If I learn nothing else from study abroad (unlikely), I know for sure that I’ve learned to be independent and resourceful.
Friday I flew from Málaga to Barcelona. I arrived several hours before any of my friends and had to figure out where our hostel was and how to get there. Even though I had basic directions, it was still a challenge to figure out a metro (which I never, ever, ever use) and read signs in Catalan (the main language of Barcelona, although everyone speaks Spanish too). I am proud to say that I was successful, had nothing stolen from me, and was able to easily ask for directions in Spanish.
Side note: this post could alternatively be titled “In which I becameawesome at speaking Spanish.” This is because spoken Spanish in Barcelona is excellent. I could easily understand people and be understood, unlike the impossible Malagueño dialect.
I found our hostel and immediately felt a deep sense of “Buyers Regret”. It looked terrifying and dingy and I sat outside on a bench for a full 30 minutes before I had the courage to ring the doorbell. It wasn’t that bad inside. It was relatively clean and the owners – though (british/french/american) condescending and not very welcoming – were fine. By the time I got settled and had explored the general area where we were, it was time to go back to the city center to meet Courtney & Kelsey. We walked Las Ramblas (super famous long street of shopping/history/eating/etc) and saw El Mirador de Colón.
For dinner we did tapas at a place a few blocks away from our hotel. We were being super touristy and planning the next day with our map out. The 3 guys at the table next to us kept looking at us and finally one of them spoke to us in English – do you need help? Turns out he is studying English and was dying to talk to us the whole time since he wanted to practice English. His friends spoke zero English, but invited us for drinks after dinner across the street. We went and were able to practice our Spanish for a few hours while we waited for Shelly to get to the metro stop nearby to meet us.
As for Rick Steves? He’s the most wonderful author of travel guides in the world. Gray’s mom had given me her Barcelona copy and I must have memorized it by the number of times I consulted it or read it. In fact, anytime someone would ask me a question (this was technically my trip that I had planned), I would pull out Rick. It became a running joke, “What Would Rick Steves Do?” (reference to WWJD) And even funnier when we accidentally referred to him as “Rick Sticks”.