Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Before You Go!

Here lately my page views have spiked drastically, at least that's what the notifications tell me. I'm no fool, I know it's the season of preparing and scouring the internet to make sure you've prepared just right for your new adventure abroad. Because I am aware, and I've been in your shoes AND I would be a cruel person to just keep moving with no regard to your fragile life changing move here's a quick "to do" list of the little and the big things to help you get on your way.
Warning: This is the only photo, enjoy!


The Little Things:

Tissue Packets: You use the restroom, you need tissue, but you will not find it if you are using a public restroom in Spain (and most of Europe). Nope. This was always on my shopping list and I was always needing them. Not to mention that time we ran out of toilet paper in the apartment, we were prepared. Seriously, these little packets need to be in your possession as soon as possible and never let them go.
Cell Phone: Just suspend the service if you have a Smart Phone and use Wifi to connect to people through Whassapp. Airplane mode is you friend now. Everyone has it, and now you can make phone calls. It's a free, all in one!
Learning the Language: If you don't know, you will learn. Before you go learn some quick phrases- the basics for interaction, buying items, and in general not coming off as a jerk to the locals. There are so many sources for this, start with the web obviously.
Sunscreen: No really, I'm from Texas and I know heat, but if you go back to the beginning of my blog journey you'll notice a trend: High Temperatures and Walking. These two things require you to protect your body from sun damage. Just do it.
Walking Shoes: Not Espadrilles. Not new Chucks. Not cheap sandals. Not flip-flops. Try some cute New Balances or Timberland boots, both are great for walking, cute and popular no matter where you are in the world. All the shoes I put on the no-gos list I've already tried for you and until you've had to leave a good night out because both of your cheap sandals break apart from all their  hardwork you know nothing.

The Big Things:

A Shoulder bag (Ladies or if you prefer gents): As a woman I'm carrying around more than my average male friend. All of which comes in handy until someone tries to rob me or I'm walking through a very crowded street holding my bag like a baby because, not a soul has time for thieves. Here's looking at you Barcelona. Get a shoulder bag that's light, zips for every compartment option, cleans easy, and can be worn across the body with the bag in the front. I tell you this because I know from the experience. The experience of others of course. I don't know from personal experience because my shoulder bag followed the rules.
A Solid Back Pack: My backpack was waxed leather, definitely fashion forward, and well worth the money. I was a modern day Mary Poppins. You will definitely need this as your carry-on for travels. But sometimes just to put your groceries in before you get on the bus or train.  Try to avoid luggage as much as possible, especially on weekend trips. Get a deep one with many pockets and don't be afraid to return it after your trail run if it doesn't work out. Because you are going to try it on for real before you move abroad, right?
Space Saver Bags: I quote: " Girl, I need to see how you pack, how were you able to bring so many clothes?!" Space saver bags. That's how. Seriously, I wasn't working with overly large suitcases or a too spacious carry-on bag ( I chose atheistic over necessity), but due to Space Saver bags I made it happen. Fully stocked closet right here guys, and outside of giving away my Classic Doc Martens to a homeless man before my departure (and trashing other shoes that the cobble stone streets had been unkind to) I was able to bring back my spoils from shopping along with what I arrived owning. Space Saver bags and the roll technique are your friend. Sometimes your only friend.
Suitcases: All I can say is choose wisely, and choose for you. Don't let someone else pick out your big bags AND make sure you can carry them all at once. My bags are SWISS, so they're built tough, made for travel, and easy to carry. My smaller bag while pretty big can easily be worn as a backpack due to the handles design. My best suggestion is to get all your bags together in a corner of your place or beside a wall. Imagine you are traveling on a train and some little street urchins are eyeing your property. Are you and your bags arrange in a manner that's going to make it real difficult for them to hassle away some of your belongings. If not, why? Figure it out- even if that means buying new bags. This is a real life situation, just ask anyone who has ever traveled abroad about their train, underground, tube, or subway story and I guarantee you it will involve a Tetris game of their property for safe keeping.

