After a week long trip with my brother and his girlfriend to Sevilla, Córdoba and Granada, I’m finally back in Barcelona. 

Today is my last day in this vibrant city I call home, and it feels rather strange to be leaving. However, life only moves in one direction, and that’s forward. It’s certainly time to move on, but there’s a certain uncertainty that always comes along with change. 

While most people who have studied abroad have already made their return flights to the States, I have another month of traveling Europe ahead of me. But now there is one big difference: there’s no place to call home. 

Barcelona has been home since January. Although I was traveling often, coming back to my apartment and feeling the coolness of the vintage green tiles beneath my feet, and lying down on my own bed to stare out my balcony, at the church across the street, always brought me comfort and peace. 

And now there is no home base, just a collection of unfamiliar pillows and tiles to discover. I have no dresser or drawer to open, just a suitcase to unzip and a backpack to unhook. No wide-eyed, half-naked Argentinian artist/roommate will roam the hallways, telling me to slow my roll. No waitress in the bistro next door knowing my order before I ask, “Un cortado y un yogur.” My safety net is gone, and all at once things have gotten a little more daunting and a lot more exciting.

The next stop is Warsaw, and then Kraków for one of my best girlfriend’s fabulous wedding. Essentially, an entire week of joy and celebrations.

After that, I’ll be with family in a little Polish village. And then for my last two weeks, who knows? Maybe Mozart in Vienna, or maybe exploring Iceland. Maybe learning how to meditate with monks, or maybe working on my tan in Zakinthos. 

It’s been one incredible adventure, and it’s crazy to think there is only a month left. Let’s do this. 

Looking towards the future, how very deep.

When People Visit

Visitors are exhausting.

You walk around all day, spend more money than you normally would on entrance fees and metro passes and you eat constantly, and I mean constantly, just so that they can have the best possible experience in Barcelona.

Over the last few weeks, I have had three visitors. I have re-visited all of Barcelona’s major sights, from Sagrada Familia to Park Güell, I can recite Antoni Gaudí’s life story by heart and I have perfected a Barcelona sightseeing itinerary, which I am more than happy to share. Also, I have been to Brunch & Cake, a local bistro, four times this week with my visitors. That means I have eaten brunch four times in a week.

That is not okay.

Well maybe it is okay, because as tiring as it’s been, I couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up my semester.

You see, visitors are actually the best.

They allow you to experience your city in a fresh way, as if you were discovering it for the first time.

Once you’ve been living somewhere awhile you tend to forget the city’s magic. You walk past the same things every day and they become mundane even if they are really special. Parisians walk past the Eiffel Tower daily, unfazed, and Romans apathetically speed past the Colosseum. And here I am, strolling down Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona, absolutely oblivious to Gaudí’s Casa Batlló or Casa Milà because I see them practically every day.

The joy of  showing someone around is that you can actually look at what you’ve been seeing this whole time; you pause and you think,

“Whoa. How lucky am I to be surrounded by something this beautiful?”

Showing Kristi around Park Güell
Showing Kristi around Park Güell

Fútbol, Confetti and Tears- Visca el Barça!

Kristi, or KrIstanbul, whom I visited in Istanbul in March, came to visit this weekend and accompanied me to my first FC Barcelona game this past Saturday.

I had waited all semester to go to a game, and with only two weeks left in my stay, it was now or never.

FC Barcelona was playing Deportivo de La Coruña, and ended the game in a tie. However, it was an incredible game to attend because the club had just won the Spanish League Championship and was celebrating that win after this game. On top of that, FCB’s midfielder and captain, Xavi, was leaving the club after 17 seasons. The stadium was full of people paying homage to a man who spent 25 years in a Barça jersey.

FCB fans are truly something special. I was expecting rowdiness and chaos, drunkards and maybe a fight or two. Instead, I saw an entire stadium-full of people intently watching the game, and occasionally cheering. Old men speaking Catalan commented on every play, and kids sat with their families, chanting along with the crowd. You could see everyone was just keeping their eyes fixed on the players and truly relishing the sport, a huge contrast to American sporting events. In fact, the stadium doesn’t even sell alcoholic beverages, and not a single person was visibly intoxicated.

What a beautiful concept. People at a sporting event actually watching the sport.

After the game, all of the players accompanied by their adorable children made a lap around the field with the Spanish League Championship trophy. At the end, Xavi took a solo victory lap through clouds of confetti, and made everyone cry with his final speech.

I had never seen so much confetti and so many tears in one place, it was an honor to attend.

Visca el Barça!

