The University of Barcelona is a sprawling organization with campuses all over the city. However, for whatever reason, in 1999, all the exchange students took classes at the old campus, right off Plaza Universidad.
The building, built between 1863 and 1882, is classic Moorish architecture, with big courtyards and lots of greenery. I remember being 19 and walking onto this campus with a sense of awe. I attended Dartmouth, considered one of the more picturesque campuses in the US, and this blew me away. Everyday, we would have class, then all gather down in a courtyard and talk…about the days plans, projects on going, travels planned, whatever. It was an idyllic way to pass the time, and where many life long friendships were forged.
As we were walking one day, we passed the University and I couldn’t pass up the chance. I took my mom and stepfather in to see the beautiful building and where I had studied.
I must say, walking into the courtyard I felt a wave of nostalgia. It was like I was taken back 20 years. I watched the students chatting, eating, drinking their coffee and I thought fondly of my fellow classmates. I sat on the benches and felt close to tears. That time in my life meant so much to me. It was a turning point where I grew as a person and an adult. Being back in that area, where it all happened made me miss my youth but also appreciate how far I have come. I took my husband and son back to Dartmouth for my 10-year reunion, but the feeling of belonging and memories didn’t come close to what I experienced walking back into that courtyard and remembering that time.
There are a few times in your life that define who you are and how you grow. You never know that it is happening until the moment or after. Barcelona was that time for me. Forced to make new friends, be so far away from my family, and live in a city made me grow up into the independent confident adult I am today. I will forever treasure that time, and thank my school and family for giving me the opportunity that meant so much to me.