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  • This story is from a series my study abroad experience in Barcelona, Spain

    It was the 3rd of January when we made it to the hotel where we stayed. The Catalunya Berna, located in the heart of the city and less then a block from the CIEE study center, where we would be studying. We had just arrived after meeting up with our orange shirted CIEE guardian angels at the Barcelona airport, and an exciting bus ride with our new classmates.

    We began with meeting those of us who had made it to the city early, many of the participants had not yet made it, but that was ok. As we dropped off our bags in the hotel room, we strolled down to the lobby. We began with a light lunch of fruit and little ham sandwiches for lunch, and met Magda, our program director. We sat in the bar area with our little plates of bite size snacks and met a couple of the students that we hadn't met (early arrivals).

    Once we were updated and told that we weren't needed for a few hours, we decided to take a stroll around the city for a small adventure. We hit the streets for a small self guided tour to where ever we wanted to go. It was a real live example of our derive exercise from my social factors class a few years earlier (a derive is a technique of locomotion, without a goal. It is a wandering or drift, influenced by environmental and personal factors). We headed towards a fountain, then turned onto a major street which eventually lead us to the Arc de Triumf. The wandering was a great chance to experience new people while experiencing a new place.

    The most memorable part of this event was how few familiarities there were. It was as if we had forgotten how to interact with our environment in some of the most simple ways. Even the process of getting money from an ATM was new, with Nile going up to one and randomly selecting 50 euros as a good amount.

    As the weather turned a little chilly, we chose to head back to the hotel, utilizing our iDevices and maps to navigate to the new center of our universe, our only home in this new world.

    If I took anything from this simple experience, I found the value of being truly lost. Next time you visit a new place, drop off your bags, write down the address of your hotel on a piece of paper as a breadcrumb, then just go on an adventure and let the place take you where it wants. It'll offer you a chance to get lost, and maybe the chance for you to understand where you have been for so long, and how accustomed you have become to your little corner of our world.
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