Let me set the scene for you. But first, I need you to go back to March 2020 in your mind. I know, I know, I don’t want to either. Those are not good memories. But, we must for this scene.
Sav, one of my best friends since the first day of Uni when we met, and I are sitting at a table in the Costa Coffee in St Andrews, a place I go to daily, if not twice-daily. It’s mid March, and we’re discussing what to do about our spring break plans to Barcelona.
“I mean, I guess we can still go? The only country that looks really bad right now is Italy. And, the Uni hasn’t told us we shouldn’t travel… so I guess we should still go?”
We both look at eachother, unsure. It’s early enough still in the beginnings of the COVID 19 pandemic that (detected) cases have only just begun to arrive in the UK, and we’re in a weird waiting period to see what will happen next. (The gravity of the situation was nearly impossible to understand at that moment in time– as we have all heard a thousand times over, these were unprecedented times.)
Sav and I have a week booked in Barcelona that we’ve been looking forward to for months– a packed itinerary, ready for some solid time off from being stressed out, constantly studying third year uni students.
Of course, give it a few days, and at that point the Uni has told us all to go home and not come back until August, and the world enters into lockdown. It is safe to say that obviously, Sav and I did not make it to Barcelona in March 2020. I remember wanting to cry as I got an email from RyanAir, informing me of my 80 Euro credit for my canceled round trip to Barcelona. I would have to use it by August 2020, they said, or I would lose that money.
Safe to say as well that I did not make it to Barcelona by August 2020, and RyanAir has extended that flight credit numerous times, as the pandemic raged on around the world. However, as COVID restrictions loosened two years later, Sav and I found ourselves thinking– was it time?
And it was time. After a jam-packed Holy Week and Easter at Emmanuel, I headed out for a week to Barcelona, meeting Sav there as she flew in from Exeter, where she was completing her PGCE in Religious Studies. I hadn’t seen her in almost a year– we had gone on a short trip to Florida in July 2021, and before that, I hadn’t seen her since March 2020.
There is something about real, true friendship that makes everything feel better. I was finding adjusting to life in Geneva slightly more challenging than I had anticipated– bureaucratic things like getting my work permit and opening a bank account were taking a lot of my time and effort, and it was a disheartening process. But reuniting with Sav brought me such familiarity, peace, and comfort.
Sav and I had such a good time wandering around Barcelona. Highlights as follows:
Sav and I chatted endlessly, ate such good food, walked thousands upon thousands of steps, and took in the sights of the beautiful city. To spend time with her, after almost three months nonstop meeting new people, speaking a new language, and having different experiences every day– it was truly restorative and brought me such joy.
This trip reminded me, at a crucial point, the importance of connection, and making time for the connections you have in your life. I have a tendency to overwork myself, and overly commit myself to projects. My self-worth is tied a bit too much to my productivity, which I am actively working on. But spending this week of vacation, without my MacBook in tow, reminded me that rest, relaxation, and fun are important for balance and wellbeing.
It also made me think of how different my life was when we tried to take this trip the first time, in March 2020. It made me sad to think of everything I’ve lost since then– mainly, my Mom, but also my last year and a half of university, and the experiences that would have come with it. But it’s also remarkable to see what growth I’ve made in that same time period. It may not always have been wanted growth (I’d much rather have my mom here than have ‘built character’ from her passing) but it is growth nonetheless. And, how grateful I am to have friends as amazing as Sav, who love and support me unconditionally, and are so wonderful to be around.
Anyway, that’s a look at my trip to Barcelona from April! As I catch up on these blog posts, it’s really nice to go back and look at all the memories I’ve made so far since I arrived in Geneva. Let me know if there are any topics you’re particularly interested in hearing about!
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. — Proverbs 27:9