Hi again! The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy, so I “accidentally” (purposely) skipped my weekly blog posts. With Knut, my dad and Marianne all visiting 2 weeks ago and midterm exams last week, I was unbelievably busy. Additionally, practically all of Vanderbilt came into town for Halloween. It was so nice seeing so many people and sharing my new city with everyone, especially because I’m really starting to feel like Barcelona is home. Speaking of home, it was also great to see half of my parents and introduce them to the amazing food, culture, and beauty that Barcelona has to offer. Although I’m not homesick in any way, I always miss my friends and family and it’s great when I can bring my favorite people to my favorite places (can’t wait to see you in less than one week, Mom and Ben!)
While everyone was here, I had 2 days off of school for Día de Los Muertos, making my usual 3-day weekend into a 5-day weekend. For Americans, this made Halloweekend all the more fun. Halloween hasn’t completely caught on in Barcelona, but we still took it upon ourselves to dress up and have fun. We also celebrated the Catalonian holiday by hosting dinner at our apartment for some of Carla’s local friends complete with the traditional sweet potato and roasted chestnuts dessert.
After the busyness of that week, I was so ready to have a quiet, relaxing weekend in Barcelona. However, as I’m sure you can deduce, that’s not what happened. Instead, I went to Sevilla with my CIEE study abroad program. And of course it was absolutely amazing.
As I’ve mentioned before, Barcelona is not exactly Spain, it’s Catalonia. On the other hand, Sevilla is the stereotypical Spain that most of the world thinks of when they consider Spain. In Sevilla, we had classic Spanish tapas, went to a traditional flamenco show, and enjoyed Sevilla’s nightlife – which was significantly calmer than Barcelona’s. Our travels to southern Spain also included a day trip to Córdoba and the famous Mezquita that has been both a mosque and a cathedral in the past. Córdoba’s mix of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity is present throughout the city with its architecture, language, and culture. I found it really cool to be in a city with such a unique combination of such, and I also thoroughly enjoyed getting to see classic Spain. On Sunday, we explored Sevilla’s Plaza España where we relaxed in a row boat along a small moat that surrounds the plaza. Later, we headed home for a tough week of preparing for our midterms at the University of Barcelona.
This past week, I’ve really started to see how far I’ve come with my Spanish. Regarding midterms, it was a cool feeling to exit my last exam and realize that I was able to read and understand a text in Spanish and write 4 full handwritten pages of analysis about it. Not to mention, I read two 20th century Spanish literature books as part of my preparation. Last week we also went to the movie theater for a field trip with my Literature & Cinema class and I was surprised to see how well I could follow the storyline without English or Spanish subtitles. With just 6 weeks left, I’m hoping to really master the language before returning to the U.S.
Another interesting aspect of the past week has been watching the U.S. election from abroad. Seeing how my friends and professors in Barcelona have reacted and how they’ve expressed what this means for their country has been quite enlightening. I’m not sure if it’s living in a new place or just growing up, but my perspective on so much has changed in the past few months. It was slightly disappointing to not be in the U.S. for the first election that I could vote in, but I also think being in Europe offers such a unique way of viewing U.S. politics from a much more international perspective.
Finally, something that happened on Vanderbilt’s campus on Thursday gave me such hope for the future. From Barcelona, I watched Vanderbilt University Dance Marathon (VUDM) – an organization that raises money for the children’s hospital – shatter records and raise $55,151.27 in 24 HOURS For the Kids. They set out to raise $26,700 in one day and completely surpassed that goal. There is no cause that I have devoted so much time, energy, and passion to, so it was really such an amazing feeling to watch them bring our campus together for the greater good of the kids. For the first time since I’ve been abroad, I ached to be home. I’m definitely not ready to go yet, but knowing I have something to look forward to upon my return is definitely comforting. Stay tuned for VUDM’s progress between now and our fundraising deadline on February 18.
This past weekend, I traveled east and absolutely fell in love with Prague. I’m waiting to post about Prague until after this weekend because I am headed back to Eastern Europe on Friday and plan to write one post about the two cities for next Tuesday. These two cities are the ones I was the most excited for when booking trips, and I must say that Prague been my favorite city that I have been to. I’m sorry for slacking over the past few weeks, but I intend to keep up with the weekly posts from now on. I’m hoping to document everything about abroad on this blog so that one day I can go back and remember all of my trips, thoughts, and feelings about this incredible semester.
See you next Tuesday!