10/02/2017

A weird and wonderful few days in the life of an Elf

Since I last wrote to y'all on Tuesday, I've been quite a busy little bee in my hive of Barcelona.

#StudentLyf2k17

To start with, over the last few days I've had several meetings with professors (all great people) at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra to discuss potential dissertation topics. Whilst I'm pretty sure what I want to write on (radical Catalanism, ftw), these meetings have been in useful in helping me look more holistically at the paper (theory, methodology, yadda, yadda, yadda) and have allowed me to appreciate different approaches.

In all honesty, I didn't really enjoy my first semester at the Pompeu that much; this was probably because I was studying at a new university (the third of my five years of high education) and the strange concept of being taught in one's native language abroad, despite speaking both of the local languages and actually preferring to learn in these (1. yes, I'm unusual and 2. I'm planning a future post on this). That being said, I'm feeling more optimistic about this semester, as I've got good, engaging professors and some pretty interesting content.

Only a few months to go now until the Elf is finally free from academia (unless one decides to do a doctorate, which one isn't discounting completely from the realm of possibilities at this stage).

Always talk to people on the metro - the Cyprus rugby team edition


Anyone who knows me will know that I love striking up conversations with people - after all, humans are social animals. From such random conversations, I've met many great people, some of whom have become good friends.

I was riding home on a rather packed metro train when I came across some guys in sports gear speaking English and staring nonchalantly at a map of Barcelona. Intrigued, I asked them if they were okay: they replied that they were the Cyprus rugby team and they were en route to a training session, but they had no idea how to get there...

"Where were they headed?", I enquired. "Diagonal, 695", they replied. It took a moment to register, but they were going to my gym, thus I imparted instructions on how to get there. Thinking my job was done, I bid them farewell on the Zona Universitaria platform and proceed to drive/walk my way home.

That was wishful thinking, however: as I got out the lift, I saw that these 6ft-odd rugby players were not following my instructions and were headed the wrong way... I ended up walking them to the right place, finding out that they hold the world record for the most unbeaten rugby games (24); they were incredibly down-to-earth individuals and I enjoyed every minute of their company.

It was on my arrival at the Esports UB complex that my translation skills from the local languages came in useful, however, as it transpired that the rugby pitch that the lads were supposed to be training on was unfit for purpose and so in my new role as a logistics guy and translator, I had to speedily arrange for them to train on another, much smaller, pitch. When we got there, the pitch was in darkness, so I had to arrange for the lights to be put on, etc.

The Cyprus rugby team training on Thursday
After training, I walked back with the lads to the metro station, only to find they had fallen prone to the usual problem that visitors have here in Barcelona: they'd only bought a single ticket.

MetroSelfie with Chris Dicomidis 

If anyone reading this blog visits Barcelona, do what I advised the guys to do: buy a T-10 (€9,95 from any public transport stop) which is valid for ten journeys on any form of public transport and can be used for various people at once... It works out loads cheaper and, in this case, probably saved the guys around €25 per metro trip as a group compared to a €2,15 individual ticket.

I bid the guys farewell and they asked me if I'd like to watch them train on the next day: I, of course, said yes, and so we met up at 0945. This time, at Esports UB, they were able to train on the rugby pitch and it was amazing to see such fine specimens excelling at their sport. I can't wait to watch them play against Andorra on Saturday via the live-stream and I'm hoping they can win.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the guys and staff for being so hospitable towards me. I'll be keeping tabs on the lads both internationally and at club level.

Manchester By The Sea

After my fun Wednesday evening with the Cyprus rugby team, I headed back to my dearest Penyafort for some food and, ideally, a night of Netflix and chill. That wasn't to be, however, as I bunch of the #PenyaPeeps wanted to go and see the hit indie film, Manchester By The Sea. I, of course, was willing to oblige and so we set off for a 22.15 screening further up the road from Penya (it didn't finish until 0030).

This award-winning movie is about a lonely guy coming to terms with the death of his children a few years previously and the death of his brother more recently. It's an intense human drama and is gritty and realistic. Also, it's set in Essex County, MA which I visited back in 2015 (see the views from the picturesque Cross Island below). It's a must-see.

The view from Cross Island, MA feat. Guinness the dog (2015)