18 June, 2016

Bucolic Bavaria...

Forty-five minutes in Germany feels like a breath of fresh air. Although only two hours by plane from Barcelona, I already feel continents away. Such is the diversity and cultural magnitude of Europe.

 Bavarian countryside from above.

Resting on the S-Bahn into central Munich, the silence of the smooth train car is deafening. The dark-haired, fair-skinned woman across from me snacks on a pretzel sandwich and coffee, while carefully brushing away crumbs from her long chiffon floral skirt. I feel under-dressed in my black leggings, t-shirt, denim jacket, and Chuck Taylors. The casual street style of Barcelona has claimed another victim.

Emerald pastures and seemingly symmetrical groves of trees whiz past outside as the crowded-yet-mute train car tip-toes through the Bavarian countryside. Fatigue from travel and my morning rise time of 4:40 a.m. attempts to consume me, but the adrenaline of a new city and new challenges pumps me full of energy.

---------------

24 May, 2016

Busting expat myths...

When I talk to people about my life abroad, some drool with envy as they imagine days spent lounging on the beach or at outdoor cafes, sipping sangria and snacking on seafood until my heart and stomach are content. Although this is not entirely too far from the truth, it is not as common of an occurrence as one might surmise. In fact, as I have touted endlessly on this blog, life as an expatriate comes with countless headaches, never-ending questions, and an almost constant state of wondering, ¨What am I doing?!¨

I am here to contest these myths of a romantic expat experience with the harsh realities of true life. To avoid dissuading dreamers from moving abroad, I have included a silver lining for each disappointing truth.


07 May, 2016

Mother's Day...

Sunday is Mother's Day in the United States. It's a day to celebrate the woman who brought you into this world, raised you, and essentially made you the person you are today. At least that's the way it happened for me...

My mother died when I was 19 years old, but in the 19 years I had with her, she instilled in me the importance of altruism, curiosity, and challenge. She would take my two sisters and me on all sorts of adventures during our summer breaks, from visiting an aunt and exploring caves in the foothills of the Appalachians, to traveling back in time on the streets of Colonial Williamsburg, to jaunting across the entire country in a rented RV. We were an active family, an attribute that still lives within me today.

My mom never traveled abroad. She never took a long-haul flight to Asia or Europe. At my age, she was starting her family, beginning with my older sister, Katy. Thus far my mom and I have lived very different adult lives. I often wonder what she would say if she was able to opine about some of my reckless decisions to move abroad with no plan in place and to spend heaps of savings dollars to make my dreams come true.

My mom may no longer be a phone call away, but her eagerness to be curious and explore and try new things is ever present in the way I live my life. And I don't plan to quit anytime soon.


Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Al 

10 April, 2016

Life in Barcelona: The cons...

After waxing poetic about the joys of living in this gorgeous Mediterranean city, I regret to continue with a list of not-as-pleasant aspects of expat life in Barcelona. Not all expats have the same experiences, but from a quick glance through Facebook groups and chatter among the expat community, it's not difficult to see that most expats face the following challenges when moving to the capital of Catalonia.

Expat life in Barcelona is not always bright.

05 April, 2016

Life in Barcelona: The pros...

In this two-part series, I will convey with honesty the positive aspects of living abroad (specifically in Spain) as well as the not-so-fun parts of the experience. First up (and more fun): the pros.

--------------------

I have lived in Barcelona for just over two years, and I can see myself living here for at least two more, depending on many factors. So, what makes this city so livable?