Studying Abroad in Madrid: A Five-Year Retrospective

I’ll be the first to tell you that nothing compares to the opportunity to live abroad. But anyone who has experienced it knows that it’s not always the fantasy vacation we imagine it to be.

If only there were one of these for every step of the expat life.

If only there were one of these for every step of the expat life.

My first day of studying abroad in Madrid, just over five years ago, was far from smooth. After over three years of non-stop contemplating and dreaming about my return to Spain, I was finally back, with just about Continue reading  

How to Save Substantial Money While Rocking the Expat Life

One of the biggest barriers holding people back from traveling is cost. Paying for hotels, eating out, and buying attraction tickets may seem like a fast way to hemorrhage money, but while many refrain from traveling because they believe they can’t afford it, the truth is that you actually can save quite a bit while traveling, especially living abroad for an extended period of time.

Rolling in the Romanian lei. Never mind the fact that one Romanian leu equals about 23 euro cents.

Rolling in the Romanian lei. Never mind the fact that one Romanian leu equals about 23 euro cents. (photo credit: my travel buddy Lauren)

Of course, you’ll need savings to get yourself started, purchasing flight tickets, covering your food and lodging until you’ve found a job, etc., but I’ve found that there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to earn that back and save loads on top of that. Here are seven ways you can live life to the fullest as an expat without emptying your bank account. Continue reading  

Double the Love from My Lovely Readers

I’m honored to have been nominated by both Kristina at Seize the Globe and Betty at The Pumpkin’s Head for a Liebster Award! The award may basically be a chain letter, passed on from blogger to blogger, encouraging them to forward it to others, but, while I’ll refrain from begging you to send an email to your entire address book to avoid being eaten by a zombie with no eyes, I do support the cause of appreciating fellow bloggers’ work. Plus, answering questions about travel is always fun.

Liebster Award

The rules (there are a few variations on these around the web)

  1. Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award
  2. Answer eleven (the number varies) questions that the blogger gives you
  3. Nominate eleven blogs that you think deserve the award
  4. Let the bloggers know you have nominated them
  5. Give them eleven questions to answer

Continue reading  

A Fa Napoli! + The Ruins of Pompeii

Fun fact: “A fa Napoli!” in Italian means, “Go to Hell!” but literally translates to, “Go to Naples!” Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Italy’s third-largest city, but would it prove fitting?

Hell?

Hell?

After kicking off our Easter week trip to Italy with a few days in Rome, my mom and I headed south toward our next destination, Naples. We navigated an intercity train to a dodgy metro and then, in limited Italian, found our way up a funicular to the luxurious, five-star Grand Hotel Parkers, where my mom had scored a great deal. Continue reading  

Sorry, World. I Left My Heart in Spain

In a recent post, I detailed seven of my favorite things about life in Australia, but I’ll give you the plain, honest truth: although I like it here, I don’t love it. But, well, I can’t exactly blame Australia for that. Because, you see, I already gave my heart to another, and when I’m in love, there’s not a lot you can do to pull me away.

Photograph taken right around the moment in 2006 when I knew I was in for it

Photograph taken right around the moment in 2006 when I knew I was in for it.

I’ve been head over heels in love for over eight years now with a lovely little place called Spain. Bet you couldn’t guess that from the fact that I bring it up every two seconds. And, in fact, this post comes exactly eight years after my first trip to Spain, a life-changing month studying in Granada, came to an end. Has it really been that long?

See, there’s two kinds of great loves you encounter: Continue reading  

Making the Most of Your Trip to Munich, Germany

When guest author Mary Bell approached me about sharing her post about some of the must-sees in Munich, Germany, I couldn’t resist. Although I haven’t yet had a chance to travel there, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the city, and I figured some tips would be useful for when I do get to visit some day. And now for some oohing and ahhing about beautiful Munich.

The Bavarian capital of Munich in southern Germany is an outstanding destination for travel. The bustling city has countless things to see and do; the only problem is squeezing many of its great attractions into one trip. From the biergartens to the beautiful parks, this cultural hub is one of the top modern cities in Europe to see.

(photo credit)

Munich, Germany (photo credit)

Continue reading  

7 Reasons to Love Life in Australia

Last night, my new Colombian roommate asked why I like Australia, and I quickly realized I had no answer prepared for her. Sure, life here is great, but, oddly, I had never given the question much thought. And to be honest, because Australia is so culturally similar to California – and after experiencing so many cultures while living in Spain and traveling everywhere from Peru to Bulgaria – living here almost feels like living in another part of the U.S….but with quirky accents and an insistence on throwing “u”s into every other word.

And, I mean, I clearly fit right in here.

And, I mean, I clearly fit right in here.

I’ve also realized that, although I’ve called this country home for over 9 months, I haven’t dedicated many blog posts to my life down under. It’s about time I pay a little tribute to good ole Straya by highlighting some of the reasons I like living here. Continue reading  

When in Rome, All Roads Lead to Rome, and Other Such Clichés

Everybody I talked to said Rome was terrible: overcrowded, expensive, busy, full of tourist traps… Despite these subpar reviews, I was still determined to see the famed capital at least once during my time in Europe. And boy am I glad I did, because Rome turned out to be pretty fantastic.

Overcrowded, expensive, busy, and full of tourist traps? Yes. But also replete with ancient history, mouthwatering food, and beautiful monuments.

In my last post, I detailed the eventful start to our trip. Day two started with the Vatican. How often can you say you walked from your hotel to another country? The lines to enter the Vatican can, unsurprisingly, be outrageous, particularly just before Easter and following the excitement of the new pope, but, fortunately, my mom had booked tickets ahead of time (pro tip!). With this holy version of Disneyland’s Fastpasses, we skipped the crowds and went straight in.

Entering the Vatican

I’ll admit I’ve tired of ostentatious palaces and antique artwork, so we passed through some of the halls fairly quickly, although it was still all quite stunning. Continue reading