Traveling: Like falling in love

To me, traveling is exactly like falling in love. Let me elaborate on this: I feel this way for many reasons, however, mainly because you go through all the emotions of a romantic relationship: Excitement, fear, happiness, sadness, frustration, relief, curiosity, desire etc. It’s a state of mind out of your control… You just have to roll with it!

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The longing to explore and discover takes your breath away time after time. You look forward to every moment, every experience it can lead to with an open heart and an open mind. …You can’t get enough. More wants more. Exactly like true love, you always ache to discover more. In return, the feeling you get when discovering something new is nothing less than exhilarating! Actually…it’s addictive – or…it is to me! Because when you’re in love with a person, you not only long for them all the time, however, you also want to know every thing, every detail about them. To me, it’s the exact same emotions that are touched and feelings I get when I travel. Driven by curiosity and excitement, I just want to explore, discover and acquire insight and understanding – and there’s always more to discover. Moreover, it’s the one thing, you’ll sacrifice more or less everything for – it’s about prioritising, right!? And why not prioritise happiness and a positive mind-set at all means?
…Now that I’ve come to think about it, I believe this is exactly why I don’t understand when people don’t like traveling. Why would you not chase happiness!? Of course, like any love, it’s not one without reservation and uncertainty: However, like any true love should be, you trust it – you have your guards open at first but with an open heart and mind. Furthermore, you accept the good and bad. You even reach a point where you appreciate the bad, turn it into good. You fall in love with the differences you can learn from – the ones you grow from. You turn bad into good and thrive on the differences because it inspires you, it motivates you. It motivates you to work harder in pursuing the connection and a better life – the life of a traveler. As a result, you do all that’s in your power to make it work – even if the foreign culture of choice is out of your comfort zone – you adapt and assimilate.
Even if a travel ends up not being for you, you hold memories for a lifetime to treasure. Even if it isn’t for you and the pain is almost unbearable at first, you’re thankful for every experience along the way that has helped shaped you as a person in the process. Even if it’s not for you, truth namely is that you’re a better person because of it.

That’s exactly why traveling is like falling in love to me. What does traveling mean to you?

xo P!

 

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http://danegonzalez.com/wanderlust/

Writing Your Thesis Abroad: My 10 reasons why to write your thesis abroad

After almost five years of study, it was time to write my master’s thesis… Because I didn’t have any classes during the thesis writing period, I decided to move to Berlin for seven months and seek adventure in the pursuit of the infamous black academic cap.

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Maybe exactly because I characterise myself as a traveler, I find that you can do anything better when traveling? Nevertheless, I knew I needed this positivity when writing my study so…Berlin it was. It turned out to be the right choice for me for many different reasons. I here present you with my top ten reasons:

  1. It’s a unique experience
  1. You meet people from all over the world
  1. You learn how to communicate with people from foreign cultures
  1. You gain perspective on foreign behaviour as well as your own
  1. You question what is right behaviour and you come to understand that it depends on many different things – not only cultures, however also people
  1. As a result, you gain valuable foreign cultural insight and understanding
  1. Having studied intercultural communication for almost five years and writing a thesis within the field, the acquired insight and understanding helped me in the process of writing my study
  1. Furthermore, being out and away from everything and anyone, exploring a new city while getting to know it increased my creativity. As a result, I felt that the writing process went more smoothly than it would have under normal circumstances
  1. In this sense, the best thing when I was stuck writing was that I could go explore and get renewed energy for the very frustrating process of writing
  1. It’s the perfect excuse not to have time for anything or anyone. Let’s face it, writing a thesis is hard work. In the process, you find yourself limited by many things, time being one factor. As a result, living abroad was the perfect excuse not to have time for certain things…

Do you want to explore the world as well? What are you waiting for!? Adventure is out there – even under your thesis writing period. There’s always an excuse to go travel! And can you believe it, there are even grants and scholarships that support these adventures throughout a thesis writing process…

xo P!

 

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http://hoptimist.com/products/model/iq/

Travel Tattoos: Inking memories

Today, it has become normal for people to have a tattoo. It’s no longer possible to pin point certain types of people that are likely to have tattoos, as people with tattoos no longer belongs to certain social groups: No all types of people today have tattoos. As a result, new trends within the tattoo industry shows up every day. For the last couple of years, travel tattoos has become a noteworthy trend – one that I, myself, have influenced by.

