Placa CatalunyaThese last two weeks have been a blur. I boarded the plane in Newark almost three weeks ago, and have since been going non-stop trying to adjust to life in Spain. I’ve gotten way too little sleep and spent way too much money along the way, but it’s been quite the experience.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a hard time with culture shock or homesickness, but the language barrier has proven harder to deal with than I expected. I’ve taken Spanish classes for eight years, but it obviously wasn’t enough to be able to speak conversationally with native speakers. This proved especially true the first weekend we were in our apartment.

Let me preface this story by saying we live in a really, really nice part of Barcelona. Our apartment is literally 3 minutes away from the Sagrada Familia, which might be the most well-known landmark in the city. Everyone says it’s a good, safe area to be in. But the first Friday we were here, we had an “incident.”

Around 10 p.m. someone buzzed up to our apartment from outside. My roommate Alexa looked down from the balcony to see who it was, and it was a man that none of us had ever seen before. Long story short, he buzzed up for a good 30 minutes. After he made eye contact with one of us who was out on the balcony, he held the buzzer for more than five minutes straight. At this point we started to freak out a little bit. My roommate Brittany went to the phone to try and talk to him but instead accidentally let him in the building.

When he started banging on our door, we started to panic. When he shut off our electricity, we started crying hysterically. I’m not sure why we didn’t just try to talk to him, but that didn’t seem like an option at the time. Instead, we all huddled together in Grace’s room, crying and holding kitchen knives. Smart.

We ended up calling CEA, who called the police. But dealing with the police was an absolute nightmare because they didn’t speak a word of English, and we were all too frazzled to speak coherent Spanish. Basically all we could get out was that “Hay un hombre que…” and then proceed to use hand motions. A man showed up who spoke both English and Spanish, and he explained to us that apparently the guy was an old tenant who was looking for an ex-girlfriend or something. Regardless, the whole experience proved that if there ever is an actual emergency we’re, well, screwed. Definitely time to brush up on my Spanish and learn some phrases that may actually be useful, not the random vocabulary we are taught in high school Spanish class.

Aside from this minor run-in with the police, I have been able to take in a lot of Barcelona and have loved every minute of it. I’ve seen the Sagrada Familia, visited Gaudi’s beautiful Parc Guell, shopped on Passeig de Gracia, walked down La Rambla, cheered on FC Barcelona at Camp Nou, and spent many nights out until sunrise. I can’t even express how lucky I am to be able to do everything I’m doing, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to an amazing four months (except for maybe the whole police thing).

I will be updating this blog a few times a week for one of my classes at CEA – Journalism 2.0. So keep checking back as I continue my adventures throughout Europe and learn more about the new journalism that is Journalism 2.0.

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