Thanksgiving Abroad

Happy Thanksgiving!

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(to all of you who celebrate!)

This isn’t my first Thanksgiving abroad (I spent a memorable one in Cambodia four years ago) but it’s always one that I surprisingly miss the most when I’m out of the country.

It’s even harder than it was four years ago, because now I’m more connected to social media than ever. Every time I go online, I see photos or blogs or Tweets about people going home for Thanksgiving, planning their menus, talking about family. None of that happened here, instead, I had my longest day of the work week.

The thing is, Thanksgiving is hardly my favorite holiday. I rarely got reunited with my family even when I was in the States, and I much prefer Christmas. Like many things, though, my affection for Thanksgiving has multiplied now that I’m away and in a country that doesn’t celebrate.

Still, I’ve been trying to celebrate in my own way this week. I’ve been watching Thanksgiving episodes of my favorite TV shows and telling all of my students about the holidays and making them draw hand turkeys if they’re under the age of 10 (and sometimes if they’re over the age of 10).

It’s still difficult to really celebrate the holiday in a country where it isn’t even a holiday. It’s hard to be away from my family and my friends.

That means it’s more important than ever to be thankful for whatever I do have in my life, rather than letting homesickness take over.

+ I’m thankful for E. A boyfriend, a partner, that never wavers.  I’m thankful that he supports me, and believes in every single thing I do, and is proud of me for every single thing I accomplish, even if it’s just getting out of bed when I don’t particularly want to. I’m thankful that he makes the goofiest jokes just to lighten my mood and makes me a huge lunch on Thanksgiving because it’s the day of feasts. I’m thankful that he will cook for me and clean for me and hold my bag on the tram when I’m about to cry about it. I’m thankful he’s so good you can see that halo, and that inspires me to be better. I’m thankful he’s just as obsessed with traveling as I am and that we get to travel together. I’m so thankful that there are so many things about him and us I have to be thankful for that I would need another twenty posts to cover it all.

+ I’m thankful for my family. My mom who listens when I need her to and kicks my butt when I don’t think I need it (which is usually when I need it most). My father who is always steady and remembers every holiday and birthday and listens and takes such good care of the dogs because he knows they are my babies. My sister who I can always message about random things and she will understand right away, my brother that always makes me laugh. My aunt who treats me like another daughter. My uncle who is the most hilarious man I know. My cousin who brightens up my day with her laugh and shares my love of travel. My grandparents who always want to keep up with my life. My grandpa who just turned 87 and can answer my birthday email on his iPad. E’s grandparents who are always beyond thrilled to hear from us. E’s parents who cannot wait to visit.

+ I’m thankful for my friends, near and far. My friend who reads my blog and makes sure I know it. My friend who sends me Billy Joel quotes when she hears I’m going to Vienna.  My friends that I can make Hangout dates with that are completely and wonderfully chaotic. My friend who tags me in beautiful fall pictures. My friend who shares pictures of her new kitten with me. My friend who tells me I (one time) helped inspire her new baby daughter’s fashion. My friend who reads every mass email and tells me to keep ‘em coming. My friend who replies to my emails instantly and always makes me glad. My friend who sees a picture of someone who looks like me and tells me all about how it made her miss me.

+ I’m thankful for teaching. My adorable and sometimes annoying and sometimes difficult students. My students who love to learn and soak up everything I say. My students who are more like my friends that I have great conversations with. My students who never miss a day of class. My students who can’t wait to give me the right answer (or any answer). My students who shout “Hello Miss Amy!” when I am (kind of) in hearing distance. My students who want to share every detail of their lives with me (even at inopportune moments, like when I’m reading the class a book). My students who make me earn it, make me work for it, and make me think about what I’m doing.

+ I’m thankful for my job. A boss that I love, that inspires me, that gives me amazing and useful feedback. I’m thankful for support in my job. For flexibility and trust in my job. For co-workers that I can commiserate with and that make me smile. For co-workers that can answer my questions. For co-workers that can translate for me and help me find Czech lessons and offer me more private lessons than I can handle. I’m thankful I have a boss that is having me and E over for a Thanksgiving celebration on Saturday–I can’t wait! I’m thankful to have a job, a skill, that helps me make a living in a way that I like. A living that helps me pay for the essentials, and travel, and pay off my education.

+ I’m thankful for my health. My legs that have carried me all over the world, and hopefully will continue to do so. A heart that beats strongly and steadily. Feet that don’t hurt if I remember to wear different pairs of shoes. Eyes that (with help) can see so many awesome things in this world and read so many books. Hands that can type and keep in touch and do so many things. A brain that can read and write and talk and learn a million new things a day and help me keep up with my life. A stomach that usually is made of iron. An immune system that is doing surprisingly okay as a teacher.

+ I’m thankful for books. Books that show me the world, bring me comfort, teach me new things, ease the burden of commuting and traveling. Books that open up the world and make me think, books that are read so many times they are truly friends themselves. Books that inspire me to live the life I do, and take me to so many worlds that won’t be my own but can be just for a little while.

+ I’m thankful for photography. Even with my limited skills, the pictures I take of my life and my places and my people and my moments will always be priceless to me.

+ I’m thankful for this incredible opportunity I have, to experience life in a whole new country.

+ I’m thankful for technology, and that I was able to FaceTime my parents and siblings last night. That I was able to see my dog wag her tail on camera from across the world. For Netflix and downloaded TV shows and movies that give me a taste of home even when I’m far away. I’m thankful I can watch episodes of Friends and the West Wing and take myself back to Thanksgiving in the States for an hour or two.

+ I’m thankful for this blog. An outlet, a friend, a hobby, a job, a passion, a meeting place.

I’m thankful for every single comment I get on this blog. I see all the Internet trolls out there and count my lucky stars that I’ve never received anything but positive support and friendship. I’m so thankful for all of you!

+ I’m thankful for…boots, and hot water, and my new red lipstick that I’m a little scared of, and hand turkeys, and my phone, and my water bottle, and my computer, and my camera, and care packages, and comfort food, and hot cocoa, and all the coffee, and coffee shops, and Internet research, and my insanely cozy plaid scarf, and French fries, and lesson plan ideas, and holiday nail polish, and holiday decorations, and huge sweaters, and Advent calendars full of chocolate, and mashed potatoes, and any kind of potatoes, and holiday-themed outfits, and holiday everything, and good-smelling candles, and the washer that usually works in our apartment, and heat, and my down slippers, and my big warm jacket, and music that puts me in a good mood, and music that makes me cry, and cinnamon, and Christmas markets, and hot mulled wine, and travel planning, and hot tea in the morning, and my toothbrush, and for all the Thanksgivings past.

What are you thankful for?

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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


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