Thursday, 6 July 2017

Barcelona, te echaré de menos | Barcelona, I will miss you

Six months... has it really been that long? *Sigh*

As I pack up my bags and prepare to return home to Canada, it is time to reflect on my stay in Barcelona.

What have I learned?
-Certainly plenty about Spanish culture, about how to take life slowly and relax.
-A lot about architecture, other streams of design, and valuable resources that I can utilize in my future studies and career.
-How to cook (kind of)! With more time on  my hands I have been given the opportunity to experiment with new foods and flavours.
-To let go of not only lost items (I said goodbye to two cellphones and a nice camera during my time here nasty pickpocketers) but also "lost" opportunities. I now am trying to operate under the belief that if I did not attend something, then I was not meant to attend it.

The hike to the top of Montserrat.
A day-trip to la Costa Brava with my Uncle. 

-How to communicate better in Spanish, and even picked up a little bit of Catalan comprehension along the way.
-The value of language and am inspired to learn more.
-How to travel solo, and I now desperately want to explore more of Canada.
-A little bit more of Canada's place in the world, and what makes Canada unique among the brushstrokes of many other cultures.
-Why I value  the lovely West Coast, and how it forever is and forever will be a huge part of who I am.
-How to handle change and impermanence, especially in regards to the coming and going of the amazing people that have touched my time here.
-And many many many more things. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

I was fortunate enough to visit my roommate's village
"Mura" —year-round population: approximately 200. 

I went for San Joan, a holiday marked by a feast and fireworks. In Mura, the whole
community gets together in the main plaza to eat, dance, and set off fireworks. 

Kwinten soaking in some sun on the beach at Barceloneta.
He has truly grasped the Spaniard's concept of  tranquilidad.
What do I regret?
-Coming here? Absolutely not. Why? See above.
-Not bringing maple syrup with me on exchange.

How do I feel about going back?-Sad to be saying goodbye to the lovely people I have met and the never-boring Barcelona.
-Happy to see family, friends, and the beautiful nature of the West Coast.
-Optimistic about how I can take what I learned and bring it forward into my "normal" life.

Would I recommend this experience to a friend?
Heck. Yes.

The thing I will miss the most are the people and I only hope that I will be able to see some of them again. I must say I am quite envious of Europeans who have the ability to travel so easily and inexpensively; therefore, allowing them to actually visit people they meet. While I am sad to leave Barcelona and travelling, I am excited to return and see my home with fresh eyes.

These installations can be found all over
Barcelona. This one reads: "Life is so.
Full of light. Full of colour. A flower
 that opens in the center of your heart."

Drawing the canopy above els Encants flea market.

#Elisava #KPUInternational #KPUStudyAbroad #KPU #Barcelona #Spain #travel #drawing #Montserrat

Monday, 3 July 2017

La arquitectura de Barcelona (does this really need translating?)

Aside from being able to progress my Spanish, I chose Barcelona based on its wealth of architectural history. One truly needs a lifetime to be able to do an in-depth investigation of all the architecture there is to see here, from Roman ruins to modern, sculptural structures. 

An influential Catalan architect here in Barcelona (and world-wide) was Josep Lluis Sert. He was active in Modernism, and had collaborated with major figures such as Le Corbusier.  I was fortunate enough to attend guided tours to two of his buildings. The first was Casa Bloc, a high-density apartment block that provided ingenious solutions to creating a sense of place and community within the seemingly simple concept of residence. The second was the Pavilion of the Spanish Republic which was featured in the 1937 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. Here he collaborated with artists such as Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, and Pablo Picasso; in fact, one of Picasso's most famous works --the Guernica-- was given commissioned for and given central focus in the Pavilion. Unfortunately, my camera along with all the photos of Sert's work were lost. 

I was also able to visit the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. It is one of the most elegant structures I have ever been in (which is a contrasting opinion to a few of my instructors from Canada). It does an incredible job of dividing space with planes in a way that maintains open transitions and airflow. It is beautiful in its materiality as well, using consistent proportions and exhibiting seamless joining. While walking through it, I experienced serenity and quiet, both which are difficult to achieve in bustling Barcelona.

Caught a picture of Kwinten the
KPU Eagle admiring the lovely Dawn.

Arguably Barcelona's most famous architect --Antoni Gaudi-- is the one that stole my heart. Of course all of his designs --Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, the crypt of Colonia Guell, Parque Guell, Palau Guell, among many more-- are all magnificent, but undoubtedly the Sagrada Familia is a cut above the rest. I had heard from instructors and older students that the experience of walking in the Sagrada Familia was met with tears but I did not think it would happen to me, and well --it did. Walking in, my chest to swelled with anticipation until it just broke and I was left breathless. It is peculiar, powerful, and beautiful. Gaudi was primarily inspired by nature, and the Sagrada Familia exhibits this on a macro and micro scale. From the distribution of the flutes on each column to the overall feeling of walking beneath a canopy of trees, every geometry and gesture can be explained by nature. I have never, and don't think I ever will again, encounter such an incredible church. 

 This church, however, is still unfinished. Gaudi was killed by a tramcar outside the Sagrada Familia during construction. I can only lament that we did not get to see the architectural wonders this master would have created if he even had just an extra 20 years. The Sagrada Familia is projected to be completed in 2026, exactly 100 years after Antoni Gaudi's death. So, in 2026 you will find me in Barcelona on the stoop of the Sagrada Familia. 

#Elisava #KPUInternational #KPUStudyAbroad #KPU #architecture #interiordesign #Barcelona
#MiesvanderRohe #AntoniGaudi #JosepLluisSert