On the morning I left Barcelona, I hugged my host family good-bye and dragged my suitcase to Placa Catalunya, looking around at the hustle and bustle of traffic, the gaggles of pigeons and the pedestrians on their way to La Rambla. After passing the very same spot countless times before, I tried to take it in, knowing it would be the last time I’d see it for a while.
I’ve been home for two weeks now, slipping back into my old routines and enjoying my mom’s cooking. There were things I missed about home that I was excited to come back to. But like anyone who studies abroad, I’ll never be able to live exactly the way I did before my trip. Being exposed to new places, new foods, new traditions and new ways of life allowed me to see the way others do things and forced me to question some of my own habits.
The enjoyment of being unplugged was a key part of my Spanish experience. Without data all the time (and in fear of Barcelona’s notoriety for pick-pocketing), I often left my iPhone at my homestay. The minutes I’d have normally passed scrolling through my Facebook news feed were spent observing people, trying to pick up a few words of conversations, or talking to someone new. And while I was certainly happy to come home and turn on my data, I’ve found that my phone is less of a priority now.
The Spanish make a mean omelette, and my host mother made the meanest of them all. Her tortilla de patata, a delightful combination of potatoes and eggs, along with other foods like pan con tomate (tomato juice squeezed onto sliced bread), pan con ajo (the end of a garlic clove rubbed against the surface of the bread and topped with olive oil) and fresh fruit for dessert are all culinary traditions I’ve brought home with me. Last night, I tried to replicate the careful instructions of my host mom and crafted a tortilla de patata for my own family dinner. And when my family quickly got up from the table one night, I found a strange longing to linger and talk for a while after our meal, as I always did with my host family.
I brought home the Spanish language I practiced each day in Barcelona. While there were moments of frustration, I began to feel more and more at ease speaking in Spanish as the semester went on. Now, at home, I’m desperate to hold on to it. I write in my journal in Spanish some days, or watch a favorite movie in Spanish. The language I came to love is a huge piece I want to keep with me.
I look back on my time in Barcelona and marvel at how wonderful it was, hoping someday, I can go back to my city. But in the meantime, the best parts of my semester- the friends, food, traditions and experiences- are the pieces I’ll keep with me.
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<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 there! I'm a California native studying journalism in one of the coolest cities in the world, at The University of Texas at Austin. I'm a fan of chocolate, watching sports (go Giants), nice people, anything vintage and pretty much all music. I write as much as I can, whether it's a news article, a blog, or just a journal entry. When I'm not writing, I love to run, try new recipes in my little kitchen, take dance classes and catch up with friends. My goal is to see every continent someday. I'm getting there!</span></p>