Friday, January 28, 2011

Cultural ''Literacy''

To be honest, the definition of ''cultural literacy'' is still eluding me. For class I watched 3 videos, read a few documents, and checked out a few different websites to attempt to clarify this definition. To me, it seems this literacy, is too expansive to limit its factors to the constraints of literature or even language. To be culturally literate is to have understanding of the layers of a society's beliefs of life, family, identity, music, religion, love, and so much more. I would say no one could fully understand me simply by the comprehension of my personal idioms and cultural references, so I have no intention of claiming to be culturally literate of another person's lifestyle until I have found a kind of deeper understanding.
I looked at Geerte-Hofestede's indices of Spain, that claimed to explain the culture through a graph of their ''cultural differences'' and personally I didn't find it applicable to the people of Spain. Particularly, here in a country that has so many layers of history, the Spaniards have had to change and adapt constantly and therefore have layers of adaptation buried in their ''culture''.  I don't believe that by graphing such factors as their ''individualism'' level and ''masculinity'' level could ever aide me in becoming more literate of their ever-changing culture.
By being here and experiencing their food, language, religion, recreation, and else in between is the only way one could ever attempt to become literate with another's culture. I don't think that after 4 months I will have become fully culturally literate but hopefully I'll have a closer understanding of the people here and perhaps I'll have a less murky definiton of what it means to be ''culturally literate''.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Setting Foot

So it's day numero 21 here in Barcelona and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm not just a visitor anymore. Yesterday I took the metro around the city by myself AND found exactly the place I was looking for- a small feat you might think but for me it was a huge step. I'm steadily gaining confidence in the city and subsequently in myself here in Spain. Someone asked for directions while on the metro and I amazingly knew exactly how to guide them. It's these small accomplishments that make me feel as if Barcelona is beginning to welcome me in as one of its own and I'm welcoming Barca as a home. It's as if we've put aside our differences and finally begun to appreciate one another- or maybe it's just that I've begun to find the language of Barcelona in its quaint corners and winding crevaces that allows me to understand its true beauty more deeply. Of course when I say ''language'' I am not referring to Catalan or Spanish- improving my Spanglish is a feat that will take much longer than 21 days to conquer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

REsizing parks

The other day a group of us went to Parc Guell here in Barcelona, Gaudi's famous parks. It might be one of my favorite places in the city, not because of the landscape persay but the actual design of the park seems to make the area's semi-sparse landscape come to life. Somehow, in this place, I felt on the border between urban and rural life. The park's scale encompasses the visitor but because it doesn't try to ignore or block out the city instead it celebrates and frames, one has this strange deja vu of Barca. It's almost dreamlike being in Gaudi's Never never land that eludes to the urban liveliness below.
Today we went to Montserrat, an escape roughly an hour outside Barca, which was absolutely breathtaking. In contrast to Parc Guell, there's no glamorizing the city- only the pure natural scenery. Which I hate to sound cheesy here, but just for this once it might be necessary- is undenyingly spiritual. I feel like I reall only touched the surface of what this mountain really has to offer and feel like I should go back sometime; but not until I have fully appreciated the city and therefore can fully appreciate being away from it haha
As an assignment for class I'm supposed to practice resizing images, so I figure I'll post a shot I took while in Parc Guell a few days ago.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Online Communities

Recently, I made this blog for not only myself but for a course culture awareness course in school. I'm really excited about it but unfortunately the connectivity to some of the school's websites from here are making it a bit difficult to see everything but since I figured out the majority of it.. herego assignment numero dos.
I was looking at a map of online communities by Randall Munroe last night and was ABSOLUTELY stunned at how big Farmville actually is. I mean I just recently grasped the idea that Facebook has connected more than  500 million people across the globe and Farmville has over 7 million people play it a day!
Although I can proudly say I am not one of those 7 million people harvesting virtual brussel sprouts a day, I definitely use my facebook account and Skype account daily to stay in touch with my friends and family back home and new friends here in Spain. It never fails to amaze me how small of a world we must live in to be able to have a face-to-face conversation while thousands of miles away.
I guess it's only human nature to reach out to others and seek companionship so it really shouldn't come as such a surpise that millions of people religiously follow others' day-to-day grocery store runs and lunch dates on Twitter  but  the online communities have emphasized this nature to an extreme. And it's only going to get more prolific.

Here's the link to the map that amazed me;

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hello World

Hello World, I guess I'm starting this blog to attempt to capture my experiences studying abroad over the next 4 months... doubtful since I am anything but eloquent and most certainly not very blog-saavy but I'll do my best. I'm an architecture student at Clemson University and currently studying the wonderful world of architecture in none other than Barcelona, which I would argue is the world's best setting to do so in. I arrived here last week with only my computer, toothbrush, and broken Spanglish- a language developed from my knowledge of  Mexican restaurants and Speedy Gonzalez. A week into the 4 month stay here and I'm already adjusting quite well thanks to IKEA and friendly Spaniards who try to develop my Spanglish vocab.
Oh I guess I should quickly explain that I am not an amputee victim and actually the title of my blog is a very nerdy reference to J.R. Tolkein's Bilbo who so famously told Frodo,
 '' It's a dangerous business going out your door. You step  onto the road and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to..''
It seemed strangely appropriate after wallking into a bar yesterday around lunchtime on Port Vell and seeing The Lord of the Rings playing on TV....