I am currently in Alicante, and will devote this blog to the days in which I spent in Barcelona.
Our time in Barcelona was jammed packed with tours, visits to organizations, and walking, from morning to night. While there was not a lot of rest or “personal” time, I wouldn’t have changed a thing because it was the only way to see as much as possible during our short time there.
After meeting my professors and classmates at the airport, we took the bus to our lodging which is a sort of hotel/housing only for large groups and refugees (which is pretty awesome if you ask me!). After we settled all of our things we went for lunch in the dining hall and to no surprise (this is Spain after all) there was a bottle of wine at every table! Spaniards enjoy having a healthy glass of wine with their meals, but as our Spain guide and professor, Armando, explained, “wine without a meal is not healthy, only drink wine with a meal.”
After our meal, we packed up for a day out in the city and went exploring around Barcelona. We were taken to the Cathedral of Barcelona which was built in the 13th century and was in complete original standing. Each brick and piece of architecture was original and had been in place since the day of its placement. To me that is just astounding. I stood in awe taking in the views of the cathedral, the way the light came in through the stained glass windows, the way the paint was still resolutely clinging with all its might to the brick, such as it has been for the past 700 years. I imagined the individuals from each century who would have walked the same steps I did, and viewed the church in the same way I did. I imagined the worship that would have ensued, the pleading prayers, the broken souls, and praising hearts. There is nothing quite as humbling than to stand in the place of those who have come before you; to know that living breathing individuals lived and walked just as you, making the most out of what they could during their life, and then passed just like a whisper in the wind. What else can we do than to do what we can and what we must in this life for those around us, and for those who come ahead of us.
Day two in Barcelona? For some reason it felt like day four. So much done, so much yet to be done, soaking in all of Barcelona that we could.
Day two was started off with a nice treat to the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, which was formed in 1401 after the merging of six existing hospitals in the city together. However, the hospital as we saw it was not actually built until 1930, after construction began in 1901 after the city realized that a new and more modern hospital was needed to keep up with the rapid medical advancements being made at the time. The hospital was actually used up until 2009, when the city then again realized they would need a newer and more modern building to fit the current technological and medical advancements for the time.
The architecture of the campus was absolutely astounding, the underground tunnels leading to a new building with new textures, shapes, and sights was just something like of a book.
I could have spent all day wandering the campus or just sitting and taking in the views and reflecting on the history of the hospital.
Apparently there was a hospital library that was usually open for public viewing, but it happened to be closed the day we visited. Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with books, libraries, and anything of the sort, so needless to say that I was extremely distraught at the finding of the library being closed. (Enter in eternal sad face here).
After our visit to the old hospital we visited La Casa Dels Xuklis, which is a residency for children with cancer and their families. It is not a hospital but rather serves as a home (such as a Ronald McDonald house) so that children may be close to the hospital they are receiving treatment at. The “casa” was absolutely beautiful inside and out. Inside it is painted with bright welcoming colors and little characters that invite a image of hope and joy. The outside, when viewed from atop, is shaped as a butterfly. While the situation in which the children are in is absolutely horrific, I could not help but feel a sense of peace and hope while touring and learning about the house and watching the children playing just as any child would be. There is little that can be compared to the strength, innocence, and courage that children hold within their hearts. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures of the facility, but I can assure you, much love was put into the creation and establishment of it!
Day threeee, the last full day in Barcelona!
Our first visit today was to FEFCO (Foundation for Education Training in Cancer), which is a non-profit organization which was established in 1996 in order to bring awareness and education regarding the topic of cancer. The founders of the organization explained that people who get diagnosed with cancer in Barcelona, do not normally get told much about their diagnoses by their doctors and are thus left ignorant about treatment, self-care, and even the progression of their cancer. This foundation also helps teach preventative care. We were also told that many non-profit organizations are not able to last long due to poor funding, but this foundation has been running successfully for over 20 years!
It was extremely hard to believe that people who receive a diagnoses of cancer may not be told fully of their disease or even how far along the cancer is in their body. Sometimes doctors and families withhold information from the patients in hopes that it will give them more hope and strength to fight, if they do not know the stage of their cancer. Needless to say, I am extremely grateful for the passion these doctors have in order to have established and lead such a wonderful and needed organization!!
After visiting FEFCO, we actually were able to visit a school of social work!! It was really fun to be able to see their school, and compare and contrast programs. While all universities have some slight differences, the same morals and ethics stood for social work across our programs. Our visit did not last long, but I think we all were all still pretty excited to have visited a social work university in a different country!
Last but not least, we went to a showing for flamenco. Might I add a little tidbit?
The location of this flameco showing, was the location where one of the scenes of Cheetah Girls 2 was filmed at!
The show was amazing and absolutely mesmerizing, but I don’t think that many of us girls who grew up with the classic Disney Channel, were able to let go of the fact that we were in a location that they filmed at.
We are on our way to Alicanteee!
Next blog post will be all about it!