It’s time for another update in the day in the life of Jess!
As the days come to finals days, the final trips have approached, one could definitely say too quickly.
One exchange student can simply not just attend classes and stay at home on the weekend, that is why I planned on meeting my dear German friend Nina in Barcelona for the weekend. I met Nina when she was on exchange in Wagga Wagga in 2011 and we have managed to see each other every day year since somewhere around the world. Nina is currently studying Spanish in Barcelona. As you could imagine my weekend was wonderful, a new city with an old friend, did i mention she has a job in Barcelona as a tour guide. Thus making me very lucky to have my own personal tour guide. Knowing all the tourist places to visit and the local hide outs. The city shocked me in terms of the people and languages I was surrounded by. In Madrid it is rather rare to hear English spoken in a Shop whereas in Barcelona that’s all I heard. There are several reasons for this, the first being Spanish isn’t the first spoken language around the Barcelona area whereas in Madrid it is but also Barcelona welcomes foreigners and also find it easier to speak english rather than Spanish sometimes. It is hard to comprehend but it works, and is definitely an advantage for an English speaker tourist or not.
Exploring the city was filled with endless pieces of art and beauty, located right on the beach, one could describe it as “the whole package”. You hear off a lot of people that live in Spain and tourists that you either like Barcelona or Madrid, and regardless of how wonderful it was, Madrid has won my heart.
It is rather to think of Madrid having my heart, but even if i’m using it as a home base it has given me an open door to the rest of the world and for that i’ll be forever grateful. When I look around my class rooms I see some of the best people from all around the world, all different, from different lives and studying different things but here we are in Spain together – our one common ground.
The travel bug has continued and as I took off on Swiss Air with my American’s for our last adventure away I had tears in my eyes. It is hard on exchange to take it all in, reflect but not get stuck in the moment as the new is already in front of you and if you don’t capture that moment, it will slip away. Unfortunately that is one thing I am constantly reminded- Time doesn’t wait for anyone. With the watery eyes clearing quickly, I looked around and smiled as we soon landed in Zurich, Switzerland.
Four quick days around the neutral land, we saw everything. Used three different languages when attempting to order coffee ( German, Spanish and English) It went a little like this.. Ein Kaffee con leche please mit sugar, Gracias. We played in the snow, we tested our winter jackets for the first time, drank a lot of hot drinks and visited some traditional Christmas markets. Despite the cold temperatures, sight restricting fogg, we still managed to see the Swiss beauty and also noticed how it is one of the most experience cities in the world.
A drive through the Alps took our breath away and especially our view from Mt Pilatus, with a great lunch with great height above the sea and clouds along with great people, it was a pretty magical moment. It is these moments where I feel like the luckiest girl in the world and thankful that I could get to this moment. The drive ended us in the city of Geneva. The city where you don’t if you can speak French or German or English. Unfortunately Geneva resulted in a couple of sick chickens and had two visit the doctor. Travel is exhausting no matter where or how long, it is difficult to rest but it is really important to look after yourself and even though we didn’t see a lot of the city, it is a sacrifice that was needed. My tip for anyone who is sick while travelling, is not to be angry or push yourself more, but take that day or two for your body to recover and then go again.
None of our trips ever ran as smoothly as wished but that’s what made them the best, it is the unknown events, places and people that create the memories that will forever stay with you. As I reach my last group travel, I want to thank everyone who travelled with my over the past 4 and a half months! You have all helped me create memories that will last a life time. Open your heart to the world and the world will come rushing in.
My next week will be filled with my final exams and the final goodbye to Spain.