From Chicago to BCN

Since living, studying and working in Barcelona for the past month, it's hard not to ask myself the question: Are Chicago and BCN really that different?

The response I've come up with so far is no. The first time riding the metro reminded me of Chicago's CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), right down to the colors used for each line. Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes held striking resemblance to State Street and Las Ramblas to Michigan Avenue.

Although each barrio in Barcelona blends into the next almost meticulously, the separation of neighborhoods in Chicago is more apparent and deliberate. Nevertheless, each barrio or neighborhood offers a different ambiance with its own mixture of people. For Gracia there is Wicker Park, for L'Eixample there is Lincoln Park, for Sants there is Logan Square and so on.

My Chicago lifetsyle for the past three years has adequately prepared me to deal with and adapt to Barcelona's urban locale. The commercialism, with everyone walking around with h&m, Zara and other shopping bags, is not at all unfamiliar to me. The crowded subway and buses are of second nature. The unfortunate smell of sewage, while unpleasant, makes me feel like I am walking the streets of the West Loop.

A more general similarity is that Chicago can function independently from Illinois and Catalonia wishes to annex itself from Spain. While the sentiments on this issue are quite different, the idea is the same.

Both also have ambulances echoing off of buildings, vibrant nightlife, historical sites and plenty of tourist attractions.

It's clear to say that I have avoided the crippling effects of culture shock and my return to Chicago will be smooth. I anticipate a smooth return home and can't wait to eat Greek gyro, humongous burritos and Popeyes. It will be sad to leave behind Tapas so I will be on a quest to find some in my home city.



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