The Church on the Mountain

Alexander Johnson
July 18, 2016

              I´m a little disappointed by the church on the mountain.  The Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor itself is a beautiful architectural masterpiece, but it ended up falling short of my expectations, or rather, I set my expectations too high.  The church sits at the peak of Mount Tibidabo, watching over all of Barcelona like a sentry.  In turn, I´ve looked up to the church for the last four weeks, admiring its image and using it like the North Star to figure out in which direction our host´s house lies after my phone inevitably dies from a long day of taking pictures of the city.  In my mind, it was a far-off, unmoving symbol of beauty and adventure, as magnificent and unreachable as a rainbow. 

              Actually going there, however, shattered that image.  The church´s beauty is by all means on par with that of nature, but it is just a tangible and imperfect building nonetheless.  Faraway places can seem more interesting in one´s imagination.  People often associate their hopes and dreams with places to which they haven´t yet been and tasks that they haven´t yet completed.  So, actually getting there may not be the culmination of success and life ambitions that one has always dreamed about, but it can be an excellent starting point.  It´s nearing the end of our study abroad program, and my respect and awe for the city of Barcelona have never been greater.  I came here with expectations of eating tapas, taking siestas, going to fiestas, and experiencing all of the other stereotypical customs of northern Spain.  Some of those expectations were shattered after arriving and living here, but I now have very real images of incredible architecture, uniquely delicious food, and wonderful people that will serve as inspirations for all of my future endeavors. 


From the top of Mount Tibidabo, one can look south to see all of Barcelona stretched out before him.  The green hills seamlessly fall into skyscrapers which surrender to the expansiveness of the Mediterranean Sea.  It´s hard to believe that the enormous city in which all of the class excursions, all the times I´d gotten hopelessly lost in the city, all of the trips to the beach, and all of our study abroad adventures took place could be captured in one small picture.    On the other side of the mountain is an experience for another time.  One can look out for miles on end to see the Catalan Coastal Range fade into the flat planes of the rest of Spain and France.  


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Alexander Johnson

<p>I am a student at Northwestern University student studying Electrical Engineering, Spanish, and Japanese. This summer, I will be experiencing the great city of Barcelona, Spain and reporting back on all my wonderful findings right here. I hope to inspire a few people to try adventuring out of there comfort zone, too.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
Northwestern University
Engineering - General
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