I recall my time in Barcelona like a vivid dream I had a couple of months ago. My tan has faded along with clear memories of the day-to-day, and I can no longer remember how my bedroom smelled on Monday afternoons or the names of various museums and mountains we visited. There are odd particulars that I do remember, however, and doubt I’ll ever forget. If you ask me twenty years from now which room I lived in at RESA, I would promptly respond “Doscientos seis.” I could give you descriptive directions from RESA to UPF, I would recite my exact order from the student-favorite sandwich shop Bo de Be, and perhaps, after a glass of wine, I could still have a fluent Spanish conversation (I was always better at holding a Spanish dialogue after a few drinks).
My trip to Barcelona was one of the most adventurous and difficult things I’ve done. I accredit a large amount of personal growth to the experience; including my development in Spanish proficiency, increased individualism, and a new appreciation for European politics, art, and history. Dealing with catcalling and the sexual harassment culture, the cost of groceries and travel on top of the social isolation as a low-income student in our extremely affluent student body, and the coursework itself (as the least proficient student on the trip) were among the hardest challenges I had to overcome. But the greatest adventure of it all came from succeeding in these tribulations. My plane landed in Detroit at three in the morning on July 28th. I had passed all of my classes, I had succeeded in not going completely bankrupt, I had made a number of friends who I will stay connected with for years to come, and I had communicated in Spanish, my least favorite subject, for six weeks, away from the comfort of home.