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Becca Kaplan

Two By Two

by Becca Kaplan | Jan 25, 2017

It is now day 1 of week 2, and it feels like I have been in Barcelona for months already. I haven’t gotten lost in 3 whole days, I can communicate with my host family a heck of a lot better than when I first arrived, and I have already found my go-to café for when I need to cram in a study session or need a pick-me-up on a rainy day. A lot has happened, and I have a feeling that my days of exploration and adventure are far from over.

            Rain has been a consistent part of my daily routine, and Tuesday, January 24 was the first really beautiful day since I moved in with my host family. To celebrate such a glorious occasion, I went out with another girl from the BCA study abroad program, and we explored the city a little bit. We started with tapas across the street from Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia – my all-time favorite piece of architecture – and then went to the opposite side of the city and laid on the beach for a good hour or so. It was actually this girl’s first time to any kind of beach, so naturally I made her take her shoes off and walk along the sand and take pictures of her standing in the shallow waters. Going to the beach for the first time is a very big deal in my world; it’s a southern thing. There’s something magical that the beach brings, and if I could, I would be there every weekend; however, it’s cold outside still, and the breeze coming off of the sea does not help keep me warm in any sort of way. The views and the pictures I take there are stunning, but going every weekend might start to take its toll on me eventually. For those wanting to live vicariously through the life of a Study Abroad student, here are a couple of pictures from my latest outing to the sea:

Kaplan - Sea

Kaplan - Beach
            After the beach, I managed to talk my friend into going to Casa Batlló with me. Casa Batlló is one of my favorite architect’s – Antoni Gaudí’s – works, and its whole purpose was to “be a house that could be touched,” at least according to Gaudí. The structure is rumored to not have a single straight line in it (think Dr. Seuss style), but I did manage to find a couple straight lines in the attic. You see, Gaudí’s whole aesthetic was about creating buildings that were ergonomic and seemed natural and real, like it belonged. This man put so much work and detail into his work, and after taking the tour, it shows. Everything from the type of glass used for the windows, to the shape of the doorknobs, and even the typography used on the doors to mark an entrance or another room. It’s almost hard to believe that one man made such an insanely detailed building in just over a two-year span. I really hope that when his church (La Sagrada Família) is finally finished in 2020 or so, it will be just as exquisite, if not more. Just so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about, here is a picture I took standing outside of the house. Admire its beauty, and please feel free to find me on social media if you’d like to learn more. Art history is kind of my thing. Some people like science, some people like gym, but I am an art history girl all the way.

Kaplan - Gaudi

            Spain has opened a lot of doors for me, and classes don’t even start until next week. I’ve met a lot of new people, and I’ve experienced some things that many people will never get the chance to take part in. If you do decide to study abroad through Manchester University, you will get handed the same opportunities that I am, and maybe even more. It’s all about putting yourself out there, and doing new things, and not giving a care in the world what people think about you. If you want to take cheesy tourist poses with statues, or carry your big camera bag around with you: DO IT. Life is way too short. Enjoy every moment you can. At least, that is what I’ve been doing. Who knows if I’m ever going to get to come back to Europe? I’m going to do what I can while I’m here, and hopefully make the kind of memories I’ll want to tell my kids and grandkids about one day.

            I’ve been think about that concept a lot lately: the idea of life being too short. I guess I can thank my latest read on that. Nicholas Sparks’ Two by Two tells the story of a man, Russ, who tries so hard to please everyone – his wife, his family, his daughter, his work clients – and right now Russ isn’t too happy with his life. His wife isn’t supportive, his daughter isn’t old enough to recognize how miserable her dad is, and because he just started his own advertising company, Russ is struggling to find clients to hire him. And as I’m reading this book, I realized that I’m a lot like Russ, or at least I was. I tried so hard to please everyone that I never left any time to work on making myself happy. Now that I’m in Spain, being myself, living how I want and doing all the things I never thought I would be able to do, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m not in Spain to just learn Spanish, I’m here to learn about myself, and I think that I’m on the right track. That’s a big part of studying abroad, I think. Wanting to discover so badly that you let the idea of change and self-discovery motivate you to stay focused and work harder. I haven’t finished the book yet, so I can’t exactly tell you what the moral of the story is, but I’m hoping for a good ending. Until next time. – B.

Becca Kaplan ’19, is a Spanish Secondary Education major with minors in TESOL and Business. As a commuter student, she spends most of her time on campus either studying, watching Netflix, or writing her next blog post. When classes are not in session, Becca usually travels, either visiting her parents in Florida, or her extended family in St. Louis.

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