A 21-year-old Buffalonian girl abroad for 10 months in the lovely city of Barcelona.
I KNEW this was going to happen when I started this stupid blog. I always start out thinking that I’ll be really dedicated to making my blog wonderful, and then life gets in the way and I just don’t feel like updating anymore. It’s like when you order a massive meal thinking you’re at the point of starvation and after the first few quickly-taken mouthfuls, you start to regret even reading the meal’s description on the menu and instantly reevaluate every other life decision you’ve made since you were 5 years old. Ok, I’m being dramatic and having a bad case of #whitepeopleproblems right now, but you get the point. I intended to keep this blog so all of my family members and friends back in the States could feel personally connected to me and my many adventures over here. I’m going to try to be more diligent in updating, because I know you’ve been asking about me and you care so much about what I’ve been up to since September (I mean, who wouldn’t… I’m such an interesting person. Gag.)
A quick recap before I get into this full-blown updating jazz (again). The past few months have been relatively uneventful, reason #2 for why I haven’t been updating this frequently. Reason #1 is that I’m extremely lazy, but even a fool could guess at that. Anyhoozle, the main things that have happened since December 9th, my last post date (oh, boy), are that I eloped with a dreamy, tanned Spanish man, had 4 children, and moved into the Catalonian countryside to live in a cement house on the outskirts of a farming village. All of that was a lie. Actually, I’ve just been hanging out either in my room in Sabadell or, on the weekends, down in Barcelona. It was surprisingly cold in December and January, which I wasn’t expecting at all. It got down to around 32 degrees at night with a wind that would make even the hardest Buffalonian weep a little (trust me, I experienced it firsthand). Therefore, I opted to spend as much time as possible indoors. I went to Germany at the end of December to visit relatives, and it was actually warmer there than it was in Barcelona. I ended up ringing in the New Year in Barcelona, though, and I’ll be honest, though I was not looking forward to being here rather than Germany for the first moments of 2012, I had so much fun with my friend Ilke and all her Italian friends. I finished my first semester at the very end of January/very beginning of February and for the inter-semester break, I went to England with my friend Dominic to visit London and get a taste of English life.
On the 1st of February, I told Monste and Estel that I would be moving out in a month. It was a difficult decision to make, but it honestly had been a rough few weeks beforehand of losing sleep and missing out on certain group activities with my friends because Sabadell is so far away from Barcelona (only 40 minutes by train, but when you’re out until 2 or 3am with friends, that means that you might not get home until 4am). I searched and searched for a well-priced and well-located place, but my efforts were coming up fruitless. Luckily, before Ilke had left for Belgium at the end of last semester (don’t even get me started on that – I’m still upset by her absence), she had told one of her Italian friends who I had met a few times that I was considering moving in March. A spot had just opened up in her flat and she and her roommates were looking for someone to fill it. Francesca (the friend) messaged me on Facebook to ask if I’d be interested in moving there and after a mess of not knowing if I’d be permitted by the “owner” to move in or not, I was finally accepted and now I’ll be moving there next Monday. It’s an AMAZING location and price and I’ll finally be forced to speak Spanish in my home, so I think in the long run it’ll be a good life choice.
Now I’m going to post some pictures and maybe a couple tidbits from the past few months to properly get you up to speed!
I know it’s been four score and seven years ago since I updated my blog, but bear with me — I’ve been quite the busy bee.
At the very end of October/start of November, my friend Dave Benko from the States, who’s studied in Manchester for the past semester, came to Barcelona for a visit. He arrived here the night of October 30th and we checked him into a hostel after getting to Barcelona. The next day, since it was nice out, we decided to go to Parc Güell. I had never been before, so it was an exciting adventure for me as well. Jared, another American, also came with us, and we set off by bus from Passeig de Gràcia. The park is gorgeous, and I now understand why so many people say you have to visit it when you go there. The architecture, in true Gaudí style, blends perfectly with the landscape of the park. It looks like the rocks and dirt have somehow magically stacked themselves into perfect arches and benches around the entire area. We saw the famous mosaic-tiled benches and “towers,” as well as that Gaudí lizard statue that everyone and their mother has to take a picture next to.
Plaça Catalunya fountains at night
The night of Oct. 31st, my group of friends and I decided to make a meal together and then carve pumpkins after. I don’t remember exactly what we had (c’mon…it was over a month ago), but I know it was delicious. I had found 2 pumpkins at the Boqueria and Ilke had bought one elsewhere, so I after eating, I taught the people who were interested the basics of carving a pumpkin. I roasted the seeds immediately after so we could enjoy looking at the flickering faces of our little pumpkin creatures while stuffing our faces with their guts. (The seeds - a new experience for many - were an absolute hit.)
Ilke cooking noms.
