Moving Day: It’s time for my abroad relocation

Finally! The day has arrived. Moving day… Or moving weekend, really.

Moving day

For so long now, I’ve been looking forward to this day with pure excitement and happiness. Finally, my dream is coming true. With a few bumps along the way, I’m now ready for Amsterdam, Holland, and I cannot wait! Today, I’ll spend the day packing and when I wake up early tomorrow morning, I’ll be well on my way to Amsterdam. …I’ll be well on my way to start my new adventure – my new life.

I’m influenced by rather ambivalent feelings at the moment. I’m both sad and happy: Saying goodbye to everything you know is both terrifying and exciting at the same time. Mostly, though, I’m full of excitement and happiness. I take great comfort in uncertainty. For me, uncertainty, namely, determines certainty. I guess that sounds weird… However, that’s how I am: When nothing is sure, everything is possible – and isn’t that a great feeling!? So why am I sad? I think it’s because I’ll leave my family for good. My family that doesn’t understand my wanderlust or fernweh at all. My wonderful family nonetheless.
For the last couple of months, all my time and energy has been used on things related to this relocation. As such, I haven’t had much energy to use on them, which I feel bad about now. I think I’ve spend the entire week overcompensating for that – now, I think they’re happy to see me leave for a while… Having celebrated the entire month of Christmas resulting in Christmas Evening yesterday with my dear family, though, I feel as if I have said my goodbyes and am ready for this relocation. Of course, I’ll miss them and it will take me a little time to get used to my new reality in the fair city of Amsterdam. However, I’m not one of those people who walks around with an ache in their hearts homesick. Quite on the contrary actually. I rather walk around home being homesick for a place I’ve never been – a place I dearly hope to find one day.

Tomorrow, I’ll arrive in Amsterdam. Tomorrow, I’ll officially begin my new life. Tomorrow, will be the beginning of the rest of my life. …Tomorrow!

xo P!

 

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Wonderlost Wednesday: Blarney Castle

Build in 1446, Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s oldest castles that is world-known for the Blarney Stone. According to myths, you can gain the gift of eloquence by kissing the stone. You will have to climb a lot of stairs and literally throw yourself under a rock, however, you will, of course, gain the gift of eloquence…

Blarney CastleBlarney Castle.

 

 

 

 

However, there is a lot more to Blarney Castle than just the stone. To the castle, namely, belongs big and beautiful gardens as well as the Blarney House: A spectacular estate in the middle of the gardens.

Blarney Castle GardensBlarney Castle Gardens..

 

 

 

 

 

Blarney Castle Gardens...Blarney Castle Gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

Including a poison garden as well as a fern, bog and Irish gardens, there is a lot of gardens to be explored on Blarney Castle’s grounds, which is closely linked to Irish history and culture. If you, for example, book a guided tour, a tour guide will tell you all about the castle itself as well as the stone. Furthermore, you’ll among others gain insight into how rulers, at the time, advanced their political powers by visiting the poison garden. Then, at the beautiful Blarney House build in 1704 – a large Georgian Gothic estate, you’ll acquire insight into how lords and ladies, at the time, lived: You’ll learn about the different families that have lived there, their history and explore the beautiful exhibits of furniture. For anyone interested in aristocracy, this is without any doubt worth to visit. For a picnic out in stunningly beautiful scenery, Blarney Castle is definitely also worth a visit.

xo P!

Being an Expat: Living abroad as a foreigner

Bing an expat

Relocating abroad automatically means that you become categorised as an expatriate – also known as an expat. As such, you have decided to reside in another culture than that of your citizenship – you are now an immigrant. As a result, it’s now your responsibility to adapt to this foreign culture – for better and worse. Don’t be afraid, though, it’s quite the adventure, and as long as you have an open mind, you’ll be more than fine – trust me. However, for anyone relocating to a foreign culture and trying to adapt as well as assimilate to norms and behaviour attached to this culture will know: It takes time. Meanwhile, in my experience, you’ll come to experience things – things that you may or may not have expected before immigrating:

