In addition to the cultural differences I have encountered since my arrival to Spain, I have also confronted language and stereotype barriers.
Initially, I was not worried about communicating with locals. Most of the people I had talked to who had visited Barcelona or studied abroad there told me that generally most people understood English. This is true (for the most part), but knowing at least some Spanish is still essential to traveling and navigating the city.
I went into Barcelona obviously nervous, but most confident in my ability to communicate, especially since people told me that Barcelona was like New York. Similar in dynamic, but also because the city attracts tourists from everywhere, resulting in a melting pot of cultures, and a wealth of languages everywhere.
Thank God I am taking a Spanish class here. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I didn’t know how to express my thoughts in restaurants, stores, and taxis. As often as I find someone who speaks English, I find someone who only understands Spanish. And even then, in Barcelona they speak Catalan (a mix of Spanish and French), so it is hard for some to understand Spanish.
In my most recent article for The Pendulum, I discuss the stereotypes and language barriers I have encountered in Barcelona. I always knew they existed, but ignorantly never thought I would be affected by them as much as I have.
Check it out here: Outnumbered: Confronting a Language Barrier