The When I Get There Things:

Living Situation: With the internet and connecting with people all over the world it's definitely possible to find a place before you get to your city, but BECAREFUL. I was lucky because not only the landlords and there daughter provided references, but the current resident was all over Facebook with tips and pictures. I took a chance and it paid off. My greatest suggestion to you is network with locals before you get there, they'll be the helpful ones for certain.
Get The I.D.:  Do not waste time getting your I.D. or the information needed. Follow the directions, use your resources and move forward. To open up a bank account, which you will need, you have to have you I.D. get it and keep it safe.
Find some travel buddies: No seriously, find folks you can travel with and then go. Plan sometimes and others times don't plan, just hope on a train to a town you've heard of and have a good time.


Enjoy the journey, understand that you can never fully prepare for what you are about to experience and that the person you believe yourself to be is about to change for the better. Please don't let the stress or nerves get in the way of the experience and relationships you will encounter along the way.

Hope this was helpful, until next time . . .Adios, Hasta Pronto, Be Blessed!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Life in Spain: Travel Done Right

This is so quick and easy. A short little post that gets straight to the point.
Let's be real honest, the appeal of working and living in a European country isn't just the different culture. 
It's all the different cultures that are now a short, cheap plan or train ride away. So here's three hard earned tips I giving you directly from someone who has traveled every which way and then some.
1.) Use all your free time to research, research and research!
No matter what type of traveler you are you need to at least know how you are getting to where you are headed, places to stay in your price range, and if the place your headed is having any political or social conflicts at the time of your travels.
Your head just did a three sixty on that last thing to know, but honestly it's the most important. I'm not jumping on a soap box or planning to list out all the horror stories, I'm just stating the truth: The World is in Constant Change! When I visited Italy almost ten years ago the people hadn't gone through a recession and all the woes it brings to a persons life, but by this year they had and their tired of depending on
tourist and scraping to get by.
The atmosphere and the people were different, struggles change the people of a country. It's good to know what the people you'll be interacting with have been through lately.  And on a lighter note, knowing your transportation and lodgings ahead of time can save you a large amount of cash because last minute booking is rarely cost efficient.

2.) What Attracts You to the Destination
Why are you heading to where you want to end up. For me the answer is always to eat good food. Honestly, if you ask me about my visit to Bayou, France I'm about to make your mouth water from all the good eats I inhaled not the Tapestry museum I visited.
Some people just want to say they've been to a place and walk the streets. Others have a list of attractions that they must see and take numerous photos of or it's not a good trip at all.
Knowing your travel goals helps everything run smoother even when hiccups occur and they will occur.

Travel ain'tt cheap. At one point , right before the 80s probably the cost of travel fit with the cost of living and earning that was the standard for most folks. That's not the case these days.
There are so many ways to travel and attractions to draw people in that not only can it be overwhelming, but also the fees can start adding up. If you plan to be a big traveler when living abroad then don't live like a king when not traveling- penny pinch and save.
 Also, a budget matters, so have one for food, shopping and emergency for certain.

Hope these travel tips help you, feel free to check out my travel guides over Madrid, Barcelona, and Holiday travel to get you started along with some research Helpers for the planning. Also here's the great I guide I used for Bayeux! Feel free to leave tips in the comments that you've learned from your own travel experiences.

Until Next time, Adios, Hasta Pronto, and Be blessed . . .

Photo Thanks to  . . .,,, Pinterest

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Life in Spain: Living with the Locals

Number one hands down, only regret I have from my time abroad is not living with a local. Not because I ended up not caring for my living situation in the end, but because there are so many cultural experiences I missed out on during my stay.
I was hopping to live in a place like this with character, but I did not . . .

1.) Learning the Language
nor this . . .
There is no point in living in a different country with a different language and not learning how to speak that language. The best way to do this is immersion. Speaking your native tongue will become a comfort and if it's spoken in your living quarters all the time that's nice, but it's not helping you in the language growth department. Whether it's discussing your plans for the evening or trying to figure out your weekly chores it will all take place in the language you're trying to learn. And your roommates are going to support and help you learn because the sooner you learn the sooner they'll stop having to speak real slow when talking to you.

