In my psychology class this past week, our teacher told us that we should make sure to “say goodbye to Barcelona” before we step on the plane to go home. When we asked what she meant, she instructed us to go to a place in the city that has been special to us during our time abroad, and give our minds the time to focus on the fact that things are about to change—a lot. “This is an important step in making a healthy mental transition back to the place you lived four months ago,” she told us.
Usually I don’t completely wake up until after this morning class when I am able to get a large Americano at the café below my school. However, on this particular Tuesday morning, my mind and body jolted to attention as I heard her explain the goodbye process. A lump formed in my throat and I felt a wave of anxiety flow through my chest. I have never gone through a transition like this in my life before. Sure, I’ve said goodbye to the ways of Elementary School and hello to the big-kid life in Middle School. I’ve said goodbye to my life in high school and dance in Connecticut and hello to a new chapter at the University of Michigan. But, this goodbye is about to be completely different. I am about to move forward from a time that I won’t really be able to explain to anyone, won’t ever be able to have a similar experience to, and a time that has taught me lessons that I would not have been able to learn anywhere else.
Our teacher wanted us to go to a special place in the city…. I knew exactly where that was going to be. I will go have a simple Americano on the front patio of Gaudi Bakery next door and take in the sounds and smells of my street and the sight of the rushing tourists and strolling locals. All under the overwhelming, never-gets-old, towering beauty of La Sagrada Familia. This cafe is the place that my roommates and I came during our first week here to split a piece of carrot cake in celebration of our arrival. It is the place where I came to get fresh air and have a comforting chamomile tea and omelet when I was recovering from the flu. It is the place where the employees give us a warm welcome every time we come and questioned where we were when we traveled for a week during spring break.
Even though I will go here to say “goodbye” to Barcelona, I won’t let go of the perspectives and values that I have adapted during my time here. Back home, I will rush when I have to rush, but remember that relaxing and enjoying the moment are just as important. I will make sure to not always get a coffee to go and, instead, take the time to pause and sit and sip it.