  1. The paper work concerning your relocation abroad is endless
  1. …And the rules and regulations can be rather confusing and, to you, at times, somewhat illogical
  1. Not knowing the foreign language can be a real challenge – even with good English skills
  1. For better and worse, Google Translate becomes one of your treasured friends
  1. You’ll come to find that the importance of a personal number is key to …EVERYTHING
  1. Keeping in touch with friends and family from back home becomes truly important to you
  1. ..As a result, so does all types of social media as they help you stay in touch
  1. You’ll experience that your otherwise common and boring name is exotic and beautiful in the ears of foreigners, which is somewhat wonderfully weird to you
  1. You’ll discover what stereotypes there are out there concerning your home country and its people
  1. You’ll come to understand that there are various and different expectations of personal space
  1. You don’t always know what you should or should not buy at the grocery store
  1. It can be almost impossible (at times, definitely impossible) to find certain native foods
  1. You’ll pay unreasonable amounts of money for food that only somewhat resemble what you can get back home in desperate hours of homesickness
  1. The wonders of goodie bags sent from friends and family with foods from home can make your day
  1. Eating out can be either the best or worst experience
  1. You’ll never really know how much to tip
  1. When you meet a fellow (insert your nationality here), you immediately get excited
  1. However, you’ll experience that meeting new friends from foreign cultures is truly enlightening on so many levels – especially, culture-wise
  1. You’ll find yourself incredible excited when new friends or acquaintances know something about your country – especially, if you, like me, come from a little otherwise insignificant nation that people rarely tend to know much about
  1. You’ll find that keeping up with politics back home is difficult
  1. …So is keeping up with its pop culture
  1. On the other side, you’ll experience that acquiring insight into and understanding for a foreign culture is an exciting and adventurous experience
  1. You’ll come to understand your own culture and foreign cultures more in-depth and acquire perspective on these, realizing that there’s a lot you don’t know about the world yet
  1. Ultimately, you’ll realize that you will never truly know the foreign culture no matter for how long you’ll live there
  1. …That won’t stop you from getting lost in the foreign culture and your new home city/country, which you’ll find nothing but exciting
  1. As a result, you’ll come to treasure your native culture more in some ways and in other ways, you’ll come to treasure the foreign culture more

Despite challenges and difficulties linked to relocating and living abroad, it’s worth it! Every day is the beginning of a new and exciting adventure filled with wonderful people.

xo P!

 

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Christmas Present Guide: What every traveler ’needs’

Presents for traveler

Except for an actual trip, there are certain things you always ’need’ (or want, really) as a traveler. For me, some ideal presents would be:

  1. Travel guide books for upcoming travel adventures. For example this book which I was given last Christmas from a dear friend
  1. Biographies and/or travel books written by well-known travelers
  1. Travel notebooks to write travel experiences in. This could be a notebook with plane white pages or a book similar to this one that I was given last month at my birthday from a treasured friend
  1. Travel planner including budgeting, transportation times, hostels etc.
  1. Travel wallet for passport, tickets, travel documents and local currency similar to this one
  1. Passport holder
  1. Luggage
  1. Luggage tag
  1. Lugage scale
  1. Travel tech organiser with room for all the essential gadgets similar to this one
  1. Small bottles of hand soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion as well as small tubes of toothpaste
  1. Good walking shoes
  1. iPhone clip on lense
  1. Noise cancelling headphones
  1. iTunes gift card
  1. Portable power
  1. Globe or other cute travel decorations for home. Right now I, for example, have my heart set on this one
  1. Gift cards to have travel photos printed

Of course, there a various types of travelers out there who might need different things depending on their way of traveling and interests. If you’re a traveler, what would you deem an ideal present for Christmas?

xo P!

 

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What to Expect: Long distance friendships

For six months now, one of my absolute closest friends has been living on the other side of the world, in Brisbane, Australia. She’ll continue to do so for the next six month. Traveling and settling in foreign countries for a period of time is one of our joint passions and I fully support her undertaking – of course! However, I miss her. A lot! And it sucks being apart when you’re used to hanging out almost every day – especially considering the time difference. Thankfully, the Internet with various forms of social media exists, which allows us to stay in touch on a daily basis and not miss out on important (and not-so-important) stuff in our lives.

