If you have ever been a part of a program that allows you to teach abroad, you know the struggle. You work hard, for very little pay, and are somehow supposed to survive out there, 5,000 miles from your family and on your own. This has been the experience of almost everyone I have ever spoken to about teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Continue reading “How I Make Money While Living Abroad”
Paris has been long considered one of the most romantic cities in the world for more than obvious reasons. It’s the city of beautiful people (many of them look like Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet and it’s horrifically unfair to the rest of us gargoyles) and most importantly it is the city of wine, cheese, and bread- if that doesn’t scream romance at you then you and I are not romantically compatible. Which is fine, because that means more bread and cheese for me. Continue reading “How to Do Romance in Paris (on a budget)”
I posted this in last week’s version of the Present Perfect, but I wanted to give this post its own highlight because I am more than a little proud and I think it is good content. I may be biased. I currently have an internship over at Rue Rodier and I have been working on a few writing projects with her over the last few weeks and one of them is finally live!
The (belated) Birthday Week edition of the Present Perfect is here! In addition to procrastinating this post, I celebrated my birthday last Monday; while turning 29 was a little scary, I have ultimately concluded that it will be fine. Just keep repeating it over and over, 29 and feeling fine. 29 and feeling fine.
Despite that conclusion, 29 is weird. Continue reading “the Present Perfect: 3 – February 25th(ish)”
More than collecting memories, many humans have a need to collect things. Either to remind themselves of the trips they have taken, to prove to others that they have seen the world, or maybe for some other instinctive and unexplainable reason. We bring things back. We are collectors. We gather. We assign meaning and memory to objects and they become part of our story. I really believe that what we collect says a lot about us. Every new place I go, I find myself wandering to the edges of the nearest city and buying a t-shirt. The trip continues and before it ends, I will find myself in a dingy touristy shop picking out magnets, and at least one shot glass. I try not to wait until the very last minute but odds are that I’m grabbing these things from the airport 5 minutes before boarding because of who I am as a person.
I started collecting shot glasses when I was younger. I thought it was unique, cool, and funny. I also vaguely remember a 90’s tv interview with Melissa Joan Hart and she also collected shot glasses. If it was good enough for Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it was good enough for me.
It was some time and several countries later before I realized that I don’t actually want a shot glass from wherever I go. I now have around 8 shot glasses sitting in my Parisian apartment that I now have to figure out how to transport from place to place in an eventual move. They sit on my shelf, unused and looking sad that no one in my apartment is really ripping shots anymore but god help us, we are almost 30.
As these shot glasses sit and gather dust, I can’t help but be reminded not only of college and Burnett’s in Fort Lauderdale but of my first trip to Paris when I was young and dumb. I have collected them since the beginning of my traveling life and so I feel like I have to keep going. Despite having no use for them, I am emotionally attached to this ritual of buying shot glasses and feel that I can’t go back and start collecting something else because then I will be missing 12 of whatever new thing I start collecting.
Once, on television, I saw a story about this girl who would search out her favorite book in every new country’s native language and I thought that was amazing and wanted to steal that idea. The book was Le Petit Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery and I remember thinking how creative and cool it was and immediately wishing that my shot glass collection would morph into something equally intellectual. It hasn’t.
On my trip to Greece, I decided that I would start to collect a nice piece of handmade jewelry from each new place I traveled. I congratulated myself and held onto this new and self-proclaimed brilliant idea up until I got to the airport at 5am. A sinking realization set in that I forgot to actually buy any jewelry despite having looked and so I grabbed a really cheap beaded bracelet from the airport kiosk that I didn’t particularly like and rarely wear. Another disappointing start to what I had hoped was my new collectible. It didn’t stick.
