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  

A Love Affair with International Soccer

The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off less than twelve hours from the time I’m writing this, and I can barely contain my excitement. To count down to this year’s tournament (and Spain’s inevitable kickassery!), I’m taking a look back at the international soccer events that make up some of my all-time favorite memories.

Spain World Cup

Can anyone guess which team I’ll be supporting?

The World Cup came to the U.S. in 1994, with matches played just minutes from my house, but, at age five, I barely knew what soccer was and sadly missed out on an opportunity I surely would have gone mad for had I been a few years older. I’m envious of my parents who did attend!

However, five years later, the Women’s National Team was captivating the nation. I had Continue reading  

Ciao, Roma! Easter Week in Italy

We may live in the era of social media, where news is instantaneous thanks to constantly updated Twitter and Facebook feeds. When an earthquake hits California, I am immediately alerted by a flurry of “OMG EARTHQUAKE!!!” tweets and statuses (thanks, guys).

Californians in a nutshell (photo credit)

So, last year, when Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly resigned and a new pope was on the verge of being elected, I expected, naturally, to receive the news via social media. Instead, from my cozy apartment in the center of Madrid, a city with Continue reading  

From 462 to 457: Australian Work Visa Approved!

Well, Australia, you better get used to me, because, last week, my 457 sponsored work visa was approved!

Clearly, the government figured if a koala will let me hold him, I belong here.

Clearly, the government figured if a koala will let me hold him, I belong here.

My plan in Australia all along was uncertain. Although my working holiday visa was valid for a full year, I figured I’d give it a go for three to six months and then see where life took me. Worst case scenario, if I showed up and couldn’t find a decent job or somehow hated the country, I’d travel around for a bit and then go back to the States. Continue reading  

So You Want to be Fluent in Spanish?

I originally wrote this post for a now defunct website run by DiscoverExcursions. Wanting to give it another life, I’m now sharing it here. Living – or planning to live – abroad in Spain but not sure how to improve your Spanish? These tips will help.

Traveling abroad presents you with an incomparable opportunity to improve – or even perfect – your foreign language abilities. Many of us travelers fall into the easy trap of communicating mostly with English-speakers and only using a language when it’s completely necessary, but it’s never too late to change! Here are a few simple and useful ways to make the most of your time traveling and become fluent in another language. Continue reading