Similarities stood out between my home in Round Lake, Illinois, and the city of Barcelona, my home for the next 5 weeks. The differences were much bigger. It has been 3 days since I arrived in Spain and the efficiency of the city is incredible. Back home, it is a rarity I run errands on my own, with many chain grocery stores and outlets requiring at least a 10-mile commute. Public transport & sidewalks are also almost nonexistent where I live, making accessibility to the surrounding area of my neighborhood an issue.
My experience in Barcelona thus far, has been opposite of my hometown. The pictures featured of local markets and a coffee shop are only 10 to 15 minutes away. Due to the well-designed street grid, and the availability of public transport, I have been able to easily visit the market, get fresh groceries, or stop by the local coffee shop on the way to class and still be punctual.
Another wonderful aspect of this neighborhood is the warm environment which is promoted. Even at night, the day does not have to be over. Connecting with others and spending time with each one another is constantly encouraged through shops & cafes that are open past midnight, surrounded by well-lit streets which increase safety. In my suburb, the expectation is you are inside before it is dark. This is due to dangers throughout the neighborhood (gun violence, assault etc.) and the absence of proper lighting or signage. In Barcelona, you can be out at night without fear of danger, and be efficient too.
Once I return home, I would like to have the ability I do now to be active at night. Whether this is possible depends on how we can improve my surrounding neighborhood. It would be helpful if public transportation was added to the areas to increase the accessibility to necessary locations (grocery stores, shopping outlets etc.). If more street lights were added to the areas, I and others would be much more active throughout the day, as well as night and take advantage of the opportunity to be outside and enjoy the outdoors.