January 23, 2014
Every single semester I don’t realize I stress over the exams until they’re over. My appetite, for example, suddenly makes a reappearance. Likewise, this year, all of the sudden I became conscious of the fact that… I hadn’t had patatas bravas for the last three weeks!
Moreover, I have some good news to share: the only exam I was really afraid I’d fail, I already heard I passed! YES! I’m talking about the Spanish-American Literature one. I think, all in all, I will be able to end this semester proudly. Although, frankly, I am not just happy – I am also relieved, relieved that I will probably get good grades and (as my grandpa has pointed out many times) I got to travel so much without these trips negatively affecting my school work. The point is I did my best and now I can look back at my trips as the perfect reward for my hard work.
As I have pointed out past semester already, I don’t mind studying in an unconventional location. Seeing as I had a lot of time to study for my final exam, I decided to visit Sitges one last time. You might remember this, but this is the local gay beach town of the Costa Brava. The last two times I had literally not seen any guys that looked homosexual, but that was completely different last Friday. Guy couples were walking hand in hand, passing me by while I strolled through little shopping streets and over the promenade. I suddenly understood where Sitges’ reputation came from!
But this still is and remains a travel blog. So let’s talk fun things!
My goal was to take my two new roomies with me. However, they had gone out till late yesterday night (and had gotten lost for two hours, too), so the next morning they couldn’t get out of bed in time to join me. With my notes in my purse I left by myself. Believe it or not, I did study! On the train I dug up my notes and also later on a bench overlooking the sea and on a terrace (with some patatas bravas to keep me energized) in the sun. Linking business with pleasure. Boom. I love it.
I’ll tell you some more about my two new roomies, Molly 1 and Molly 2. When Cristina told me two new girls called Molly were coming from the same school in Chicago, I was utterly convinced some mistake must have been made or that Cristina had understood wrong. I mean, really, what are the chances?? Anyhow, it’s true. Brunette Molly 1 is a bit smaller than blonde Molly 2. Molly 1 seems a bit more reserved, but Molly 2 and I, we got along well together.
Last weekend, the three of us went to the brand new cinema two streets from the apartment to see The Wolf of Wall Street, a 3-hour-long movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. Wow, those three hours flew by! Before the movie, I’d wanted to take the girls to Belgious for a Belgian waffle, but I’d forgotten – again! – that it doesn’t open until 5pm… So instead, I introduced them to world of churros.
I also met up with some of my other friends. Last Saturday, I wanted to go to the famous chupitos bar called Chupitos in Calle Aribau – a street full of bars, pubs, cafés etc. – with Kerry, Anna and Johanna, but it was closed. We went to Espit instead, a sister to Chupitos. Afterwards, we kind of ‘ended up’ in one of their classmate’s flats where we celebrated Jake’s birthday.
On Tuesday, I said goodbye to my Spanish friends and classmates. After the exam Fran (also known by BatFran), Marta, Frederico and me went to Nostrum again for lunch, like we always did when we got lunch together after class. The farewell wasn’t a sad one. After our lunch, I returned the same way I came because I was meeting my other friends at the UB for coffee. We discussed our exam papers for the English courses we had together and wondered what it would be like when we went back to school at home. We also thought about coming back to Barcelona in the future.
Once back in my room, I could not resist the urge anymore and with great pleasure – no I am not kidding – I started packing my suitcase. Good thing I started this early! I didn’t have enough space to put all of my stuff! Oops… On Wednesday, I went out to buy a new suitcase. I found a really cheap, but sturdy one in a Chinese store that Cristina had recommended to me because it sells everything. This is one of the perks of not living in a student flat, but with a local.
Thursday morning, I officially unregistered from the UB. Suddenly, my departure felt more real than ever. I am never coming back here. Not to study, anyway. Whether I am happy about this, I haven’t worked out yet. At noon, Kerry and Anna had finished their last exam as well and we got lunch together at BuenAsmigas. For the last time, I walked down the Ramblas towards the sea. The three of us sat down on the pier by the Mare Magnum and chatted for a while. By the sea, we watched the setting of the sun and were just happily sitting and talking together. These moments are the best! I thought this was our goodbye as well, but nooo! Tonight we’re going out again. It’s kind of fun this way, continuing to say goodbye. Celebrating our departures. It will make the moment when it’s really the last time less hard, I suppose!
That same day, I had also received the message I had been waiting for several months; I had actually given up on receiving it several weeks ago. Esther had finally invited me to go have a café con leche somewhere! At 5pm, I met her at the Llibreria Laie, a giant bookstore complete with cosy café. My friends can compare it to De Zondvloed, a similar bookstore in Mechelen. It’s mostly locals that come here for group meetings, events or to have a good conversation over a decent cup of coffee. Or to start reading the new book they’ve bought. Let me refresh your memories for a sec: Esther was my host mom 2.5 years ago, when I was learning Spanish in Barcelona for a month before going to university. Back then, talking wasn’t so easy, because I was only just adding words to my yet-to-be-filled vocabulary. We chatted for a long time before we finally said our goodbyes. I can go home with an invitation that I was welcome any time. Not only for this, but also for setting me up with Cristina, I am incredibly grateful to her!
Now that the whole Erasmus adventure is coming to an end, I have started planning a city trip to Paris with my best friend in the first week of February. In the past, I have visited Paris a few times already for several reasons, alone and in company. But I have never actually realized how expensive Paris really is. It’s a good thing I already have a student job waiting for me when I go back home!
In the end, the purpose of this blog post is that I want to point out the following:
THE ERASMUS ADVENTURE IN BARCELONA HAS COME TO AN END!
It has gone so fast, as was expected, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want it to last a little longer… Of course, I am happy to go home in a couple of hours, which means I can sleep in my own bed again, but… I will miss living in Barcelona. I won’t miss the Spanish, though! Honestly, I’ll be happy to be conversing in Flemish again. On the other hand, I probably won’t be making as many travels in the near future as I have lately. I have enjoyed the benefits of living in Spain and now I am in for a travel detox, I’m afraid.
I had hoped to visit Valencia and Madrid – and even Valetta (the capital of Malta) was on my to-go list – but that didn’t happen. On the other hand, I have gone to places I didn’t expect to be going, like Andorra. I went to Portugal for the first time, when I visited Lisbon! Moreover, I had never expected to fall in love with Sitges the way I did. I had never hoped to make so many friends through something like Couchsurfing or to even participate in it! Obviously, I was hoping not to get robbed – which didn’t happen, thank god! I do have to admit that two of my little padlocks were lost on the road. I had them with me to prevent burglary… O, the irony! In the end, I still haven’t seen the Sagrada Familia nor Casa Milá nor Casa Battló on the inside. I haven’t gone back to Parque Guëll because they are charging an entrance fee now, which is ridiculous. Money-grubbers is what they are! Another big surprise was the fabulous Christmas decoration in all of Spain. The decorations are prettier than in Belgium, even though the lights are braided through palm trees. I succeeded in fulfilling many of my dreams and plans and sometimes I even outdid myself in a way I could never have hoped for. And all of this in 150 days!
See you soon!