The goodbyes I have to make to this city are endless. I have to bid farewell to the corner cafes with their identical menus of Sangria, croquettas, patatas bravas and paella. To the sound of pots and pans banging together straining to be heard by people who have the power to make real political changes. To sore legs after hiking up to the old civil war bunkers to see 360-degree views of the city below. To the smell of fresh baguettes and cigarette smoke blowing in the Mediterranean Sea breeze. To wandering around the narrow, cobblestone streets of the Gothic Quarter. But I also have to bid farewell to endless free time and the freedom to roam, travel and explore. To a time when I felt untethered to responsibilities and problems from back home. To the Mediterranean lifestyle I've adapted to. To the person who I was when I arrived in Barcelona three and a half months ago. I’ll be forever grateful to the city that taught me and transformed me. I knew that if I worked hard to learn about Barcelona it would in turn teach me about myself. I can proudly say that I didn’t just skim the surface of Barcelona, falling into the tempting tourist traps or copping out of speaking Spanish by assuming waiters or cashiers knew English. I successfully submerged myself below the surface.
When I’m home in a few days seeing family, relatives and friends at Christmas events, I’ll have an answer to the question “How was your semester abroad?” that is more comprehensive than just “amazing” or “life changing”. I could tell them about how spending a semester abroad in Spain changed me, or I could show them through telling them stories about my experiences. I can tell them about the time I went to an independentist concert in the Ciutadella Parc and heard a Catalan band perform their hit song Bon Dia under the Arc de Triumf while all of the people around me were singing along with pride and passion. I can tell them about the time I rode a camel in the misty rain on a beach in Tangier, Morocco where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. I can tell them about the beautiful monestary I visited in Mallorca, Spain and its views over seemingly endless vineyards below, or about the centuries-old olive oil factory I visited on the island. I can tell them about the time I ate fondue for thanksgiving dinner in Geneva, Switzerland surrounded by my friend and her French family and how the clothes I wore during the meal still smell of cheese. I can tell them that I intend to visit Barcelona again.
I don’t know when or how, but I am certain that I will come back to Barcelona in the future. I already have a pact with my roommate here that we will come back to the city when the Sagrada Familia is finally finished. And until then, I’ll be anticipating the day I get to return and squint through the sunlight coming in through the stained glass windows and crane my neck to see the columns stretching up to the high ceiling above. Until then, I won’t forget the feelings of awe and wonder from when I first visited the church. Forgetting is the scariest part of leaving. I have pictures and journal entries from my time abroad, but neither words nor images can fully depict my experiences. Over time, some of the memories I’ve made here will fade and some will blur together. But I have hope that I won’t forget the important parts, that I won’t forget the person I became in this city. And one day when I return to Barcelona, I know any memories I lost will come flooding back.
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<p>I'm excited to meet local people who have lived in Barcelona their whole lives who can tell me all about it- the history, culture, food, architecture, and the best places to visit. I'm also excited to meet the other students in the program and make lasting friendships. And I LOVE adventures, and can't wait to travel around Spain and to other countries as well.</p>