Natalie Santa-Pinter continues her story of her first days in Barcelona. Check out her first blog, A Coffee a Day in Barcelona, if you haven’t already!
One night I decided to venture out with my two roommates, host mom and her black lab named Gary. I wanted to get a feel for my barrio (neighborhood) and search for el gimnasio (gym). We came across a place called “McFit” (ironic right??) and asked about attaining a membership. The young girl employee told me that memberships lasting less than one year could not be purchased at that specific location. So the next day I headed to the other location (about a 30 minute metro ride away) and inquired again about membership. Even though I had electronic proof of enrollment as a student, the guy there told me I needed to bring in a physical copy, but that I could take it to either McFit location to get my membership card. So the following day, documents in hand, I go back to the first location and request my membership for the third time. The girl looks at me like I’m dumb and repeats that this membership cannot be purchased from her. I reply, slightly aggravated at this point, “¡Pero el hombro me dijo que podía venir aquí!” While I was stressed at the time, I did not realize that what I meant to mean, “But the man told me I could come here!” actually translated to “But my shoulder told me I could come here!” Seeing that I was obviously struggling with my Spanish-speaking abilities, the girl must have felt bad for me because she gave me a free pass and told me I could return after acquiring my actual membership later. Relieved, I accepted the pass and eventually bought my gym pass the next day. Thus is the struggle to try to stay fit in Barcelona…
Barcelona has been absolutely fantastic! My view from our attic top apartment catches scenes of Plaza España, the Mediterranean coast, the construction of Sagrada Família, and the hustle and bustle of everyday Spanish life below. My classes teach me about the history of the US and Spain, Spanish medical terminology, and (best of all) the sociological significance of FC Barcelona. I’ve tried chocolate con churros, tapas, sangría, calçots, paella, and many other delicious Spanish favorites. I’ve scaled Montserrat, ran along the beach during sunset, visited the ancient ruins of Tarragona, and even took part in building a castell (human tower) with fellow classmates.
Even with all of these amazing experiences, the mistakes, blunders, mishaps, and dialogue errors are what make a learning experience abroad so special. I have already met with my intercambio (language exchange partner) many times and I could not tell you often Natalia has to correct mi español. It took me three days to correctly pronounce ingeniería (engineering)! Despite all of the struggles, I am grateful for the multitude of opportunities (both exciting and embarrassing) that will allow me to continue to practice and learn more about the culture and language in Spain. Here’s to a thousand more mistakes and a thousand more memories! ¡Hasta luego!