Farewell to Expectations and Barcelona

Mary Katherine Prehn
December 16, 2017

I did not fall in love with Barcelona at first sight. When my taxi took me down Gran Via on the first day towards my homestay apartment, I didn't know what to feel. For the first 2 weeks I began to ask myself what my role would be in this experience and what I wanted to get out of it. But with creating that imaginary checklist I began to form expectations.

The first month I had tickets, which I bought that summer before, to see The Rolling Stones, and after having looked forward to this night, it had to be perfect. After getting out of my university class which ended at 7:30, I became frustrated when i couldn't catch a cab to get to the stadium. I didn't know the best way to get there, it was my first week, and I figured a cab would be the easiest way. Every occupied cab that passed by me created a wall between where I needed to go. I felt anxious thinking I may be late for the opening song and even more worried that this night wouldn't go perfectly, like I had planned.

Eventually by 1 cab, 1 bus, and what seemed like an array of obstacle courses or stadium ticket checkers, I walked into the red lights as Sympathy for the Devil was playing. While I wasn't there to see the Stones come out, or hear the first lines of the song, I made it. Everything was fine, and nothing was what I expected.

It's strange to compare the first few days here with the last few, and I feel as if time has passed the fastest it ever has. I remember how small I felt in the beginning and how overwhelmed I was in this unfamiliar city. I questioned if I made the right decision, and why I chose the place. But now I don't want to leave or forget all the little moments here.

For many like myself, there's a sense that our time abroad has to fit the standards we set out for ourselves. I had dreamed about this semester since the time I found out it could be an option. And through those many years of looking forward to this time, I had formed in my mind the perfect experience. But what I’ve learned is that one can eventually work with the ebb & flow of the city, and a city like Barcelona forces you to be flexible. Eventually you learn that missing the last metro at night is not the end of the world and that you can't plan for the city to adjust to your needs, you just go with it.

The last few weeks, and even the last hours in Barcelona have made it harder to leave. I feel like I finally know where I belong and how special Barcelona is. But it's a uniqueness which is hard to put into words. Perhaps that's how Barcelona should be described: unfathomable, but a place that has grown on me since the beginning. While I attempted to compare it to my past experience in Madrid, I've come to accept the differences of what makes each city unique from the other.

I know I will be back here one day, but in the meantime, i’ll attempt to go with the flow a little more in my day to day life at home, and thanks to Barcelona, I know things do eventually work out in the end.


Mary Katherine Prehn

<p>I grew up in San Antonio, Texas and by the 3rd grade I knew I loved speaking Spanish. While my skills have come from learning the colors of the rainbow to reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Spanish culture and language has always been a part of my education. Both English and Spanish have been clear interests of mine throughout my adolescence, and both allow me to communicate in different ways while stretching to understand what is around me.</p>

2017 Fall
Home University:
Sewanee - The University of the South
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