I made it!

It’s been a whirlwind so far and this is the first chance I’ve had to post, but I’ve made it to Spain! My total travel time to get here was over 24 hours, so I was EXHAUSTED by the time I arrived. I booked my flight through STA travel because it’s really cheap if you are a student or under 26, but I didn’t really look closely when I booked it. Long story short, I ended up having a layover in NYC between LaGuardia and JFK, where I had to get my 70lb suitcase from baggage claim at LaGuardia, find a shuttle and then recheck it at JFK. And, I got off at the wrong terminal for the JFK airport so had to take the crowded airtran with all my lugguge to get to the correct terminal. Thank god I backpacked Europe before doing this alone, because if I hadn’t done that trip, I’m not sure I would have even been able to figure out what terminal I needed to be at lol. But it was such a pain to have to go through checking my bags and security all over again. And, when you travel internationally, you have to clear customs and go through security a third time. I was over it by the time I was in the Madrid airport.

Luckily, on my flight from JFK to Madrid, I made a friend who is also doing the auxiliar program! The seat on the plane next to me was open, so she came and sat next to me the whole flight. It was so nice to have someone to talk to during the flight and we had to go to the same terminal in the Madrid airport so it made that leg of my journey more bearable! Once I got to Madrid, I got on the plane to Bilbao and it felt like I blinked my eyes and was there! I am aupairing part time with a family here, so my spanish mom came and picked me up from the airport! She came with her mom to pick me up and it was honestly hilarious; my suitcase was huge, their car was small and lots of spanish was being spoken. When we got to their flat, we walked around Bilbao a little then I took a shower and fell asleep FOREVER. I woke up later that evening and walked outside my room and met the kids I’ll be aupairing. They are SO ADORABLE. There are two twin girls who are 6 and a boy who is 8. Really sweet kids. I can definitely tell that they will be challenging at times, but it will be fun!

The next day, I woke up and we went and got a sim card for my cell phone. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE UNLOCKED BY A FACTORY AND I PUT THE SIM CARD IN AND IT DIDN’T WORK. SERIOUSLY. So, I’m waiting to see if I can get the problem sorted out with my iPhone and until then my spanish family gave me a flip phone to put my sim card in…so I OFFICIALLY HAVE A SPANISH PHONE NUMBER. We then went on the funicular to see the whole city of Bilbao!!! 

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That night, I went out with a few other people from my program. Lots of tinto de verano and  botellon. Apparently bottelon is normal as everyone in Bilbao knows and talks about it. Essentially, it’s drinking outside in public lol. So, we went to a store and bought some cheap alcohol and drank on the streets of Bilbao. Lots of vino blanco for me lol. I also didn’t even leave to go home until 4am last night and was surprised by how many people were still out. I love Spain.

Today was chill. I walked around the city with my Spanish dad and he gave me an official tour, showing me literally every corner of Bilbao. It’s a relatively small city, so very walkable. We walked for about 2 hours. I finally got closer to the Guggenheim today too! SO PRETTY!

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Tomorrow if my first official day of aupairing and I’m also going to the beach and trying to open a bank account and get a gym membership (wish me luck on the last 2….)! Hasta luego! 

Adiós USA!

Tomorrow I’m leaving for Spain! I can’t believe it’s finally here! I have a layover in NYC where I switch airports from LaGuardia to JFK, which I’m dreading, but other than that I’m really excited. I skyped with the previous aupair of my host family today for over an hour which actually took away a lot of the nerves I was feeling about many things. There’s still a lot of things I really don’t have organized at all, but I learned with traveling you can only plan so much. Planning every detail is never going to work and can actually end up being really frustrating when it doesn’t go according to plan. Lindsay and I learned that early on during our Eurotrip in Ireland with bus tickets. But if I did have 3 wishes prior to going, this would be them:

Wish 1: If there is one major thing I wish I had figured out, it would be my cell phone. AT&T wouldn’t unlock it because it is under contract until November which basically means I can’t buy an international SIM card and put it in my phone. So, I’m just going to take my iPhone and see if I can get it unlocked in Spain. If not, I’ll just buy a cheap pay as you go flip phone and use my iPhone when I have wifi.

Wish 2: I also wish the program I was teaching English through had more information. I kind of expected this going in because I read a bunch of stuff online about it being pretty disorganized, but I would like to know my teaching schedule and when/where our orientation is. I’m only supposed to be teaching 12 hours a week, but I’m teaching in a small town outside Bilbao which is about 40 minutes by bus. I’m hoping to only teach 3-4 days a week so I don’t have to make the commute as much.

