sooo my apartment got robbed at the end of september. fun times, lemme tell ya. but I just got settled into my new laptop and promise to start blogging again!!
So today marks my 19th day here in Barcelona, Spain where I am studying abroad for the semester.
In these past 19 days I have settled into one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen / lived in. I am ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE with Barca— the people, language(s), culture, art and architecture, lifestyle… I want it all. I already feel so comfortable in the city and often contemplate living here for more than just the 3.5 months I get.
1. My living situation: I’m living in an apartment in the newest part of Barcelona called Poble Nou. During Franco’s dictatorship, this area was all factories. But since I guess the remodeling of the city for the 1992 Olympic games, this has become the most newly renovated and modern part. However, the area is not touristy AT ALL. It is extremely residential and extremely Catalan. It is very obvious when my roomates and I go out that we are foreigners, but this also means that I have gotten a lot of Spanish practice in seeing as very few people here speak English. I am also just a 15 minute walk to the beach. <3
My apartment is AMAZING. Its a 3 bedroom 2 full bath apartment with wood floors, all new stainless steel appliances, air conditioning (rare), washer and dryer (barcelonians air dry everything. literally no one has a dryer. it is considered stupid and superfluous to have one), and a PRIVATE ROOFTOP DECK. That’s right… ima boss.
2. My academic situation: I’m taking classes through CEA Global Campus. My classes are all really interesting and taught by some really awesome professors. Most of these professors teach at the University of Barcelona or other universities in the city as well as being professionals in their field. The course load is pretty light which I appreciate but I am studying things that are extremely beneficial to understanding the city the culture and the people.
I’m taking this one class that’s called Communications and Global Competence which is is all about intercultural communication. We learn techniques to suspend judgement and describe/interpret situations first through various cultural frameworks as well as how to communicate across cultural barriers. This class has really solidified the fact that I want to go into a communications profession (possibly PR) and that my focus throughout my hs / Duke career thus has been intercultural communication (Breakthrough, defMo, and the Office for Integration with DukeEngage). It’s nice to finally be formally studying something that I have been doing for the past couple of years.
3. My travel situation: Thus far I have traveled within Catalunya quite a bit. I have visited Girona, San Pol de Mar (beach town in Costa Brava), Montserrat, the Freixenet Cavah factory just outside Barcelona, and the Pyrenees Mountains. It is such a beautiful region and I can’t wait to explore it more. I also will be going to Munich this weekend for Oktoberfest. My other trips include Paris, Amsterdam, Tarragona, Valenica, Florence, Rome, Granada, and Possibly Ireland. HELLO EUROPE I LOVE YOU.
4. My friend situation: I miss my best friends so much but I have been extremely lucky to be living with some amazing old / new friends. I LOVE MY ROOMIES. There was only one roomie I didn’t know at all before, the others (excluding my best friend from hs and dukie as well Tiff) are sorority sisters that I knew but was never close with. They are amazing and I’m so happy we are living together. Other than that there are a SHIT TON of Duke kids here who some I knew but majority I didn’t so it’s really nice to be making new friends that I can hang out with when we all get back in the Spring! The other students on this program are all really nice and I’ve met a couple that I’d like to be friends with….. but others have questionable levels of intelligence (sorry not sorry).
5. My language situation: Although Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya and they speak Catalan, everyone also speaks Spanish and I have been getting a lot of great practice. A surprisingly small amount of Spaniards speak English so I’ve really had to brush up on my Spanish while I’ve been here. Restaurants and taxi’s serve as the greatest form of practice as well as just hearing it all around you and thinking of how you would communicate for a specific situation should you need to in Spanish. I’m also taking two classes in Spanish which helps quite a bit.
6. My nightlife situation: Clubbing here is RIDICULOUS. Something is happening every night. Not kidding. Monday-Sunday shit is poppin. I go out probably like 3/4 times a week and it is always always amazing. People dance in Europe and I greatly appreciate it. All the bars / clubs along the beach like Opium are great. Though stuff is getting pricey so I’m probably going to have to cut back… but ohh is it fun. Because of our rooftop deck though, its pretty easy to have friends over for some drinks / hookah and have chill nights which I do love just as much as clubbing.
I love all my family and friends all around the world and at home and am missing you all terribly. But for now, Barcelona.
1. Every Duke student who has the opportunity or the time should apply for DukeEngage. It is the single most privileged and amazing experience that Duke provides for its students. The ability to go to a completely new city, state, or country without the stresses of finances, safety, finding a place to stay, or finding a job is beyond rare. We essentially get paid to indulge in a new lifestyle and culture and contribute to a community that has requested some help… FOR FREE. I’ve experienced Dublin and Ireland like I could have never done without DukeEngage, and for that I am forever grateful. Duke rules, your school drools.
2. My new life goal is to travel. Granted, serious money is needed for the type of travel I want to do so I guess I should say my life goal is to make money so that I can travel. There is just so much beauty in this world— so many breathtaking and impressive products of the earth and humans— that not even trying to see them would be sinful. Here’s to traveling the world.
3. I love food. Ohhh how I love food.
4. Life is meaningless unless spent with the family, friends, and people you love. If you can’t share the most spectacular and the most mundane moments with people you love… then what’s the point?
5. The universe is so fucking cool. It’s really calming for me to contemplate the vastness of everything and to know that my life on this earth is all a part of the energy that ties everything together. And although in comparison, our day-to-day lives are so small, they are still significant. To think, the light of our lives travels forever through an infinite universe is crazy. We live forever in our light.
6. I can only drink wine, beer, and whiskey. And the occasional tequila based drink. Cheap ass college vodka has ruined me.
