Adjusting to the fact I won’t have Iced Coffee.

In regards to my first thoughts when I landed and settled in… I was tired. It had been such a long flight that all I wanted to do was shower and sleep. At the same time, I was excited and nervous. I selected to live in a homestay and I just kept asking myself questions like:

How are they going to be? Will they like me? Am I going to be comfortable enough to spend the next 4 months with them?

I remember thinking how warm it was too. Just before I left, it had been snowing in South Carolina and when I arrived in Barcelona it was rather warm. After arriving, students like me were picked up and taken to a brief orientation. I was so tired that I don’t fully recall what happened in that one hour. Eventually, I was picked up by my host mom who took us to her apartment. I was amazed at the buildings, the streets, and the whole atmosphere that I had never seen before. I was happy to arrive, but was so anxious about settling in.

A picture of the neighborhood where I am located

The transition to Barcelona was nerve-racking. To begin with, I felt weird having dinner at 9pm. I was excited to try new foods, but the dinner time was so much later than my usual. The first night I was introduced to pan con tomate y aceite de oliva. I have never been a big fan of tomatoes, but I enjoyed it.

Another shock to me was how late people started and ended their days. In Barcelona most people start their days at 9am or 10am and end them around 11 pm or 12am. As a college student I could relate to the times, but it was different. Also public transportation took time getting use to. I had never been on metro, bus, or train that took me to one place to another. I can admit that I got lost the first time I used the metro. It was a nightmare, but I still made it home.

When I first walked the streets of Barcelona, I noticed how many people walk everywhere. Things like grocery stores, retail stores, bakeries, etc. are relatively close in neighborhoods, people walk. Also there is so many pharmacies and groceries markets on each street. I always found a pharmacy or grocery store every so often.

In the first few days, it took adjusting to the fact that iced coffee isn’t available here. Well it is, but if you drink it people automatically know you aren’t from Barcelona. I had to get use to drink warm coffee, which is completely fine because the coffee is great… but I sure miss iced coffee. In general, drinks aren’t served over ice unless they are soft drinks.

These are some of my most shocking transitions. I could on and on about more, but it would take pages. My first few days were dedicated to learning and adjusting to the new culture. It’s obviously become easier as days past, but eventually I’ll get so used to the customs here that I will feel so weird when I go back home. Although there has been so many times, I’ve been happy to learn and adjust. I just cannot believe they don’t do iced coffee.

The Unexpected.

I decided to write my pre-departure blog post till I was in Barcelona to really process the emotions I was feeling about studying abroad. As I just mentioned, I decided to pursue Barcelona with the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program. My decision, process, and journey were very fast and I actually never got a chance to process the idea of me in Barcelona until I was in the plane that was taking me there.

Too pretty of a picture not to include 🙂

My decision was very last minute… I was really unsure about what I wanted to do. The month prior to the deadline I decided to have my study abroad meeting to discuss my plan to do so. I was in the mindset that it wouldn’t happen till my junior or even my senior year, but I was wrong. During my study abroad meeting Dean Lancaster asked why was I waiting when I was already on the track to do so. I remember feeling nervous and panicked because I felt I was not quite ready to do so. After so much thinking I decided to go ahead and do it because what was I waiting for?

I decided to go with the CIEE ALA for various reasons. For starters I knew I wanted to go to Barcelona. I didn’t know why but I just wanted to be there and no where else. Secondly, it was one of the few programs that accepted sophomores. Lastly, I would have the chance to take university courses with students who actually study in Barcelona. For me this was very important because I wanted to be challenge myself and reach my fullest potential.

I had multiple reservations and was very nervous. To beginning with I felt that I wasn’t qualified enough to go as a sophomore. I remember being worried about falling behind or my grades dropping. Also I am an off-campus student. I felt nervous of leaving the comfort of my house. I had never been away from home for more than 2 weeks… this was for 4 months. I didn’t want to abandon what felt the most secure for me. As a very anxious person this was way out of my comfort. I debated back and forth through the whole process if this is what I wanted to do.

I eventually realized that this would be a good experience for me. I was taking risks and it felt good to do so. As I sit in Barcelona writing this… I cannot believe I actually did it. Four months seem so long, but I am excited. Academically, I hope to challenge myself and succeed in learning new ways and obviously in a new language. I want to be able to expand my versatility in Spanish and dominate the language day by day. Regarding to personal goals I feel like I’ve already come far. Personally, I hope to become more independent and confident in myself. Being away home will challenge me to step out of my comfort and try new things.

I am excited to be in Barcelona and cannot wait to begin my journey!