A special series. Barcelona, Spain – Estoy Aquí, I am Here! — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
Saturday, the 3rd of January, I began my trip. Driving the 164 miles from my house to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s first terminal, it still hadn’t sunk in that within hours I would be immersing myself in a culture quite different from the one I had grown up in. My first flight flew 8 hours overnight, crossing the North Atlantic, and numerous time zones. My second, from Amsterdam to Barcelona was only 2 hours- but it seemed somewhat longer than the much more familiar drive from Duluth to the Twin Cities that takes about the same time. Sunday, the 4th of January, I had arrived in Barcelona, Spain and had begun my 90-day adventure.
Before departing, I purchased a book suggested to me by my academic advisor/Spanish professor/Chair of my major, The Way of the Traveler: Making Every Trip a Journey of Self-Discovery, and within the first few pages I found writing activities intended to help me look introspectively at the kinds of emotions I was experiencing. On the plane from Amsterdam to Barcelona, I began feeling a bit anxious with the knowledge that I was only hours from my destination. I wrote in my journal various feelings, and after each I tried to trace them back to the source, it was a practice all at once overwhelming and therapeutic. For those of you who have traveled abroad for any period of time some of these may resonate with your experience, for those who have yet to travel- let them serve as an insight to what may precede the excitement and joy that studying abroad allows.
Here’s what I felt:
Anxious: being away from family seems like a respite- especially when your family is huge and raucous, like mine; but in all reality my family is my everything and being apart from them was actually one of my biggest fears. Realizing I’ll be three months without my friends and my hometown routine was a bit disheartening as well.
Excited: this is an opportunity I’ve wished for since the summer of 2011 when I visited Spain for the first time, I’m so very happy to be able to live here in Barcelona and utilize everything I’ve been studying.
Worried: that everything I’ve studied thus far will be insufficient; that my Spanish won’t be up to par, that my ignorance will shine through.
Exhausted: physically AND emotionally. I tend to avoid goodbyes to avoid the mushy, teary-eyed experience that usually accompanies them, and this trip was no different. But some I couldn’t avoid and they were some of the most difficult. Also, at the time of this journal entry I had already spent 14 hours sentada (seated) in airplanes, airports and a car, and I hadn’t slept a wink since the day before- so I was a little tired.
Now, I am well rested and feeling fine although I’m well aware I will experience a whole gambit of these same emotions and more during my stay. I’ve already had the chance to explore my new home a little, and am so very excited to learn more and more about its layout, history, food, and people – and how they all interconnect to form the beauty that is Barcelona! I hope to share my findings, musings, and interests with you, dear readers of the North Star Reports, and am more than happy to answer any questions you may have along the way! Hasta luego!
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The North Star Reports will share essays from our student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
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