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.
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.