You know that feeling when you’re on a DC excursion for too long, and you express your dissatisfaction and general agitation with a sigh and the phrase “I want to go home.” You don’t mean your actual home, you mean your 220-square foot dorm room with its cozy comforter and perfect temperature and questionable hygiene. In Barcelona, when I had had my run of the day’s activities or too much paella at dinner, I would let my friends know that I was ready to return to our home - the beautiful suburb known as Sant Cugat. In the ‘Gat, everything was always fine. The rain stopped pouring, my feet stopped aching, and the dogs were cuter.
Sant Cugat has more history in it’s sidewalk cracks than my quaint, sleepy suburb in New Jersey may ever have. The name comes from Saint Cucuphas, who was said to be martyred with a sword on the same spot where the old monastery stands. The Gat’s edginess truly knows no bounds. On the first day we arrived, Sant Cugat was having a festival dedicated to the arts, featuring 150 dancers of different styles and street-performers of every craft. I saw locals in wedding-like outfits, children playing soccer against the walls of the ancient monastery, and sangria being passed around leisurely. Although the first day of any study abroad can be overwhelming, I was put at ease by the Cugatians and their effervescent celebration.
Throughout our trip, my friends and I bemoaned the thirty minute commute we had to endure every time we wanted to go into Barcelona. We joked, “why does the MSB call it a summer abroad in Barcelona? That’s like saying we go to college in New York.” But I found our time in Sant Cugat to be the most authentic representation of the Catalan culture and the most vibrant foodie scene to be found. I never ate at the same place twice.
On the last night of our trip, while awaiting our inevitable dispersion across the world as our summer interests pulled us apart, my friends and I decided to hit up the ‘Gat one last time. Luckily for us, Sant Cugat was hosting something called the SantQBeer festival. We encountered two concerts, one for an obviously younger crowd and one for older men quite like my father. The younger crowd savored the sounds of a band called “Machetes en Boca,” an all-female rap group that performed in Spanish. I gravitated more towards this scene, but our exploration for the night wasn’t over. We shuffled over to the main town square, where a cover band performed Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. When we realized that 2 am had come and gone, we started retreating back to ESADE. We would’ve made it back in one piece if not for the carnival rides we soon stumbled upon - I was primitively jostled by a whirling green monster, an experience I had paid for in more ways than one.
Coming home from Sant Cugat made me realize that home is wherever you take refuge after a long day - in reality, I never really left home. Before my trip abroad, I could never imagine settling in a place other than the US. Now, I hope to create a life for myself by finding a home in the most uncommon of places, maybe even back in the ‘Gat, where there’s a park on every corner and a memory at every tapas place.