University of Wisconsin–Madison

Leaving and Goodbyes

When I first started this blog, I had no problems posting every week about my life. However, as I spent more time abroad everything started to build up and go by so fast. I feel like I have done so much, but also feel like I never slowed down to truly relax (which is a problem for me no matter where I am, not a studying abroad problem). I finished my finals this past Friday and turned a paper in this week. I am supposed to leave for Rome tonight and then travel with a friend for 2 weeks, but I changed my mind last minute (I promise it doesn’t happen often). I would be traveling alone in Rome, which isn’t what scares me or made me change my mind. There is just so much I need to do and get my ducks in a row before traveling (I am still meeting up with my friend, though!). I deserve to give myself time to relax that I never allow myself to do.

                Yesterday was the Día de Sant Jordi here in Catalonia. While the USA and other parts of the world celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, Catalonia celebrates St. Jordi on April 23rd. You all can google the backstory which includes a dragon, a princess and a rose, but the major part of the holiday is the exchange of roses and books. Historically, the woman gives a man a book and the man gives the woman a red rose. However, this has developed over the years to includes the reverse exchange or simply giving your friends, family and general loved one’s roses or books. Fun fact, Día de Sant Jordi is the single largest day of book sales in Spain. Additionally, the yellow rose has transformed into a symbol of Catalonia independence. As seen in my photo, many people place yellow roses outside of the parliament building and other important places around the city. I woke up in the morning to the streets filled with locals, flowers and book stands and spent the day with my best friends. We were even interviewed by the Catalan News about what we think about the tradition!

But back to saying goodbyes. I have the good fortune of coming back to Barcelona after traveling for two weeks and then return to the States. While everyone says their goodbyes to the city, I get to come back, but it won’t be the same because the people will be different. I am so proud of how much my Spanish has developed, however, I still need to be more confident with it. I can speak in Spanish for hours with a single person, but ask me to order at a restaurant or have a conversation in a noisy bar with a group and I get lost. I blame it on my poor hearing (too many concerts I guess, but also, I just have poor hearing in general).

I still haven’t really bought gifts for people from Barcelona. I don’t know why. I have bought items while traveling to other countries, but nothing from Barcelona. I can’t wait to give my gifts to friends and family. It is rare for me to give gifts to people because I don’t like the consumerism culture. However, the items I have obtained are thoughtful for each person.

I love Barcelona and traveling and will miss the city, people and excitement. I am also looking forward to adventures back in the States. I now have friends from not only around the USA, but around the world. I am staying in Madison for the summer (my first one!) and am excited to the adventures I will find there. I still have a couple of days left in Barcelona and I plan to make the most of them. The best advice that I can give to someone who goes abroad is “always go for it”. As one of my best friends always quotes “living my best life”, this is the perfect representation of my advice.

Best,

Kate