Monday, December 20, 2010

The End (for now)

Well this is it.  It’s hard to say goodbye.

I’m leaving Barcelona tomorrow to head back the States.  This trip has been a blast and a real eye-opener; I’ve meet a lot of great people and seen a lot of cool places.  I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything in the world and I am thankful to all the people who have helped make this possible (mainly my parents, Michelle and all my Spanish teachers who inspired me/gave me the travel bug).

The best adjective to describe my current state is bittersweet.

As I'm trying not to be sad I will instead chose to reminisce.  Here are some of my top favorite things from my 4-month adventure (in no particular order):
  1. Euskadi: What can I say, without the first two and a half weeks in the Basque Country I would have been very overwhealmed when I got to Barcelona.  Arantza and Maren are probably two of the coolest people I have ever meet in my entire life and I don’t know if they will ever realize how much they mean to me.
  2. La Mercè: After this festival in Barcelona I really started to feel like I was at home.  It was the best weekend of my life as I got to see what it truly means to be Catalan. 
  3. El Clásico: Seriously, this night was so much fun.  Got to watch a great game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid (by great I mean we sent los madrileños home in disgrace) and then I got to celebrate the victory with the rest of Barcelona at Canalets.  Oh yeah, and getting to see three Barça games in Camp Nou was pretty swell too ;)
  4. Living in a host family: Whether it was fighting to get out of the apartment without that neurotic dog Terri knowing or talking with my host mom I absolutely loved living with a host family.  Rafeala cooked good food, helped us practice Spanish and she always got a kick out of it when I would sit down and watch her Catalan soap opera with her (don’t judge, I really wanted to learn Catalan!)  I also had the pleasure of meeting her mom as she stayed with us 2 out of the three months.  I couldn’t understand her half the time (Andalucian accents are really hard to understand) but she would always smile everytime I came in the room.  Her “he-he-he” laugh was absolutely adorable and she always affectionately referred to me as “chiquito.”
  5. Metro: I absolutely loved taking the metro everyday, there was never a dull moment.  I got to play my favorite mental game everyday (guess where that tourist is from!), people watch and one day I was treated to the spectacle of watching kids fall over like human dominos.  However, my favorite part of the metro is the tone that would announce what station we were approaching (hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm, pròxima estació: Badal).  I’m not going to lie, my roommate and I love the metro tone so much that for the last month we would record it on his iPhone.  I have quite a good collection of metro stops now, and I’m thinking about turning them into ringtones.  Don’t judge me, I know I’m a nerd :)
  6. Weekend trips: Seriously, I got to see so much while I was over here.  I was fortunate to visit Bilbao, Valencia, Paris, Rome, London, Edinburgh, Venice and Dublin in addition to going back to Madrid and Toledo.  I wish I could just drop everything and travel for the rest of my life but apparently I have “responsibilities” :(
  7. Kiss Hello: In Spain it's common for men-women and women-women to great each other with two light kisses on the cheeks.  I wish we would do that in the States, it's so much more friendlier than a handshake.  Everyone does it too, even if there's a big group of 8 you go around and kiss everyone on the cheek (I saw this standing outside of Camp Nou and it was quite comical).  If anyone back home wants to do this when we greet each other just let me know :p
  8. Barcelona: I got to live in the most beautiful city in the world and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me on that.  
  9. Catalan language and culture: Seriously if you haven’t noticed I've really come to identify with the Catalan culture.  I got to experience some of their traditions, I learned about their history and, most importantly, I got to learn their language.  Although I can only string a simple sentence together in the present tense I’m going to continue studying Catalan on my own so that when I come back I speak it.  This entire time I never really thought I was in Spain; I was in Catalunya and I’m completely fine with that (in fact I wouldn't have had it any other way).
I’m not really sad though because I know that I will return to Catalunya, it’s just a matter of when.  As soon as I get home I’m going to be plotting my return to the country I love and I have a couple of things in the works that will allow my swift return.  But until that time comes it’s going to be painful for me to be away from my adopted country.  I can already see it now: me sitting in my room, listening to either Obrint Pas or Lluís Llach while starting at a map of Barcelona repeating the phrase “la meva terra és Catalunya” over and over.

Some last minute housekeeping things:
  • By Thursday all of my photo albums will be completed and can be viewed in their entirety off on the sidebar 
  • My youtube page is also fully updated with videos of La Mercè, FC Barcelona and some other random stuff.  Here’s the link or you can watch some of the videos off to the side 
  • If you're looking to read about a specific topic (like advice for Spanish students, culture, Catalunya ect) you can take a look at the side bar to see the topics of this blog.
  • I am going to leave this page up for two reasons.  1) A resource for students who are thinking about studying abroad.  2) When I come back to Spain/Catalunya I will start to blog again using this very same channel.
I hope you guys liked my blog.  I started it with one objective in mind: to give you a window into a different culture and hopefully in the process you learned something interesting.  It was a pleasure writing for you guys and I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did retelling my adventures.

Finally, if any of you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at; I’ll be happy to answer any question about what it’s like to live abroad, what the Spanish/Catalan culture is like ect.  Fan mail is also appreciated ;)

I believe I covered everything so I will end with this: until we meet again Catalunya…adéu.

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