Sunday April 3rd, 2016 21:30
This post comes a week after the end of Semana Santa in wake of a week of readjustment and settling in. Coming back to my homestay and experiencing a heightened sense of comfortability in the normalcy of my own room, possession my whole wardrobe, and my own shower in combination with significantly recognizing the tourists occupying all of the streets and taking up spots on the sidewalks, I truly felt like Granada is a home. I was welcomed into my Spanish mother’s home with open arms and warm meals blindly, only on the good faith of IES Abroad did we mutually trust that we would be an appropriate match. I have encountered hordes of study abroad students, natives, migrants, and visitors alike, with open hearts and minds allowing us to exchange culture, experience, and emotions freely. I have developed friendships over mutual interests and contact in countless settings as they continue to grow and influence my semester. What I really mean to say is that I’ve been lucky enough to receive love from the city of Granada as a whole. Of course, every single moment hasn’t been saturated with fun and unforgettable moments or even happiness, but when I look at the broader impact this trip has had on me, I can think of almost nothing but positivity. Granada has been a special place, but I truly believe that the good people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting have propelled every moment I’ve spent here.
While in Mallorca, a group of American students (including myself) representing every region of the United States save for Texas inhabited a white washed hostel room in the small city of Esporles trapped in the Serra de Tramuntan. Surrounded almost entirely by mountains with towering vertical cliff faces at their peaks a heterogeneous sea of green trees and shrubbery swelled up to the edges of the town giving rise to small homes, shops, and a church. Using the hostel owned and operated by incredibly sweet and welcoming Catalonian natives as a home base allowed us to assemble backpacks of food and supplies on our hiking and bus stop excursions. It was here that we cooked (mostly) vegan meals and sipped on boxed wine together, discussed values, religion, race, love, and social change. It was here that we saw each other at our most vulnerable moments, in the morning when the sleep in our eyes pervaded our smiles, and when nights got to be too long and our attentiveness slips, revealing less guarded versions of ourselves. For all of the perceived differences we share, our group was as cohesive and functional as anybody could have hoped for. We worked as a unit, cooperatively, creating a healthful atmosphere for adventure and relaxation, things that too often don’t go hand in hand when traveling. I learned about myself and the others here, really realizing how lucky we were to be together abroad. I felt love within this group, in every moment that we spent together, I couldn’t help but smile.
The conclusion of Semana Santa left me with three important memories, each that I either read or heard at some point during the duration of the trip by chance, but describe the experience perfectly. “There are good people in every country,” a world traveling German man said to me in one of my first nights in Barcelona. He said that no matter where you go, there are always people who are willing to help, if you seek it. Posted in the hostel in Esporles the words “Everybody smiles in the same language” hovered over the check-in desk. And the last, one that I can’t remember exactly where I encountered it, was said in a conversation on one of the last days of travel, “Appreciate every moment.” All in all, these three memories encapsulate acceptance and love across differences, they symbolize what we could be collectively if we aspired to, and they depict how we should live if we are to live happily. When we travel, we expect some of our experience to be the physical place, the history, and of course the food. But what we sometimes forget about is the inevitable interaction between people often transcending language and communication barriers. We forget about the body language that we give off and that we read in order to navigate our shared world, and we often stress about the nuances of culture that can only be lived and not told. For that reason, I believe that the social component of traveling has been and was the most interesting portion of this semester thus far. The people you meet and the people you never will, the people who you surround yourself with and the people who chose you and others to surround them. They will all play an important underlying role to your experience, silently organizing and negotiating their own experiences in the background.
All of the people I met and talked with during Semana Santa. I made incredible friends from the UK, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Spain, Peru, Canada, and the US in Barcelona and Mallorca, each with lives to share and stories to be told. I hope that I can continue to find myself amidst good people, as well as staying true to myself in this period of time.
I took too long to write this post, but writer’s block is real so…
After speaking with someone in my life that I consider to be a mentor, I have been able to re-evaluate one of my statements made in a previous blog. While I spoke about the unperceivable permanence of time in the post “Transitional Waves,” I have to realize that I can do more than just exist in the onslaught of these natural sines and cosines. Therefore these posts can be less so bearings and markers relative to where the waves of time have taken me, but rather as a wake of consciousness created by my own action, gently trailing behind me, fading with time visually, but existing subconsciously under the surface working in mysterious ways allowing me to realize all that this experience can be.
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<p>A sociology major at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At school I am a two-sport varsity athlete, sing and beat box in an a cappella group on campus and volunteer in the Twin Cities area. In the future I hope to develop and create safer and more integrated communities, creating equal opportunities in urban centers across the US. Specifically I seek to work against structural racism by reducing disparities that are current outcomes of our social systems. This study abroad experience is a time to reflect and immerse myself in an entirely different world beginning first and foremost with a language barrier. I hope to be successful academically and socially as well as learn a lot about myself and the world around me.</p>