Exploring our assigned neighborhood of La Gracia in a group of four was an extremely interesting experience. We were notified by John, our instructor, that locals in that neighborhood don’t take kindly towards groups walking together, so I was a bit anxious to begin the derive. We were given a map with points of interests to visit on the highly structured journey. Although this was a fixed route which many people may find stressful, I was delighted by all the beautiful apartment buildings, narrow streets, and small parks at almost every corner.
This neighborhood reminded me a lot of my home in Lahore, Pakistan, where I was born. The narrow streets, fruit markets, shops, bakeries and cafes underneath the apartment buildings put me in very joyful mood and I wanted to keep walking and exploring more of the neighborhood. Jeff Miller, Ph.d. of psychology at Saint Xavier University, says, “Walking as opposed to sitting or standing, will almost certainly result in increased feelings of pleasant energy. And that is true whether you expect this to occur or not” (Andrews.2016). The phrase “pleasant energy” describes my feeling when I was wandering through La Gracia and admiring the great architecture of the neighborhood.
There was also a park where different generations were hanging out within their own little circles. This shows how the neighborhood promotes active living for all-regardless of age. It shows how the community doesn’t neglect the old generation and promotes them to be outside instead of putting them in an assisted community living space like is often done in the United States.
On the other hand our assigned semi-structured derive of the area around La Sagrada Familia was not as interesting as La Gracia since, I did not feel connected to the area. The green space was limited in this are and we only encountered two parks as we strolled through the neighborhood. I was not feeling good about about my self while exploring this area because it was not lively to me and put in a sort of depressed mood primarily because I did not acknowledge many people out on the streets. There were not a lot of people out walking compared to La Gracia, where the side walks were packed with locals and tons of green space was available to the public.
Although both derives were challenging, tiring, and required a lot of walking, I feel that the structured derive was far more enjoyable as I felt connected with the area and I also did not have to stress about figuring out where to go as it was all laid out for us on a map. This experience allowed me to acknowledge how walking in a certain environment can have a huge influence on my mood and make me want to keep walking even when I feel exhausted.