My Mediterranean SummerBarcelona, Summer 2012

During my study abroad experience, I’ve found that it is easy to get caught up in school, travel, and socializing. Before you know it, you have a routine – even if it is shaky at best – and the time seems to fly by. Now, I have less that two weeks left in Barcelona and I’m starting to wonder where all my time went. I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences and I’ve faced some challenges, but overall, it’s been an amazing experience.

Now, with my last 3 blog posts, I wanted to talk specifically about specific experiences I’ve had while studying abroad. I want to talk about my IES study journey to Costa Brava on the Northern coast of Catalunya, my trip with friends to Rome, and about an eye opening experience I had while spending my summer abroad.

Now before I go into my Costa Brava trip, I’d like to talk a little about something called Murphy’s Law. Now…Murphy’s Law states that “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” While this is not true in all cases, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the belief that nothing will ever go in your favor. Sure enough, on my last day in Costa Brava, good ol’ Murphy seemed to hit the nail right on the head.

But before I go into everything that went wrong, I’d like to talk a little more about Costa Brava. Costa Brava is located in Northern Catalunya. Within the region is the tip of the Pyrenees mountain range as well as beautiful Mediterranean views, beautiful cities, and the homes of the l’Exili museum and the Salvador Dalí museum. IES took the program, by bus, through the mountains, to Girona, where we were housed for the entirety of our trip. On the first day, IES split the students up into two groups. One group went to the South of France, but my group went to Theatre Museum Dalí in Figueres. The Salvador Dalí museum was literally out of this world. The whole place was peppered with symbolic sculptures and some of the most amazing paintings I have ever seen. My personal favorite was the ceiling in his bedroom.

After the Dalí museum, we headed back to Girona for the night. Now… the next day was my birthday! My 20th birthday, was, hands down, the best birthday I have ever had. We started the day with a somber visit to Museo Memorial de l’Exili (Memorial Museum of the Exiled), a museum dedicated to personifying and preserving the history of the Spanish Civil War and, more specifically, the exile of the Republicans after losing to the hands of general Francisco Franco. It was a powerful museum.

Next, we took a short bus ride to Collioure, France, for a quick stop above the Spanish/Cataluñan border. It was here where we visitied the grave of Antonio Machado, a Spanish poet and unofficial representative of the Republican struggle during the Spanish Civil War. At this point I had almost five hours to spend in beautiful Southern France. I explored the city, laid on the beach, and, most importantly, I ate French food. Seriously… it was the best food I’ve ever had. When someone tells you that French cuisine is the best, you listen. I had a fromage and Sardine panini with Crêpe Citron. Magnifique. I must’ve reminded myself to take a picture for the blog almost 1000 times, but by the time I went to take a picture, the food had mysteriously disappeared. Oops.

That night, some friends and I went out and had quite a bit of fun. I spent the night with good friends, in a beautiful vibrant city. Yet, here’s where the fun starts. My friends and I got back to the hotel around 4 am, and I went to bed around 5. Now, the sickness started around 6 am.

Anyone who’s ever traveled abroad will agree with me: Getting food poisoning in a foreign country is not fun. On that note, neither are two-hour bus rides through the mountains when one is sick with food poisoning. After spending about six hours in my hotel bathroom, I went to meet up with the rest of the group (unfortunately, we had to check out of the hotel). After meeting up with everyone, I then baked in the sun for two hours while everyone ate lunch. Next was the two-hour, winding bus ride through the Pyrenees, granted I was so delirious I don’t remember much of it. The rest, is well, history. I got horribly home and spent the next few days trying to keep up with homework while trying to get over a debilitating bout of food poisoning. It wasn’t pretty.

But, it was a learning experience. How you ask? I learned that there are countless other things that could be worse: kidnapping, rape, death, family emergencies, etc. But at the same time, turning green and getting sick all up in a hotel room an a weekend school trip is no walk in the park. I am also grateful that the IES staff were so sympathetic and helpful and, of course, present during my illness.

I guess all is well that ends well. And it ended well! I realized that I should be enjoying my time in Barcelona, not thinking about how much easier the past week would have been at home. And to be completely honest, my study journey to the Northeastern coast of Spain, called Costa Brava (Brave Coast), started off swimmingly (Har har). I stayed in Girona both nights, but during the day I had some amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I will never forget.

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