On Monday I was paired up with a group of my classmates to explore a set route through Central Eixample, near the areas we live and learn in. Two days later I worked with Kasia to explore Eixample again, but with the challenge of following a circular path in a city that follows a grid-like pattern. Although I explored the same neighborhood during both activities, my experiences were very different and insightful.
I miss out on my surroundings when I travel in groups because I tend to talk and focus on what everyone else is doing instead of being engaged with my environment. Considering this, Kasia and I also felt most comfortable in the partner activity because we had a general sense of where we were going even if we had not been down a particular side street before. I was surprised to be relatively comfortable wandering down the alleys of El Raval because the neighborhood had Middle-Eastern shops and restaurants advertised in languages I do not understand. Having Kasia there was a huge comfort to me because we were able to wander around and explore our surroundings without overly worrying about safety. When I walk around my suburban neighborhood or around campus in Chicago, I always worry about the time of day, how long I will be out, who is around me, how far I walk, and letting multiple people know my route in case something happens. I am still trying to get used to the idea that families in Barcelona are out at and time of day and can walk through practically any neighborhood without fear. I am more aware of my tendency to travel in groups or pairs because of my safety-driven mentality from home, but I am working towards being a lone traveler in Barcelona.