I’m going to be honest here, I have been purposefully putting off writing this last abroad post because it meant that my study abroad experience had officially ended. Anything that I could do to put off the inevitable closing of this chapter of my life was taken with great stride: pouring over album photos, selecting moments to frame, and organizing souvenirs sporadically across my bedroom. Wow, it’s really over.
To say that I learned a lot while gallivanting about Spain’s many barrios is the ultimate understatement of the century. Days were never wasted when one is in Barcelona because to waste a day is this cultural mecca of beauty was a missed chance at enjoying another Spanish cappuccino that had way too much espresso or a moment to capture a piece of Gaudi architecture with the perfect amount of sunlight. I have long appreciated the effect of an exceptional quote, especially when it has particular application to my current toils and troubles. A plethora of clichés exists with the intention of inspiring some small spark of living in the moment. Although those phrases didn’t resonate too deeply within my abroad conscious, I stumbled upon a quote that, in as many as 17 words, swept me.
“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important”- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Simple, yet effective. The practicality of this transferred to all of my weekly endeavors and weekend jaunts.
The little things:
- The flakiest morning chocolate croissant
- Cheap last minute flights from RyanAir or Vueling
- Nightly dinner conversations with my House family
- The strength of Spanish café con leches
- My friend Sophie’s detailed itineraries
- Bilbao’s giant dog sculpture made entirely of real flowers
- Madrid’s oldest restaurant in the entire world: Sobrino de Botin
- Toledo’s hole in the wall store for “American” food options
- The usual dependency of the metro system
- Bargaining games for the lowest price on fresh market fruit and smoothies
- Chipotle reunion in London
- Hungarian baths
- Prague’s street performers
- Wednesday’s at Sutton or Otto Zutz
- Swiss chocolate truffles
- Interlaken’s gorgeous, scenic hikes
- Churros dipped in hot chocolate
- Madrid’s Prado Museum and the “Las Meninas” painting
- Tuscany’s dedication to the art of wine and olive oil
- Tours of Florence from my best friend
- Barcelona beach’s “Papas Fritas” stall
- My house mom’s croquettes & tortillas españolas
- 6:00 am sunsets
- Cheap country to country train tickets
- Spanish class field trips
- Sunday brunch with the girls at Brunch & Cake
- Vallcarca neighborhood’s running route
- Sporadic placement of Gaudi architecture
- ESCI’s café: how everyone survives our one 3-hour class
- Barcelona’s lack of rain
- Spanish pay-as-you-go flip phones
- Fast and strong friendships
- People and places that I will never forget
Having seen the sun set and the moon shine on another side of the world, I am not the same. Many doubt this and question how this past adventure could have changed me so much. Let me enlighten you a little bit: I have lived as a welcomed member of a Spanish family, drank from a hidden Swiss waterfall, soaked leisurely in the Hungarian baths of Budapest, and tasted the delicacies of centuries of culinary adaptation. I am not the same. But, in many ways I am the same. Same values, morals, and head on my shoulders. But I have gained a profound perspective only accessible by seeing the world and forcing yourself to be independent.
I would like to take a moment to thank my greatest supporters and people I adore more than anything: my parents. Their generosity and appreciation for the necessity of traveling and seeing the world has allowed me to study abroad and gain an irreplaceable experience that I will never forget. Mom and Dad, you have given me the greatest gift that I can never repay you for. But, I will spend the rest of my life trying :). Again, thank you for letting me study, live, and assume temporary local status in one of the greatest cities in the world: Barcelona, Spain.