2.) How the Natives React
Did you know Spanish people don't sleep the entire siesta? I didn't until my routine of sleeping the entire siesta was set in stone. Had I lived with locals I would've known that while a little nap is acceptable siesta is actually the time to accomplish everything on your to do list that doesn't involve outside sources. Get your chores done, do your homework, prepare dinner, and call/write your loved ones. Being as I would love a set aside time for that here in America with my never ending schedule I wish I would have used my siesta more wisely back in Spain.
3.) The Going's On
definitely not this . . .
When I first arrived in Spain everything we did was heavily populated and tourist attraction labeled. Then as my friend group moved from expats to locals or at least expats who had lived in Jaen for years I started discovering other hangouts. I was attending music shows that were heavy in Spanish attendance and discovering happenings going on in my town that all the Spanish knew about, but very few outsiders. And just a heads up this is how you transition from an outsider to a person no longer on the fringes of your community, and what better way to do that than through the people you live with.

4.) Connections
If you fall in love with your city you are going to want to return and visit in the future, but traveling to Europe is not cheap- now you have people to stay with when you return. Not to mention you have people who probably have family and friends located in all those hot spots you want to visit before returning home- now you've got a couch.

Seriously though, immersion is what most people moving abroad are seeking and there is no better way to complete your immersion experience than by shacking up with a few locals. Yes it will be difficult, but few easy things are truly rewarding. No sense in just dipping a toe into the water of living abroad, might as well cannonball right on into the deep end.
and definitely not this cuteness!

Maybe it was obsessing over dreamy apartment photos like the above that caused my loveless relationship with my own place, hmmm. Hopefully you get such stylishness- it doesn't help when your verbs just aren't conjugating correctly and you keep getting stuck on kitchen duty!

Until Next time, Adios, Hasta Pronto, and Be blessed . . .

Photo Thanks to,,, and apartmentsIlike.wordpress

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fort Worth: New Eats and Old Friends

Fort Worth= Steers!
A quick dash to Fort Worth last week was just the pick me up the doctor didn't order. Just a little update, I have still not been able to get in to see a neurologist for the champagne bottle issue.
I cannot figure out if there are just not enough neurologist or if there are just that many head injuries- let's hope for anything that falls on the side of a low amount of head injuries.

Anyways Fort Worth was great, and seeing old friends was even better. I stopped by my old school and saw all the folks that made me happy to come to work everyday.
Then hung out with friends around town and caught up on life. Fort Worth has grown since I first posted about it, so we did plenty of eating around town.
 Not going to lie I was disappointed in all places, but two! One burger place didn't even give you a side of fries without you paying extra- could have sworn fries and a burger equal America. Correct me if I'm wrong. One of the places was under construction when I was there and opened soon after I left sadly. However, here's a quick breakdown of places I will definitely be visiting again, as soon as possible.  
The Bearded Lady:
I've been seeing this place pop up all over my friends Instagrams and Facebook pages, which had me craving a place I'd never visited simply from photos.
After eating a burger with no fries we headed over to the Bearded Lady for drinks and I ate a whole round of fried tomatoes by myself. The sauce. So good. While the name and setting would make you think that it was "hipster hangout 101" there was a blend of cultures and backgrounds enjoying the food, atmosphere, jukebox and game on at the bar. I would suggest this place to all, and the outside patio will be calling my name come summertime.
Everyone's Local Hangout
When the sun rose I headed to Stir Crazy Baked Goods for some breakfast, not once, but twice. And this too was good. First I enjoyed a chia cupcake, it melted in my mouth.
Then I went all out and doubled up with a sweet roll and the daily quiche. All I can say is thank goodness for folks who appreciate buttercream icing and understand a flakey crust. I will definitely be visiting on my next trip.
 Should you be heading to Fort Worth anytime soon I'd suggest a pop into either place or both, I promise you will not regret the deliciousness!

Until next time, Adios, Hasta Pronto, and Be blessed  . . .
Old Friends and Good Times
(Photo Thanks to StirCrazyBakedGoods, Fwweekly, and DMagazine)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just Call it a Giveaway! Three Free Personalized Travel Postcards!

You guys, I know, I know! All of a sudden I get busy, start hustling towards a new job, maybe sneak a trip in to my old stomping grounds and forget about your loyalty. NOT TRUE!
You should know that I'm just a wee bit better than that by now.