Wish 3: Be fluent in Spanish. The struggle is going to be real in Spain with my sub-par Spanish speaking abilities….LOL. No hablo español muy bien….

Other than those minor (okay…major details), I feel pretty prepared! I’m ready and excited to take on this adventure! VOY A ESPAÑA!  

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What the hell am I doing?

Okay, so since September hit, the whole “I’m moving to Spain this month to teach English thing” got more real. It’s quickly become less of me daydreaming about my life in Spain, to more of me realizing that I will actually be on a plane, to Spain, at the end of the month. To be honest, I’m having mixed emotions about it. I have spurts of excitement, then waves of doubts go through my mind. I’ve actually gotten the hang of working full time and having a (still pretty college-like) post grad life since I graduated in May. The doubts I’m having are fueled by the fear of the unknown. This is possibly the craziest thing I will ever do in my life, and at 23, I still feel really young to be taking such a leap.

But when else in life do you get the chance to take such a leap? Never.

While moving to a foreign country is different than moving away from home to go to college, the emotions I am experiencing are very similar to the ones I experienced the few weeks before I left for college: everything you’ve been talking about and thinking about is finally happening, and all of the sudden you’re unsure you want it. But the difference between college and now is I’ve had that experience, and I know I want it. I learned a lot in college, but the most important lessons I learned were outside the classroom. The lessons I learned through each different experience, that no text book, class or professor could ever teach. With each new chapter of life comes new experiences and an opportunity to grow more as a person, which is why I know I want to move to Spain.

In the beginning college was a new, exciting adventure and after reflecting back to myself freshman year, I wish I could go back and experience everything over again. I wouldn’t change a thing, just relive those emotions. But now I’m realizing I have another chance to start a new adventure, and I couldn’t be more excited.

There is beauty in the uncertainty. There is beauty in having no expectations. There is beauty in adventure.

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J’Adore Paris, Part 1

On May 15, just 10 days after graduating college, I went on my first trip to Europe. I visited 15 cities in 7 countries and am going to start (finally!!!) recapping my travels! Although Paris was not our first city, I just want to write about it first because I love everything about Paris.

I grew up with Eiffel Towers plastered on my walls and always dreamed of going to Paris since I was a teenager. Greece, Paris and Ireland were the three main places I always wanted to go. Possibly from too many chick flick movies (aka Sisterhood of Traveling Pants, Ps. I Love You, etc), but nontheless, those are my dream travel locations. I am happy to say that I had sky high expectations for Paris and it did not disappoint.

We took a high speed train (Eurostar) from London to Paris, arriving in Paris in the early afternoon. It was a grey, rainy day, but even when I stepped out of the train station, it was beautiful. Everything in Paris is pastel colors and so elegant. The buildings are shades of cream and beige, and even with no sunlight, they still glowed. We took taxis to our hostel (St. Christpher’s Inn), and immediatly went out to explore. The hostel was a metro ride away from the center of the city, but even though we were more towards the outskirts, it was still exactly how I imagined Paris to be. We walked a block and found a fresh bakery with baguettes and crossants for 1 euro each. The bakery was on Avenue de Flandre and called Boulangeri Patisserie Confiseri and I HIGHLY recommend their chocolate croissants. I may or may not have eaten 3 chocolate croisants each day I was in Paris…

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We also went to a grocery store and got cheap bottles of wine then headed back to the hostel to get ready for the night. We had a dinner cruise on River Seine scheduled, so after freshening up, we headed to the metro. The anticipation built for me as we were on the metro, because I had yet to see the Eiffel Tower even though I had been in Paris for a half day already! As we were walking up the stairs after riding the metro, I SAW IT AND FEL OVER FROM EXCITEMENT.

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We obviously had to take a million pictures of it and in front of it before heading to the river to take even more pictures before the dinner cruise.

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Then we went on a dinner cruise on River Seine and watched THE EIFFEL TOWER SPARKLE AT NIGHT. Watching it sparkle was a life high for me. It was so beautiful and everything I imagined and more. Having moments like that in life is what makes you want to follow your dreams, no matter how big or unreachable they may seem. That night, I accomplished one of my life long dreams of seeing the Eiffel Tower and  fell even more in love with Paris. I was so happy that we had two more full days in the city because I could not get enough…

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Stay tuned for part 2 and 3 of J’Adore Paris!