As I’ve mentioned in my blog posts throughout the semester, every experience that I’ve had in Spain has been a learning experience one way or another. Whether it’s learning Spain’s complex religious history or realizing that American sports bars can serve as a small home away from home, my blog posts have served to help me reflect on my time in this country and to acknowledge the new perspectives that I’m gaining. This week’s post is no different, as I’ve had one of my most memorable weekends thus far in the beautiful city of Barcelona.
Sprinkled with artwork and influence of the various artists who have lived in the city, Barcelona’s distinct culture was a pleasant contrast to the fast-paced, big-city lifestyle that we experience in Madrid. Walking through La Rambla until we reached the city’s beautiful beaches (which boast local small bars and artwork along the coast) was an experience that I’m glad I was able to have, since winter seems to be coming early to Madrid this year. Together with other friends from Tufts-Skidmore in Madrid, we saw some of the other breathtaking sights that the city has to offer. Notably, we payed a visit to the city’s landmark tourist spots such as La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, two of Antoni Gaudi’s most beautiful projects. With sights as beautiful as these, it’s no wonder that Barcelona’s culture places such a strong emphasis on art and expression.
While Barcelona was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen in my life, another symbol that stood out to me constantly was the proud displays of the Catalonian independence flag on the windows and terraces of many apartments, businesses, and restaurants throughout the city. It’s one thing to read about the sentiments of Catalonia’s citizens in the news and to hear the opinions of Madrilenos on the topic, but it’s another experience entirely to be in the heart of the movement and seeing how passionate people are about achieving their autonomy.
With regards to whether or not Catalonia should be independent or not, I have found that I do not have an opinion on the topic; although there are certain aspects of the debate that rely on more concrete topics such as economics and financial independence, an equally important argument is the region’s distinct language and culture, which they argue separates it from the rest of Spain, and my perspective as an outsider looking in doesn’t allow me to adequately understand the complexities of the
topic, whose justifications range back several centuries on both sides. Therefore, instead of taking sides, I’ve chosen to watch as the events unfold and observe how the two cultures will resolve this situation. Regardless of how it turns out, I know that I will never forget the sights and experiences that I had this weekend and this semester, and I look forward to those to come.