My Mediterranean SummerBarcelona, Summer 2012
“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” – Mahatma Gandhi
When I left for Barcelona in late May, I carried with me the preconceived notion that Spanish heritage fit nicely under one simplification. After one week exploring this beautiful city, I have already begun to redefine my definition of the Hispanic community.
First, I feel that a bit of back story is appropriate. I am from rural Missouri. I hail from a small town, whose inhabitants often hold narrow viewpoints on other cultures, lifestyles, and religions. Naturally, growing up there, my viewpoints were altered by theirs. I often oversimplified other cultures based on what I heard about them from my peers and from what I saw on the news. In my hometown, I held a job as an agricultural worker on a peach farm, working next to migrant workers. By working alongside these workers, I learned Mexican Spanish. In addition, they defined my somewhat narrow viewpoint on what the Hispanic community represented.
Now, since high school, I have wanted to study abroad. On a whim, I decided that I would spend my summer in Barcelona. Since my flight landed, I have striven to find a way to create a unique experience for myself while I am here. Yes, I will try the food, and I will go to the clubs, and take tours, but my experience will be more than that. My experience will be speaking with the people and learning about their lives, translating their life experiences into my own experience.
That brings me to where I am now, living in Barcelona as a student of the language and the culture. Already I have realized that a unbelievable variety of people live in Barcelona, speak Spanish or Catalan, and consider themselves true citizens of Barcelona: White people, Black people, Africans, Hispanics, Asians, and many more. Within the past week, I’ve experienced a new culture, a Romantic language I didn’t even know existed – Catalan – and the beauty that is Barcelona and the surrounding area.
That is why I can’t wait for the next six weeks. If a week was all it took to reshape my preconceived notions on Barcelona’s cultural identity, I can’t fathom what the next 6 weeks will bring. I’m sure that this Barcelona feeling will soon be just a fond memory to look back on, one that only I can relate to, but I don’t care. I’m sure Barcelona will plant a seed in me and eventually become part of who I am.
Whatever the outcome, I can’t wait to find out what the next six weeks bring. ¡Desearme suerte!
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