Traveling is amazing, you will know new culture, people, idea, life style and sometimes, you even find yourself. A president of a travel agency that I like and I always use says, “Travel is the beginning of learning”, and I think it’s really true. You learn a lot from traveling, and people travel for making their life better one.
However, there is one fact : whenever you travel foreign country, you are tourists. And there are always some difficulties of coexistence of the tourists and the locals.
Barcelona is a huge tourist city. There are a lot of foreigners with maps, audio-guiding machines and selfie sticks everywhere. Every, where. They enjoy eating, buying, visiting museums … and it is sure thing that this tourist industry supports the city’s economy. But it is also true that this “invasion” of the tourists makes the locals stressed. I found a lot of “Tourism kills the city” flags, graffiti and stickers in the city. But at the same time I saw some signs and flags of “Refugees welcome” too. (I do know they are not coming as tourists.) It is hard and ironic that I can see two different messages toward foreigners : “fuck off” and “welcome.”
I can understand feeling of the locals: when I went to Kyoto (one of the most famous tourist cities in Japan) last time, I saw so many foreigners. I even felt like I was the only Japanese there. Kyoto I used to know and expected was, a calmed traditional city. But what I saw there was a chaos. A lot of my foreign friends visited there and all of them said it was so beautiful and they love it. But what I saw there was not as “beautiful” as I expected. I am truly so happy that they get to know my country and love it, but at the same time I am worried about something precious is changing.
Here in Barcelona, I am Japanese, a student who learn Spanish and travel around. I live here 7 months the total, it’s temporary stay but I got my own ID card and certificate of residence here. I feel I am both part of the tourists and the locals. In fact when I go to some shops and when they ask me “Are you a tourist? Where are you from?”, sometimes I don’t know how to respond. I live here and I am not a tourist anymore, but it is true that I am a foreigner to this country and it never changes. I love this city so much, but also I am one of the facts which is making this city a bit more chaotic in some way, for some people.
So, what am I here?