The t-shirt is something that I don’t collect for myself, but I get it for my dad and bring back to him. He collects Harley Davidson shirts and has ever since I can remember. It’s funny for me to go into a Harley Davidson store in a country whose language I don’t speak and find that the vibe, the people, and the merchandise is more or less the same. This sounds like a strange thing to collect, but each Harley Davidson retailer designs their own artwork to put on the back of their shirts, so each shirt is different, unique and reflective of the individual culture of the city or country. My favorite HD purchase is the shirt I picked up in Dublin with a giant Celtic-knot skull on the back. The people in the store usually love the idea that I have come from America and am buying their shirt to take back to my dad and although it sometimes takes a half a day, I commit to getting one if it’s possible. I only have missed Italy, they don’t have streets in Venice so they don’t sell motorcycles (duh), and Belgium, which I have missed twice because it’s so far from the city center of Brussels, but other than that, my dad has one from every country I have ever been to.
My mom is harder- because, as she is a mother, she never wants anything. “What can I bring you?” “Nothing, just come home to visit.” I usually bring her a magnet and a really big hug, but sometimes I find something that reminds me of her and so I buy that; earrings in Venice, a scarf in Dublin, sometimes old books or whatever strikes my fancy.
I try to keep a little bit of foreign currency from wherever I go because that’s kind of fun, but it’s not something that is ‘make or break’ for me and I often buy overpriced snacks at the airport with it instead of saving it because: food. I also dream of sending myself a postcard from wherever I am, but I literally can’t seem to ever get around to it.
Despite my desire to collect something better, more interesting, or nicer, the only things I have successfully brought home for myself from each country I have ever been to are shot glasses. I guess that’s okay.
The shot glasses will forever serve as a reminder that once I was young and stupid and despite having ever barely traveled out of the country, booked an impulsive ticket to Paris and bought a shot glass when I got there. I look forward to being 100 and giggling as I buy shot glasses from a tacky souvenir shop in a brand new country. Maybe I can also start to collect nice art or something but that’s a problem for future Amanda.
What things do you collect on your travels and why? Let me know in the comments!
I have so much to say about the year 2017. Despite it being a dumpster fire of a year for politics, women, minorities, foreign policy, the environment, the economy… (I could keep going but I’m really bumming myself out) 2017 was actually pretty good to me when it comes to travel. When 2017 ends, it will have included trips on 3 continents, 6 different countries, and 10 brand new cities, so it feels really hard to complain about my year knowing what an absolute privilege I have to be able to travel this way. 2018 will hopefully be just as epic as I continue towards my goal of 35 countries in 35 years, if you would like to know what I’m hoping 2018 has in store for me, you can find out here.
So without further ado, here is the down and dirty on my 2017 travel:
My 2017 year in travel started by me hopping off a train in Geneva, Switzerland where I got to see the Jet d’Eau before boarding my next train (as we have previously discussed, I’m counting this as a new visited country, deal with it). I accidentally racked up a 20 euro data charge because of Snapchat in the 3 hours I was there. Cool.
I then went skiing in the French Alps in Flaine, France. Skiing is hard. I fell down a lot, cried, and walked down a mountain despite the persistence of the mountain ranger telling me I would be fine if I skied down. This story belongs in its own blog post and will have one in due time.
I finished up January by laugh-crying my way through my maid of honor speech and then catching the bouquet at my best friends wedding in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’m still not married. In case you were wondering.
February included a surprise vacation to Venice, Italy for Valentine’s Day/my birthday with the best travel companion any girl could ask for. I drank 2 euro prosecco and watched men fix gondolas. It was amazing.
March saw me back home again in Indiana getting to watch another one of my best friends walk down the aisle with my best friends from college and then somehow leaving the after-party with 10 mini bottles of champagne.
April had a chilly and windy but ultimately sunny weekend trip to Deauville in the north of France. I did my first cartwheel in years on the beach. It really hurt.
We also had a quick little weekend in London, England – we tested out some new beer, tried an American Barbeque joint (mixed reviews from the American judge) and got to cheer on the London Marathon.
