The culture varies much more than I expected in Barcelona. To begin with, people don’t typically live in houses. Instead many people rent apartments. The apartments are narrow with high ceilings. The lifestyle is very different too. One of the biggest surprises was that they don’t have dryers. Most people hang their clothes outside so they can dry. Recycling is very important here. Anything that can be recycled is usually recycled. In fact, they have big bins in the streets that are color coded based on material. For example, they have a bins for plastic, paper, glass, etc. These bins are out in the streets for people to dispose of their trash. Instead of driving to a dumpster, you only have to walk a few minutes to dispose of it.
The food is very different as well. They have “Tapas” that are small appetizers/snacks. There are restaurants dedicated to tapas. Tapas consist of tortilla española, croquetas, patatas bravas, calamares, olives etc. Since being here, I have fallen in love with patatas bravas. They are so delicious. I could eat them everyday if I could. Bakeries/panaderías are located everywhere. They sell delicious bread and pasteries for such a cheap price. Of course, paella is a common dish found. The food has been delicious and I never get tired of trying new things.
The culture in Barcelona is highly associated with language. As Barcelona is part of Cataluña, Catalan (language) plays a big part of the culture. Many of the menus in restaurants are in Catalan. I had to get used to this. As someone who doesn’t understand or read Catalan, it was difficult in the beginning. The language is highly regarded here. Most classes at the University of Barcelona are given in Catalan. People still speak Castellaño/Spanish, but they value the Catalan language.
People walk everywhere. Barcelona is a smaller city and everything is typically walking distances. There are still people with cars, but that is reserved for bigger roads. In neighborhoods, people use scooters, mopeds, or motorcycles. The streets are filled with mopeds parked on the side of the streets.
Like I mentioned before, everything is walking distance. Grocery stores are in every street. They definitely are smaller than the ones back home, but it’s nice to just walk maybe 2 minutes for something so snack on or buy. With that being said, since groceries stores are close people buy less food than back home. Stores like Costco do not exist here. The quantities are smaller. People typically buy only what they need each week.
In general, life is calmer here. Sometimes I really enjoy it, but sometimes I miss the fast paced life at home. One thing I’ve really enjoyed while being here is the easy access to the beach and mountains. Barcelona has the mountains on one end and the beach to the other. It has been fun being able to have options to exploring the city. There is culture everywhere. Barcelona always has something to see or do. You could never get bored of exploring.