M. Hanna ’18 – Full Circle in “116 Days”

El Turó de la Rovira, on my last day in Barcelona

Full circle 

During my last weekend in Barcelona, I woke up early every day. I ate my typical breakfast—an orange and a Magdalena (a type of muffin) from the jar on my host mom’s kitchen counter. I rode down the elevator, nodding and smiling at the elderly gentleman who often greeted me in Catalan, and stepped out onto Carrer de Balmes. It was a street I had crossed nearly every day for four months, sometimes strolling casually, other times at a full-fledged sprint in order to not miss the 8:38 AM metro on my way to class. I can still picture it perfectly, from the shop with the JAMÓN IBÉRICO (Iberian Ham) sign plastered across the window, to the rows of motorbikes lined up near the sidewalk, to the American food market on the corner from which I successfully restrained myself from buying anything for the entire semester. I walked to my metro stop, Pàdua, remembering the mischievous little boy who rode to school each day with his mother at the same time I did, the long, anticipation-filled rides to the airport before each of my weekend travels, and the time my roommate and I waited at that station at 1 AM just to get a McFlurry when we were missing home. I visited my favorite café, Santa Gloria, where I ordered an immeasurable amount of café con leche and zumo de naranja (orange juice), and spent hours studying Picasso’s cubist phase and struggling to recall the earliest conquering groups in Spain. I greeted the young women working behind the counter for the last time, acknowledging the familiar smiles of those who recognized me because of my frequent visits, who had always been patient and kind even if my Spanish was incorrect, and who had consistently made an effort to ask me about my studies and my time in Barcelona. The places that I visited that day—my street, my metro stop, my favorite café—were not the most popular tourist attractions, but the everyday places, and they were the ones that I would miss the most. They were the places that had helped me cease to be a visitor in Barcelona, and instead to make the city my home. On my last night in Spain, I climbed up to El Turó de la Rovira, looking out over the city that I had grown to love so deeply. It was different than the first time I had been up there, that very first weekend, when everything had seemed so foreign and confusing. Now, I could point out many of my favorite places from above; the tall trees lining La Rambla, the looming peaks of Sagrada Familia, the regal figure of Christ watching over the city from the top of Tibidabo. I felt attached to the city, as if tearing myself away would leave a piece of me firmly stuck where I stood, just as trying to peel a particularly clingy sticker off a surface inevitably leaves a portion behind.  My journey had come full circle; I was standing in the same place where I had stood four months prior. Yet I was no longer in the same place as a person. Only 116 days had passed, which seems like such a short window of time in the grand scheme of life. Yet in just 116 days, I experienced more of the world than I had in the entire rest of my life. In just 116 days, I left behind my old self in favor of a more confident, independent, curious version. In just 116 days, I built relationships that I know will last for many years to come. My time abroad will never leave me—it is simply one more memory to add to the reservoir of experiences that are a part of my identity.

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