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Everybody who gets a tattoo gets it for a reason. The reasons are as many as there are people with tattoos. However, a tattoo marks a story. This story may be connected to home or travels themselves however, one thing is certain: It mirrors a personal development.
This permanent mark on the body functions as reminder or mark on what a person has been through and what s/he learned as a result – it reveals personality. In this sense, it’s always interesting to hear stories behind tattoos, as people can really surprise you – you learn from them. All experienced made – even if it is made by others – are experiences gained…

Personally, I have four travel tattoos. All of which I treasure. They mark my four abroad relocations and serve as reminders – or marks, really – for an old version of me. Each tattoo reflects a personal growth and development. Be this in relation to following my dreams and passions or letting go, they function as reminders… In this relation, my most treasured tattoo is a swallow on my left lower arm. The symbolism in it is clear… To me, this tattoo marks a change in my life, a choice I made. A choice from which I grew. A choice that made my life a lot easier but also, at times, a lot more difficult.

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Do you have any travel tattoos? Or tattoos in general? Why did you get it, if I may ask? And what does it mean to you?

xo P!

 

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Travel Tip: Keep a travel journey

For the last five years, I have been keeping a travel journey. The reasons for this are many, however, it’s mainly because I wish to remember the details and my observations made when abroad. Furthermore, I want to remember the people and their stories. To me, a travel journey represents the perfect way to capture all the significant memories from travels. When having a travel journey, you can namely always take it out and explore again what you’ve already explored: Remember where you’re perspectives comes from and reflect on it.

Travel book

Exploring foreign cultures and acquire insight into these and perspective on foreign and own culture can be a somewhat comprehensive and daunting experience – wonderful and exciting, of course, but daunting indeed. So much happens when you travel to explore foreign cultures. Because I personally tend to forget the details in happenings and the funny stories, I decided to keep a travel journey in which all my adventures along with the experiences made have been written down. For me, this is the perfect way to remember all the small, significant details that makes my memories complete. Of course, I don’t write everything down – only the, to me, important stuff. Along with photos, I that way have a detailed overview of my travels. Sometimes, it’s interesting to go back and refresh your memory: Remembering the people foreign norms and customs and the funny stories from travels.

xo P!

 

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Travelers: The best job candidates

…Yes, you travel in order to enjoy yourself by exploring foreign cultures …with everything that entails. However, in the process, you learn – it’s an education, really. You learn about the foreign culture itself, you learn about yourself as well as about other (foreign) people and ways of living. Moreover, you learn about your own culture – in general, you simply acquire perspective. As a result I argue that traveling builds character, which is why I believe travelers make good job candidates.

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With a constant need for adventure in foreign cultures, travelers are obviously good communicators that do not set themselves limitations – on the contrary. As such, we have a lot to offer a work place – even if we have gaps in our resumes filled by traveling or periods of saving for traveling:

  1. We live to explore and acquire knowledge
  2. We like to try new things
  3. We take risks
  4. We know how to adapt to change
  5. We’re cultural thinkers with a open mind
  6. We think opposite in order to deal with foreign situations on out travels
  7. We’re willing to learn and welcome construct criticism in order to better ourselves and our skills
  8. We’re quick to make decisions
  9. We’re good at problem solving
  10. We’re dreamers who turn negative experiences into positive ones because, in our experience, we’ve found that there’s always a silver lining

As a traveler, which skills would you highlight as important skills learned during travels?

xo P!

Social Media: Keeping in touch with friends and family as an expat

When you live abroad, it can be challenging keeping in touch with friends and family back home. However, thankfully we live in the 21st century in which technology plays an increasingly part of our daily lives. As such, the Internet opens a world of opportunities to stay connected as an expat.

