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It's the Little Things

September 26, 2016
by Jennifer Siegel
For the first time in my life, I’m on my own in a huge, foreign city. I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago and attend college in an even smaller town in Ohio, so my first few days in Barcelona were filled with culture shock in more ways than one. But instead of freaking out, I’ve been focusing on the small accomplishments that are slowly but surely turning this large city into a manageable one.
 Can't complain about this walk to class
 Spent my first full day in Barcelona exploring the beach
 The sunny walk to the beach, lined with palm trees

I finally figured out how to walk from my apartment to the CEA Center and back without friends or Google Maps guiding me. While this may seem like a minor feat, it’s important to understand how directionally challenged I really am. Google Maps regularly escorts me even to familiar places. But having a phone that only works with Wi-Fi has ensured that I learn the 20-minute route on my own. As I walked alone for the first time to my Wednesday afternoon English class, I settled into a leisurely stroll while, to my surprise, my memory recalled all the right streets to cross and turns to make.
 Discovered La Boqueria’s deliciously fruity treats

Another mini victory keeping me going is that my Spanish is coming back to me. Although I have taken five years of Spanish classes, I haven’t taken any in over a year and won’t be taking any while studying here, so I automatically assumed I would be struggling to interpret foreign sounding español. But as I’ve worked to converse with more locals, bit by bit, I’m remembering more of the vocabulary and verbs I studied for all those years. Now, I can walk into a restaurant, ask for a table, order a meal and get the check, all in Spanish. I’ve asked supermarket workers where to buy medicine, and can completely understand a list of street directions given to me. After imagining myself running around the country speechless for months, this little accomplishment has me feeling confident.
 One of the many amazing meals I've eaten so far

As my first full week in Barcelona finishes up, I’m excited to discover even more small victories that will help turn this unfamiliar city into a home.

Jennifer S. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain. She is currently a junior studying English at Miami University.

Jennifer Siegel is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain, and is currently studying at Miami University.
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