September 23, 2014

BARCELONA BOUND | Getting There

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By NATASHA HERRICK

I have been in Barcelona, Spain for a few short weeks, but I have barely had a chance to catch my breath.  This is both because it has been amazing and because I have been so busy.  Immediately upon arriving in Barcelona – El Prat, I was running on twenty minutes of sleep and lost trying to find my IES abroad program’s welcome staff in the airport.  I was not expecting to be lost immediately upon arriving in Barcelona.  Maybe I was ready for an adventure or to go to sleep, but not lost.  Though it was a struggle in the crowded terminal, I eventually found the welcome staff from my program.  With a sigh of relief, the excitement then settled in.

I was led to a brief orientation where I was given directions to my homestay and other important information.   I then took a taxi to my homestay.  I was suddenly speaking Spanish with the cab driver.  It was basic Spanish such as, “this is where I am going” and what not; but wow, here I was speaking Spanish to the cab driver.  When I arrived to my homestay my roommate was already there.  Our host mom greeted me in a typical Spanish way, with a kiss on each cheek.  Then, for the second time, I was thrown into a conversation in Spanish, finding myself surprised that I was able to respond to my host mom.  I guess that one semester from my Cornell Spanish class helped me more than I realized.  Nevertheless, I still struggled to understand my host mom as she gave me a tour of the apartment.

The apartment has antique furniture, all of which is smaller than the furniture I am used to in the U.S.  It works out in my favor here, since I am a small person.  In my room, there is a large windowsill that we can look out and always keep open for fresh air.  People’s voices carry from outside, so sometimes it literally sounds as though there is a party inside my room.  I have gotten fairly used to the noise, with the exception of an occasional loud person or car, after which my roommate and I turn over and give each other a look.  This is easy to do, because we share a room and our little beds are only six inches apart.

Shortly after arriving, my RA came to pick up my roommate and me to show us how to use the train to get to our school.  It is located in La Plaza Cataluyna, which I like to think of as Barcelona’s version of Grand Central station because it is always so busy.  After meeting my RA and other students form the program, I had dinner at 9 pm with my host mom.  My host mom is part Italian, so our first meal was spaghetti and meatballs.  Typically my roommate and I have very busy days, but we have come home each night to spend an hour or so at dinner with our host mom.

Later that first night, my roommate and I went to another student’s apartment and drank wine that only cost one euro a bottle!  We got together with friends we had met from the program, some Spanish people, and guys visiting from Amsterdam.  Sitting in a room full of people from different places around the world, I was so grateful that I had decided to study abroad.  Despite my past hesitations, it was now so easy to tell myself this was an opportunity I did not want to miss.

Natasha Herrick is a senior in the College of Human Ecology. She may be reached at ngh29@cornell.edu. Barcelona Bound appears Mondays.

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