In September of 2009, I was still a senior in college studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. It feels like it was only a month ago that I was walking around on cobblestone roads trying to practice my Spanish. Now, I’m a college graduate driving 30 minutes everyday to my full time, office job. With life being so different, it’s hard not to miss studying abroad.
While it takes me half an hour to drive to my job, it took my boyfriend and me five minutes to travel through all of central Barcelona on a scooter. In Arizona, I have to drive my car to the grocery store a block away from my condo. In Barcelona, I had the convenience of riding the metro to go shopping in Las Ramblas. Groceries and dinners were done for me by the sweetest señora a study abroad student could ever have. The best part was, it took 15 minutes by metro to lounge around in Playa de Barceloneta on my free time. Now, I barely have free time to drive five hours to get to the nearest beach in California. Instead, I face the 100 degree summer weather of this city wondering what Barcelona’s temperatures are like at that moment.
I now have the convenience and comfort of my own room, my bed, my closet, my car, my family, my old friends, and my boyfriend. I hate to admit that I was majorly homesick for my friends and my boyfriend while I was abroad even though I was lucky enough to be paired up with a nice place and a nice señora to live with. I will cherish having met a diverse group of friends that I hope to have for life. It will be these select few strangers that I shared memories with for four months who understand what it’s like. And because he spoils me, my boyfriend visited me three times while I was in Europe, and we shared travel experiences together.
I feel like the luckiest girl.
I flew home with my señora’s first present upon arriving at her house. Señor Vaca, name given by my boyfriend, now sits comfortably in our bed. He is a memory of Barcelona that I will always cherish.
In Arizona, roadtrips have replaced Ryanair. I still wake up from dreams of being in Barcelona with the friends I met there. When I was in Barcelona, it was hard not to miss the busy student, employee, dancer, model lifestyle I had in Arizona. Now that I am in Arizona, it’s hard not to miss the carefree student, traveler lifestyle I had in Barcelona. It’s hard to understand and explain what this empty feeling in my chest is about. I want more, but I don’t know what of.
Europe has been put on hold for experiencing the United States. I now have more of a desire to experience life the way I want to. Before studying abroad, traveling was just a dream. Now, I want to experience some cities the way I experienced Barcelona. Europe at age 23 made me realize that dreams should be and can be realized. As my favorite quote by Mark Twain says,
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I am lucky enough to realize this at a young age and have a boyfriend who supports my dreams, even if I’m still trying to figure out what they are.
Take a chance at what you dream of even if it is different and intimidating. No one should wait to realize and be able to say, “This is the way life should be.”