My inspiration for this whole idea of solo time came from two things. The first is from friends who have had the chance to study abroad in the past. The one thing they all said to me was to experience the culture. I can go out as many nights as I want or travel as much as I want but in the end they all said that the thing I would cherish most would be experiencing the culture. At first I wasn’t quite sure how to do that, mostly because my first week was filled with nights out and doing the “touristy” things in Barcelona. The second part of my inspiration came from my Communications professor. On the second day of class he said everything I had been thinking about how we were probably only experiencing the surface of Barcelona. In an effort to help us change this he gave us an assignment called “Café Solo.”
We had a list of 5 different metro stops, all about 20 minutes outside of downtown Barcelona, and the assignment instructed us to pick one, get off the metro, and find a coffee shop. After getting off the metro I walked about two blocks down to a little cafe called Neptuna. We had to order in Spanish, sit, and observe at the place for an hour or so. Our professor wanted us to get outside our comfort zones and experience real Spanish culture away from all the tourists. At first I was a bit uncomfortable because I had no idea where I was and was clearly an outsider to these people. But, I ordered and sat down, becoming more comfortable in just a few minutes.
One of the main things I observed was that there were several families sitting and eating together. This was something very different than I am used to because I can’t ever remember a time when my family was together for lunch on a weekday during the school year. I enjoyed observing their interactions together and throughout my time at the cafe realized this was a normal occurrence. I love the way relationships are so important here. Not that relationships aren’t important in America, the Spaniards just do things differently. Spending time together is very important here and seeing these families come together for lunch, leaving work and school to be together, showed me a part of Spanish culture that I really admire. I want to make this a part of my life, making relationships and time with my friends and family a big priority. The times that I spend alone here in Barcelona are some of my most valuable when it comes to experiencing the culture, I can’t wait to see where my next solo time takes me.