The Barcelona Transport Authority, TMB, has a slogan that appears on its ads in metro stations and on buses: “Tot Torna”, which roughly translates to “Everything Returns”. The TMB uses the expression as a way of reminding its passengers to “travel with karma.” That is, if you give up seat for an elderly passenger on the subway, maybe the next day the bus will wait for you, and things of that nature. I saw this expression every day on the metro while I was in Barcelona. I never really thought about it until I came back home, and realized that “everything returns” is applicable to more than just good karma on the metro.
In Barcelona, I learned that you only get out of study abroad, or any experience, what you’re willing to put into it. I was afraid of speaking Spanish outside of class because I thought I would look foolish; as a result, I didn’t improve my Spanish as much as I had hoped. I did put a lot of effort into my area studies class, and now I feel like I have a connection with the city because I understand its history. Everything returns, including the effort you put into your study abroad experience – what I chose to engage in, and what I didn’t, determined what I learned about the city, the culture, and myself.
The fact that I was going to return to America was always in the back of my mind while I was in Barcelona, and I’m glad that it was. When you realize that an experience is transitory, you learn to appreciate it more. My study abroad experience taught me to live in the moment and take nothing for granted. Each day in Barcelona I had the opportunity to walk past the Sagrada Familia, or swim in the Mediterranean Sea, or a hundred other unique experiences. Now those opportunities are gone. Recognizing that everything returns, and nothing is permanent, made me thankful for what I had in Barcelona, and I hope to continue living with that sense of gratitude.
Even though I’ve returned home, I think the lessons I learned in Barcelona will stick with me for a long time. I’ve gained a better understanding of another culture, and a new appreciation for what I have. I’m incredibly grateful to IES Abroad for providing me with this experience. I’d also like to thank Colby College, and my parents, for helping fund my study abroad. Finally, thank you to anyone who's reading this. I’ve really enjoyed writing this blog, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.
Muchas gracias, y hasta siempre,