Early last year, I wrote a recount and chronicle of my time spent studying in Barcelona. The completed work was released via Amazon. Looking back, the work was written from various vantage points. While it had it’s moments of brilliance, it was mostly a loosely related narrative that was hard to follow. Time has made me a better writer, and I now feel that I am ready to give this work the time and love it deserves, for Barcelona was great to me.
I hope you enjoy the preview below. I don’t know when it will be completed in it’s entirety, but I do know that I want to share it with the world. I should just make like a rapper and slap an unrealistic release date, but one cannot rush this. I’d love to get your feedback, let me know what you think!
To make matters worse, I had had very little interaction with my new roommates. I had seen Filipa only once, and Julien was nowhere to be seen. Carol had also informed me that both would be moving out at the end of the month, Filipa back to Portugal, and Julien on another adventure. The possibility of me living alone scared me. Worst of all, Simba was not being a good roommate. He would follow me around the flat, harassing me at every turn. I thought about pissing in my room to avoid the devil dog. After two nights of self imposed despair and insomnia, I cracked. I laid in my foreign bed and cried.
I had heard of culture shock, I just thought that I would not be susceptible to it because of how open minded I thought I was. Once the novelty period and joyous experience that were my first few days in Spain wore off, I was plunged into a KiD CuDi like depression. San Diego State’s abroad handbook states that “Once the excitement and the novelty wear off, you may experience frustration, loneliness, irritability and in some instances, depression. Some students may become homesick and will complain about everything, and they may want to come home.” More and more, I found myself comparing everything to back home. “The food here sucks, the people are too stuck up, WTF kind of outlet is that?” If you would have spoken to me then, you would have thought I hated Spain. but rather, I hated being alone.
As early as the second day in my new place, I began thinking of moving out. I had not met my supposed roommates, I was far from the campus and at this point I hated the dog. I figured I could use a new beginning and move in with students. I would visit the campus postings and peruse Facebook listings for places to move in. By the fourth day, I decided I had better tell Carol about my situation and my impending plans to move out. She had said she would stop by after work to give me a missing key. I had been a nervous wreck the whole day wondering how she would react. Would she be angry that I wasted her time? Would she berate me and call me out and push me further into a slumping depression? I couldn’t believe she did none of the above.
As soon as she walked into the apartment, she knew something was wrong. So thus I began to explain.
As I fought back tears of frustration and shame, I explained to her that I thought I had made a mistake and that I would like to move closer to the campus to be around students. She stood there momentarily and replied that I had to do what I thought was best.
“This was so much easier than I thought!” I said to myself. But she didn’t end there. She must have seen the loneliness and desperation of being far away from home and all alone.
“I know how you feel.” She began.
“I was the exact same emotional mess that you were when I first came from Portugal years ago to study. I was away from my mom and I wanted nothing more than to go home. The second day here I was already begging for a ticket to Lisbon. And unlike you, I didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. And I’m a girl! So if you feel this way, imagine what I must have felt like. But remember, this will pass. You feel this way because school has not started yet. You haven’t made any friends yet. But you’ll see once school starts you will meet everyone and make lifelong friends. Trust me, I was there. You think leaving will make you feel better, but it will be the same in any other flat. It is quiet here right now but believe me these other rooms will not stay open long. This has been a lively flat since I have known Matias (the owner who away on a boat in Ibiza). It has been full of wonderful people from all around the world, just like you. If you made up your mind to leave then I’m not going to stop you. But you’ll soon realize that I was right.”
I’m the oldest in my family, but she spoke to me like a long lost older sister, handing down advice to her confused baby brother. Her words resonated deeply with me. While they were not enough to push me out the slump I was in, they were more than enough to convince me to man up and tough it out until it passes.
Me running from flat to flat would only elongate the inevitable hardships of studying abroad. She asked if I was going to move out so she could plan accordingly for next month. I assured her I’d be here until January. That night was like the preceding nights, full of insomnia and homesickness. But I knew Carol was right. As the night dragged on, I heard Simba hitting my door, attempting to get in. He had not stopped barking in the five days I had been there. He was like a warden, keeping me imprisoned in a room full of solitude. Despite that, I couldn’t help but open the door. Surprisingly, he trotted in, looked at me, and laid on the floor next to my bed. I cautiously reached down and petted him for the first time. He looked up and stared at me with his big beady black eyes before falling asleep. The beast had accepted me as one of his own.