Long distance friendship

In a long distance friendship, though, there are certain things you can expect. The following presents a list of things I have experienced with my bestie as well as other close friends living abroad from me. Things, not all of which, I had expected:

  1. You become her social media stalker …stalker!
  1. You find yourself counting your fingers to figure out what time it is for her and what she might be up to
  1. Phone conversations at random hours – for hours
  1. Random updates from her life – and you sending random updates as well
  1. Panicking when you cannot get her advice on something now – and her panicking when she cannot reach you now either
  1. Random out bursts into tears because you suddenly realize how much you miss your bestie when something on Facebook, Instagram etc. reminds you of her or when your favourite Television series airs
  1. Endless tags on Facebook and Instagram in random posts
  1. Endless list of Snapchats some of which will just make you laugh out loud
  1. A detailed update on her date nights
  1. Drunk texts in the middle of the day (time difference, remember), which will no doubt make you laugh out loud as well. Especially, when she sends videos, too
  1. Missing out on important stuff like when she meets a guy and you’re not there to approve this predator
  1. Most importantly, you can expect a deeper friendship that is not only stronger, however, also deeper due to the distance because you’ve both realized just how big a part of each others lives you are

Do you have long distance friendships, too? If so, what things have you experienced?

xo P!

 

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Wonderlost Wednesday: Edinburgh

For years, a dear friend of mine had talked about the magic of Edinburgh. She had visited the city and fallen in love with it from the first day. Finally, in 2013, we were able to go there and explore the city and its magnetic charisma together. After a week in the Scottish capital, I was sold! Since then, we have discussed the possibility of eventually moving there one day, settling for a while and get to know the Scots and acquire understanding for their history and culture.

Edinburgh CastleEdinburgh City

 

 

 

 

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As you can imagine, her years of stories about Edinburgh didn’t disapoint me at all – on the contrary. During our travels, we explored the city to its fullest during the Fringe Festivals. As a result, we discovered not only its history and culture through various and different attractions and sights such as Edinburgh Castle, Princess Street Gardens, Holyrood Palace, various cathedrals, Calton Hill, Old Calton Cemetery etc. However, we also explored the Scottish humour through various comedy gigs and a theater play. There are many ways to enjoy this beautiful city, but as the Harry Potter fans we are, we also visited the Elephant House, which is a small cafe, were J. K. Rowling were inspired while writing the Harry Potter books. Of course, you cannot be in Scotland and not visit Loch Ness, right!? Well, we couldn’t. As such, we also went on a day tour to the Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness, which was such a nice experience although we didn’t find Nessie. The balance of city and country life is, for me, the perfect way to explore a culture, and when I return, I will make sure to bring a car so that we can experience more of the absolute stunningly beautiful country side.

Calton HillArthur's Seat

 

 

 

 

All in all, I must say that Edinburgh is a delightful, small city with a lot of possibilities – you won’t easily get bored there especially not during the Fringe Festivals! The Scottish people are welcoming, funny and open-minded, which made our experience even more memorable. It’s definitely worth a visit – I’ll be back that’s for sure(!) and next time for a longer period of time.

xo P!

The Elephant House

An Open Letter: Dating a traveler

Before you date a traveler, you should know that traveling comes first. In every way. Always. As a result, don’t expect her to settle in one place for the rest of her life. She will always need to move on. That’s what she does – she moves on. She moves from cultures and its people …and she moves on to new cultures and with new people. She does so because she wants something out of her life that cannot be found in just one place – perspective, understanding and knowledge. This doesn’t mean that she’s disloyal, though. Her love for travel is not in competition with her love for you – the two can never be compared that way! Ultimately, her biggest hope is to find someone to move on with. So when she feels the urge and moves on, it’s not because she doesn’t care for you. When she moves on, she does so because that fire in her eyes – that fire that you probably fell for – will die if she doesn’t. Her positive attitude and optimistic outlook on life along with that glimpse of excitement in her eyes that reveals to you that she sees a world of opportunities wherever she goes will vanish if she doesn’t move on. …She doesn’t want it all to vanish. She wants it all to stay. She wants to build on it and further develop as a person. The thrill of development is imperative to her – it’s like oxygen. She cannot live without it, but she cannot live without you and your love either. Therefore, her biggest wish is for you to follow her on her travels.

