As a college student living in the Chicagoland suburbs, I have used many means of transportation for my daily commute to UIC. During the fall semester of 2016, I commuted by taking the CTA‘s orange line. From there, I would transfer to the 8 Halsted bus and walk two blocks to arrive on campus. On average, I would spend around 3+ hours daily and 15+ hours weekly solely on commuting. Exhausted from the constant rush, I would fall asleep on the train. I decided to try driving to school for my next semester in spring of 2017. This failed to save me time and caused the same amount of stress as before. As a commuter, I am always on a time crunch and constantly worry about being punctual.

In Barcelona, commuting isn’t nearly as time consuming or stressful. My main form of transportation is walking. Historical landmarks, main streets, and public transportation are all accessible within walking distance, making it convenient for me to get to my destination. In Barcelona, I am not focused on just traveling from point A to point B. I take my time, slow down my pace and enjoy my surroundings along the way. During this weeks’ adventures, we were assigned one specific route to follow and another route that was free for us to map along the way. The first route disconnected me from my surroundings. I felt pressured to find specific landmarks and resisted to venture away from the path. It reminded me of my rushed commute to school, which only focuses on arriving to the destination on time. This type of commute ignores the potential of exploring new routes that lead to the final destination. On the second route, my partner Luis and I, felt that we were able to enjoy our surroundings as we discovered new landmarks along the way. We found shops and hidden side streets that we’ve never experienced before which left us with new topics of conversation. We noticed the architectural differences of Barcelona as we followed our own path through the city. Our pace was relaxed, something that I am not used to being a commuter in Chicago.

Walking Barcelona has made me realize that I strive to live my life in a more timely and efficient way. I am sick of commuting long distances for long periods of time. In my future, I picture myself living in the center of Chicago’s busy atmosphere where transportation is accessible and offers a less time consuming commute. The heart of the city provides a convenience of choice for many means of transportation. I imagine a more active lifestyle as I would choose a more physically taxing commute like walking or biking to my destination.

One of Barcelona’s iconic structures, the Arc de Triomf, is surrounded by bike racks, side streets and metro stops. Luis and I ran into this leisurely space and observed numerous crowds of people who were enjoying the magnificent views while soaking up the sun’s rays.

 

The first mapped route took my classmates and I to Carders Street. This street, primarily accessible by walking or biking, is filled with cafes and crafty shops. Its narrow structure and winding paths led us to the wrong alley. With help from a local, we were able to get back on track.

 

The Santa Caterina Market, another landmark on our mapped route, is a popular market for locals and tourists to shop for groceries and everyday goods. I felt a sense of community here from all the locals interacting with the vendors.

 

// ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE EDITED //