Martina’s, Ilke’s, and my pumpkins
Another random day trip. This time, it was just Dominic and me and it only took us 30 minutes on our normal Sabadell-Barcelona train to get there. TIBIDABO: the man (not really), the myth (not really this either), the legend (ok, kind of this).
Funicular that got us halfway up the mountain (bus from there)
View from the bus stop
Base of Cathedral del Sagrat Cor
Torre de Collserola
Cathedral from another side
Amusement park and view of Barcelona
Bride and groom coming out of the cathedral after their wedding
The original “cathedral”
Inside of cathedral
One more picture of the entire thing before we left
I promised I’d post about this a long time ago. …I never said I was good with promises.
Mid-October, Ilke, Jenny, Jakub, Giannis (my friend from Catalan class who’s from Cyprus) decided it would be nice to take a mini-trip somewhere outside of Barcelona. I had wanted to go to Figueres for awhile, so I presented that idea to the group, hoping I would win them over. As per usual, they were up for anything (I love these people). It was only 9.80€ for the 3 hour train ride there, and it was a very pretty journey, with sights of the little farms along the way and the mountains in the distance.
Once we arrived at our final destination, after keeping all arms and legs inside the train, we got out of the station and stood in an adorable little park, completely clueless as to how to get to the Salvador Dalí art museum. After lunch at a typical Spanish café (tapas, bocadillos, cafe con leche, blah blah blah), we finally broke down and used Jakub’s phone GPS to guide us to the museum. On the walk there, we went through an adorable Rambla-style area with a pop-up antique flea market and these gorgeous sun-filled back-alleys. The only word I could describe this day with is “yellow.” Really beautiful lighting that filled every nook and cranny with warmth.
After lazily meandering for about 20 minutes, we finally reached the museum, which is tucked away next to a gorgeous old cathedral (where Dalí was baptized when he was younger) and a quaint plaza filled with cafés. It only cost 9€ for student entrance, which, after our experience in there, is a complete steal.
We spent hours in this museum. I’ve been to the Salvador Dalí museum in St. Petersburg in Florida, but that place ain’t got SHIT on this one. On the website, the Teatre-Museu Dalí (it’s “proper” name) is called “the largest surrealistic object in the world.” Yeah, you could say that again. It boasts 4,000+ works of art inside, including paintings, photos, sculptures, drawings, etc. And why is it in Figueres, you might ask? Dalí was born in Figueres, a fact that I was (embarrassingly) unaware of until coming here. I live 3 hours from where Dalí was birthed and raised. That to me is so friggin exciting.
Upon entering the building, you walk directly into a large cupola that contains an old car that rains on the inside, a boat located at the top of a tall column, ivy-covered walls, and a voluptuous woman statue. SO Dalí, amirite? As you continue to enter the core of the museum, you walk into a high-ceilinged room and look at a gargantuan painting that reaches from floor to glass dome. I’ve never seen a painting this big. It was incredible.
Now, I could go into detail about the rest of my walk through the museum, including the hallways upon hallways of intricate ink-drawings, the sculpture that appeared to be a living room scene but when looked at through a concave glass plate turned into a woman’s face, or the enormous Sistine-Chapel-style painting of the artist and his wife. However, I would be at this for hours, and I don’t necessarily feel like writing a thesis paper on the intricacies of the museum. But I will tell you this: it was, and still is, one of my favorite places I’ve visited thus far. Every room and every painting proved to be more exciting than the last, and I found myself, though with a group, wandering around alone, completely enveloped in the work.
Our tickets also gave us access to the “Dalí Jewels” gallery, which is separate from the main museum. We had no clue where it was, and Jakub and I actually happened upon it accidentally. You have to enter through a revolving door that is similar to those used to enter a photography darkroom, which makes sense, because it is pitch-black inside. The only light in the space comes from the small bulbs placed under each of the pieces. It was a side of Dalí I had never seen before. I don’t really know what my thoughts are concerning the jewelry. It was interesting, but I don’t quite understand it. Then again, that’s Dalí. It’s meant to disorient you and make you reconsider everything you’ve ever done in your life. I’ll include pictures and let you judge it for yourself.
Also in Figueres is Castell de Sant Ferran, one of the biggest fortresses in the world. Yeah. The world. Jenny wanted to go take a look at it after the Dalí museum, so we trekked up the hill to go check it out. It was CLOSED. How upsetting. We got a couple pictures of the outside (which was still very impressive) and then took in the amazing view of the city of Figueres and the mountains that lie beyond it.
After making a quick stop at Dalí’s childhood home (it was also closed and therefore not interesting) and eating dinner (typical Spanish dishes, like always), we hopped back on the train and made the 3 hour journey home. Such a wonderful day it was, and one of my favorite trips thus far.
Location of antiques flea market (Group in the foreground, minus me, obviously)
Finally found the museum! (Sant Pere Church on the right)
She’s just “big boned.”
Through the concave plate. IT’S A LADY.
