Barcelona - the year I spent living in Barcelona literally feels like a distant dream now. Did it really happen? Was I really there? Am I real?
Okay, dramatics aside Barcelona was actually a life changing experience. So much happened, some good, some funny, some scary. I won't go into too much detail but one particular event really put things into perspective for me. We were on our way back from an organised trip to Valencia, 3 hours into our overnight journey back to Barcelona, I was desperate (to the point of crying) for the toilet. We passed a wreckage, a coach had overturned on the motorway. It was a pretty awful crash but all I could think about was getting to the nearest toilet. We made a pit-stop, I was relieved (literally and metaphorically) and hopped back on the bus to try and get a little bit of sleep before heading back into Barna. When we got back I went straight home, crawled into bed and caught up on all the sleep the weekend had robbed from me. Little did I know how significant that crash had been.
I woke up to Facebook posts from some of the people I'd met in Barcelona expressing their condolences, worries and great sadness. The crash that I had quickly dismissed as being nothing to do with me or my bladder was actually a coach of Erasmus student from Barcelona who, like me had taken an organised trip to Valencia for La Crema, the finale of Valencia's annual festival Las Fallas. Not only did the crash involve students that had been living the same kind of experience that I had, these were people that I knew, been on erasmus nights out with, friends of people that I had met. They were students around my age, who'd come to Barcelona for an amazing experience.
At the time, I was shaken. I cried at the thought that it could have been me or one of my close friends on that coach. It really put things into perspective for me. Not to sound preachy or cliché but it's so important to enjoy every moment of your life; to appreciate the people in it and let them know you appreciate them; to do things that make you truly happy; to stop worrying about things that don't matter. I learned all of these things throughout my year in Barcelona, but this particular event really cemented them. It's important to regularly reflect on what you're doing with your life and ask yourself if it is actually making you happy. Waking up everyday feeling miserable, inadequate or just under-stimulated is not what you were put here to do and when it's all over you don't want to regret not having pursued those dreams, been to that country or eaten the damn cake.
If the Valencia crash taught me anything, it taught me to be grateful for every little thing in my life - from waking up in the morning to the point of going to bed at night - and to live life with passion.
My heart goes out to those families that lost their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and to those people who lost their friends, girlfriends, boyfriends in the Valencia crash.