Guest post by: Junior studying Accounting, Taylor Kalka. During Winter 2022, Taylor studied abroad with the ALBA Barcelona Foster Partner Program, and was a recipient of a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship.
After many quarters quarantined at home, with online classes, and a repetitive environment, I was more than ready to make my way to Barcelona Spain for Winter Quarter. This was my first time traveling outside of the US and while I was extremely nervous, I hoped that I would be so busy that I would forget about any feelings of homesickness. Instead, I learned that distractions can only last for so long and that making your new city feel like home is the key.
Arriving in Barcelona I will admit I was slightly overwhelmed with the new surroundings, new language of Catalan, and new people. Luckily, our program ALBA kept us busy with many experiences. One of those being our small group excursions, traveling to different parts of the region of Catalonia and hiking, or even cliff jumping into the Mediterranean in the middle of January! Our classes led us to the inside of La Sagrada Familia and the top of church bell towers. And I was sure to keep my weekends full, traveling to Madrid, Paris, Rome, and London.
However, I constantly felt this struggle between trying to make the most of these three months by experiencing anything and everything, and also realizing that three months is a decent amount of time and sometimes I need to just sit and relax. Instead of viewing Barcelona as where I am studying abroad, I changed my view to Barcelona being my home for three months.
Changing my perspective allowed me to fully immerse myself in the culture, of course still doing some touristy things, but also creating a routine and making it a lifestyle. Observing how the locals engage in conversations with friends and family over a cup of coffee or glass of beer, talking and laughing for hours. By frequenting the same cafe, Contigo, after class I was able to see “Croqueta,” a locals’ french bulldog every Tuesday and Thursday. I leaned into vocalizing my curiosity with my professors and tour guides, talking to them about their lives and travels. And attending local festivals in neighborhoods to take part in their traditions – some involving lots of candy and fire!
While studying abroad is about making memories, it is also about learning how other people live. Taking some of those values back and implementing them into my life in Seattle is something I am excited for. After my time in Barcelona I can truly say that it did feel like home.