As I was exploring Seville, I kept intoning Amy Schumer’s production tag in my mind — ‘It’s so easy!’
After running around Barcelona trying to see as many galleries and Gaudi buildings as possible, the South of Spain was just super relaxing. Nothing much opens before 10am, and the soporific heat makes siestas necessary; around 2pm everyone starts moving like sloths through jelly. Even the Giralda Tower climb – the one bit of strenuous activity I was prepared for – was breezy. I’d geared up for 34 flights of stairs (and pre-emptively cashed in my carb and gelato points) but was instead met with a series of gently inclined ramps (originally a mosque, this allowed the muezzin to ride a horse to the top of the tower to do the five-times-daily call for prayer).
To bookend my BCL year (and delay my return to Australia and the realities of post-student life), I planned a month of travelling through Spain and Germany with my friend Kate. After graduation day, it was time to beeline for Barcelona!
My trip got off to a less than illustrious start. Having bid a teary farewell to Oxford not 12 hours earlier, I caught an early 3 hour bus to Stansted Airport (ugh) only to find that my flight had been delayed. After an interminable terminal wait (during which I saw, and was lightly splattered by, a kid throwing up into his hands), disconcerting RyanAir flight (involving hearty clapping and cheering on takeoff and landing), bus ride, and struggle to find the right train station, I finally arrived at my hotel. I immediately perked up; right next door was the bright beacon of a gelateria, mercifully open at 11pm. It’s a law of science that gelato always heralds good things and indeed, this marked the point at which things turned around.
Like eating raw cacao, or watching The Parent Trap knowing about the tragic IRL fates of Natasha Richardson and Lindsay Lohan (fatal skiing accident and going-off-the-rails respectively), the experience of my Oxford graduation was bittersweet.
It was great to celebrate with my family (who’d skipped over from Australia and with whom I’d spent the last week roadtripping around the south-west of England, visiting towns with names like Westward Ho! and Pucklechurch), and reflect on an incredible and challenging year. But ‘smiling because it happened, not crying because it’s over’ is tough advice to take (sorry Dr. Seuss…) – having to say goodbye to my BCL and college friends left me something of a blubbering mess.