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La Ultima Semana en España

August 26, 2011

When I woke up on Monday, July 25th, I couldn’t help but stare at the calendar in shock as I realized that I was about to begin my final week in Spain. I felt at home in Barcelona- With its familiar streets, buildings and faces, I couldn’t imagine how I could just fly back to my world in New York and live on without all these things that I became so acquainted with. The weather outside was a bit unusual for Barcelona; it was a cloudy, windy day and these conditions seemed to match the tinge of sadness I felt at the thought of leaving this beautiful place.

The local shopping center

Since the weather was not ideal for beach-going, my friends and I started off to go shopping at the local shopping center. It was cool to spend a day immerged in the universal activity that people of all cultures enjoy engaging in. It was interesting to walk around the shopping plaza in Spain while hearing American mainstream music being played in most of the stores; I couldn’t help but make the correlation between such observations and everything I’d ever learned about globalization of culture. However, I did come across una tienda de moda that played music in Spanish- I couldn’t begin to describe the amazing feeling of satisfaction and joy that I felt when I realized that I understood the lyrics and could sing along. The next day we all went to the beach by Villa Olimpica but this time I decided to go with a new approach that I had wanted to try since my first visit. My Swiss friend, Natalie, was just as athletically inclined and health-conscious as I was; we decided to try lacing up our running shoes and jogging along the path that ran by the beach. The sensation was honestly amazing… Coming from a fairly strict workout regime that I held to in New York, it felt great to finally get back to the feeling of pleasant exhaustion that always accompanies a good jog. Exercising by the beach was the last thing on my personal to-do list in Barcelona and I was really glad we gave it a shot.    

With the exchange students from the U.S.

The next day our group was taken to a pool in which we could continue our active lifestyle in Spain as we got to dive around and race in the water. After spending a few hours there, everyone in our group worked up the perfect appetite before dinner- I know I personally enjoyed the seafood dish served by my host-mom at least twice as much after spending so much time and energy in the water. After the past couple of days, I was feeling really satisfied with the way I spent my time in Spain and felt like the program really made sure we didn’t miss out on any of the simple pleasures of Barcelona. On Thursday the entire group was taken to see a Spanish documentary in theaters. It discussed historical information about ancient Egypt and though the language was a bit more complex in terms of vocabulary and terminology, it was really interesting nonetheless. Meanwhile, I was haunted by the thought that when I got home that night, I would have to pack all my belongings and be ready to leave Barcelona the next morning- I’d have to get my luggage onto the metro and roll my two suitcases all the way to the ABC school by 10 a.m… I was definitely not looking forward to it, but the entire process was not as bad as I expected. I even got there early J

The beautiful scenery in Costa Brava

After a lengthy bus ride to Costa Brava, we arrived at our hotel and received our room keys. At this point, only the students from America were left- it was actually the first time that we would have no choice but to hang out with each other for a few days. Usually, we all took our scheduled activities as opportunities to bond with our new friends from other countries. This time we got to really realize how accustomed to each other’s company we had grown and how different we all truly were, despite the fact that we were from the same country. By the end of the program, it became clear to me that one of the most beautiful things about America is that there is no single defined culture or standard to being an American- every state has something special to offer to the diversity of the country, and that is what makes our nation rich. In addition to the bonding experience and progress on the journey to self-discovery, Costa Brava provided us all with some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever had the privilege of witnessing. The remnants of a medieval castle could be found enshrouded in beautiful Mediterranean pine trees atop a captivating stone hill; below, surrounded by enchantingly angular cliffs, were strips of beach that lured tourists onto the sandy paradise. And when we swam in the sea- Pure magic. The water was so clear and wonderfully brisk, but not too cold. It was simple perfection and we had the pleasure of indulging in it for the weekend. When standing at the top of a hill overlooking Tossa del Mar at night, I literally had to wipe tears from my eyes… The beauty was really almost too much for one to bear. 

We flew out to Frankfurt Sunday morning and, though we experienced some serious difficulties with the flight from Germany back to the states, I got home perfectly safe on August 2nd. It’s always good to be back, since everyone knows- there really is no place like home. But I loved Spain and can say without exaggeration that this past month has been the best time of my life. I will never forget the beauty I witnessed, or the new, wonderful people that I had the honor of becoming acquainted with. This trip has taught me more about myself and about the world outside of U.S. boundaries than I could have ever dreamed, and for that I will always be grateful.

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