It has been seven months since my last post. This summer I went on a (sort of) digital sabbatical, spending an unforgettable summer in Barcelona, followed by a considerably hectic second half of the year. There was no warning made whatsoever, so it might have appeared as if this blog was abandoned (although I did journal my bureaucratic stand-off with the Spanish consulate here and on Twitter). This was not the case, and thus I’m back, my friends, with the erratic and consistently inconsistent programming.
The real reason for my sudden and almost complete disappearance is, I am quite certain, the incredible sense of surrealism and some kind of unexplainable fascination I felt once I stepped off of the plane in Barcelona, sleep deprived beyond measure, exhausted, but incredibly happy to finally be able to experience living in a foreign land.
I knew that my visit was going to be a short one and the eight weeks would fly by, and so I made a decision to immerse myself as completely as possible, diving in as deeply into the culture and language as I could.
Barcelona is a place of great variety, successfully combining a relaxed, incredibly friendly and open-forward mindset of the Spanish people together with the never-halting busyness and buzz of a major metropolitan, always bursting with life and ready to welcome guests from all corners of the world.
I am not a seasoned traveler, and this experience was pretty much my first proper voyage beyond the borders of Russia. I’ve spent an immense amount of time preparing for the trip. Mentally, financially and, what’s most important, studying the language. By my estimation, it has been roughly one year and a half between my beginning of the studies and landing in Barcelona.
Have I succeeded in learning? Absolutely.
Of course, it was not completely perfect. In retrospect, I see that I’ve made certain mistakes in my immersion scenario which might have pushed the first few days of getting accustomed to the language a little bit over the edge of the amount of mental stress I am usually fine with.
Nevertheless, I’ve spent eight fantastic weeks in Spain, using Spanish everywhere, living each day through the language and with the help of it. Making friends, meeting open-minded and fantastic people from all over the world, hearing and telling the stories, laughing and crying, dancing. The knowledge of the language not only has made it easier and more enjoyable, but it also has transformed the whole experience into something that felt incredibly honest, rich and emotionally authentic. This is how the real fluency feels.
Upon my return to Russia, I’ve been asked many times by friends and family, colleagues and acquaintances, to share the story of my experience in Barcelona, and I’ve tried the best I could describing the climate, the food, the language, the customs, the incredible people I’ve met, stories I’ve heard and so on.
However, I have yet to find the proper words to describe the emotional impact this trip has made on me. The thoughts are buzzing and sparking on the edges of neurons, leaving a small, but unforgettable footprint of the adventure in my memory.
I believe this is something one has to experience at least once. I have no idea if I will have the same sense of wonder in my future trips, but I will try as much as I can to make it happen. And the most important part of it will be, of course, learning the language.
However, my affair with Spanish is not over yet. I’ve passed over the plateau, climbed the hill, and now am on a steady road towards true fluency. This is an extremely important moment. It might seem that I’ve obtained a certain degree of mastery over the language, but in reality I need to double my efforts now to solidify the success and progress even further.
We will continue this journey together.