June had the most wonderful midweek trip to Montpellier, France where we stayed at what I have decided is officially the cutest Bed and Breakfast in the world (proof here ) and we got sunburn at the beach.
The first weekend of July blessed us with a gorgeous wedding in the countryside in Normandie, France with my lovely au pair girls. The weekend was made complete with champagne, fireworks and a pushing our car out of the mud in heels at 3am.
The weekend after that I did a day trip to taste champagne and chocolate in Reims, France where we (myself & a group of interns) almost all died a bubbly and glass shardy death when Sabrage went wrong. Photos here (of location, not of our brush with death)
Right before heading back to the states, we were able to squeeze in a mini-break in the fairy-tale paradise and crystal clear blue waters of Annecy, France. This trip included a two-hour boat tour, kayaking and forcing boyfriend to do a pedal boat twice because I loved it so much.
The rest of August saw me catching a return flight home to the states for a few months for visa renewal but mostly for long hugs with friends and family.
When in Indiana, do as the Hoosiers: we fit in a weekend at the family lake house in North Webster, Indiana full of fishing, boating, and being an old woman and doing a needlepoint while enjoying a beer from New Glarus.
August wrapped up with a day spent in the most magical place in the world, Bloomington, Indiana; where I spent the day inexplicably talking peoples ears off and stealing beer glasses.
Labor Day weekend was spent celebrating a beautiful bride to be in some equally beautiful vineyards in Sawyer, Michigan. Our itinerary here.
The following weekend I was able to celebrate another beautiful bride-to-be while still nursing a hangover in Nashville, Tennessee. A vague write-up here.
I also squeezed in a trip to Chicago to actually apply for my visa, but mostly to eat Portillos.
September ended with a return flight back to Paris, France where strangers on the airplane gave me free champagne and I complained about the in-flight entertainment system because I have no chill or perspective.
Another cheeky weekend in London, celebrating the 30th of a friend and eating far too many doughnuts.
Currently writing this from the beautiful, warm, and sunny Melbourne where so far we celebrated Christmas with boyfriends family, watched the famous Ashes, mini-golfed, did a walking tour and went to an outdoor movie theatre. We have a few more days here before we head to Sydney which will not include any sunburn because my mom would kill me, but will most definitely include lots of sunny beers and a beach or two.
All in all, 2017 definitely had a lot of travel high points for me and I am feeling really lucky to be able to share all of them with you.
Where did you go in 2017?
Where should I go next?
I was scrolling through Instagram yesterday and I saw this girl who had posted that she was really excited to announce she had completed her goal of visiting 25 countries by the time she turned 25. She then went on to state that her new goal was going to be to visit 30 countries by 30. I commented, congratulating her and then said that I think I want to set the same goal and then I set about counting up my visited countries. Continue reading “35 by 35”
If you’re wondering what to do in Paris this weekend AND fancy crossing a few things off of your holiday shopping list – read on!
My friend over at Moonlit Wing is currently featuring a series of guest bloggers and she recently asked me to write a little something about Paris.
She gave me carte blanche to really take the post wherever I wanted to and what I ended up writing is one of my favorite things that I’ve written so far about life abroad.
I started writing this post at the beginning of the summer and then I got distracted, but I’m sharing it with you now!
Once school was over for the summer I was essentially working for myself. When I’m not working in the schools, I have this freedom to schedule vacation whenever I want, which is terrifying. Don’t get me wrong… it’s amazing, but also dangerous. The temptation to ignore my to-do list, close off my online teaching schedule and go on perma-holiday is so real. This desire is only worsened by the fact that Paris is miserably hot and humid over the summer.
In the first few weeks of summer, Parisians were at each other’s throats. I actually watched a fight over a stroller break out on a bus. The bus driver had to get up out of his seat to yell at an entire bus full of adults. I have never seen that before. Shortly after, a man stole my cell phone out of my hands on the metro and then ran away as the doors slammed shut.
It was time to get out of Paris. Continue reading “2 days in Montpellier”