Steps away from the Barça babes
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Barça players and their young ones

Conversations with Strangers: Pabloski from Wrocław

About him:  Paul, who goes by Pabloski because he is half Mexican and half Polish (Pablo-ski get it?), manages Funky Cycle, a rickshaw business in Barcelona. He has been living in Spain for about 16 years now, and his hidden talent is guessing what country people are from.

How we met: My friend, Kristi, is visiting from Istanbul and after a whole day of walking we decided to treat ourselves to a rickshaw ride. I came up to a group of rickshaw bikers and began fiercely negotiating when Pabloski approached me and began arguing with me about prices. Then, through a hot mess of English, Spanish and Polish we somehow ended up on his bike bonding and having a great time.

Coolest experience: The coolest thing Paul has ever done was move to Barcelona. He loves the people, the atmosphere, the climate and his lifestyle in general. But, can you blame him?

Life dream: Pabloski’s big dream is bike around the world. Aside from biking people around all day on rickshaws, he bikes competitively, so I think he could totally do it.

Just riding around with Pabloski
Just riding around with Pabloski


About that Wallet Again

About a month ago, almost to the day actually,  I wrote about how I had left my wallet in a taxi. Since then, all the credit cards had been canceled and replaced, the cute leather wallet completely forgotten and the incident forgiven.

Today I got my wallet back.

Out of the blue, I was informed that it had been returned to Barcelona’s lost and found office yesterday, so I went to collect it first thing in the morning.

I was absolutely baffled when I picked it up, thinking there surely must have been a mistake. It was, in fact, my wallet and still contained all my IDs, cards and photos. Naturally, any cash I had left in there was missing, but somehow that didn’t matter. What baffled me the most, was that someone somewhere cared enough to turn it in.

See, I’m a firm believer that if you are good and you are kind, then good things will happen to you. Barcelona is funny like that, good things just kind of happen here.

I would love to know where my wallet has been for the last four weeks. Who helped it find it’s way back to me. What story about my life did they piece together from the clues within my wallet? How did it take this long, and who can I thank?

Truth is, I will never know. And that, in itself, is pretty cool.

The moral of the story is that with a little bit of time and a little bit of faith, everything will work itself out in the end.

Also, people don’t suck.

Just another act of kindness from Barcelona strangers.



Adéu. It means goodbye here in Barcelona. And the goodbyes have begun.

I had my first round of goodbyes this past weekend, with friends that were also studying abroad and had finished their program midway through April.

I didn’t imagine it would be this difficult to say goodbye to people I had known for such a short period of time. But, I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, and that each person we meet has a purpose in our lives.

That’s why it’s hard to say goodbye to such beautifully kind souls, who were placed into your life for some reason that you’ll never know, to in some small way, somehow make you better. Maybe they made you more kind, made you smile just a little more, or taught you a new joke. Some of them you wish you had known longer and deeper, and you wonder why you never asked about their goals, or their mothers, or the places they’ve been and the places they’ve wanted to go. Some of them will let you crash on their couch if one day if you find yourself in their hometown, and others will forever remain in your iPhone’s contacts under some silly nickname.

This entire month will be full of goodbyes. The kind that leave you with a dreadful ache in your chest, like a weight has been physically placed there. But I suppose that’s a good feeling, because it reminds you how lucky you are to be alive and how lucky you are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

I think of each goodbye as a”see you later,” and have faith that God will allow our paths to cross again, whether it’s months from now, or years.

And even if they don’t, well shit. At least it was fun.

Squad going up…on a Tuesday

A Birthday

I’m turning 21 tomorrow.

I’ve talked to my mama about this and we both agreed that it somehow felt strange, considering I’ve been “21” for at least three years now. I’ve always felt older than I am, and I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I have lived more than most people do in an entire lifetime.

I use to think of birthdays as a reminder of my mortality and fleeting youth. I thought that for some reason I had peaked at age 20, and that the rest of my life would only be downhill from here. But, I’ve realized that aging is a gift, a beautiful thing that not everyone is fortunate enough to experience and I have so much more to look forward to.

You see, birthdays are great because you either have a birthday or you die.

For most people, 21 is the last of the milestone birthdays. It’s the ends of an era. You can finally do all the things you’ve already been doing but without the fear of getting busted.

For me, this is just the beginning. In fact, I’m already looking forward to my 30th birthday, because I think I would be really good at being thirty.

It’s fun to imagine what my life might look like years from now.

Maybe I’m celebrating my 30th quietly at my Californian home, on a couch with my handsome husband with two little boys asleep between us.

