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Small differences have a great impact

Aggie abroad notices differences in Barcelona

Published: Monday, October 3, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

Barcelona differences

Bianca Stewart — THE BATTALION

The transportation difference in Barcelona, Spain is worth the nice walk around the local bakeries and coffee shops

It sounds obvious, but there are just so many things that I run into on a daily basis that are so different from home. These differences seem to strike up the most interesting conversations with my classmates as we compare home country lifestyles to the lifestyle of our host city: Barcelona.

Smoking: I don't think smoking is really that popular in the U.S., or it may be that it is unpopular between my friends and I, but everyone smokes here. Even though it's not allowed inside most places, it's not rare for everyone to gather outside for a chat, coffee and a cigarette. Cigarette vending machines are more available than regular ones with snacks. I just find it really odd how smoking is the normal thing to do here.

Military time: It sounds like it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but it really has taken me a while to get used to it. I'm constantly adding or subtracting from 12 to understand when I'm supposed to meet people. It's a little odd to hear someone say they'll meet you for dinner at half past 21.

Eating schedule: Speaking of dinner, it is the norm to have extremely late dinners. At home, dinner is usually around 7 p.m. But eating dinner in Barcelona usually takes place no earlier than 9 p.m. Dinner the other night consisted of hunting for a burger (as I was in need of some comfort food) around 9 p.m. which I finally ate at 10 p.m.

I ended the night with the most amazing crepes with Nutella and raspberry jam around 11:30 p.m.

My friends and I make it a point to wander the narrow streets of the older part of Barcelona in search of dessert after almost every meal.


School: Even school is different! First, class times overlap, which makes scheduling a bit difficult. Classes are either one-and-a-half or two hours, making lectures extremely long.

Really random, but beer is sold at the cafeterias on campus.

I couldn't even imagine purchasing a cold one at the Ag Café before heading to class. I'm sure there are many more things, but Monday starts my first full week of school. There are bound to be more surprises.


Transportation: I complained earlier in the semester about hot, crowded buses shuttling me from the Wehner building on West campus to main campus at Texas A&M, but I didn't think that I'd be walking twice as far just to get to school.

A 15-20 minute walk is a relatively short distance in Barcelona.

I almost never walk from West campus to main campus in Aggieland — which is pretty lazy on my part — but I'm sure making up for it now. I do have the option of the train, but it requires a long wait, and it's not worth paying for what is a nice walk around the local bakeries and coffee shops on the way to school.

Classmates: I feel like I stick out and look like a tourist all the time. Compared to myself, my fellow classmates are so cultured and well-traveled. Being that most of my classmates are from other European countries, it makes sense that they have been all over Europe. Because the majority of my classes have international students, I haven't had the opportunity to make many Spanish friends. However, this has expanded my knowledge of other countries.

I find it funny how everyday things that are a part of your own routine really go unnoticed until suddenly they're gone. I am really enjoying Barcelona and everything the city has to offer, but with such differences, it has definitely made me realize how much I take for granted at home. I'm off for more adventures this week, starting with an air show at the beach.

I love Barcelona.

Bianca Stewart is a senior marketing major at Texas A&M University. She is studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, for the Fall 2011 semester and is interested in fashion, music and culture.

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