Huge ceiling mural (Gala on the left, Dalí on the right)
HIS BED (I don’t actually know that for sure, but it’s fun to dream, right?)
Giannis (left), Jakub (right), and I couldn’t figure this out.
Dalí Jewels exhibit
The inner red heart actually beat.
My favorite piece
The outside of the Dalí museum
Castell de Sant Ferran at dusk
View of Figueres and the mountains. No big deal.
Casa de Puig (Dalí’s birth home)
I figured that instead of “wasting” time reading Harry Potter, looking up pictures of Harry Potter, searching for YouTube videos of Harry Potter, or watching one of the Harry Potter movies (are you seeing a trend here?), I should probably be productive and update this thing a little bit.
I’ve been very, very, very busy…on the weekends, that is. I say this because starting at the beginning of November, I was able to drop my Designing Lesson Plans class that I loathed so much and free up a bit of my schedule. Catalan class (which was 4 hours a day, Monday-Thursday) ended mid-October, and then 2 weeks ago, I turned in my final project and took my final exam for my Sociology class. What I’m trying to say here is that I have nothing to do during the week. I’m taking two classes right now, Lengua Espanyola and Aprendizaje y Desarrollo (primary education psychology), and while they each require a bit of project work, I have so many free hours in the week to do them that I’ve eliminated most stress in my life. This has gone from being one of the hardest and most time-consuming semesters of my college career to being one of the easiest. I have class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, and I’m done by 10 on M & W and 11, 12, or 1 on F (depending on which seminar time slot I have that week). THANK GOD.
However, weekends have been packed lately, which is fine by me because I’ve actually become bored during the week (am I even allowed to say that??). Often times, we (my “core” group of friends, AKA The Brotherhood) will get together once during the weekend to cook a meal together because it’s one of the cheapest ways to hang out (besides sitting at a table and staring at each other, that is). I’ve met a bunch of wonderful people in the past few weeks as my close friends introduce me to their friends, and that’s really what I want to do most here — meet people.
It’s amazing how much I feel at home here now, and I think it’s honestly due to the fact that I do nothing unbelievably exciting during the week. I go to class, I come home, I do what I normally do back in Buffalo. I know my way around Sabadell more than my host sister does (which absolutely shocks me), and I can normally find a route to an obscure place in Barcelona as long as I know what metro stop is closest to it. I have my group of friends that I can rely on and a family that treats me so well. It feels like I’ve been living here forever.
The drawback of this (and yes, there is a drawback) is that I seem to have become completely immune to the extraordinary fact that I’m living in Barcelona. It all feels so commonplace at this point that I fail to remember that I’m here. Now that I’ve experienced a lot of Barcelona these past 2 months, I don’t get unbearably excited by going down there anymore. It’s just something I do. I need to somehow reverse this.
My way of shaking things up? I’m going to ROME next weekend! My friend, Megan, that lives an hour south of Barcelona asked me a few weeks ago if I’d want to fly to Rome for a couple days with her and quite honestly, it might be just the cure for this monotony.
Other than that, life is wonderful here! I’m still speaking a lot of English, much to my dismay, but I’m slowly meeting more Spaniards that I could practice Spanish with. My reading and writing have improved a lot, and my listening is getting there. It’s just the speaking that’s getting me down, but that’s normal when you learn a language. I’ve also found my Catalan to be improving, just by listening in on Montse and Estel’s conversations in my house (teehee) and reading signs around town. PROGRESS!
And now, I shall write posts about my recent adventures. WOO.
I’ve been horrible about this lately! But I have an excuse: I’m busy living!
At the beginning of last month, Jakub and I went to the Barcelona Air Show at Port Olímpica downtown. It’s a beach area and it was a gorgeous day out, so you can guess that it was packed. There were all sorts of planes and I squealed with every new one (I got stared at a lot by the old men that were sitting next to us). The only part that scared me a little was when the Boeing 737 performed. I had this strange, out-of-body experience from it because as soon as I saw it rocking back and forth in the sky, I was instantly reminded of the images from September 11th of the planes heading straight into the towers. After the air show when we were walking back to the metro station, I looked up at one of the tall buildings next to us and at that very moment, one of the smaller planes that had been doing flips in the sky flew across the building so close that I thought it was going to hit. Horror instantly filled me and I was prepared to see the smoke coming out of the side of the tower. I’ve never experienced something like that because I hadn’t been (at least, I thought I hadn’t been) directly impacted by the events of September 11th. My culture, though, has ingrained those images of planes and smoke in my head, so I find myself involuntarily flinching when I see a huge passenger plane flying low to the ground and doing “tricks.” I would’ve NEVER guessed that response.
Here are the pictures! Promise I’ll upload more stuff this weekend!
Another beautiful day in Barcelona!
Here it is. (shudders)
Catalan flag colors
Ew, a heart.