Tag Archives: Study Abroad

Going Back to Spain

I’m finally back into a groove with my writing.  I know where I want to add scenes, I’m living in my story.  I see everything so differently than when I began.  If I could start over, my writing would be better.  I’m not patient enough to start over, so hopefully this will be good enough.

This afternoon I’m expanding a scene in Barcelona.  It’s evening, my female protagonist is exploring the city with a new friend.  In order to write, I first needed to crawl back into my own memories of Spain.  Part of the reason that I chose to send my characters on journeys was so that I could have their adventures with them.  I want this to feel authentic, so I need to remember.

To help me go back, I pulled out my old photo album from my summer spent studying abroad in Spain seven years ago.  A lot has changed since then.  My boyfriend is now my husband.  We both look older.  The photographs were taken with film, the color and clarity is disappointing, (especially after scanning).  Instead of blogging, I wrote my family weekly emails, which are stapled together in the back of my album:

“Alex and I have reached our last stop together and it is going to be very hard to say goodbye… Paris was beautiful and the people were much friendlier than we expected… Madrid really comes alive at night and Alex and I enjoyed a three hour goodbye dinner in La Plaza Mayor.”

“I made it safely to Burgos and have a nice little room with a bathroom all to myself… It is strange being entirely alone in a foreign country.”

“At home when I go out with friends we leave around 9:30, here things do not get going until 2:00 in the morning and people stay out until it is light out… Spaniards actually do dance moves as opposed to standing around kind of moving, and everyone sings along to songs in the bars.  ‘La Camisa Negra’ is still stuck in my head…  The city is so alive at night and all kinds of people are out, young and old.”

“I thought it was funny today when we were walking and I found a flyer for where to buy pimps and hoes garb, a theme that sadly the clubs must have decided sells well to American college students.”

“Last night we took an evening bus back to Burgos from Barcelona.  The Northern Spanish countryside at dusk was incredible.  As it got dark we even saw lightning storms.”

That summer changed my life.  Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Paris, Madrid, Burgos, Barcelona, Bilbao, Salamanca.  I learned to travel alone.  I made new friends and confirmed my love for travel, (until that point it was all in my head).  I have been back to Europe twice since then, but nothing will ever compare to that first long adventure.  Fortunately, I can always go back with words, pictures, and “La Camisa Negra.”

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