Sometime last year, I told you about my journey to Lleida (read: Lleida – A Reminiscence). What I did not tell you was what happened behind the scenes. To the casual onlooker it might have appeared that I was taking a lazy holiday in the country famous for its street parties and endless beaches. But “getting there” was a challenge for me. After several rounds of selection, I had grabbed a wonderful internship opportunity at a prominent IT firm in Spain. But taking leaves from my engineering college proved to be quite a trial! After many sleepless nights, I was finally all set to take my first solo step out of India. I was not just going to do an internship, I was going to #StartANewLife!
After a journey of over twenty hours that saw me changing flights and trains, taking the metro, and finally getting a car-ride, I reached my apartment. This was going to be my first long stay outside of the home I grew up in. I had never lived with other people before. I also did not know much Spanish or any Catalan. I knew that English would not take me very far in Lleida, where only a minority would understand the language. There were many thoughts that swirled in my head and intimidated me. But I was here for a reason. I knew I had to take a bold step and bring in some much needed change in my life. “Change” was the only thing that would make me grow. And I did grow on that trip… in more ways than I had imagined!
I learned to read coding errors in Spanish. I learned to greet my colleagues in Catalan. I scanned through the daily news in a language I could never comprehend before. I asked for directions on the streets using some broken Catalan and excessive gesticulation. 😛 And by the end of that month, I actually wrote an entire article in Spanish (of course, with a lot of help from Google Translate)! 🙂
Language was not my only learning. I cooked my own meals for the first time in my life. I did grocery shopping on my own. I learned to read maps effectively and developed some much needed road sense after two decades of relying on my parents for everything. But the best thing I learned was to TRAVEL. The travel-bug had bit me hard! The more places I wandered in, the more I wanted to wander. The more exotic dishes I tasted, the more grew my hunger.
Before Catalonia happened to me, I knew travel as a list of things to be ticked off my list. We would go to the popular tourist attractions and come back with a lot of souvenirs. But it is here that I learned to travel for my soul. I wanted to linger at places and capture their “feel”. Photographs and videos can show you the places and play the sounds for you. But only your memory can recreate the feeling within. I left Lleida after my internship, but I had just started a new life.
Have you ever embraced change in your life? Were you scared in the beginning? How did it make you feel in the end? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.