Hello 2013, Hola Barcelona

Jackson Berkley
January 7, 2013

Wow.  I can’t believe it’s already time to ship off to Spain, to say goodbye to my friends and family, my dog Bunson, Great Falls, Charlottesville, everything and everyone that has been a part of my tidy Virginia existence.  A few weeks ago I made a pre-Barcelona checklist — get the visa, settle the sublet, dust up on el español, write this blog post — but just a day away from my flight, the margin full of check marks belies the inevitable anxiety life in a new country presents.

I’ve noticed that whenever I tell people where I’ll be spending the semester, the first question is usually “are you excited?”  Yes, of course I’m excited — about as excited as I am to stop hearing that question!  Honestly, though, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity, but all these identical conversations have certainly caused a great deal of self-inquiry: what am I most excited about?

The food, the art, Gaudí and Picasso, the Mediterranean and Montserrat, strolling through the barrios at night, speaking a different tongue and meeting new people — I’m excited to rediscover, well, just what excites me most about life.  With all this to look forward to, what is there to fear?  Only the usual suspects, the feeling I have sometimes upon waking that today may not captivate me as much as the last.  But even that is a great feeling in so many ways — it propels you forward, it inspires you to talk to people who were previously just faces in a crowd, to learn their stories and share your own, to realize where you stand among the hectic world that swirls around you.

Thinking ahead to Barcelona, I have no agenda except to do just that: to be, to do, and to learn.  That’s all I can ever hope for, and that in a few months the rolling Appalachian hills that surround Charlottesville may start to look a bit like Montserrat.

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Jackson Berkley

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi! I&rsquo;m a third year English major and film enthusiast at the University of Virginia. I grew up in Great Falls, VA &ndash; a suburb a few miles outside Washington, D.C. &ndash; but have always wanted the chance to explore a city like Barcelona independently. In recent years I&rsquo;ve travelled through many cities in Western Europe &ndash; including Berlin and Prague &ndash; and I spent three weeks this past summer visiting my sister in Kuanton, Malaysia, where she was teaching English at a state school. The blog she kept up during her time in Kuanton inspired me to blog for IES. I hope you enjoy my musings!</span></p>

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