Or maybe, I’m a career-savvy divorcee killin’ it on Wall Street, and I’m celebrating by buying myself a diamond tennis bracelet because I am fabulous and “don’t need no man.”

Or maybe, just maybe, I was brave and pursued my dream of being a writer and published my first book, and I’m celebrating my birthday in a bungalow somewhere in Fiji, working on a piece for Condé Nast Traveler, while a beautiful naked diver lays in my bed.

Whichever path my life takes me in, it will surely be an adventure and I will be good at it.

Cheers to my 21st, and the many more birthdays ahead.

I’m actually just smiling because there is cake.

Pauline Ran Away

So I ran a 10k for the first time.

Since I have never ran more than about a mile without taking a break, I happen to be pretty damn proud of myself for running over six miles continuously. I didn’t train for it at all. In fact, in the days leading up to the 10k, I did the opposite of training. I went out too much, drank too much and ate too much.

I’m not naturally a runner, nor am I particularly fit. No, the only reason that I was able to run for ten kilometers nonstop without any preparation is because I am stubborn. When I decide I want to do something, I do it. And I had decided to run a 10k.

I happen to think that stubborn and determined are the same thing, just spelled differently. I suppose determination got me started, and stubbornness is what fueled me when I thought I couldn’t run any further.

You see, my friend Caroline was running as well. About four kilometers in, we started going uphill. Caroline, of course, was way ahead and her long legs were gliding at a steady pace while I huffed and I puffed my little lungs out desperately trying to keep moving forward. Running was hard and I was tired, and I began questioning my decision to even run a 10k in the first place.

But I kept running, because Caroline was running. And then I ran because the hot guy in front of me was running. Then, I ran because I had already ran too much to stop running. And lastly I ran, because I saw the finish line.

And that is how I ran a 10k without any sort of preparation. If I can do it, anyone can. The body is a tool that carries out what your mind sets out to accomplish. If you want to reach a goal, sometimes all you need to do is get in the right mindset and let your body do the rest.

The only advice that I can give, unsolicited per usual, is: Go ahead. Be stubborn.

Caroline and I at la Cursa de Corte Ingles

Lincoln and the Naked Lady

My best friend, Alex, came all the way from London to visit me this week. She had good timing, as she got to tag along on my class excursion to the Dalí Museum in Figueres, a town about an hour and a half outside of Barcelona and the artist’s birthplace. Side note, excursion is just a grown up way of saying field trip. The only difference between the two is that on an excursion you get wine with lunch.

From my Spanish art class, I am officially an expert on the sex life of Salvador Dalí. I cannot tell you too much about his actual works of art, but I can lecture on the man’s personal life all day. Therefore, I was rather pleased to see an entire museum’s worth of the depraved Spaniard’s drawings, statues and painting. At everyone corner of the museum, something was twisted and dark and naked and confusing and beautiful and I liked it.

There was one painting in particular that stood out. It was that of a naked woman, the love of Dalí’s life Gala, contemplating the Mediterranean Sea. When you step back from the painting and try to take a picture of it, BAM. Abraham Lincoln. No really, the head of Lincoln fills the entire canvas. It was real weird, so naturally I was real into it.

I am not an art critic, nor do I claim to be, but I think that Dalí was quite the talented guy and he absolutely blows my mind.

Hail to the President.


I think that people have an illusion that when you’re away for a while, things change. That you changed, that they changed, that something, anything has changed.

But the truth is, nothing really does. You come home and everything is the same. It’s not a bad thing. It’s actually comforting in a way.

My room was still a mess from when I had originally packed for Barcelona and the snow still covered the streets of Chicago, just as I had left it. I asked, “what’s new?,” and no one really had an answer. The one thing that did change, however, is that my dog got fat. Which, my mother won’t let you say aloud, because she doesn’t want it to affect the dog’s self-esteem.

Everyone I saw over the weekend asked how I was doing, and I didn’t quite know what to say. The usual, “fine,” didn’t seem like the appropriate response.

Because, how do you tell someone that you’re having the time of your life, that every day is a blessing, that you smile more than ever, that you want to run away forever and never look back, and expect them to understand?

And, how do you tell them that you’ve missed them, but not in way that ever made you sad, rather in the way that made you happy to see them again.

I suppose that’s my answer.

So to all of you who asked me how I am doing, I am doing well, and you are a wonderful soul for asking, for listening to me babble about my adventures, for caring about what I have to say and for following along on my blog. I am blessed by the dream I am living in, and by the reality of those people waiting back home.

I watched the sunrise over Barcelona today. That’s how my life is going.