It is a strange phenomenon that the weeks here just seem to fly by- and that some of them go by without much activity, while others are just packed. There’s clearly a thin line between no social life and actually having one- and was about time that I finally got to experience that here.
Last Saturday included a surprise house party, which I stumbled into upon returning home. The living room was packed with Latin Americans and before I knew it, I was having conversations about medical care in Cuba, going out and paying large sums for imported Heineken at a Spanish club. While the Latin Americans were dreamily shouting along to Spanish party lyrics, I rather pretentiously tried to fit in by imitating their overall… Latin-Americaness and thinking what a pleasantly surprising experience this whole going abroad thing tends to be.
Me having my thoughtful, Spanish moment there actually brings us to the very language spoken in this country: I have been going back and forth between these amazing moments of clarity, during which I can both understand and express myself better than I thought possible (think Cuban health care system), and moments of utter failure, when the person on the other end tries to ask me when I left the office and I – rather dumbstruck – answer “oh, they organize conferences!”.
It gets increasingly complicated when you attend a fun birthday party during the week and suddenly run into Belgians, who converse in such a fascinating Dutch, that you just can’t help yourself from eavesdropping, resulting in the last available braincells to tangle up into an ugly cocoon of language confusion. Everything about me wants to be better in Spanish, but I sometimes feel like I have to continue living here for at least 3 more years to fully grasp it all.
What makes Barcelona different from all the other experiences I have made abroad, is that it is the most culturally distinct. Take the Latin Americans- I have a theory that the Spaniards abandoned this city a few years back and left it all for the South Americans to take over, seeing that I am yet to meet and speak to a Spanish person in Barcelona.
Naturally, this experience it doesn’t include too many life-threatening diseases, customs I have never heard about and food I can’t even pronounce, but it is the little things like just not being able to use English, trying to figure out why in God’s name these people in the club are going as mad as they are, and trying not to be taken as a tourist when the blond hair gives me away. It is sometimes both thrilling and overwhelming.
Before it get overly deep and thoughtful on you, I’ll wrap it up here and resume the work on my thesis that I should be doing.