After an overnight flight, we arrived at the apartment that will be our home for 5 weeks. Right away everything felt so foreign: the street signs (or lack thereof) and signs in Catalan. We landed in Barcelona on a bank holiday, which meant the streets were deserted and few businesses were open.
The next day, the program began, and the streets came alive bustling with cars and traffic. It was clear that we were a long way from Chicago. Our barrio (neighborhood) is called L’Eixample and is a 10-minute walk from the city center of Barcelona. It is very different from my neighborhood in Chicago, Lakeview East.
At home, there are large stores, such as Walgreens, grocery stores, Target, etc. located within a 15-minute walk of my apartment. There I can buy anything I need all at the same place from fresh fruit, to towels, to other necessities. Here, I noticed there are many smaller stores such as fruit stands, pharmacies, convenience stores, etc. These smaller stores made the city feel smaller and personal. I wonder if the fruit stands and pharmacies have regular customers and a more of a relationship. Back home I feel like another face in the crowd each time I shop. Here there could be more of a community surrounding the consumer experience.
Another major difference I noticed was how much I am walking here! In both Chicago and Barcelona, I am within walking distance from restaurants, stores and public transit. However, in Spain, I can choose not to talk public transit to get to our classroom building, whereas in Chicago it is necessary to take public transit. In preparation for this trip, I read how walking for transportation improves physical health. I’m looking forward to studying the health implications of the access to food, and the amount of walking in Barcelona.