Reflecting Back and Looking Forward





As I prepare to wrap up my time in Barcelona, I have done a lot of reflection on the changes I’ve experienced in myself since coming here and the deep appreciation for this city that has developed. In the final two weeks before my program ended, I was able to take a weekend trip to Madrid with the program and I think that helped prompt some of this reflection. Until this point, I had done some travel within Spain, but not to any cities as large as Barcelona. For that reason, seeing Madrid allowed me to truly see the different ways of life that exist within the metropolitan areas of Spain. I was able to realize fully the aspects of Barcelona that I admire most now that I saw their absence in Madrid. The most prominent of these was the sense of identity. Barcelona is located in the Catalonia region of Spain and it has a rich history that sets it apart from much of the country. For those who don’t know, Spanish is one of two languages spoken in Catalonia, the second being Catalan. There is a very prominent sense of pride amongst the people of Barcelona for this part of their identity and that pride is demonstrated through their language. For decades during the Franco regime it was not permitted to speak Catalan, but the people were able to preserve the language and to this day they ensure its legacy. While I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Madrid and learned about their intricate history, it is all too true that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Seeing the way of life in another Spanish city deepen my fondness for Barcelona and confirmed to me that I had made the right choice in studying there. Speaking to the residents of Barcelona about their identities and perceptions of Spain as a whole has enlightened me to so many layers of Spanish culture and for that I am beyond grateful.

This trip to Madrid fell exactly two weeks before my departure from Barcelona, and I feel it primed me to soak up every corner of the city in those final days. I spent a lot of time walking through the streets thinking about how much I have learned about myself and the world in the brief two months since I left the United States. I could vividly remember being hopelessly lost my first couple of days, but now I felt at complete ease with my place in the city. The process of watching yourself grow when placed in a completely foreign environment is something I recommend everyone go through at least once in their life. In my opinion, it is the most sure-fire way to really know yourself. Barcelona has taught me I am capable of more than I could ever imagine. Even as recent as six months ago, if I was told I would be working in a foreign country and would have to learn a new language I think I would have laughed it off as a joke. Nevertheless, here we are at the end of this unforgettable journey and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As my final activity in Barcelona, I saved my tour of the inside of La Sagrada Familia for last. It seemed appropriate to spend my final day in such a beautiful and thought-provoking place, so after waiting through the extensive lines I at last reached my destination. To say the interior is ethereal is a criminal understatement. No photo can ever quite do justice to the experience of seeing the intricately carved canopy of the ceiling alongside the colorful lights streaming in. After a lengthy time spent there, I want to permanently commemorate my time in Barcelona and what better way to do that then with a tattoo! I had planned for sometime to get a postage stamp style tattoo of La Sagrada Familia, but by sheer coincidence the only appointment available was immediately following my tour of the cathedral. I took that as a sign and set the plans for this tattoo far in advance. I was beyond happy with how the tattoo came out and can’t imagine a better souvenir to take home with me!