Girl Gone International is a community for women all over the world who packed their bags and headed into the great unknown (Hey! I did that!). It's a safe place to be wild, afraid, and beautifully honest. This trip to Barcelona was one of the first flights I booked after moving to Madrid. Some of you are thinking, "Is Barcelona even far enough away from Madrid for a plane to leave the runway?" Barely.
I expected to see the sights, maybe make a new friend or two, but I was completely unprepared for the end result. Here are just a few things I discovered on my first (but definitely not my last) GGI trip:
1. You do you, girl.
When we walked into La Sagrada Familia, I gave our group a disclaimer: "I will be taking all the time possible here." This place demands awe and slow, reverent exploration. I went my own way, then met up with the group in a little cafe a few blocks away a couple hours later. No one judged; no one worried if my need for time alone meant that I was upset about something. There was simply an understanding that I needed this experience for myself. There's nothing like people that speak that language without ever speaking at all.
2. Fellow history and culture aficionados.
As we entered hour three of our walking tour in Barcelona's Gothic District, I looked around and realized that every single girl was just as engaged as I was. It was so refreshing to be able to discuss the cultural and political situation of Catalunya with this group of intelligent women. I had to take a not-so-tiny second to be thankful for their big, beautiful, smart brains.
3. It's a big world.
We're all different, but we're really all the same too. Our group consisted of independent, fierce women from six of the seven continents, and almost all of them speak more than one language fluently. This should have been extremely intimidating. Yet my first impression was, "I've found them. They're just like me." Every single conversation was easy. While none of us had ever met before, we already knew each other. Many of our stories were the same, only with different settings around the world. We're professionals and adventurers. We've loved hard, lost much, and dared greatly.
I remember a time when I felt that the success of other women only magnified my own failure. I believed that the best way to cope with that was to speak or think negatively about them. The moment I started truly loving my own life and focusing on my own goals, the success of others became a spark to fan instead of a flame to stamp out. I can't think of a time in my life when I have felt more confident than I did with these girls.
4. There's never a bad time for a spontaneous dance party.
Somewhere in between courses of decadent pulpo (octopus), patatas bravas, roasted peppers, and paella, the music started to play a little louder. Suddenly, we had all left our chairs and were dancing to "Despacito" and "Madre Tierra" with the owner and wait staff of Bodega Vasconia. It was absolutely like one of those joyful travel experiences from the movies: new friends, spontaneity, and so much laughter.
5. You may never be the same.
My move to Spain was actually catalyzed by my first trip to Barcelona (and Seville) a couple years ago. As we explored Barcelona, I realized that while these were the same streets I walked in 2017, I was not the same girl walking them. There was so much I didn't know about myself and the world around me two years ago. I shared this observation with a couple of the girls, and they were so encouraging and empathetic. These women radiate joy. It was impossible not to be changed for the better by each and every one of them.
If you ever have the opportunity to take a trip with GGI, do it. You won't regret it- unless you don't like new friends or laughing until you cry.
And then, amidst all the fun, some of us decided to take another trip together. So hey, Budapest, we'll see you soon, drágám.