Running Through Barcelona

Read TU student Natalie Santa-Pinter’s latest update on life in Barcelona!

I have always been into soccer, volleyball, working out at the gym, ultimate, splashing in TU’s fountains, etc, but I never thought I would become a long distance runner. One day early in the semester, the IES Running Club advisor, who also happens to be my history professor, recommended that I run a 15K carrera (race) in Barcelona on February 21. My immediate response was, “Ummm…I’ve never officially ran anything longer than a 5k…and that was for a color run.” He quickly assured me that since seeing my abilities at each Tuesday running session, he thought I could do it. Even though I doubted him, I signed up because, well, why not? It cost only 17 euros, a bargain compared to what you would pay in the US, and the run’s map was advertised to go along the beach.

A great shopping deal and some beautiful views. That’s what made up my mind to run over 9 miles for fun…

BODY-CGE-15k-actionAnyways, I trained each week by participating in the running club, going to my gym, and exploring new trails near Tibidabo Mountain with some friends. Finally February 21 came around and I was, surprisingly, more excited than nervous for the day. It had been a very long time since I had competitively participated in a sporting event, and my competitive spirit was eager to race. I went to Badalona at 8am to meet the two other students and two other advisors (one advisor was running the 30k!) who were running. When the race began we all started in different spots and I kept my own steady pace to see how I would feel. It was not long before I noticed that I was surrounded by 60-year-olds and that I should probably pick up the pace. (I do concede the fact that since they were 60 years old and running a 15k, they must have been in pretty good shape. I just knew I could be pushing myself a lot harder.) I picked it up and I persevered through the entire run without stopping. My goal was just to finish the race in under an hour and a half, and my final time ended up being 1:19:50 —Not bad for my first-ever 15k! To celebrate, I went with my roommate and friend to “Brunch and Cakes” to eat a delicious protein salad and los gofres (waffles). The entire event was quite an incredible experience, and I cannot wait to take part in more races while abroad and at home!

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While everyone tells you that studying abroad is the best way to get out and try new things, the concept of “study abroad” oftentimes makes it difficult to do so. When you have classes, deberes (homework), tests, quizzes, essays, scholarship applications, field studies, and other items on your to-do list, you sometimes forget why you are abroad in the first place. Sure, you’re there to learn new things and experience a different culture, but this can’t be done in a classroom. Qué va! You have to get out of the confines of those four walls, and even those of your own homestay, in order to experience the life and beauty of the place you have chosen to spend an entire semester. You have to go to a bar with a ferret, run a 15k on a whim, watch a fisherman auction, attend random political and scientific talks, and walk inside a volcano. By doing these things, my intellect, comfort level, and understanding have been tested in new ways in this now-becoming-familiar place.

Each day I pass people staring, completely transfixed upon their phones while walking between metros, waiting for the bus, or standing in line. I don’t want this to be me. Therefore, I have made it a personal goal to keep my head up, and my eyes open, to recognize the stunning architecture, art, and LIFE that fills Barcelona’s streets.

I walked across Plaça Catalunya one time and just had to stop for five minutes and take in all the sights: A street entertainer sending colorful bubbles into the air. A gleefully screaming child with outstretched arms, jumping up and down trying to catch the shiny spheres. A smiling mother standing off to the side, keeping watch, and throwing breadcrumbs to the numerous birds that filled the sun-filled plaza.

These are the moments we don’t want to miss, and yet they are the ones we so easily do. Here’s to keeping our eyes open to wonders and our hearts to adventure. <3