A three-week expedition to immerse myself in one of Spain’s most thriving cities—this seemed like a distant dream. A life-altering opportunity that I assumed would never belong to me. Confined to the realm of wistful Instagram posts I would enviously browse, this kind of luxurious experience seemed so out of touch. Yet, by some twist of fate, this extraordinary gift landed graciously in my lap.
As one of my fellow students on this journey, Bethany, put it well, “I’ve never fallen in love so fast.” These remarkable individuals, this enchanting place—I was completely and wholeheartedly infatuated with it all.
As I try to put into words the magnitude of the bond between our group of students, one day in particular comes to mind that sums it all up pretty perfectly. The night prior was rocky. A fellow student had a serious health emergency and our group in distress– concerned for our friend and uncertain for the course of the remainder of the trip. When morning came, our professor, Dr. C, met us at the café below our dorm to debrief. He thanked us for our swift action and care, and his calm presence assured us all that everything was going to be just fine. I noticed shoulders drop, brows unfurrow, and a collective sigh of relief escape the group.
While our friend sought much needed rest, we attempted to set forth towards a new day. Dr. C planned a mosaic restoration workshop for our class. We each meticulously designed our own mosaic pieces with the help of skilled instructors. A focused and relatively simple activity accompanied with soothing music, lots of giggles, and light conversation– this was exactly what we needed. Later, we split off to rest, get lunch, and do some light shopping. As night fell, we reconvened at Dr. C’s family apartment, as he so graciously invited us for dinner.
That evening turned out to be one of my most cherished moments from the entire trip. For 3 or so hours, we engaged in lively conversation about our favorite parts of the trip, sharing the plethora of chaotic stories that have bonded us as a group. We introduced Dr. C and his family to our favorite game, “Code Names,” which I feel was the spark of our beginning bond. It was definitely a full circle moment to see it bond us with Dr. C and his family as well. In the midst of laughter and friendly banter, we played four rounds of the game, certainly delving deeper into each other’s thought processes… to say the least. It felt as though I had been transported back home, playing games with my own family. My heart swelled with warmth as I witnessed the formation of this newfound second family before my eyes.
I wish I had pictures of the looks we all gave each other as we left–exchanging heartfelt glances, it was clear that we were captivated by the immense joy we had experienced and the unbreakable connection we had forged. How could it be that I felt so deeply connected to these almost-strangers? Wholesome, organic– it was just fun.
I knew when our expedition inevitably drew to a close, it would undoubtedly be the most painful farewell I’d have to endure. Yet, at times, I found myself in moments of immense anticipation for it. I knew that returning home would mean beginning to take those initial steps towards a permanent return. Now that I’m back, my first courses of action are to change my minor to Spanish and find a second job. After a few years of diligent study and dedicated earnings, I aspire to make Spain my long-term residence. The allure of this country beckons me persistently, and I am compelled to answer its call.
The previous chicken-scratch mess of a blueprint I had for my future has undergone a complete 180. And amidst this metamorphosis, everything has never appeared clearer. Even the unknown holds clarity, for one thing remains certain: Barcelona is the home I never knew I needed. As long as my path leads me here, I know I will thrive.
Emily Redden (BS Communication) spent the Summer 2023 studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain as part of a Communications department faculty led trip through API. Emily had the following to say about studying abroad, “If you’re thinking about studying abroad, DO IT! It tore me away from the small bubble I didn’t know I was living in and opened my eyes to the vast world around me. I learned so much about myself along way and couldn’t be more thankful for the experience.”
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