Through my experience studying abroad and constantly traveling through different cities, I have learned that there is a crucial distinction that needs to be made when deciding whether or not you like a city: liking a city is much different than desiring to live there. I have been traveling around to so many places that they are all beginning to blend together. While I have absolutely loved every city I have traveled, it has been interesting to take a step back and realize how many of these cities are simply just fun to visit, and how little of them I could actually see myself living in. For example, Sorrento and Split were probably my two favorite cities I have seen, but I could never live in either of them for numerous reasons. And on the other hand, Paris was somewhere I totally thought I would want to live one day, but after spending barely three days there I was itching to leave. Traveling to new places and forming these opinions have been just another source of wholesome surprise from my time here in Europe. Here are 6 cities abroad that I have visited that I think I could actually thrive starting a life there.
London is the only European city I had ever been to before studying abroad, so I may be slightly biased when I say this, but it is definitely my favorite city in the world. The reason I love the city is somewhat hard to explain. You know when you fall in love with a new place and you can’t really put a finger on why? That’s how I feel about London. It is something about the energy. I think I feel a sense of nostalgia when I’m there, like as if it is where I’m just supposed to be. After living in Florence these past couple of months, traveling to London last weekend felt like I was traveling home. If I could live anywhere in the world, I would pick this city. Somehow every time I am there, I feel a happiness I don’t find anywhere else.
Milan was one of the first cities outside of Florence that I visited, and my roommates and I instantly fell in love with it. It has all of the perks of being a big city, but for some reason it is so much more quiet, quaint and beautiful than any other major city I’ve been to. Plus, some would say it is the fashion capital of the world, so it was amazing walking around a city with so much love for one of my main passions.
Ok, I’ll be honest: I haven’t actually been here yet, but I am positive I am going to love it here. Coming into abroad, this was the number one city I wanted to travel to, and every single person in my program who has gone so far says it is their favorite city. I am finally going next weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited. It is the trip I have been looking forward to all semester. From the parks to the brunch spots to the pancakes to the bikes to the coffee shops to the colors, I don’t think I could find one reason not to move here instantly if given the opportunity.
Berlin is a city I wasn’t sure I was going to love. However, once I got there, I immediately felt so comfortable. I was surprised I felt that way, because I had absolutely no familiarity with the country or the language. Nonetheless, walking around that city, I felt as comfortable as I did walking around the streets of New York. I feel like this fact says a lot about the place. Even though I had never studied the language in the slightest, I didn’t feel out of place and I didn’t feel like a foreigner. Berlin is very diverse in terms of its population, and while I heavily felt this during my time there, I also felt a strong sense of community. I could easily see myself living there because the general vibe of the city didn’t make me feel like an outsider – something I feel almost everywhere I go in Europe.
I visited Cambridge a while back, and the first word that came to mind when I stepped foot in the tiny city was ‘home’. What I like about the idea of making a life there is that it would be so different and yet so simple. The people are so kind, the businesses are friendly, the energy is high and the university being in the center of life makes for a very youthful atmosphere.
I am surprised I feel this way about Barcelona, because there are a couple of major downsides to living in this city: the constant noise, the running water not being drinkable and the conniving and constant pickpocketing. However, I absolutely fell head over heels in love with this city when I visited, and I think that love trumps its cons for me. I can’t even choose what my favorite part of Barcelona is. Between the insanely beautiful city being on the glistening beach, the vivacious culture lighting up the streets every night, and some of the best food I have had abroad – and that’s saying something since I am studying in Italy. To be able to experience any and all of this city for an extended period of time would be nothing short of a blessing – no matter the sacrifices. Plus, it was fun to work on my Spanish!
Although I miss my home in Philadelphia and my school in LA, being abroad has taught me that the world is even bigger than I could have imagined. But, its hugeness is also not something to be afraid of. I have learned that living abroad is completely what you make of it. Perhaps I am destined to live somewhere outside of the US some day! Before, the idea of such a thing would have scared me. Now, I welcome the unknown future with open arms.