Podcasting was at first believed to be a short-lived fad that was quickly loosing steam. The idea behind a podcast was that in daily/weekly/monthly installments a podcaster would release a clip that ranged from storytelling to just brainstorming thoughts on a topic of interest. Just as podcasts began to lose steam, they were revitalized by the quality and popularity of the podcast crime series Serial. Premiering in 2014, Serial led the wave for podcasts to gain serious loyal listenership, and become a mainstream trend. It is estimated that 20% of people aged 20-49 have listened to a podcast in the last month.
For me, I always saw podcasts as something an old person would listen to. I imagined a grandparent that was not good with technology learning about podcasts and playing them from a desktop computer as they sat and read a book in the living room or cooked in the kitchen. Then, I had an internship last summer that left me with a lot of free time sitting at my desk. Eventually, I got tired of listening to music in my headphones, but I was at work so I could not watch videos on my computer. This is how I ended up listening to my first podcast, “Stuff You Should Know,” by howstuffworks.com. This podcast, released every few days, covers a different, interesting, niche topic with each installment- currently the last three posts are titled How Breast Implants Work, How Swearing Works, and How Corsets Work. Each podcast runs 30 minutes to an hour, and provides information on something you should know, as evidenced in the title. Listening to these at my internship changed my entire perspective on podcasts. The podcast held my attention a lot more than I expected it to, and I actually found myself looking forward to a new installment. I even would listen to and from my way to work and when I was bored at home.
My personal podcast today is about my experience abroad and what I have experienced from my first day touching down at the El Prat airport to my final week in Barcelona. This experience has shaped me in ways I never expected, and am proud of. Initially I was timid about leaving school and my friends and flying across the world to live in a non-English speaking country for four months. I was not sure how I would adapt or if I would truly enjoy it. In this podcast I talk about how far I have come from this frame of mind, and I give my advice for anyone considering studying abroad in the future.
My first day in Barcelona, I got to my apartment at 10pm and my roommates we’re there, getting ready to go out to the bars and clubs. I was shocked that they hadn’t left yet, as at home we usually go out around 10pm. Instead, they left to go out at 12:30am and I went to bed to catch up on sleep. I woke up at 5am to people coming back to the apartment; at home all the clubs close by 2am. This has definitley been a huge adjustment. I have been taking naps from 8-10 after class, then going out from 1-4:30 am, going to bed at 5am, and waking up at 9am to get ready for school. I’m not sure how long I can keep this lifestyle up and i’m really not sure when the Spaniards get their sleep. This is a huge adjustment as in the States I get about 10 hours of sleep a night.
Another big change has been adjusting to my new school schedule and responsibilities. In America, I also have classes Monday through Thursday and each class is between 1 and 3 hours. My classes in Barcelona start much earlier, 9am, and end much earlier, 2pm. At Boston University I had classes that started at 12pm most days and sometimes did not end until 9pm. Getting used to being up and alert in the morning has been a challenge, but thankfully the coffee here is strong. Additionally, I have less work here which is more difficult of an adjustment than you would think. I am used to going to the library everyday between and after classes, so never going to a library in Barcelona has been a welcomed adjustment. That said, I think the classes are deceivingly hard. They seem easy because you only meet twice a week and the homework is light, but in reality there is a good amount of material we have covered before midterms, which are next week.
Something I really like about being here is the opportunity to meet locals as well as other students in CEA who are from all over the United States. In Boston I have a pretty solidified friend group, so having the ability this late in college to meet so many new people and gain friends from all over the US in something I feel very lucky to be able to do, and I am taking advantage of. I have now traveled on weekends with students from many other schools. Also, me and my friends met some Barcelona locals one night, who now live in London, and when we came to London we hung out and went out with them. It was really exciting to have made this connection and to now know people all over Europe.
I am an English language speaker with basic capabilities in Spanish. One reason I chose to study abroad in Barcelona was because of my familiarity with the language (I studied Spanish throughout middle and high school and did a month abroad in Málaga during high school), so I knew I could get by with the vocabulary I already possessed. Easing into life abroad in Spain was made easier by enrolling in Spanish class at CEA, giving me the opportunity to practice and expand my knowledge of the language weekly.
I spent this past weekend exploring and adventuring in the Swiss Alps in Interlaken, Switzerland. During this trip I learned they spoke two main languages in this area of the world: French and Swiss German, neither of which I knew a lick of. Going to a country where I knew none of the language, and outside of tourist spots people do not speak English, was a huge culture shock. It feels isolating and desperate not to be able to communicate with the humans around you. Asking for directions or asking for a restaurant recommendation were sometimes not options, so me and my friends felt like we were on our own to navigate our way around the town. For me, it put into perspective how new immigrants must feel when they enter the US and have little to no knowledge of English. A common phrase heard around the United States is “speak English, you are in the United States”. This statement, already ignorant, felt even more uneducated and moronic as I stood at a ski store trying to explain to the storekeeper which items I wanted to purchase and received a blank look. I cannot imagine living long term in a country where I knew none of the language, and would be expected to learn “on-the-job”. As far as I have seen, in the US people do not make an active effort to speak to foreigners in their native language, and many people only speak English, so this task would prove almost impossible. This experience has given me a new perspective and insight to the experience of non-English speakers who come to work and live in the United States, and I definitely empathize with their plight.
This empathy I gained is relevant at a time that the United States is considering policies that bar immigrants from visiting, working, or gaining permanent residence in the US. As an outsider in Switzerland, all I wanted to do was enjoy the country and experience the area for myself without causing disruption. This is how I imagine most American immigrants feel, they are just trying to enjoy a new place and start a new life , and just because they have not yet mastered the English language, does not mean they do not deserve a chance to enjoy America.