Adios

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.

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Looking Back

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This week we have midterms. Wow. That means we are already halfway through our time abroad which is absolutely crazy and really hard to believe. It feels as if I have been living in Barcelona for a while when I think about how long ago it was that we moved into our apartment. But then again it feels like I just got here a week ago. Time moves fast during the week, faster during the weekends, and so the months roll on and on. So in this post I won’t talk about a trip or aspect of social media– I will make a list of some of the lessons I have learned about abroad, traveling, and living in general.

  1. Not having a dryer can be fun. When we first arrived in Barcelona and realized that we did not have a dryer, we were not mad or anything like that, just a little intimidated. It seemed like a lot to hang dry everything in the dark little patio area right outside our kitchen door. It was drafty, voices echoed all around, and it was, well, really dirty. However, now that two months have gone by and we have gotten used to hang drying, I can actually say I enjoy it a little bit. Now that the weather is nice and warm here in Barcelona, it is calming to take a step outside the kitchen door into the night and peacefully hang clothes on the line. The voices are no longer just voices… now we can somewhat put faces to them. Babies giggle, pots and pans clank together during dinner time, and voices murmur in the darkness as everyone is settling in for the night. So, long story short, not having a dryer is not bad at all.
  2. Pack so so so so light for weekend trips. The first trip we went on, to Copenhagen, I stuffed my bag. Too much. It was a pain to carry in the airport. Most of all, I needed less than half the clothes I brought. Wearing the same sweater the entire time you are away on a weekend trip is not a big deal. You are only there for two days and you will be happy when your bag is lighter and you can more easily and comfortably make your way through the airport. Also, a stuffed bag means the risk of the airline telling you that your bag must be checked before you board, which is not what you want to hear because that means more waiting at the other end, and less time in the city you are traveling to.
  3. Look around as you make your daily commute. When I first started making my daily commute to school on the train, I was only focused on getting to my final destination. But, I have realized, that my daily commute is such an interesting part of my day. I actually get to be a part of the city and see the everyday hustle and bustle of the city. In that way, I am actually thankful that I have somewhat of a little journey every morning.
  4. Write. Even about the little things. I have been taking notes in my phone during weekend trips and whenever I experience something I think I will want to remember when I return home and this all seems like just a dream. I am happy I have written down what I’ve seen, what I’ve eaten, what I’ve loved, what I’ve struggled to understand, and any funny moments that happen. I know I will appreciate these notes down the line.

This is only a starting list of what I’ve realized/what I’ve learned. There is so much more…