During my fall break trip, I stayed in hostels every night. My hostel in San Sebastián was uneventful, but my hostel in Barcelona was the complete opposite. Mostly because it had literal events! While I was there, we had both a free pasta night and a free sangria night. As someone who is not always the best in social situations where I don’t know anyone (remember: I was traveling alone!), I was hesitant to go to these events. But my love for free food outweighed my fear. At these events, I met so many different people! Let’s meet some of them, in order of appearance.

Note: I either never learned or don’t remember any names, so bear with me.

  • Man in his mid-30s from Colorado: He had just finished 5 years of serving in the Air Force in North Dakota, and was traveling around Europe for a month and a half before returning to the U.S. to start working. He was a genuinely nice guy and I really enjoyed talking to him.
  • Man in his late 50s/early 60s from Wyoming: He bonded with Man in his 30s from Colorado due to living in the same part of the U.S., so these two were friends right away. He had been in southern Spain for a few weeks biking from city to city, and was now visiting his son who is studying abroad in Barcelona. Sadly, he had his wallet stolen while at Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria and told us the whole story over pasta. He knows the exact moment when it happened, so why he didn’t stop it is beyond me…
  • Girl in her late 20s from México: She is living in France as part of a volunteer work program, and was visiting Barcelona for the weekend. When I first met her, I said “Hola” and she said “Hello”. I asked if she spoke English, to which she said “a little bit,” then she asked if I spoke Spanish, to which I said “more or less.” Between her good Spanish and decent English and my good English and decent Spanish, we were able to have good conversations.
  • Couple in their mid-20s from Argentina: This couple actually works and lives at the hostel where I was staying. The had been traveling Europe for a few months when they got the news about the job at the hostel, and said it is a perfect situation. We talked a lot about language barriers and the differences between peninsular Spanish (Spanish in Spain) and Latin American Spanish.
  • Boy in his early 20s from the U.S.: Don’t remember much about him, except for the fact that he was so kind and really had no idea when he was leaving Barcelona and going to a new city – gotta love it!
  • Boy in his late 20s from Brazil: Omg. This boy was a character. When exchanging travel stories, every. single. city. that someone at the table brought up was, according to this boy, “so chill, man.” Except for Brasília, Brazil, where he was born, which is “so boring.” His words, not mine
  • Man in his early 30s from Brasília: Well, you can guess how him and Boy in his late 20s from Brazil who said Brasília is “so boring” got along. Enough said.
  • Man in his late 40s from Croatia: I’m very torn on how to feel about this man. On one hand, when I told him I was studying math to be a math teacher he told me “there are so many better things you could do with math.” Ugh! On the other hand, he rolled his eyes every time a city was deemed “so chill, man.” So he wasn’t all bad.
  • Boy in his late 20s from the U.S.: This boy was hilarious. He told me within two minutes of meeting that “I’ve been here for a few days and still haven’t seen anything. Not Park Güell. Not the Sagrada Familia. But the clubs here are great and the food!! The food. So good. There’s this great tapas bar…” We are very different kinds of travelers, but I did end up going to his great tapas bar. He was right. It was great.
  • Girl in her late 20s from France: She grew up in France but is now living in Spain, and called me a baby while I told her I was only 20 (in a nice way!). When I told her I was studying abroad in Spain, she asked if I spoke Spanish. I said yes, so she rattled off something in perfect Spanish before she apologized for only knowing “a little bit.” Some days I feel like I’m really grasping the language, and then something like this happens…
  • Girl in her early 20s from Madison, WI: I literally said the words “Don’t tell me you go to Madison” to this girl. Of course, she had just graduated from Madison. But it was fun to find a little piece of home in Spain, even if it was in the form of Minnesota’s biggest rival.

Looking back at this list, I am so proud of myself for going to the hostel events and talking to all of these people. Though it was scary, every single person taught me something new about the world and the people in it (and, of course, provided good entertainment!).