Jacob Moore ’12 – On May 23rd I left my small hometown of Crawfordsville, IN to study in Valencia, Spain for a month. I was accepted through the University of Virginia to study at their host sight, in Valencia. This trip was definitely way out of my comfort zone, as I did not know a single person who would be accompanying me. However, I would not change the experience for the world. It has made me more confident in myself as a person, seeing a different culture alone, and making many memories along the way.
Growing up, I was the youngest in my family; I always had the back up of my siblings or parents. Many people see high school as their “growing up stage” and lose their “support” system of family. However, I had two older siblings already attending the high school, and thus I had support. Next came college.
Heading to college, I chose Wabash College another small school of about 600, and once again the support continued during this major transition in life, as my brother attended Wabash, and the campus is a 15-minute drive from my house.
This trip, however, I was on my own for the first time! Arriving in Spain, I met my random host family, which turned out to be the best family here (in my opinion). They are very similar to mine with 3 boys and 1 girl (the youngest, Jacobo, being 25, the eldest, Marino, 36 and with two more in the middle). They took me in as a fourth brother and showed me the ropes of living in Spain. The first week was a little rough getting accustomed to being on my own, but after being lost twice throughout the city and making friends everything turned out great.
However, this past weekend has been my best experience, yet. I hopped on a bus and went to Barcelona for the Sonar Music Festival. I met another Wabash student, Logan Falley, who is studying in Madrid, and we began touring the city. If you don’t know Spain, this country NEVER sleeps. The festival started at 11pm Friday and Saturday nights and did not end until 7am each morning. This is how the “discotecas” work as well. Everyone sleeps from roughly 5pm-9pm- a time which is called siesta- wake up to get prepared for the night, eat supper around 10PM at the earliest, and then hit up the bars. From the bars they either go to clubs or discotecas. The bars close at 3am, but that is when the Discotecas open up, and don’t close until 7am! Anyway, back to Barcelona.
The Music Festival was in an “Undisclosed Warehouse” and we had to take a bus to arrive at this warehouse. After arriving at the warehouse-I can’t explain the feelings for what happened in this warehouse, because there aren’t any words for those feelings! There were roughly 100,000 people amongst 5 different stages all blaring Techno/ Dubstep/ Electronic music. If you have never heard techno music the best way to describe it is trancelike. The lasers, bumps, black lights, and EVERYONE moving at the exact time sends a jive through the body only experienced at a Rave. The light shows were surreal, as were the people. Yes, I had a wonderful time here, but it was on Sunday that made this weekend my favorite trip.
Barcelona is HUGE! It’s the second largest city in Spain with a population over 1.5 million people. The architecture of the buildings is magnificent and once again words can’t explain. Logan flew back to Madrid on Sunday morning at 7, but my bus didn’t leave until 7 that night. Thus, I had all day to tour. I checked out of my hostel at 11 am. I circled various parts of the city on a map that I wanted to see and off I went! My first stop was the Olympic Stadium that hosted the 1992 Olympic Games. What I did not know was this road was heaven for a tourist, perfect! This area had various other attractions I did not plan on seeing but was glad that I did.
I walked through this beautiful garden of flowers that had blooms the size of my head, an ancient Greek Theatre, the National Museum of Art de Cataluña (MNAC), a park dedicated to the surrealist Juan Miró, and ate a very cultural lunch. I normally would not have stopped at the two art museums, but I am taking an Art History course here, and have a newfound love for art. (Yes, the extended limbs, squiggly lines, and squares are art). From here, I hopped on a metro and went up north to visit Camp Nu, which is the home stadium for FC Barcelona, one of Spain’s, and the world’s most famous soccer teams.
Sadly, I arrived 30 minutes too late, and could not walk inside the gate, as there were guards everywhere. From Camp Nu, the stadium, I jumped on another metro directly east and visited Gaudi’s, Park Güell. This is not your average park, as Gaudi is an unbelievable architect. All the way up the mountain were various walls, bridges, and other structures built out of rock and plaster. How they were able to accomplish this feat I am yet to know. To finish my journey I headed south to Gaudi’s most famous structure, and one of the most famous buildings/ Catholic Church in the world…. La Sagrada Familia. The building’s groundbreaking was in 1826, and the completion date is set for 2026, the centennial of Gaudi’s death. I will try and explain, but once again, you will have to look at Google images to try and understand what I saw, but up close in person is breath-taking to say the least. Sadly, once again I arrived too late and could not enter, but maybe the next trip to Europe I will be able to accomplish these tasks. La Sagrada Familia is by far the biggest building I have laid eyes on, and there are various levels to it. One side shows a group of angels peering out of the side the building, while right next to them is this cone like figure that makes as a window. However, there is no glass, and people just walk out to peer down to the city approximately 13-15 stories up. Crazy thing is, this ledge is only half way up the building. Below I attached a picture of the “edificio” to give the building justice.
From here I had about 1.5 hours left so I began walking to the bus stop. On the way I had time to reflect on my journey of the day, and the previous three weeks in Spain. However, these thoughts were interrupted as I passed the bull-fighting stadium! Finally in my favor (I was not too late), there was a bullfight that night and I was able to witness the protests that went along with it. After a few tourist pictures and speaking with the peaceful protestor’s I continued my journey to the bus station. Sadly, I could not miss the bus because it is a 5-hour trip back to Valencia.
Spain has taught me a lot, and I have become a better person because of it. The people here are more than nice and are more than willing to help out. I have been lost on a number of occasions, and luckily I was living close to a big church and stated:“Donde está la Mesquita” and with a simple point of the finger I’m was off on my way. This trip also helped me become very independent person, and know I can travel alone to other countries and be just fine. If I can take the metro, bus, or walk without knowing anyone or knowing the area, I know that I can handle the turns and “closed” signs that will happen in my life journey.
Spain has not been all roses and chocolate though, which also helped me grow as a person, too. I believe you have to see ugly/hate in order to see peace/love, and that has happened. On a number of occasions I have hung out with people that are not the nicest in the world, which made me a better person in the end, and I can only thank God for putting me in these situations, as seeing those people not being polite has taught me that being kind and nice will get you further in the game of life. One occasion I was enjoying a relaxing day at the beach doing some homework and I saw this frail young boy with an oxygen tank. With him were two adults and what appeared to be his sister. This had to be the boys first time at the Beach because the smile he had on his face was priceless. He would jog up to the water and just stop before getting wet. Finally after a few minutes of prodding the young boy took his sisters (4-5 years old) hand and tiptoed into the water. He splashed and played as much as he was able to. These experiences are ones that will stick with me forever, and I am grateful I am able to live them.
I hope you liked my tour of Barcelona, and if you have any questions or would like to hear more stories you can always join “Wabash College Wrestling” Facebook page and I will be more than glad to respond!