• Berlins and Outs

    I Never Expected to Learn German

    I studied Spanish for seven years and my favorite city in the world is Barcelona. While my Spanish is far from fluent these days, it’s still enough to get me through service interactions and daily life: ordering food, checking out at the grocery store, asking for directions. I kinda thought that if I was going to live abroad it would be in one of the dozens of countries where I already speak at least some of the official language (be it English or Spanish). And, before you say it, yes, many people in Berlin speak English. Earlier this month, I finished a 4-week beginners German class, and one of my…

  • Berlins and Outs

    Residence Permit Problems

    German efficiency might be a myth. German bureaucracy, however, is alive and well, and doesn’t want me to stay in the country. Here’s the deal: our residence permit applications are on hold until we change our financial situation. We have until June 20th. What’s wrong with our financial situation, you ask? Our apartment is very expensive, E’s salary isn’t very high, and mine is nonexistent. But didn’t we know that when we made the decision to move? Didn’t we put ourselves in this situation? Yeah, absolutely. We decided we could afford this move and I could spend some time focusing on my book because we have significant savings (my inheritance).…

  • Berlins and Outs

    Thoughts on One Month of Living Abroad

    When I backpacked Europe, almost six years ago now (yeesh), I wrote a post about my thoughts on one month of travel, so, when E and I realized we’d been in Berlin for a month, we decided to write this post as a bit of a callback. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from one month of living abroad in Germany. Plus, if you scroll all the way down, a little video of what we’ve been up to. The Good The Weather: We arrived right at the tail end of winter and, while our friends and family back home suffered through April snowstorms, we enjoyed days in the…

  • Berlins and Outs,  Feeeeelings,  Meta-Blogging

    Everything is Different Now

    There are no screens in our windows now, so in the mornings we lean out and people watch while we drink our coffee. E imagines what it would be like to be a field mouse living on the supermarket’s green roof – he wants to make a video game about it. I mostly ogle other people’s dogs as they walk down the street. We watch the trains going in and out of Ostkreuz station. And if we look left we can see the TV Tower, but only when we’re leaning out the window. Hi. Hello. Welcome back. Everything is different now. E got a job as an educational video game…

  • Feeeeelings

    He’s Dead So I Can Say Whatever I Want About Him

    Do you ever come up with titles for your unwritten memoirs? The only reason I’m writing this post is because the title struck me as I was walking home. Its subtitle will be “And Other Pithy Essays About My Family.” It will be my second book – a slightly more sophisticated follow-up to the fresh voice readers fell in love with in my debut, It Starts and Ends in Barcelona: A Memoir of Grief and Travel. “Holliday’s work reads like Wild if Cheryl Strayed were snarkier and had a less interesting story to tell…” –New York Times Book Review I’m taking a writing class and today one of my classmates’…

  • The Great European Adventure

    I Know Nothing About Architecture

    Facebook keeps reminding me that I was in Paris 4 years ago today and, on the one hand, I appreciate that. It’s nice to be greeted at the top of my newsfeed with a smiling photo of me and my mother. We had such a lovely time on that trip. On the other hand, it makes me nostalgic, and a little jealous of past-Emma, and also, didn’t I tell facebook to turn off that feature? Anyway, I was looking through my photos from Paris and I stumbled across the one at the top of this post. I can’t remember anything about this part of the city or the moment I…

  • Feeeeelings

    Future Focused

    I asked my partner, E (pictured with me above), a scary question the other night: “What do you want to do before we have kids?” He half-laughed, half-groaned and didn’t answer me. I let the subject drop. To be fair, we’d been watching the new episodes of Gilmore Girls Netflix just released and I was teary-eyed and emotional and it was late and there were basically no good reasons for us to have that conversation at that time. Additionally, E finds talking about the future stressful, which is fair. I’m pretty sure the future is objectively stressful. And yet… that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it all the time.…

  • That Time I Studied Abroad,  The Great European Adventure

    Churros con Chocolate

    One thing that is better in Europe than in the United States is hot chocolate. Hands. Down. This is not to say you can’t find delicious hot chocolate in the U.S., but the standard hot chocolate in this country is a far cry from the standard hot chocolate in countries like Spain and France. I particularly love ordering hot chocolate in Spain when it comes with a healthy serving of churros (fried dough) for dipping. And by “healthy” I mean “large,” just to clarify. Hot chocolate in Spain is mostly melted dark chocolate with a little milk and sugar mixed into it. Sometimes it’s so thick you need to drink…

  • Close to Home

    Wild Raspberry

    E and I are at his parents’ house in New Hampshire for Thanksgiving, and while it’s not too cold yet, there are a few inches of snow on the ground already. One of my favorite things to do when we visit E’s family is to wander the garden and interact with the plants whether I’m touching, smelling, tasting, or photographing them. I took this photo of a raspberry bush at their old house (which is about 15 minutes down the road from the new one), and recently made it my computer background. Every time E sees it he comments on how delicious the raspberry looks. The landscape is a little…

  • The Great European Adventure

    Da Vinci and Me

    I’m currently working in an exhibit about Leonardo Da Vinci, and while the focus is mostly on his inventions, there’s also a large section on the Mona Lisa and an interesting video about The Last Supper. I could have seen The Last Supper in person when I was in Milan in 2012 but… I didn’t. There are a limited number of tickets to view the mural each day and you usually have to get one as part of a larger tour package and I wasn’t organized or motivated enough to make it happen. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have much interest in Renaissance art and I ended up in…