CISABROAD BLOG · March 8, 2016 · 4 Min Read
Humans of Barcelona | Student Blog from Spain

Emma R Blog Photo

Emma R. studies English Literature at the University of Minnesota in Duluth and is currently spending a semester interning in the beautiful Mediterranean city of Barcelona, Spain. She profiled Abigail Sanchez for a CISabroad Student Author assignment. Enjoy!

I had a hard time choosing between the extraordinary people that I have met on this adventure to write about. For now, I will share with you the story of Abigail.

Human of Barca

I met her in the metro. I dropped my coat on her feet and we both went to pick it up just as the metro jerked. We both ended up sitting on the floor laughing.

Through some jumbled Spanish and English, we were introduced. She had to go but she gave me her number in hopes that I would call her for coffee sometime. I did so, feverishly, one day later. We met at Starbucks. I know that it wasn’t as “cultural” as going to a less franchised coffee shop but we both knew where it was and I was excited to learn about her.

We spent 4 hours in the coffee shop. We had barely touched the coffee because we were both excited to spend time defeating language barriers. I was filled with wonder as I heard her story.

Abby’s parents are members of the wealthy class. She was educated in 3 different languages. She speaks German and French fluently but her English is choppy. When she was in high school, her mother sent her to boarding school in France. While she was there, she played soccer and ran. Her school was in the city but it was on the outskirts so she would go running through the small towns on the weekends.

When not at school, she chose to travel instead of going home like most high-schoolers. She never traveled alone but she wishes she had. She never mentioned all the countries she had visited but she said her favorite experiences were during the summer. One time, she went to Russia to learn Muay Thai, another time, to Chile to stay with a host family in Elqui Valley and yet another summer in Darkhan, Mongolia in an art class. Christmas holidays she went home to Madrid.

Her hobbies include painting (which she is incredible at) and playing the violin.

She spent 4 years away from her family. That is her biggest regret. Now, at University, here in Barcelona, she is studying to become a doctor. Although she is not happy doing so. She wants to teach art to little children but she owes all her experiences to money. She wants to be able to give her children the experiences that she has had.

She is now pregnant with her boyfriend of 3 years. They met her first year at University. She is so scared because she has so much schooling left to become a doctor but her boyfriend has a sturdy job and her parents, though they are not happy about it, will help financially. I quote Abby “But most, I am happy. Having a child makes me grow up more and happiness is similar to love, sometimes you have to choose it.”

After we laughed and talked at the coffee shop, we decided to get dinner since we were out so late. We took the metro. While we were there, we saw a person who was reading their bible. I realized I hadn’t asked Abigail about her spirituality/religion. But soon after I remembered this, I found my answer.

I watched as Abby walked over to the old man and sat next to him. They were talking quietly in Spanish. He put his hands in hers and they both bowed their heads. She spoke, I assume praying. About 3 minutes after they started, they looked up at each other and he smiled with every inch of his body. His joy seemed to radiate. I saw people smiling at them, curious people staring and her humbleness in this moment was the reason that I decided to write about her.

It is, truly impressive, her stories of travel, the people she has met, the difference in lifestyle or family life to mine but the most significant thing about her is her boldness. “To have a soft heart in a cruel world is strength, not weakness.” She cares so deeply for the things that she sees, the people around her and herself. She knows her worth and she sees worth in so many things. She has inspired me to be gentle and step outside my comfort zone.


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