I blame Mrs. Anderson, my high school Spanish teacher, who planted the idea in my head. She had studied in Spain and brought back fascinating stories that she shared in class.
So when I discovered that my university had a semester abroad program, I signed up right away. Three months in Spain? I knew there would be adventure ahead.
Our group of about 15 arrived in Barcelona on January 5th. My friend Gloria and I were selected to stay with the Rodriguez family, a busy household with boarders from Southern Spain.
(I still remember how Sra. Rodriguez would go food shopping everyday — and I thought my grandmother was just disorganized — and how Sr. Rodriguez would call us to the table, “Al ataque!” basically, Come and get it!)
I fell in love with Barcelona. It appealed to me on several levels: the food, the architecture, the wines, museums, the cathedrals, the Ramblas, and it was difficult for me to leave.
Each week, we visited a different museum, and every other week, we traveled to a different city. Weekends were free so we spent the time exploring Barcelona on our own. I still have very fond memories of these places:
- Costa Brava
When I look back now, I’m surprised by how few photos I took and how grainy they are. Had I done that trip today, I would have had thousands of photos, everything I saw would have been documented. But I have very good memories and I hope someday to return to Barcelona to see how much of what I remember remains.
I often wonder what happened to the other students on that trip. We were all at different stages on the road to graduation and didn’t have the same classes. Gloria and I did and we still keep in touch.
I don’t think I ever thanked Mrs. Anderson for putting the bug in my ear, or Prof. Lopez-Saiz for facilitating such a wonderful program. (I always said I wanted a job like his: half year in Spain, half year in Canada – the best of both worlds.)
I lived a lot, learned a lot and loved a lot in Barcelona. After those three months, I promised myself to do a few things the next time I travelled:
- Stay off the beaten path
- Learn the language (or at least learn to say hello, good morning, thank you, etc.)
- Talk to the people
- Always take 3-month vacations (Ha!)
What lessons have you learned from your travel experiences?
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- Barcelona, Spain (kmerkel.wordpress.com)