Social Media

Personally, I use Skype and Facebook Messenger for texting and calling friends and family from. They are two easy and reliable programmes to use, which allow direct contact. I know some of my expat friends also use WhatsApp, however, I haven’t really tried that yet as I don’t really need anything but Skype and Facebook to keep in touch.
In this sense, though, social media is priceless to me. It allows me to keep in touch with my beloved ones without actually talking to them. Right now, where I’ve just moved to Amsterdam, started a new job and trying to acquire insight into the culture and build up a social circle, I don’t have much spare time. Therefore, social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat allow me to receive updates from friends and family while at the same time allowing me to send updates as well – without direct interaction. Sometimes, this is the perfect way to keep updated as the time is not always there.

Do you, as an expat, have any other ways to keep updated with friends and family? Any apps or programmes I should try out?

xo P!

 

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Wonderlost Wednesday: Mackinac Island (guest post)

Hello there! Melanie here. My dear blogger friend, Pernnille, asked me to do a guest post on her blog, Wanderlust, because I hail from the United States of America, a place she has yet to travel. Now, you may be expecting something about a big city: Chicago, L.A., New York. However, I would like to discuss a much smaller place because it’s near and dear to my heart.

My family was never one for traditions. However, one vacation we took every year was to Mackinaw City for Labor Day Weekend. This is the last weekend of the summer before school starts back up in the United States and it’s also the only time of the year that the Mackinac Bridge (the bridge that connects the upper and lower peninsulas of the state of Michigan) is open to pedestrian traffic. We walked the five-mile-long bridge almost every year. (Some years it was windy, and/or raining, which is not fun to walk through.) This was the highlight of our trip and the main reason we went. However, it wasn’t the only reason.

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In the middle of Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes of North America, stands Mackinac Island. It’s not a very big island. In fact, one of the many things we do while on the island is ride our bikes around the perimeter, which is about 8 miles(12.8 km). The paved road that takes you around the island winds along the edge of the lake with the rocky cliffs jutting up on the other side. It’s a gorgeous scenic ride. In addition, there’s plenty of places to stop along the way to take breaks, take pictures, go hiking. In fact, along the way you’ll see a few of the beautiful houses of the full-time residents of the island peeking through the trees.

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Why do we ride our bicycles and not take a car, you ask? Why because motor vehicles aren’t allowed on the island. Motor vehicles (excluding emergency vehicles, service vehicles, and snowmobiles in winter), were prohibited back in 1898. For that reason, bicycles have become the preferred method of transportation on the island. Of course, walking is allowed and horses are allowed on the island, as well. In fact, taking a horse-drawn carriage tour is another of the attractions offered on the island, or perhaps a horseback-ride through the middle of the island.

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Or perhaps you’re a history-buff, someone who enjoys history? Have no fear! The island is rich with history! In fact, on the top of the island stands Fort Mackinac. Built in 1780 by the British during the American Revolutionary War and later used in the War of 1812, it now remains a top tourist attraction. Here you can see what daily life was like, watch reenactments, and listen to music of the time period.

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If history and bike-riding aren’t your thing, you’ll have plenty else to do on the island with the countless unique, eclectic shops, a butterfly house with dozens of butterfly species from around the world, putt-putt golf by the beach, visit the Grand Hotel, plenty of open grass areas for catching some (sun)rays, playing Frisbee, or flying a kite.

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Remember that peak tourist time is Labor Day Weekend. So be careful not to run any pedestrians over with your bike in the jam-packed Main Street. :p For a better look at the scenery of Mackinac Island, check out my flash fiction series :
Across the Lake (part 1); 
Across the Lake (part 2);
 Lake Huron;
 Fog;
 Day to Night.

New Beginnings: Settling abroad

Step-by-step, I’m settling here in Amsterdam, Holland. My new room in a shared apartment has been filled with furniture with a little help from IKEA, and all the official paper work has been sorted out. Furthermore, I’ve landed myself one of those 9-17 jobs… One that I’m really excited about as it combines previous work experience with my degrees – it seems like the perfect match. Moreover, my colleagues seems warm and welcoming, which is highly important to me as I’m quite the social type – a friendly and positive work environment is vital to me!