Travel and love

Should you fall in love with a traveler, you will have come to know someone with a truly open heart and mind; someone obsessed with diversity; someone who doesn’t see boarders; someone who sees differences and similarities at the same time; someone that breaks with social norms; someone ready to take a chance; someone comfortable with uncertainty; someone that doesn’t limit herself; someone with great independence and confidence in her own capabilities and the possibilities out there in the world; someone that doesn’t easily commit but when she does, she does so wholeheartedly; and someone with many layers all rooted in a curious and adventurous outlook on life. As a result, her curiosity for the unknown will continue to both surprise and amaze you – maybe even scare you at times. No worries though, she knows what she’s doing…but even when she really doesn’t, she’s come to know that things have a tendency to work out for the better anyway. So she’s not worried at all and neither should you be.
By now, it’s clear to you: Her heart belongs to the roads of the world, its cultures and its people. You have come to understand that the idea alone of her settling in one place for the rest of her life not only terrifies her right down to her core, it also saddens her. She, namely, knows that that would kill the fire in her eyes. Because of that, she ,simply, cannot commit to just one place. She needs to conquer the world while learning and acquiring understanding for it in order to feel the meaning of life. …And that’s just it: When she travels, she feels the meaning with life – way down in her bones. Of course, she needs comfort, stability and certainty in her life too, however, she finds this in uncertainty. She finds it there because she, through her travels, has come to understand that when nothing is sure, everything is possible.
Don’t(!) mistaken her for not having her life on track, though: Besides from being positive, open-minded and adventurous, she’s independent, ambitious and determined. She knows exactly where she wants to go: Everywhere. But she doesn’t just know this, she aims at it and she’s going everywhere – step-by-step. Conquering the world, though, takes time. Nevertheless, she’s in the middle of this adventure. This adventure called her life.

Before you fall in love with a traveler, it’s important to stress that it will be difficult to capture her attention. Moreover, it will be further difficult to hold it because she’s used to constant change and doesn’t attach herself romantically to men in order to avoid hindrances for travels. In her experience, romantic relationships don’t exist for long. Needless to say, the lifestyle of a girl who travels is not associated with a classic romantic relationship. No, because, as already mentioned, she’s always on the move. This habit of constant change makes her hard to read for someone not in the same mind-set. However, her wanderlust, fernweh and need for adventure doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want you or that she doesn’t need you – she does, believe me. So should you succeed in capturing her attention and hold it, then know this: Unless you understand her soul and share her passion and love for traveling, it’s not going to work out. She knows that. It’s only fair that you do, too. Because to her, traveling comes first. Always. She wants something out of life that cannot be found in just one place, remember… If you understand her, though, and fall in love with her and she, in return, falls in love with you, however, you become home. You become the one place in the world she always returns to. You’ll be the one she wants and needs to move on with, and you’ll be the one she seeks adventures with. She will make sure that both of you chase your dreams because she knows that the biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams. And she wishes nothing but a happily ever after for the two of you.

xo P!

Travel Tip: Dig into the foreign culture

As I’ve touched upon in previous posts, I find it highly important to be open-minded and acquire insight into and understanding for foreign cultures in general and, especially, on travels. For my own sakes, I find it important to get involved in the foreign culture on my travels in order to, simply, acquire perspective on the foreign culture in question as well as my native culture.

Culture

Some ways in which I make sure to get involved in the foreign culture is to not only meet people from the culture, however, also by exploring its history and culture. As such, I quite enjoy the typical tourist attractions such visiting museums and attractions. However, also just walking around the different neighbourhoods trying various food, exploring street art and talking to people in the streets of these areas are great ways to acquire some insight into a foreign culture. If I spend a couple of days in a city, I always make sure to do a day tour or two to areas around the city. Often, when you travel, you end up visiting a big city, which can be somewhat of a tourist trap. Hence, it’s nice to undertake a day tour and visit rural areas far from characterised by a touristee feeling. Finally, another way I dig into a foreign culture is to go to comedy gigs and concerts. In this sense, the app Meet Up is great to get in touch with other foreigners visiting the culture as well as people living in the culture. Here, you can follow certain groups and attend meet-ups they arrange. You can actually also make an event yourself. In my experience, meeting up with like-minded strangers who want to socialise is such a great way to meet new friends as well.

