Tour Through Blogland

When my fellow blogger and friend Yalanda invited me to participate in her Tour Through Blogland, I was thrilled to take part! I love reading about the behind-the-scenes of other bloggers, and it’s always fun (and a helpful process!) to think about mine.

What am I working on?

Besides the many, many drafts I am constantly trying to update (I’m embarrassed to tell you the number–it’s that many!), I’m also working on learning the basics of web design so I can re-do my site! There’s so much to learn but it’s fun, too, and I’m hoping to do an overhaul soon. So, stay tuned!

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

This is a difficult one! I think my blog is different because not only does it cover my most recent life change of moving abroad, but I try to incorporate travel stories from my entire life. Of course, it’s also from my point of view, which I certainly consider unique. Despite the many other expat and travel bloggers out there, it’s still out of the norm to leave home behind and set out the see the world, too!

Why do I write/create what I do?

Traveling is just my thing–I feel most myself and “at home” on the road more than anywhere else. I’ve also been writing stories and journal entries and poems for as long as I can remember, so it’s a natural way to combine both of the things I can’t stop doing, no matter where else my career path has taken me.

How does my writing/creating process work?

I used to wait to write or take pictures until inspiration hit me. I soon learned if I want to write consistently, I can’t wait until the mood strikes! There are times after long days of teaching where inspiration is nowhere to be found. I’m working on making a schedule, but I spend at least an hour or two a day looking through my photos for inspiration, editing old drafts, thinking of ideas, and just writing posts, even if I don’t publish them. It also helps to look through other bloggers to keep my motivation and interest alive.

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Now, I introduce you two to of my fellow bloggers that I always find inspiring and fun to read: Tina and Carly!

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Hey! I’m Tina from Girl Meets Globe. My love of exploring began at an early age while growing up in Alaska. I dreamt of taking that exploration further to Europe. I met my husband in Texas and a few years later we found ourselves in Europe. We’ve been expats for a decade and a half and have called Russia, Czech Republic, Spain, Austria and now England home.  I started blogging when we adopted our daughter in Czech Republic and then had twins in Prague a short time later.  Moving, language learning, cultural experiences, travel, exploring the area around us, sometimes food, my attempt to be a little crafty and family life in general are what you’ll find at Girl Meets Globe.

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Hi! I’m Carly from Let Us Wanderlust, where I document my life, loves and all the simple things that make this life of mine so wonderful! I live in a small, peaceful country town in Queensland, Australia, with my wonderful fiancé Tyrone. We recently returned from six months of full-time overseas travel and are now navigating life in our rural slice of countryside paradise. Originally, I began Let Us Wanderlust to chronicle our adventures abroad and keep in touch with friends and family at home. Now I share all the things that make me happy in life and the little moments and joys that make our life together so wonderful. You’ll find stories and photographs from our travels, snippets from our day-to-day lives in Queensland, Australia, recipes I’m currently loving, outfits I’m currently wearing, projects I’m currently DIYing and the love I have for the simple things in life. Thanks for having me, Amy!

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I hope you enjoyed this little tour through blogland–and thanks again to Tina and Carly!

Expectations

I don’t about all of you, but I have this little problem with expectations. No matter how many places I go, no matter how many times I try to let go of any and all expectations of a place, I still can’t help but have preconceived notions of somewhere.

Especially those famous places that you hear about all of your life–how can you not have expectations of those?

Really, they’re dangerous, and I enjoy places much more when I have fewer expectations.

I’m working on it.

Moving to Prague was no different expectation-wise, although I’d never been here, so I think that helped. I heard that Prague is the most beautiful city in Europe, and most of the time I can’t help but agree. But when you live in a city–even one reputed to be as beautiful as Prague–you don’t just get the fairy-tale glimpses. You get the real, nitty-gritty glimpses of life here.

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When I say nitty-gritty, keep in mind that I work at a private English school and live three blocks away from a mall.

Before moving to Prague, I expected…

…to find more comforts of home. Not just mac’n’cheese, but things like turkey meatballs, Febreeze, and spur-of-the-moment seasonal decorations are just not as readily available or as affordable as I figured.

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…to only have one job. I do have a post on this almost ready to publish, but unless you score a full-time position, most English teachers bounce around between companies, schools, and private lessons. In addition, the visa I have is a freelance-type visa, which means I need to be able to show more than one place of employment on my taxes.

…to make friends quickly because, despite all of the warnings, I generally have always been able to do this. However, I was not anticipating the language barrier and the sheer work it would be to make friends. Oof. (This is an example of an expectation I really should have had because people kept telling me to have it, but I didn’t listen).

…to find a beautiful, clean city every day. Prague is certainly beautiful, but it’s also old. Unless someone is taking care of old things, they will get dirty and fall apart.  Prague is still a city and that means there’s trash, and areas that are dirty, and overflowing trash bins, and the all-too-often eau de sewer. Also, graffiti is huge in Prague (and maybe all of Europe?). Mostly I find it amusing (and sometimes it’s pretty, too) because I don’t understand the urge to tag anything–especially with something like “BAT KISS” or “TWO RETARDS OF PRAGUE.” I admit though, when our beautiful flat building was tagged with something that looks alarmingly close to “Hitler,” well, I was sad. Why!

…to not have a bathtub. Thankfully I DOOOOOOO. It’s the little things, people!

…to be able to travel quickly, cheaply, and easily through Europe at the drop of a hat. Not saying this is impossible, but is usually takes foresight and research to get the really good deals. Also, there are cool websites for flights (like Skyscanner, my favorite!)–but bus and train websites are still often in the local language and therefore more difficult to navigate.

