My first full week in Barcelona is rapidly coming around the corner. For the past few days, I have been slowly but surely getting myself acclimated to the streets of L’Eixample. As much as I love living on Carrer de Balmes, I can not help but notice some similarities and differences between my neighborhood in Addison, Illinois.

Patio seating of a cafe just around the corner of my block.

A similarity between the two neighborhoods is the patio dining option for restaurants. In Addison, most places have an outdoor seating section. When the weather is nice, you can find people enjoying a cold ice cream at Dairy Queen or a coffee at Starbucks. In Barcelona, on every block there is at least one terrace open serving morning coffee and pastries or a post-dinner coffee at eleven o’clock at night.

One of the biggest differences I have noticed were the location of the street addresses. I got lost a few times my first few days here. I had a hard time figuring out what street I was on. Here, they are located on the side of the building. Sometimes, they are located on artistic signs on the corners of the sidewalks. Back home, we have tall light poles with a bold green sign pointing in the direction of the street.

Daily foot traffic down Carrer de Balmes

An additional difference between Barcelona and Addison is the foot traffic. Addison is a suburb with wide streets and a driveway in front of every house. You do not see many people walking on the sidewalks unless you are coming out of Marcus Theaters on a Tuesday night. Here in the L’Eixample neighborhood, there are many people walking their dogs, pushing their babies in strollers, and riding their bikes on the sidewalk and streets. Not to mention, all the tourists stopping every ten feet to take a picture with their enormous group. My agility skills of dodging and weaving have improved tremendously since arriving here.


Small sign of the street I live on with my new classmates.

Even though I am in a new city across an entire ocean, it is nice to know that I not alone. My family and I are very close and knew I was going to miss them the most when I left for this study abroad program. Getting lost with my classmates in Barcelona has brought us closer together and they have quickly become a part of my “Pham-ily.” We are all in this journey together and it is nice to know I can count on them for anything. It is nice to have people that makes you feel at ease when you are 4,411 miles away from home.


Left to Right: Me (age 7), Bobby (cousin), Alyssa (sister), and Benny (cousin) posing in front of my house back in Addison, IL. Fun fact: My middle name is Toto!