My first alarm goes off and I naturally hit snooze, knowing that I will continue to do so again, and again and again until 8:07 a.m. I like to believe that I catch some z’s in between each one of them.
My body knows it’s time to wake up, even though it aches from dancing for three consecutive hours at Opium the night before (or should I say early morning). My sore body climbs out of my twin sized bed and my morning mania begins – I frantically look around the floor for something to put on, because my roommate and I are SLOBS and a tornado may have just visited our apartment on Gran Via.
I’m tapping my foot against the veneer floors of my flat’s kitchen, praying that my cheese is mostly melted on my “meat toast,” or a piece of toast with salami, prosciutto, tomato and cheese, (mmm Barcelona breakfast delights) before I grab it and dash out the door.
Mind you, multitasking in Barcelona is foreign. Walking and eating, no. Coffee on the go? You are NUTS.
I’m terribly out of breath from climbing up three flights of stairs, but I try to hide it by releasing a sigh as I walk into class late. After climbing the stairs, I walk off the burning sensations I feel in my legs and grab a seat. Yet, once I situate myself, I realize my professor hasn’t even showed up. Classic. I forget class starts 10-15 minutes after the scheduled time.
Class is alllllmosttttt over and I’m beginning to get antsy. I can’t wait to see what our chef cooked for lunch today, even though I’ve never been fond of his culinary skills. I’m assuming he’ll have his infamous octopus soup and possibly some bread balls—OR, maybe he will have rice and veggies, or even better yet, tortilla de patata!
As a disloyal fan of the chef’s, I thought a lot about Jack’s Frozen Pizza, or Kraft Mac & Cheese. Man, America had it so easy! Pre-packaged meals were so accessible! Where are they??
I’m dashing down the three flights of stairs that gave me aches and pains on the way up, because it’s already time for a mental and physical break from school. Staying up late at night, typically until early morning, was all so normal and natural for me now. I’d only been in Barcelona for a month, and I was already beginning to feel at home; at peace with the lifestyle that was so much different than mine at home in Wisconsin. I liked it; I liked it a lot, in fact. I especially liked staying up late. I’m a night owl and I like to think people open up more at night.
It takes approximately 20 minutes to walk from my school off the city center to my flat, yet I’m already swiping my key card to get into my bedroom. I realize, once again, I’m out of breath. Why was I rushing home? Why do I feel the need to constantly be walking at a such a determined pace? Nothing is rushed here, I know it; I see it; I’m supposed to experience it! Yet I find myself stuck in this American mentality – that I must get as much done as I can in a day’s time, that I’m here for school and to get the job done!
I peep in the kitchen to see what’s for lunch – lifting each cover individually: buttered rice, uncooked chicken, soggy vegetables and octopus soup—MMMM I was ecstatic to tell my floor mates that lunch did once again disappoint.
My floor mates and I are done complaining and I walk back to my room to eat rice chips and hummus (most likely how I gained 17 pounds abroad — you think I’m joking, but I’m not. Ask my roommate – we did it together).
I’m done with classes for the day and I’m on my way back to my flat to cozy up, drink some 3 euro wine and avoid all responsibilities – until I realize it’s only 2:30 and I have homework to do, people to meet and places to see. Do I stop at my favorite coffee shop on the way back, or do I go home, save a few euros and make a deliciously inexpensive latte at my flat? It’s usually the latter.
Some of my flat mates and I are scoping out dinner when our foodie friend and fellow flat mate inspires us to try out a new restaurant. Good thing I skipped out on that 3 euro coffee earlier.
Dinner isn’t until 9:15, but I tease my stomach with some hummus and rice cakes. My roommate joins me. What better way to bond with a roommate than to perpetually eat hummus and gain weight? (No, but seriously, it’s a bonding experience!)
We’re settling in at our table, as we always do. Our foodie roommate, Danielle, gives suggestions of what was highly recommended on Yelp and voices what she NEEDS to try – patatas bravas is always on that list, no matter the venue.
I take a moment. I realize that going out to dinner with my flat mates is like gathering around the dinner table at home. We’re here for conversation, for comfort and for pleasure. We’re here for each other, even when the sky has fallen by the time to eat dinner.
I quickly snap out of it and scan the menu. I can’t hold back our table’s order.
Waiters and waitresses showcase our cuisine as our foodie flat mate dips her pinky in one of the sauces. All eight of us grab a plate and pass it around. We always thought we’d have to order more than our three entrees and seven tapas, but most of us had to unbutton our pants before we taxied home.
My roommate and I begin to nestle into our crumb-filled beds and prepare to watch an episode, or four, of Modern Family. We push off our homework until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., and hope to get it done in time for lecture the following morning. Our parents are worried for us halfway across the world – and they have every right to be.
– – –
I remember calling my mom, bragging about all the things I got to see and do. Convinced I didn’t go to class, she’d never forget to remind me that, “You are there for school.”
To some extent she was right – I was in Barcelona for an education. I was there to learn about the history of media in Italy and how to write creatively, but I was also there to learn about myself and about the things that brought me so much joy. I was there to learn about the people around me and the happier ways of life. And ultimately, I was there to learn that a single day, 24 hours, can pass as quickly as a whole semester.