Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Christian M. - Barcelona, Spain - Spring 2013

First Impressions/First Day:

Bievenidos a Barcelona! These are the first words that I saw when I got off the plane and into the beautiful city that I will call my home for the next 6 months. I arrived with my mom to see my sister, as she is in a soccer specific exchange program living in Sant Just dest Vern, Barcelona. I have recently learned this is similar to how the city of Chicago is divided up (i.e. Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Old town...etc). My mother and I then grabbed our luggage and went to meet my sister at the greeting area outside the baggage claim. We surprisingly did not have to clear customs which was odd. However, the first time we met my sister's host family it was very difficult to communicate because they speak very little english. They are called Mirea (Meer-eh-yah) y Toni. However, even though I could not understand them very well, my first impression of them was amazing. They are some of the most happy people I have met and my sister is beyond lucky! We then were dropped off at our hotel on the beach! The view was immaculate. My sister was then given her Christmas presents from my family back in the US because she was with her Spanish family for the holiday. As I was extremely antsy from the plane ride, my sister and I took what I thought was a short "stroll," which ended up being about a 4 mile walk to the bar and club scene. My sister has not been able to communicate in English unless she's talking to us or our family on Skype, she talked my ear off for the next hour and 15 minutes. I told Liz I needed to go back home because I was dying (haha). When we got back to the hotel at around 3:30, I quickly proceeded to pass out until 8pm due to jet lag (it sucks I know). When my mom and sister got back from shopping, talking, and having dinner, all without me (shocker...NOT), I then woke up when they got back and went downstairs with the two to get myself some dinner as they enjoyed some spicy chocolate (they hated it. bad karma in effect :) ). I believe the spicy chocolate was referred to as Cayenne pepper sprinkled with hershey's chocolate syrup hahaha. After dinner, my sister, mom and I went up to the rooftop, penthouse club which played some loungey-type house music that was groovin! Everyone that knows me knows that I love most types of music and especially electronic music. The club was a very fun atmosphere to start with and my sister, mom and I all ordered some drinks at the bar. I quickly found out that I will not be ordering many drinks at the bar because the bill for 3 drinks was 32 Euros (equivocates to 42 USD). Nonetheless, it was a great time. My sister, mom, and I all had some great talks and it was nice to finally sit down and talk. After a couple hours, at 1 AM, we finally went to bed.

Never in my life would I expect to have this many emotions all at the same time. Emotions such as, happiness, excitement, nervousness, and anxiousness are present almost everyday at the same time. One moment I think how amazing this experience is and the next I think about how I am only able to understand certain things, making it nearly impossible to communicate. In hindsight, looking at immigrants in the United States that cannot speak English very well, I now have such empathy for them. I realized this when I was at a dinner table filled with Spanish people with only a hand full that spoke English. It is incredibly uncomfortable and an extremely awkward feeling when you are not able to express your personality the way you typically do. For example, I would like to say that I am a fairly extroverted person that likes to talk, make people laugh, and have a great time. It is extremely difficult to express these traits when basic conversation is a struggle! All aside though, this last week has been incredible with my beautiful mother – Julie – who I must wish an early birthday now because I will not be able to spend it with her (For those who have a soul, wish her a happy birthday on January 7th J) Love you mom. Last time, I talked about my first days here and how the city laid its impressions in me from the start.

We got to Mireia and Toni’s home at around 7pm to help them prepare the food and set the table. When we got there everyone was lounging around with not a care in the world; One of the many reasons I love this place so far. Everyone is so understanding and laidback about everything. Anyways, family got there at around 8:30/9 after the table was set beautifully. The unique thing about la cena in Spanish culture is that they set everything out on the table that you are going to eat first (equivalent to a 1st course) regardless if it’s hot or cold and they let it sit there for a good 30 minutes before anyone touches it. Personally I like my food hot so that will be a slight eating adjustment haha

To all my team mates and coaches back home at Elmhurst: I am trying to get on a team desperately. The soccer here is pretty amazing stemming all the way down to the little guys. In other words, the 10 year olds have better touches than basically our entire team haha! In all honesty though, I believe I can compete with the guys at my age, the only issue is that I don’t know if I am going to be able to play games as there is apparently something you have to sign and a lot of paperwork that you need to complete and it takes like a month to complete. I will attempt to do that however I want to find a team close to Barcelona rather than outside the city. The team I am currently looking at is called Sant Andreau (Sant Ahn-Dreh-Oh) which is high quality soccer, however I can definitely hang with these guys. However, I would just like to say thanks for being like family to me and supporting me on this decision! Thanks to the Coaches, the Players, and the Administration of Elmhurst College (That one was for Kenson ;) )

Much Love from Barcelona and I’ll keep everyone updated soon!


Blogger Antonio Cabral said...

Hey Christian hows it going!? Spain sounds expensive, well the bars do at least. How was coping with the language barrier?

12:28 AM  
Blogger Christian Mullin said...

Antonio! How are you doing buddy! Later in the semester, I actually found out that you just have to search for cheap places (mainly to eat) from friends you meet, professors, and tripadvisor helps a lot as well.

Coping with the language barrier was..not easy, but not difficult if that makes sense. Go in with the mind set that you are going to have to ask (awkwardly of course) how to get places or what something means off of someone on the street. Me being in a spanish speaking country (for the most part) and living with a spanish family, I had to learn it relatively quickly. Don't stress about it though. You'll get through it.

Hope this helps and let me know of any other questions!

2:33 AM  

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