7. I have found a person I want to spend my life with. Who knows if he’s THE person… but if he is, well then I will be very happy.
8. Watching episodes of One Tree Hill, Sex in the City, or Keeping up with the Kardashians over and over again is all the TV I need.
9. I have the BEST friends in the world. Soulmates.
10. Going abroad was the second best decision I ever made. DukeEngage being the first. BARCELONA HERE I COME!!
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.” —Irish Blessing
I never thought I would be this sad and heartbroken to leave. Yesterday we finished up both our group projects, one of which I was project leader and presented my final report on. It was so weird to see an entire 2 months effort that included countless hours of planning, researching, writing, and editing finished in just a few short hours. I know both projects still have a future life and are not done with our departure, but its hard to let go.
Afterwards we went to Milano’s for dinner for one last time. We ordered our usual bottles of red AND white wine and toasted to a great 8 weeks getting to know a new city, a new culture, and new friends. I didn’t know how much it would hit me that I was leaving Dublin. I almost started crying but then I drank through it ahaha.
Finally the night ended with a epic pub crawl that lead us to Fitsimmons where we danced the rest of the night away. Sooooo much fun.
Today we had brunch at Avoca (my favorite store / cafe here) and then FINALLY took the Viking Splash Tour (duck boat through Dublin). I just came back from drinks with the whole gang: all 8 duke students and the Tobin Family. I started crying as we said our goodbyes to the professors and their kids.
In the weeks proceeding this moment, I couldn’t have left sooner. I wanted to get out of here asap and get home to family, friends, and florida. But now that I’m facing saying goodbye to a wonderful city that I lived and worked in for 2 months, I don’t want to do it. I’ve had the most incredible, eye opening, and self reflective summer of my life thus far. I have seen and done more things in these 2 months than I have ever done. I doubt I will ever get another opportunity like DukeEngage and it kills me to have to say goodbye to it. But I will never forget this experience and I’m sure this isn’t the last I’ll be seeing of Dublin.
Thanks Dub. It’s been real.
“Where Children Sleep” by James Mollison. It really puts things into perspective.
So today I got to meet the Minister for Justice of Ireland! His name is Alan Shatter and he was a very nice man. He is technically in charge of integration, so he met with Declan, Alejandro, Deputy Eric Byrne and I to talk about the different campaigns and integration initiatives the OFI are doing. It was very refreshing to meet someone who was both well versed and engaged in the issues. I could tell by the questions he was asking that he knew and was very observant of the downfalls of the system. Additionally, he made it a point to state the Ireland is striving not for the separatist and independent social spheres of multiculturalism, but for interculturalism and a functioning integrative society which includes migrant communities in to the Irish culture but maintains their ethnic traditions.
After the meeting, we all went to the Parliament house where I got to have lunch and take a tour! It was a really beautiful beautiful place. The ceilings… woah. Such beautiful decoration.
I think I have met more influential government officials in my 8 weeks here than I will / can ever meet in the states. Because Ireland is so small, community oriented, and everything occurs in Dublin, meeting people such as the Minister is feasible for an intern like me. I really appreciated being included in these meetings and getting a chance to see how things run.
Home Countdown: 3 DAYS!!
i love spanish tapas. pintxo bar in temple…. omg yum.
oh and i’m meeting the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter tomorrow… what?
So 3 years ago I read The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio by Jonathan Harr for my Art History AP class. I loved the book so much. Its a historical novel that explores how they found the original The Taking of Christ (many copies and replicas exist, some may even be from Caravaggio himself) from 3 peoples perspectives and how all their stories collide. It also goes into detail about the restoration process of this work which was really interesting to read.
Well anyways! Today was a Bank holiday and we had the day off to work on / finish our final report for one of our group projects. When we finished, 5 of us went to the National Gallery of Ireland and low and behold there it was! I had forgotten that they found the piece in a residence in Ireland so when I saw it at first, I didn’t trust myself to believe that this was the one I had read about. But it was! Sooo very cool to have a moment like that. To learn so extensively about the history of a piece and then see it in real life. Very surreal moment for me.
1. I have gained weight. Damn you delicious food in Dublin. And to my arch nemesis, Greasy Salty Delicious Fries, I shall conquer you one day…
2. I hate being innactive. It makes me feel lethargic and disgusting.
3. I dislike the fact that I am not self-motivated enough to change situation #2 while being in Dub. It seems like dancing / yoga are the only things that have struck a chord with me (aka group exercise) and I have no time / for money for those things here.
THUS I have finally forced myself to do something about it once I get home. Groupon had a deal for an unlimited month long yoga class membership that includes beach yoga. It was only $39 and I figured if I have some sort of monetary investment set, then maybe I’ll go. I plan on 4 times a week while I’m home: 2 sunrise beach yoga classes and 2 sunset beach yoga classes a week (depending on the weather). Additionally, I will: swim, bike, and walk (cuz let’s be real… i’m not a runner).
4. Books have a wonderful way of transporting you into another time, place, and world completely. I know some people that say fiction books are pointless and why not just watch a movie instead. Those people are sad sad souls… as visually stimulating movies are… they can never captivate you like a really well written book.
5. How beautiful and horrible life is… too horrible to simply call tragic. Life is worse than tragic… What to do except dance, dance, only dance… - Abraham Verghese
6. A lot of people lack compassion and are very unwilling to sacrifice small things.
7. I love Defining Movement. I knew this already… just re-stating it.
8. Persian music is always the appropriate cure.
9. Being so far away from the people you love is exhausting but know that millions of lovers have been further apart and for longer and without the same technology. We will get through it.
10. Sleep is the greatest respite.