Since my last article, our 10-day break has come and gone. Some people went on mission while others explored parts of Europe. For my trip, I wanted a mix of both. Therefore, I split it in two. I started with a four-day stay in Barcelona. I concluded my break with a four-day stay in the shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. Both brought immense growth and fruit in different areas of my life.
When planning my 10-day, I knew that I wanted to be somewhere in Spain. As a Spanish minor with a love for the language, I wanted to be able to use and practice it. While I almost went to Madrid, I decided to meet my friend in Barcelona.
Once I arrived, I instantly fell in love. First, I loved being in a country where I could effectively communicate (even though I am not fluent in Spanish, it is much better than German). It also gave me the opportunity to stretch my comfort zone.
On the first day, I realized that I will need to try and fail many times to begin mastering the language, especially learning how to understand spoken Spanish and quickly articulate my thoughts in Spanish. Therefore, I was committed to take every opportunity possible to practice Spanish, no matter how embarrassing.
For example, there was an elevator ride with a line near the Plaça Espanya with no price shown. So I asked someone in line if they knew the cost. Also, when I could not find the Sagrada Familia, I asked people on the street if they knew. Spontaneous conversations like these were great blessings, even if I did not perfectly understand them.
While I encountered less encouraging people, such as the Pakistani 9/11-truther who ranted to me about the problems with President Trump and America’s foreign policy towards Pakistan, these still make great stories.
However, sometimes I wished that I could just spend a good amount of time just tackling problem areas in my Spanish. Luckily, I found a language exchange one night at a local bar. This was one of the best examples of what I enjoyed in my travels: meeting new people and letting myself be immersed in the culture.
While I emphasize my experience of language in Barcelona, the beautiful sites, churches, restaurants and even alleyways of Barcelona must not be dismissed. In fact, they allowed for a good daily rhythm during my stay. I could wake up, walk around the city, stop at a local restaurant for a coffee and croissant, go to noon Mass in Spanish at the cathedral, explore random streets, feed the birds at the Plaça Catalunya and meet Jehovah’s Witnesses along the way. I am glad to know that I did not waste a second of it.
After Barcelona, I headed to La Salette. When my bus dropped me off in Corps, I started the two –hour walk up the mountain to the shrine. I knew it would be a shift from my relaxed vacation in Barcelona, going to such a remote region in France.
However, this apparition is how I first encountered the Church, so it makes sense to work to get to the original site. On my way up the mountain, a few priests found me and drove me the rest of the way.