nerves. Hearing people throughout the 10 hour plane ride from JFK speaking in Catalan, a language spoken in Barcelona, which sounds more like French than Spanish, had me nervous and excited for the cultural immersion about to take place. When I wasn’t sleeping on the plane, I was trying to communicate with my Catalan neighbor, who also spoke Spanish. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of keeping a conversation going, even as I stumbled over my words.

Finally when we arrived in Barcelona carrying about 130 pounds of luggage, I met a great group of people on my program, and headed to my homestay (the moment we’ve all been waiting for!). The house I live in here is gorgeous with high ceilings, exposed brick, tall windows, a deck and a pool. My roommate and I both get our own rooms, and we live with our host mom, Maria. Our senora Maria is a sweet lady, about 61 years old with a bad knee, and a great ability for making paella. She lives alone, and houses students for the company. Our “barrio”, or neighborhood, is known as a very hip, up-and-coming place to be. There are mostly young people who live here, where there are countless cafes, bars, funky stores, and restaurants that stay open later than I can stay awake—think European-Soho. There have obviously been a few quirks (as there always are living with new people), that I will talk about on my next blog post; in the grand scheme, all is well.

La Casa Bonita; Gracia en Barcelona

After many meetings, and getting-to-know-you’s, we took a city bus tour and stopped at Park Guell, a beautiful community of empty houses Gaudi created in the mountains, which I’m sure you’ve seen on the cover of some travel book somewhere. Following the bus tour, we got tapas and sangria and felt a little more like Spaniards!

So far, my classes have been very interesting, as I’m taking art history, architecture, and all classes that give stories to things I see everyday. I have been using Spanish a lot since I’ve been here; mostly at home with Maria, whom I believe must be incredibly patient with my constant “um”s and “como se dice”s. However, the more I force myself to speak in Spanish, the more comfortable I get. Barcelona is definitely starting to feel like home, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona; Sant Pau Campus


3 thoughts

  1. Wow! Great post! I’m so excited for you! I can’t believe you get tot be there for a whole year! If you have a emailing list for your blog, will you add me as sometimes I miss the ISA General blog posts. Did you get a scholarship through ISA? How did you manage a whole year?! So great. Holly.

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