IMG_6979but lets be real, it wasn’t that hard to get here.

…to have every Friday off and to be away every weekend. Yeah…not so much. I don’t have a 9-5 job which I’m very thankful for, so I have random pockets of time between lessons (plus Friday afternoons! woo!). I read somewhere that someone who taught here only had a four-day week and for some reason I applied to this everyone moving here.

…to have a much less stressful lifestyle. While I wouldn’t say that I am as stressed out as I was back in Denver–I’m not in grad school, which is one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done, so that’s certainly an improvement–it is not the 10-hours-a-week and endless, relaxing travel that I was picturing. Part of it is that adjusting to a new country and culture in itself can be a stressful experience. Part of it is my fault–I haven’t been saying no to any jobs that come my way–but the Czechs are also go-getters. I can’t believe how many people are dying to improve their English! I officially had to turn down a request for the first time today because I just can’t squeeze any more in.

…to pick up the language quickly. I’m sure you’re thinking I’m very naive at this point (I have traveled and know my limits when it comes to learning a new language…usually) but my Czech is not improving. BUT that will change soon, hopefully, as I will start official Czech lessons in two weeks!

didn’t expect…

…to find Prague a very livable city.

…to begin to love teaching and my myriad of students.

…to (mostly) quickly understand the transportation system.

…to discover so many awesome new snacks.

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…to have a view of a park outside of my window.

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…to randomly walk into a protest against the Czech president.

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…to find so many amazing pockets of the city.

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…to explore so many little gems of the Czech Republic.

IMG_6244like the incomparable Český Krumlov.

…to play find-the-castle on my way to work almost every day.

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And most of all…

…I really didn’t expect to begin a love affair with Praha.

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Do you ever struggle with expectations?

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Today I am very happy to be co-hosting a new Friday link-up with the lovely Yalanda!

Welcome to BYOP! A bring your own type of event, Bring Your Own Post to be exact! Join us every Friday for an uncategorized link up.

BYOP co host

Laugh Anyway on Bloglovin. Amy and the Great World on Bloglovin.

Laugh Anyway


Where I’d Go Again (Five Places)

When I first was posed this question, my mind went blank. At first I really couldn’t think of any places I’d go again, if given the chance.

I have a feeling many of you understand–it’s difficult to really go back somewhere when you have so many new places to see. For me, there are just not enough hours in the day to see every place I would like to see.

That being said, there are some places that I’ve always wanted to go again. Once I started thinking about it, of course, I suddenly wanted to go back to almost every place I’ve been–even the ones I don’t really care to visit again probably deserve another chance. Anyway, I narrowed it down! I’ve picked five countries (and one bonus, because I’m just that indecisive) that I hope to revisit one day. Some of these countries I only visited for a short time and would love to see more, while others have stuck with me, no matter where else I have gone since.

mexico

I was only able to visit Cozumel, a tiny corner of Mexico. I was certainly given a fantastic introduction during our week on the island last winter, but there is so much left for me to see. I feel like it’s a shame that I lived in the country that borders Mexico for most of my life, and have only been to one tiny island. I hope to go there for a swim-up bar (because who doesn’t want to experience that once in their life?) but also to discover more of the true Mexican culture. San Miguel de Allende, in particular, is high on my list.

scotland

When we visited Scotland last summer, E had talked it up so much (he visited a long time ago and fell in love) that I was almost worried I would hate it. But, he was right–I completely fell for Scotland, too. We were there less than a week, though, so it’s definitely one of the rare places I would choose to visit over many unknown ones. My dream is to rent a car and spend weeks driving through the Highlands and taking in the views and stopping wherever I please. Of course, I would return to one of my favorite cities, too: Edinburgh!

china

I can’t say  my experience in China was easy. I was there to complete my internship, which involved (ideally) bringing mental health care to earthquake survivors. The politics and culture was extremely difficult, and as a result, I couldn’t wait to take a break from China at the end of two months. However, the country is so huge and there are so many unique, beautiful pockets. Even in the Sichuan province, where I spent most of my time, there are so many things I would love to go back and see. The people from the organization we worked with, too, were always so welcoming and fun, and I still miss them! China was difficult for me, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone like no other place.

iceland

Iceland felt like a whole new world to me. The landscape almost looks like it belongs on a different planet. I was there under 24 hours–if that doesn’t tell you how captivating that country is, I don’t know what else will! We took a tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula, followed by a couple of hours in the incomparable Blue Lagoon (talk about otherworldly) and I loved every second. I need to go back to explore more, and maybe even see the Northern Lights if I’m lucky!

thailand

Thailand is one of those places where I spent a month and traveled most of the time, but there are still so many places I didn’t get to see. In addition, I would love to take E back to Chiang Mai see the Loi Krathong festival (which I plan to write about next week, so come back!). I feel like I had a great introduction to Thailand, and now I would love to go back and delve even deeper. One place that was neglected on my trip was the coast–we were on Koh Tao and a few unnamed islands, but we never made it to Phuket! I think it’s time to go back for some island-hopping, too.

BONUS:

 

ireland

I will always dream about returning to Ireland. The incredible landscape, the green, rolling hills, punctuated with ruins that are just there. The place simply breathes magic and someday I will spend an extended amount of time on the Irish coast.

Are there any places you would like to re-visit? 

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**I was asked to participate in the Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There competition. I nominate Camila, Bonnie, Melanie, Natalye and Cynthia to share five places they’d love to see again. Looking forward to seeing which places you choose if you decide to join!

Linking up with Travel Tuesday!