During our first week here, we discussed being a traveler vs. being a tourist. We viewed the documentary “Bye Bye Barcelona” which addresses the negative impact of tourism in the city. We learned that our purpose in Barcelona is to be a traveler and immerse ourselves in the culture instead of acting as a tourist. I was a little apprehensive about doing the selfie project in Barcelona because I was concerned about the perception of acting as a tourist.
After taking selfies at 10 locations at home in Chicago, and here in Barcelona, I have learned more about both cities. In Chicago, the locations were either iconic landmarks, such as Wrigley Field, sculptures like “Flamingo” by Calder, or statues of famous Chicagoans such as Michael Jordon. All of these locations I was somewhat familiar with, and if I wasn’t I just did a quick Google search to find out more.
In Barcelona, the experience was completely different. The locations here seemed to have greater historical significance. The Gothic Quarter, which is the oldest part of Barcelona and is the center of 2,000 years of history. Other landmarks such as the Cascade de la Cuitadella and Arc di Triomf were created by Josep Vilaseca as part of the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona in 1888. Here, searching for the locations and their significance, required more research. We couldn’t solely rely on a smart phone for directions and information due to the lack of wifi and limitations of cellular data. Instead, we had to use paper maps and ask for directions, which is something out of our comfort zone.
While taking a selfie at the Antoni Gaudi statue, the group of 6 of us was standing around a map trying to figure out how to get to our next location. A woman named Marioneta came up to us and asked if we needed help. She was able to help us find our way and we talked to her about the area. This is something that I have never experienced at home. This helped me feel welcome and connect with the people of Barcelona.
Before the selfie project, I thought I would be pegged as just another tourist since that’s what selfies are associated with. However, writing about each of these experiences helped me learn about the landmarks and process the experience, which makes me feel like a traveler. In both Chicago and Barcelona I was surprised how much I connected with the people and the city.