There are so many great ways to dig into a foreign culture. Please share(!), how do you make sure to acquire insight into and understanding for a foreign culture on your travels?

xo P!

 

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Street Art: Why it’s culturally enlightening

…Yes, I quite enjoy street art. However, let me just stress that it’s street art and not graffiti I’m talking about …because there is a difference! While both are created in public places and no doubt represent powerful forms of art used to convey specific messages, I argue that there is a lot more thought behind street art than graffiti. Because, generally speaking, while graffiti involves instant writings and/or drawings with spray paint on location, street art involves beforehand made products brought to a location for set-up – be it produced with spray paint, stencils, wheat-pasted, stickers, installations or sculptures etc. As a result, I argue that street at represents well-thought messages.

BerlinBerlin.

 

 

 

 

Although street art is often associated with vandalism maybe even gangs or misfits of society, it represents messages often related to societal, political, environmental etc. issues in a culture. As such, it represents culture through writings and drawings with bold statements, metaphors and images – all to convey important messages of street artists. These messages may not always be understood by the audience, nevertheless, there is a message behind the art – and that’s exactly what fascinates me! Therefore, when I’m out and about – especially in foreign countries – I like to explore this part of a culture as well. Not only is street art telling of a society’s culture, there are lessons to learn about a society’s culture from street art.

Banksy - Global WarmingBanksy - Isreal

A particular street artist whose work I follow is Banksy from England. His work is characterised by satire and dark humour and is rooted in societal, political and environmental issues. Moreover, he doesn’t just focus on national issues in England and the UK. No, he travels around the world and creates street art abroad in order to illuminate foreign affairs and issues as well. His latests work is Dismaland in England – a temporary project, unfortunately now closed, which received quite the headlines in news papers around the world. He, namely, indirectly – yet very directly – commented on certain societal and political issues through various means of methods such as installations and sculptures.

Dismaland 1Dismaland 2

 

 

 

In this sense, needless to say that I find it extremely important for people to be involved in their society – and not just their national, however, also international society. I’m not only talking politics, I’m talking culture (among others defined as a society’s norms, beliefs and behaviour). For so many reasons (globalisation and mass consumption being the main ones), I find it important to participate in the development of our world. No one can deny how interrelated the countries of the world increasingly are. Hence, as world citizens, I believe it’s our duty to somehow make a contribution and take responsibility for our own (and our nation’s) actions – to better the world. Ironically, this is exactly why I find street art amazing: It enlightens certain cultural issues to respond to. And whether you approve of street art or not approve, there is no doubt that talented and gifted street artists have the power to illuminate important cultural issues in society. Don’t you agree? Or what do you think of street art?

xo P!

 

Pictures of Dismaland, the Israeli Wall 
 and Global Warming
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Wonderlost Wednesday: Bath

Let me just state what you’ll later have no doubts about: Bath is one of my absolute favourite cities in England! Located in south west England, this city dates back to the Roman times – actually it was the Romans who founded the Bath we know today. Even though the city was established before that and known for its hot springs, it was the Romans who took advantage of these and build Roman baths. As a result, the city became known for these and has continued to expand since the Roman times. Especially later, when a cathedral was build and the city became a religious centre.

Bath Roman spaBath hot spring

 

 

 

 

 

Today, Bath is still known for its roman baths with hot springs, old beautiful buildings made of limestones and stunning scenery. However, there’s so much more to this amazing city: The Georgian architecture and scenery aside, this city has everything – museums, theatres, cathedral, universities, sporting venues, shopping opportunities, nice restaurants and cafes not to forget a lot of history and culture.
If you, like me, are into history and culture on your travels, you’ll adore Bath. Even if you’re not, this city will steal your heart with its beautiful architecture and scenery. I cannot stress enough how worth your time this city truly is. I believe we spent one day there, however, I could easily have spent several days exploring the city as well as the area around Bath. Next time, I’ll bring a car so we can discover more of this lovely area!

xo P!

Bath CathedralBath city