While the cat was away she may have played, but I also worked out a sweet deal with the company The smart guys over at the Lettr company have developed a program that only requires a smart phone and Facebook account.
Access, take a picture where ever you are in the world of whatever you heart is moved by and pick a lucky person from your friends list. If you have the address great, if not that's okay Lettr will send them a message ( that you can tailor) explaining why their address is need. In a weeks time, guess what'll be sitting in their mailbox- YOUR POSTCARD.
A completely personalized post card! Your message! And your signature!
 If you are anything like me and always moving when traveling then always moving when not traveling this is the perfect solution to staying connected with those you love and providing them with a personalized postcard from side to side.
I was so happy for the opportunity to send a postcard back to my dad who couldn't visit with the rest of my family and he was just as happy to see his daughters having fun and not spending his money shopping. The postcard is actually thicker than most you buy on the street and the picture quality is great with rich colors. It was better than any print I've received from a cell phone picture- I can only imagine the sharpness with a camera or photography tool for your camera. 

Starting today, April 21, 2014, I'm giving away three free postcards to the first three lucky folks who answer the following question in the comments section:
Which providence did I call home in Spain while participating in the North American Language and Cultural Program?
I told you my absences was worth the wait, heck some of you might be hoping I disappear a little more often from here on out!

Until next time, Adios, Hasta Pronto, and Be blessed . . .

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Life in Abroad: Programs to Get You There

First off, excuse the absences, I'm in the middle of a pretty intense job hunt process that I'm giving my all for; which means I've got very little left over after substitute teaching all day.
BUT, I didn't forget about you guys, how could I honestly.
Soooo, how in the world do you get from reading this post to sitting in a café abroad? There are more options out there than you'd believe AND definitely more than I'm going to give you in this post.
Just know, you can go whether you are a teacher or not, even when applying for teaching programs. If you are a teacher and TEFL certified or IB certified then you can actually search for schools who are looking for teachers from all backgrounds. Usually IB schools or private schools abroad. I've said it before and I'll say it again answering the call of education means you get to share in the growth of students anywhere in the world.
Now for the programs . . .

Options for Teaching Abroad

Teach school or professional
Chile, China, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam
Must have taken Spanish Courses, Cost at least $1,000, Offers many aides once in country such as week logging while you search for a permanent location.
Madrid, Partners with Catholic Private Schools
Must interview in Spanish
Teaching more than the average Language Assistant at 18hrs a week ( still not to shabby)
In Country Ministries:
In every country ( if you are in Europe check out the American program)
Requires the highest level of language skills
Possibly longer contracts
World Teach ( The original program I applied for that I would suggest above all else)
17 Countries
Year, Semester, or Summer
Through ministries, programs, universities, or specialized education groups
Actual lead instructor, but no teaching experience required
Many fees returned at the end of your stay

Options to move forward long-term

Looking for a long-term, more than two years, contracted job abroad then check-out the following:
USA  Government Jobs that move you abroad, tech or teaching usually
Peace Corps
Au Pair
Attending University abroad, probably going to be cheaper if not free and their are so many programs available!
Guys I hope this helps you get started, remember it's going to cost money to get settled abroad, so it's probably helpful that while you're on the internet for hours searching away you'll also be saving plenty of money. Don't give up, had I given up when the first program I was accepted to (a wonderful one in America Samoa) said there just weren't enough positions open, so welcome to the waitlist I wouldn't have had my Spanish adventure.
Get to searching, don't be afraid to e-mail bloggers or ex-program participants- ask questions and make your goals happen!
Until next time, Adios, Hasta Pronto, and Be blessed  . . .

Sunday, March 30, 2014

To Quote and To Know

I've always been a traveler. After high school graduation I spent about three weeks in Italy and Greece, then my first year after college I taught ESL in Latvia during the summer and this past year  I taught ESL abroad in Spain. I love spending time with others and developing a routine outside of my great state of Texas.
 In my group of friends so many people are constantly traveling in and outside the United States. We always share are adventures and push each other to explore a new place. This summer alone I have one friend headed to Spain, another to study in England and another headed to Germany. It's not the bases for our friendships, but it's definitely a common interest and talking point.

What's a point that keeps you and your friends happy and interested, in constant pursuit? I thought the quote below fit very well with how travel fits into the role of my friendships and the lives of my friends . . .

"The constant happiness is curiosity"

- Alice Munro

Until next time, Adios, Hasta Pronto and Be blessed . . .