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Becca Kaplan

The Barcelona Club

by Becca Kaplan | Feb 23, 2017

People are cool. Every single one of them is unique in their own special way; it’s hardly impossible to find someone that is exactly like someone else. Since my temporary move to the incredibly large city of Barcelona, this observation has time and time again proven to be true. When I walk down the street in the morning on my way to class, I people watch; it’s a lot less creepy than it sounds, I promise. I just emerge from my metro station, and the sounds and smells of the city fill the air around me, and my wanderlust heart skips a beat. Some days, I see middle-aged business men rushing to catch a taxi to the office and girls dressed down for a morning stroll, and other days I find groups of skater boys (I always say “see you later boys”) skating in the University Plaza and older women frantically running from store to store looking for the best deals on shoes and sweaters. Just walking around the city is an adventure within itself, I’m telling you. You never know what you’re going to find!

            After lunch the other day, I decided to venture down to one of my favorite spots in Barcelona: Playa Nova Icaria. Located to the left of Port Olympic and in front of Ciutadella Vila Olímpica (the Olympic village from the 1992 Summer Olympics), this beach is fairly empty Mondays – Fridays and the views are absolutely insane! It’s a great place to have a picnic lunch, or to read a book, or even to exercise or play volleyball. The sun has been out every day this week, and this Florida girl is getting in as much beach time as she can while the weather permits. I noticed though, that wearing a bathing suit to the beach, or even wearing shorts, is uncommon here; I’m not in Florida anymore. It was almost 70 degrees today, and I was just laying on my towel soaking up the sun with a good book, and wow I got a lot of stares. I guess khaki shorts and a swimsuit top are very interesting things to look at. The locals all wear heavy winter coats, long pants, and scarves this time of year, even if the weather is warm and spring-like. It almost reminds me of my hometown; if it dips below 70, WalMart stocks up on winter coats and UGG boots. Maybe it’s the Indiana rubbing off on me, but I think 70 degrees and sunny is perfect weather for shorts and a tee shirt!

TheBarcelonaClub

TheBarcelonaClub

            Aside from the clothing differences, I really am starting to feel like a local here. I speak Spanish constantly, and I’m actually able to help people navigate the city more. It’s amazing what 5 weeks in Spain can do for a person’s language skills! I’m meeting all sorts of people too, and I’m learning so much about this incredible place. My favorite thing of all, though, is that I’m getting to know the people that have lived here their whole lives. I found a group of people that meets once a week just to practice language exchanges – I’m learning Catalan, a dialect of Castellano (Spanish), and I’m teaching others how to speak English. It’s kind of like the Intercultural Center at MU, but instead of focusing on mixing cultures, this group divides itself into subgroups so that language exchange can occur. My group, for example, is a Catalan – English group (that’s a really popular one), but there are also German – English, Italian – Catalan, and I think even Chinese – Castellano groups. I’ve met students from all over the world just by attending one meeting. One girl, Laia, is a physics student that’s lived across the street from La Sagrada Familia (aka my favorite piece of architecture) her entire life. To her, it’s no big deal, it’s just a church. To me? HOLY WOW. That’s something I can only dream of doing.

            Meeting people in Barcelona is a great way to gain a new respect for the life you lead in the United States. The standard of living and the quality of life in Spain are similar to those in the United States, but the cultures are so different it almost makes me wonder if I’ve been living my entire life the wrong way. You see, Spaniards like to drink, although never in excess. It’s pretty normal to see people drinking a beer with lunch, or a glass of wine with dinner here. In Indiana, on the other hand, having wine at dinner is (at least to me) the mark of wealth and status in society. Spaniards also really like espresso. If I go to a coffee shop, I have to order a “café con leche” (coffee with milk) because black coffee is 10x as strong here as it is back home. I love cafés con leches, though, so I’m not complaining in the least.

            Barcelona is leaving quite an impact on me, I must say. I thought I had this world figured out already, but then I got here, and it’s like I was in a whole other lifetime. Everybody has a story, and I had always judged the people of Barcelona by their cover – Spain. Until I really got to know this city, I had no idea how complex, exciting, and proud its people were. I mean, just check out this fire parade I stumbled upon! I’m not entirely sure what they were celebrating, but still, you could see how proud these guys were about what they were doing. There were fireworks, drumlines, and even dances!

TheBarcelonaClub

TheBarcelonaClub

In other news, festival season is quickly approaching, so I’m about to be very busy! Lots of pictures will be taken (you’re welcome, Mom) and I will be sure to fill you all in with the details in two weeks! Until next time. - B

BeccaKaplan
Becca Kaplan ’19, is a Spanish Secondary Education major with minors in TESOL and Business. As a commuter student, she spends most of her time on campus either studying, watching Netflix, or writing her next blog post. When classes are not in session, Becca usually travels, either visiting her parents in Florida, or her extended family in St. Louis.

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