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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Travel Tip: Get lost

It’s, of course, important to plan and organise a trip in order to know what exactly there is to explore and experience, when to do so and if there are certain areas to definitely explore or avoid. However, when all the touristee things are explored, I find it extremely important to just get lost. …Get lost in the streets. …Walk around, meet people, eat at random cafes and/or restaurant. Simply, get involved in the culture and its people.

Get lost

…It’s nice to have a map, however, it’s also nice to make time to get lost too. …Forget about the map for a time and just allow yourself to wander around. You end up experiencing such amazing places and meet interesting people along the way.
Some of my personal all time best abroad adventures has started with me just wandering around different nabourhoods, exploring. Talking to strangers asking where and what to explore. I’ve met interesting people and even, as a result, been on a few innocent dates with local guys. For me, it’s truly the best way to acquire insight into the current culture of a country, maybe even learn a bit of the country’s history from a local with ancestors in the country. …You can always do the touristee stuff – maybe just set aside one day to getting lost…

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!

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

 

 

 

 

IMG_6303IMG_6244

 

 

 

 

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

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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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

Wonderlost Wednesday: Bristol

Being a huge fan of the English graffiti artist, Banksy, and his street art, my motivation for visiting Bristol was solely based on exploring the city through his art. As such, my dear friend and I made it a themed trip with Banksy as the focus point. However, as it turned out, the city has so much more to offer than just Banksy, and my friend and I decided to stay a bit longer than originally planned exploring the city and its charm to the fullest.

Bristol City CentreFrom Cabot Tower

 

 

 

 

With a beautiful city centre, habour, parks and gardens not to forget the stunning Clifton Suspension Bridge, this city is perfect to visit during the spring or summer time in order to spend some time outdoors. Needless to say that there, of course, are both cafes and shopping opportunities that we ended up indulging ourselves in. Moreover, we spend quite some time exploring the beautiful city with old buildings and parks – in particular the cathedral was a treat. Furthermore, we also spent time at Brandon Hill with the Cabot Tower, where we had full view over the city – with our sandwiches, this was a really lovely experience.
All in all, Bristol is definitely a city worth visiting (during spring or summer) – especially, if you visit with a car. Because then, you’re also able to visit various estates and castles close to the city. I would definitely recommend that – or join a day tour with a tour operator.

xo P!

BanksyClifton Suspension Bridge

Travel Tip: Essentials for day trips

l’ll admit it: I organise and plan almost everything. I love it – and I do mean love it! Although dating back to over a century ago on my father’s side, it must adhere to my German roots: Ordnung muss sein, ’ne!?

Day Trip

One thing, I know too well by now is to pack for a day trip. There are just certain items you need during such an adventure that you can’t go without. As such, the following presents you with my list of must haves travel items for a day trip:

  1. Travel bag
  2. Good walking shoes
  3. Sunglasses, sunscreen and an umbrella
  4. Cardigan and/or jacket, scarf and gloves depending on the weather – just in case
  5. Wallet, (passport) and keys
  6. Hand Sanitiser and travel tissues
  7. Headphones for bus or train ride – just in case
  8. Magazine and/or (travel) book for bus or train ride – just in case
  9. Camera(!) (and charger)
  10. Water bottle
  11. Snacks
  12. Patches/band-aids – just in case

What do you have in your travel bag? Advise is always well-received! …Sharing is caring, right!?

xo P!

 

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Why Travel: Why not!?

I’m not saying, I’ve traveled much because taking the number of the world’s countries into perspective, I really haven’t. However, I’ve traveled parts of Europe – I’ve even lived in various foreign countries. Furthermore, I plan to travel the world – bit by bit – and settle in various other countries.

Travel

I count myself lucky to have been given or developed an interest in and curiosity about foreign countries: An interest in acquiring insight into and understanding for foreign cultures and their ways of living – for people different from me, not just culture-wise. My eager in getting to know foreign norms and ways of living has changed my life in more than one way and it continues to do so. In this sense, some people don’t understand my interest, curiosity and eager for foreign cultures – for traveling… …definitely not for wanting to settle in foreign countries. In return, I don’t understand them either. I mean, why not travel!? Travel gives you insight and understanding – perspective. It enlighten and educates you.

If we live only in our own little worlds – not exploring difference, we become ignorant and unable to put ourselves in the shoes of other people – and other people from foreign cultures, their norms and lifestyles. However, if we expand our little worlds to include the worlds of other people – especially people from foreign cultures, we challenge ourselves and gain perspective. Furthermore, we get to explore and experience things we only thought existed in our imagination and we get to meet new people with various and different takes on life from all over the world. As a result, we expand our social and (interultural) communication skills as well as grow and develop as human beings. Hence, I’m not sure why some people need reasons why to travel – it’s probably part of that side of it that I just don’t understand. …I can’t wrap my mind around it. Especially, because I can’t find enough reasons why not to travel!?

xo P!

 

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Wonderlost Wednesday: Stockholm

Earlier this year in March, a friend and I visited Stockholm on an extended weekend tour. Although, I’ve grown up in Denmark so close to Sweden, I had never been to the country before. Needless to say, I was excited to explore the capital of Stockholm due to its reputation. In this sense, I must say that it didn’t disappoint me. At all! Compared to Copenhagen, Stockholm has a lot to offer – and not just in city life but also in scenery – and atmosphere.

Stockhom Harbour...

Comprised of 14 islands and numerous areas and districts centered around medieval Gamla Stan (Old Town), Stockholm is nothing but exciting to explore as a mosaic of unique areas and districts. This little adorable, lively city full of beautiful architecture and scenery captured my heart immediately. It’s a city in which I could very well imagine myself growing old at one point – once I’ve explored the world, of course, and am ready to (to some extent) settle.

On our trip, I, especially, came to adore Gamla Stan. Dating back to the 13th century, this district is my favourite part of Stockholm. The architecture, scenery with habour views, cute stores, pubs, restaurants and cafes – the atmosphere – are just in my spirit and I could spend hours exploring this district. However, in general, Stockholm with its various and different areas and districts are quite exciting and I wished we had had more time in Stockholm.
Normally, I’m not much of a museum enthusiast. However, some of the museums of Stockholm such as the Vasa Museum, Astrid Lindgren Museum (Junibacken), the Royal Palace etc. are interesting museums that take the concept of museums to a new level as more interactive museums – I like that.

Old Town, StockholmStockholm Harbour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you wish to explore Scandinavia, I would definitely choose Sweden or Norway as these two Nordic countries just have a more diverse scenery. And should you find yourself in Stockholm, I can warmly recommend visiting the Ice Bar by Ice Hotel. Although it is a bit expensive (even for Scandinavian prices), it is quite the tourist experience.

xo P!

Ice BarIce Bar.