• 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…

  • That Time I Studied Abroad

    Park Güell, Barcelona

    When I studied abroad in Barcelona in 2010, I visited Park Güell several times. It had nice gardens and walking paths, many examples of the architect Antoni Gaudí’s signature whimsy, a stunning view of the rest of the city stretching out towards the sea below you, and it was free. By the time I took E to Barcelona in 2015 to show him all my favorite places in my favorite city, Park Güell cost 7 euros and had ugly stanchions to keep people out. It’s not an exorbitant fee, and it’s still worth visiting despite the crowds, but it feels a little less magical than it used to.

  • That Time I Studied Abroad

    Fez and Fever Dreams

    Some of my travel experiences feel like fever dreams. When I studied abroad in Barcelona, my program brought us to Mallorca for a weekend, and I was sick the whole time so my memories of that trip are particularly hazy. I picked and ate a fig straight from a tree in a stranger’s yard, and it was fresh and delicious, like nothing I’d ever tasted before. I drifted in and out of sleep on a scenic train ride, and I swam in the Mediterranean Sea in the dark, and there was a castle, and my friend got to practice her medical Spanish vocabulary by explaining my symptoms to a pharmacist.…

  • That Time I Studied Abroad

    fall, autumn, otoño, tardor

    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…

  • That Time I Studied Abroad

    Fleeting Encounters Over Tea

    There was an old woman listening in on our conversation. Or, maybe she wasn’t listening to us so much as simply noticing us. We were an odd-looking group, I suppose: two white women, barely older than teenagers, speaking jovial English with a Lebanese man in his early 30’s. We were in Perpignan at the time — a small city in Southern France. Noticeable, if not notable. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but we were in the courtyard of the Palais des Rois de Majorque (Palace of the Kings of Majorca). We smiled at the old woman when we noticed her noticing us, and she felt emboldened to…

  • That Time I Studied Abroad,  The Great European Adventure

    Why Italy isn’t a part of the Great European Adventure

    You may have noticed that Italy isn’t on my itinerary for the Great European Adventure, and that was a conscious decision. I’ve stressed to friends and family that I’m keeping my plans open; so, who knows, maybe I’ll end up spending weeks sunning myself on the Amalfi coast or gaining weight in Tuscany. However, there’s a reason that isn’t in the original plan. I have been to Italy once. When I was studying abroad in Barcelona, I challenged myself to stay in the city for the first month. I was giving myself time to adjust to my new home, and proving to myself that I could do this. I could…

  • That Time I Studied Abroad,  Travel Tips

    Top Ten Barcelona

    A few weeks ago, Adventurous Kate panned Barcelona. She felt utterly ambivalent about one of my favorite cities in the world. If you follow me on twitter, (hello to all 12 of you!) you know I initially felt very defensive, but reminded myself that my first days in Barcelona were less than idyllic. Regardless, I grew to love Barcelona dearly, and, for that reason, I felt the need to compile a top ten list. I studied abroad there for five months, and while I am by no means an expert on the city, I feel qualified to give you a few recommendations in no particular order. One: Eat tapas Spanish…