Bye-Bye BCN: My Last Weeks and A Reflection

My last two weeks in Barcelona were a whirlwind. I’m condensing the two into one post because I was simply so busy with school and my internship that there wasn’t a lot of time left to explore.

After my visit to the Picasso Museum and Citadel Park, my confidence peaked and I became a lot more comfortable with adventuring alone. I realized that it was important to capitalize on my remaining time in Spain — I didn’t want to miss anything else.

On Sunday, June 12th, our group went to see a flamenco concert at Palau de la Música. The concert hall was so stunning, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The show was about 2 hours long with only three dancers. They changed outfits at least 5 times each, and they looked incredible. The flamenco concert felt like an authentic piece of Spanish culture, and I’m so glad we got tickets to go.

After a long week of work and school, I spent my next Saturday visiting La Sagrada Família. This was by far the highlight of my experience in Barcelona. La Sagrada Família is an unfinished basilica and currently the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church. Gaudí is one of the many architects that worked on the building, and it’s truly breathtaking. On the outside, the church is a sandy color decorated with statues and a Christmas tree. The front of the church depicts the birth of Jesus Christ, and the back depicts his crucifixion. But when you walk inside the building, it’s a whole different world. As a religious person, this was a very emotional experience for me. I spent half an hour sitting in the pews with tears in my eyes. The large stained glass windows created a wave of colors on the pillars. The ceilings were high and intricate. I never wanted to leave.

The following Monday I took the day off of work and visited Park Güell, another one of Gaudí magnificent creations. It was a super hot day and I didn’t realize how much hiking and walking I’d be doing. It was also a very popular tourist spot with way too many people there. But on top of the park, there was a huge balcony that looked over all of Barcelona. That view with a breeze to cool me down made it all worth it. Also, do you recognize this location from a movie? I’ll give you a hint: Raven-Symoné is in it!

After my visit to Park Güell, I’d pretty much checked off my entire list of places to visit in Barcelona. I spent my last week hanging out as much as possible with my host family. My “sister” Lucia and I took her brand new motorbike on a ride to Zara to do some shopping. This was a bit scary for me, especially because she only got her license a few days prior. But we looked cool!

On Wednesday, we had our final class and presented the marketing plans we had been working on for three weeks to the CEOs of the companies. It was really exciting and cool to share our thoughts and creative concepts with the actual owners instead of just our professors. After class, we walked to Cook and Taste for a cooking class and farewell dinner. This ended up being another one of my favorite parts of my time abroad. In two groups, we made , pan con tomate, tortillas, gazpacho, chicken paella, and crema Catalana. I felt so accomplished while eating an authentic Spanish meal that I had just helped to prepare. And it was the best paella I had the whole time! The cooking class and farewell meal were the perfect ways to wrap up our program.

On Thursday, I completed my internship and my bosses took us out to lunch. I had a ramen bowl and used chopsticks for the first time. I wasn’t very graceful with them, but I ate my food and that’s all that matters… right? Saying goodbye to my bosses was bittersweet. I was happy to be done and proud of what I created, but I really enjoyed working with them. They wanted me to continue virtually working for them in the States, but I think that would be too hard. Working in other country and culture was very enriching and I believe it really helped further my career. It also built my confidence and confirmed my passion for digital marketing.

My last day in Spain happened to fall on the holiday of Sant Joan, or the summer solstice. The night prior, I watched fireworks from my terrace. The next day, I joined my host family in Castedefells on the beach and at the pool. For dinner, I had patatas bravas one more time (who’s surprised to be honest). It was the perfect last day.

The trip back home felt like forever and was extremely stressful. I almost missed my flight from Atlanta to Orlando and was hopeless and crying on the side of the road when I managed to catch an Uber to the correct terminal. After 24 hours of travel, I was reunited with my boyfriend and in the Taco Bell drive-thru, happy as can be.

I’ve been back in the U.S, for a week now and haven’t really experienced any reverse culture shock. Actually, my trip to Spain almost feels like a dream. But if you read my pre-departure blog, you know that I was dreading my study abroad trip. In fact, my flight to Barcelona was the scariest moment of my entire life.

But I’ve never been so proud of myself. This past month, not only did I go out of my comfort zone, but I welcomed the discomfort. I stayed in an uncomfortable, hot room alone. I conquered public transportation in a foreign country. I stood up on a paddleboard above an ocean of jellyfish. I rode on the back of a motorbike. I ate things I would’ve never even smelled if I were at home. Studying abroad tremendously grew my confidence. I am so brave and capable and strong and independent. I spent most of my time in Spain alone and I still chose to make the most of it. It’s changed me for the best, truly. I’m much more willing to try new things. And I don’t sweat sleeping in my own bed with my AC and two fans blasting anymore!

Seriously, I would recommend study abroad to anyone. Even my family said I’m the last person they would ever expect to do something like this. But I did it. I made everlasting memories. I met new people. I tried new things. And I have an even greater appreciation for myself and for the world.

I got a small tattoo on my right arm to commemorate my time in Barcelona. It’s the “flor de Barcelona”, depicted on the tiles on the grounds of the city. It’s to serve as a reminder of a time in my life when I took on a challenge and adventure by myself, despite the fear I had. My parents were very upset, but I made it up to them with some HOMEMADE BRAVAS! Adios.

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