Finals and Final Goodbyes

Isabella Courtenay-Morris
December 14, 2017
Swimming in the Mediterranean

Most university students understand the struggle of final exams. First comes the stress of realizing you have to study soon, then the stress while studying, and finally the stress of the actual exams. Some students tend to be more prepared than others. They’ve been revising their notes all semester, regularly attending office hours, and will most likely get a full eight hours of sleep the night before the exam. Others are procrastinators (I admittedly fall into this category). They probably have to teach themselves the last three chapters, venture into their professor’s office for the first time in the last week of the semester, and end up memorizing the last important facts and figures while walking into their exam. 

Finals season is hectic, mentally draining and usually blurs together into a haze of sleepless days and nights spent in the library. I’m sure all university students can agree that right now isn’t an ideal time of the semester. BUT, imagine all that while simultaneously trying to soak up the last precious moments of your study abroad experience. It seems impossible to do it the right way. Humans have created many inventions, but we have yet to invent something that allows us to be in two places at once…

This past week I’ve found myself revisiting all of my favorite places in Barcelona, planning lunch dates with my new friends as a last goodbye, regretting the times when I didn’t explore a new part of the city, and wondering whether I truly did study abroad “right”.  Honestly, I don’t feel prepared to leave Barcelona so soon (exactly three days to go). And I definitely don’t feel as though I have enough time to properly say goodbye to my new home while also studying for and taking finals. There are only so many hours in a day. 

My finals schedule isn’t wildly complicated. Yet, the combination of various essays and finals forces me to stay inside to study rather than wander around Parc de la Ciutadella for the 1000th time. And though studying seems like the logical thing to do, it’s surely isn’t easy knowing I could use these last few days to say goodbye to my favorite hidden gems.

I’ll never forget exploring the cobblestone streets of El Born, or trekking up to El Bunkers del Carmel to watch the sunset over the city. I have the best memories from walking the full length of Barceloneta beach just to stumble upon the nudist section, and all the cute cafes I retreated to, to study and journal. I'll miss the restaurants that served the best tapas assortments imaginable, seeing a new ornate building every three blocks, and lastly, all of the new friends I’ve made along the way. 

The thought of leaving all these people terrifies me. I may never see them again! Friendships forged abroad are some of the purest you’ll encounter in your life. IES Abroad has made it possible to meet an endless amount of students from a variety of different backgrounds, all pushing themselves out of their comfort zones in one way or another. It’s odd to think how quickly these friendships started, and how early they were forced to be labeled long-distance. 

By the end of this week, I will be mentally-exhausted and most-likely sleep deprived, but it won’t stop me from creating time to pack in the last goodbyes to friends and landmarks in the final hours. In a quote by Azar Nafisi, she says, “you get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way again”. Now more than ever, I know exactly what she means. 

Adios Barcelona, I'll see you again soon. 

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Isabella Courtenay-Morris

<p>My parents are ski instructors and chased Winter seasons between Australia and the U.S. I was born in Australia, but at six-months-old, I began traveling between each country. I was educated in both countries, transferring between schools in Aspen, Colorado and Port Macquarie, New South Wales every semester. I have been very fortunate to travel to various parts of the world, all while gaining an appreciation for differing cultures and discovered the power of travel as a learning tool.</p>

2017 Fall
Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Bonny Hills, Australia and Aspen, Colorado
Global Studies
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