02 October 2010


I have been in Barcelona for one week now, and what a long week it has been. First, let me tell you of my arrival: I have worn out my beginner’s luck with travel. On the flight from Chicago to London, one of the passengers became very sick (in fact was having a heart attack) and we changed routes and landed in Boston to have him hospitalized. The delay caused me to miss my connecting flight in London, which may have been the most ill-timed mishap in all of flying history. Usually there are several flights daily to Barcelona from Heathrow airport, but I happened to be flying on day 7 of a French air traffic control strike. Ah the French, I think of them constantly. And I thought of them constantly during eleven hours of being on standby in Heathrow, hoping for just one flight to go through with a seat for me. I finally boarded a flight at 7pm, arriving Barcelona at 11pm, glad to be in Spain…but without my bag.

I logged my missed bag and made it to my hostel. Fortunately I was staying at the hostel where I had stayed a few years ago, so I knew my way around and was glad to see a familiar place. The staff were extremely helpful, but informed me that since the next day was a holiday (the festival of the Mercè, Barcelona’s patron saint), all the shops would be closed. So here’s to living out of a carry on bag! My bag did show up the following evening, late, and fortunately that day I’d made contact with Natalie, another Rotary scholar from Texas.

I stayed on Natalie’s couch for a few days while letting her show me around, help me get a phone, and look at apartments. Can I say she has become my patron saint? We also went out to some of the performance stages, because really the Mercè is a great time to arrive in Barcelona. And the weather has been beautiful, sunny and 70-75 degrees.

On Sunday I visited an apartment rented by Anna and Luz, two girls from Girona (a town an hour outside Barcelona) who are studying here and who just moved in themselves. Something about their new paint job (my room has a bright lime green wall) and friendly faces drew me in, and I came back later that day for la cena. La cena is dinner, but eaten later around 9 or 10pm, and is a lighter meal than la comida, the midday meal around 3pm. I really enjoyed their company and have ever since Tuesday when I moved in.

Since then it has been a whirlwind of paperwork and visits. All of my documents are in to the Universitat de Barcelona, waiting for the Rector’s final approval. On Monday I had a meeting for my masters program (Applied Linguistics and Language Acquisition in Multilingual Contexts) and am deciding which electives to choose so I can register next week when classes begin. I am now an official resident of Barcelona, although I need one more paper to go wait at the foreigners’ office to become an official year-long visitor to Spain. I’ve visited several of Barcelona’s main attractions, taking advantage of my free time this week. One of the attractions happens to be my university:

And today I attended my first event with my host Rotary club, arriving just in time for the district’s group meal out at a farm in the countryside. It felt great to leave the city and see the mountains, meet my Rotary sponsor Pilar and other members of the local club. I’m excited to present at a club meeting, which should be coming up here soon.

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