Just as I originally predicted, unfamiliarity continued to be familiar in Barcelona just as it was in Chicago just on a much grander scale. Taking selfies has NOT become easier because no matter where in the world you are, taking pictures of yourself in public WILL draw attention. However going out has been part of tremendous exploration of city and self. Getting lost in a city is a blessing in disguise. Wandering unknown streets even more confused than a college freshman has allowed for discovering confidence in myself and the fact that people want to help. People from both Chicago and Barcelona have been extremely enthusiastic to providing directions and a sense of belonging.

I’m not sure why I attract attention. I’m quite normal.

On one of the projects that’s exactly what happened. Standing at an intersection and trying to make sense of a poorly labeled map in a old neighborhood an old man approached us. Up to this point I have only experienced locals as shop owners or as serious faces on the street so automatically I was startled by this encounter. However, to my surprise the gentleman kindly tried to make sense of what I was saying in Spanish and offered the most help he could by looking at this uninformative map. Sure, he led us the opposite direction of where we should have actually been going but it showed that people genuinely wish you well.

Kind stranger offering directions. Wrong directions but directions nonetheless.

When in Chicago, I did not ask people for directions mainly because I was not on a 100 MB/month Travel Plan. Using data to navigate the city rather than through interactions takes away from speaking with people and potentially forming a connections. It takes away from looking silly and smiling. It takes away from making mistakes and learning new ways. Reading maps and sense of direction are big weaknesses of mine so deciding to not use it is a big step outside of my comfort zone. Although navigating was a lot simpler and quicker using GPS I regret not challenging myself.

Having experienced exploring cities in two very different ways has inspired me to make mistakes! Speaking of making mistakes, the day is coming to a close, I still have limited data use, but I do have my Merrell shoes. It’s time for a run!!!