The word 'orientation' is defined as "the determination of the relative position of something or someone, especially oneself." This is essentially what the first week of my Barcelona experience has been. My program through IES Abroad began with a planned orientation period for all of the students in the program, which consisted of different discoverIES programs such as trips to the open food market, bicycle tours, hikes, and more to help us integrate ourselves into the Barcelona lifestyle. However, in my opinion, the free time outside of the program, the time my roommate and I ended up walking in a giant circle wandering home from class, and the time I found my new favorite place (for now) in a strange city, is what aided the most in my adjustment to life here in Spain.
While my program (and most study abroad programs) designate certain days or weeks as part of "orientation" to the experience, I view orientation as a semester long commitment. Yes, I've seen some of the typical Barcelona sights - I've been to Park Guell and Sagrada Familia, I've found Passeig de Gracia (the equivalent of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan), and I know how to navigate the Metro system; however, I know that my time here is just beginning.
This experience is about integrating myself into a different culture, country and language, and I view this task as both the most rewarding aspect and most challenging aspect of this semester all in one. I want to make Barcelona feel like home, but I also want to use it's easy access to Europe as a way to travel and to explore the world and various cultures and countries.
I hope to provide you with an insight not only into my personal experience, but the lifestyle of Barcelona, the city and it's people. This past week has been one of the most exhausting, incredible, and confusing weeks of my life, but I am so excited to continue this journey, which I know is just beginning.
Adios, for now!