That Time I Studied Abroad

fall, autumn, otoño, tardor

Barcelona, December 2012

Fall is my favorite season to travel. And it’s my favorite season to stay home. Sometimes this is a dilemma.

When I studied abroad in Barcelona several years ago (that’s a polite way of saying, it’s been a while), I felt like I missed Fall. I enjoyed a seemingly endless Summer, but swimming in the Mediterranean Sea in October wasn’t enough for me. I’d never been away from New England for more than a week and here I was living in a place for months where the leaves didn’t seem to change. There was no crispness in the air. I anticipated my return to the misery that is Boston in January and felt cheated out of my preferred weather.

I remember my friend, Isabelle, and I went hiking in Montserrat, a mountain range easily accessible by public transit from Barcelona in late October. I’d been walking along wearing shorts and whining about how green the trees were, when I noticed, tucked amid the chlorophyll on a distant hillside, two splashes of bright orange foliage. “We found Fall! Finally!” I exclaimed and took a few photos. Isabelle was fed up and, I’m paraphrasing here, but she reprimanded me: “Stop it. This is a different place and a different experience. Let it be different.”

Isabelle provided me with this type of reality check more than once during our study abroad experience. Since then, I’ve been to dozens of other countries during a variety of seasons. I grew into a person who likes different. I’m out of practice with this whole blogging thing, but I guess the moral of the story is twofold:

  1. Let it be
  2. Surround yourself with people who won’t put up with your bullshit

Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.


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