Live in the moment, sleep when you’re dead, take advantage of every opportunity because life is unpredictable and finite. I knew these concepts before studying abroad. I understood them and lived by them, but after staying in Spain for three weeks, “living in the moment” takes on a greater meaning.
Living in the moment is pausing for a second to breathe in the salty Mediterranean air for the first time, it’s continuing to laugh your head off even as annoyed locals stare at you, it’s singing Taylor Swift at the top of your lungs walking down the street in the middle of the night, and it’s finding yourself in a group of people you never knew you needed.
For three weeks, Barcelona was my classroom and home. I learned creative processes from cooking to letterpressing to photography. I explored museums such as Big Fun and Dali in Figures and parks such as Ciutadella and Park Guell. I traveled across the Spanish and French countryside, tried and failed to converse with locals in Spanish and Catalan, and ate foods like squid, muscles, and duck liver. At the end of every day I came back to the Beyoo Marina, which provided my friends and I a nice place to call home for a short while.
Aside from my professor and his family, I traveled with nine other people. From the first night, we were already tight and even after being back in the states now for almost a month, we already have plans for future get-togethers. The ten of us dealt with every up and down we encountered as a group. While we sometimes split off to do different activities, we continued to gravitate towards one another time and time again. Maybe it was just that we were all alone in a foreign country together so we had to lean on each other or else be on our own, but in any case, we all grew up tremendously in those three weeks and at the same time, grew closer to one another.
Barcelona, a city sandwiched between mountains and sea, brought out new sides of all of us, but it showed me a side of myself I had never seen before: the confident, independent person I’ve always wanted to be.
I came to Barcelona unsure of what I was getting myself into. I knew what the sites were, I knew what I wanted to do, but I had know idea what to really expect when I got there. I was excited and terrified at the same time, but now looking back, I would do it all again a million times. I packed up my old suitcase and set out to do exactly what I’ve always wanted to do and I could not be more grateful for it. I learned a lot about design, the world as a whole and myself, but I mostly learned how to live.
Now I know that truly living in the moment first means feeling comfortable enough with where you are and who you’re with to do so. It’s letting yourself feel and revel in every emotion openly and honestly. It’s confidence, freedom, passion and excitement that leaves you ready to take on the world. Studying abroad gave me this feeling. Barcelona gave me this feeling, and I will tell anyone a thousand times that every bit of time and money spent on this trip was worth it. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I will return to Barcelona one day. In the meantime, I will never forget how much I gained from this experience.
Bethany Cothran (BS Communication, Psychology) spent the Summer 2023 studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain as part of a Communications department faculty led trip through API. Bethany had the following to say about studying abroad, “Barcelona brought me to life. From the sea to the mountains, I never knew one city could hold so much or leave such a big hole in my heart. I will forever love and miss the city that taught me how to live in the moment.”
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