However, although having lived here for a little over a week now, I haven’t had time for what I enjoy the most due to practical matters: Exploring the city.
I guess, I shouldn’t be too worried about that for now as I’m going to live here permanently for an undecided period of time. This means that, if all goes as planned, I’ll have years to get to know the city and all it’s hidden treasures – but it’s not like me… at all! The previous times when I’ve relocated abroad, I was out exploring from day one. Maybe that’s because all the practical matters had been taken care of before moving? Anyway, at least I’ve had time to figure out the most basic things: Where to grocery shop, how public transportation works and where the green areas in my neighbourhood are.

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In this sense, though, I’ve come to wonder: What do I expect of my time in Amsterdam besides having a good time and it to be a positive experience? After some serious thinking, I’ve come to the following conclusion. In the big picture, I’ll work towards 1) Acquiring insight into and understanding for the Dutch culture; 2) Making new friends from all over the world in this highly international city; and 3) Settling in at work, befriending and getting close to my new colleagues. To me, these are the things that truly matter – especially the social aspect of it all.
Besides this, I’ve set myself certain goals to reach within the next five years. No rush, though – I’ll take it as it comes. It’s important for me not to get hung up on achieving certain things – as long as I work towards something with determination and it feels right, I’m on the right track, I’m sure.

xo P!

Wonderlost Wednesday: Berlin

For six months this year, I lived in Berlin. Here, I took advantage of every free moment there was from writing my MA thesis to explore this lovely metropolis with all its delights. However, even having lived in Berlin for a longer period of time, I don’t feel as if I’ve explored and experienced it all – however, that’s just a good excuse to return, right!? Because fact is, there’s just so much to do in this modern metropolis.

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What I like most about Berlin besides its diverse scenery is its cultural diversity – and not only people-wise, however, also area-wise. Each area is characterised in a different way from your high-end to alternative neighbourhoods. No doubt that there’s a lot of history to be explored here as well as (and implicit) culture. I do highly recommend visiting the typical tourist sights such as the Wall, Brandenburger Tor, Berliner Dom, various museums (especially the Wall Museum, which gives a comprehensive insight into the division of Berlin during the Cold War) etc. And although a tourist trap, I must recommend visiting the TV Tower! The view from the top is absolutely stunning. Furthermore, it’s a good way to get an overview of the metropolis and its areas from above. However, you can also do this from Die Welt, which is an air balloon close to the old boarder from west/east Berlin). Also the Jewish Memorial at Brandenburger Tor is a nice place to explore, walking around in between the many stones.

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Besides from all the typical tourist sights, I quite like just exploring Berlin – it’s always fun when you get lost because you come across places and things you didn’t expect. …I could spend hours walking around in my neighbourhood, Kreuzberg, which was a rather cultural diverse and arty area in which street art was highly visible. Here and in Friedrichshain, you can explore street art from well-known artists from all over the world – it’s rather fascinating!

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Food-wise, Berlin is perfect! Because of the many different cultures living in the city, there are a lot of various and different cafes and restaurents where you can dig into the cultural diversity, so to speak. I, especially, grew found of Alarabi Lounge in Friedrichshain, which is a cute and cozy Turkish restaurant that serves a delicious brunch!
These many variations of cultural foods can also be explored at flee markets around Berlin. I quite like Mauerpark Flomarkt, which is a rather big flee market with everything from furniture to clothes to technical gadgets to jewellry and music etc. Beside the flee market, there is a little park where people hang out every Sunday and street artists play music and perform.

As you may or may not know by now from previous posts, I quite like green areas where you can relax, enjoy the fresh air and get away from the noisy big city for a moment. On that note, Berlin is perfect. The city, namely, has a lot of parks. I suspect the most well-known park is Tiergarten, however, my all time favourite is Viktoria Park in Kreuzberg. This park is absolutely stunning: It’s located on a hill and has this amazing waterfall in the middle, which you can see when you enter the park – beautiful, especially, in the summer time. Besides this, there are also some sand beaches located around Berlin, which are open during summer time. These, a friend and I visited a few times, and we quite enjoyed the atmosphere there: It was like visiting an exotic place – in the middle on Berlin! It was the perfect way to have a little vacation away from the MA thesis.

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If you’re into the typical big city feel mixed with a lot of ’personality’ and cultural diversity, then Berlin is the perfect place for you to visit! And if you visit, don’t forget to stop by one of the many photo booths around Berlin – it’s the perfect souvenir to bring home with you.

xo P!