3 Smart Ways To Find Work Abroad

You’ve moved abroad to the country you’ve been dying to live in for weeks, months, years! Not on a work visa but somehow you’ve made your way to XX country of your dreams with a legal right to work and start living your life. But where do you turn to find work abroad? What can you do to ensure that you give yourself as much of a head start as possible to line up interviews and secure the job (and the bag) that will help inspire and financially support your move?

Working abroad can be easy but finding the right place can be hard.

As an American who has moved to London on the spouse visa, I’m sharing three smart ways I’ve used to line up interviews and secure a job within a short period of time. They may seem obvious but it’s always worth remembering. Keep reading if you want to know how you can make finding work a bit less stressful!

1. Say It Loud

Think James Brown.

Have you heard the saying closed mouths never get fed? This applies when looking for work. Whatever your industry or skill set, make it known on your social networks that you’re moving, looking for work and up for any recommendations. That means sharing this news on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram. You may even want to throw in one or two relevant hashtags that as that might help your post get spotted by someone who is looking to hire.

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It may seem like a shot in the dark but so is sending your resume to some random hiring manager or creating a profile on a work portal. You’ll be surprised who your friends or acquaintances may know and how generous they might feel in regards to helping you out.

It can never hurt to ask or just put a general ask out into the air. Why? Because the worst response you can get is no.

2. Scan Linkedin

Everyone scans Linkedin so you might think that this is so obvious. But the way you can really use Linkedin for the better when looking for work abraod is by using keywords. They are key!

So what I mean is if you’re a creative director or designer looking for work in the UK, don’t just type in creative director to find job opportunities. Search for other keywords or responsibilities that you want to find in your new role. Try design or creative to see what may pop up. When you’re in a new country and don’t know the lay of the land or all the companies that exist, Linkedin is truly a gem.

And make sure you use the parameters such as location, experience level, etc. Just with online dating, you want to be specific but you don’t want to be so specific that you don’t have any options.

In general, Linkedin is a great resource these days for real job leads across industries. If you’re not on it, maybe rethink that. Also make sure your profile is updated and you’ve added a photo, work experience, skills and if you can, get some recommendations from past employers and employees!

3. Join Groups on Facebook

Some of the best places to find a job abroad is Facebook. Specifically, Facebook Groups. I’ve joined plenty of Groups in the past to make friends but I’ve also joined groups that are specific to my industry but also specific to my location. I can’t tell you how many job postings I’ve seen in an industry specific group I’m in from individuals looking to build out their teams.

I’ve seen jobs posted to work at Google, Etsy, Pinterest, Uber and more. And not just job listings, people who asked for candidate recommendations and would be happy to refer those individuals to the hiring team.

I think that those Groups are very valuable so it’s important to join a few. But first, make sure that the Groups are legitimate. There are some on Facebook that are really just forums for people to advertise their business or sell you something so just vet them and if you think they aren’t for you, leave!

 

Those are my three ideas to get you started on your job hunt abroad. They are simple but you’ll be surprised about the kinds of offers and opportunities you’ll come across.

 

A Comprehensive Guide To Moving Out In London

You’ve finally made it to London as an expat. A cultural city full of people from around the world, living and experiencing in all the traditions of tea cakes and Sunday roasts as well as pub nights, free museums and english men. But where do you rest your head at night? What do you call home?

It’s hard to find the perfect spot, especially as a foreigner with no real concept of the vibe of each neighborhood. London is small yet so big and it honestly can feel like a challenge to find the ideal location to live.

As an expat who has had to overcome hurdles to move into my own place with my husband, I’ve decided to share a comprehensive guide for anyone looking to make a move to London and secure their own flat. I firmly believe that knowledge is power so hopefully you won’t be caught off guard when it comes time for you to rent or “let” as it’s called over in the UK. Check out some of my tips and let me know what other info might be helpful to you on your journey.

Scouting The Perfect Location

London can be huge! There’s north London, West London, East London, South London and then all the other directions in between plus outer London. There are iconic locations like Kensington, Soho, Shoreditch and Notting Hill to name a few. Then there’s Walthamstow, Hackney, East Croydon, Highbury and Islington and so much more. Ok, I guess you get it.  I can stop naming areas in London. The point is that there are so many locations that it’s hard to know where to start but this is my advice: pay close attention to the travel zones and where you will be working. I feel like that’s obvious but you’d be surprised how many people overlook.

The way to pick the perfect location in my book is to think about where you’ll be working or commuting to the most and think about how long you’d be willing to travel. 45 minutes is apparently the standard commute time in London so anything shorter than that means you’ve hit the jackpot. Once you’ve figured out how far you want to commute, mark where you work on on a map and then use Google Maps or CityMapper to determine how long your commute would be from a neighborhood you’re eyeing.

Then look at what zone that neighborhood falls in. You might be only 25 minutes to work but is your new potential spot in zone 4 while you work in zone 1? The farther out you live with regards to zones, you will have to spend more money on transportation. Is your £1300 a month flat worth it if you have to pay £194 a month for a 1-4 travel card. Think about it.

I’ve primarily spent most of my time in South London and bits of the East but not too many other places. You can check out some of my neighborhood glimpses of Wimbledon, Brixton, Camden and Greenwich to give you an idea of some of these locations but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Flat Must Haves

What do you want in your flat? A dishwasher? A balcony or garden? Charming English attributes? Start by looking on rental sites like Zoopla, Rightmove and Spareroom (more for room rentals but still good if you’re on a tight budget) and setting their filters to include what you’d want and need (probably reverse that order).

You’ll be surprised to know that a washer, dishwasher and even a bit a patio or garden space aren’t too outrageous to hope for.

On these sites you can set parameters on where you’d like to search and what things are most important to you. Here, you’ll see what is actually in your budget in the area you’re searching in and if you need to get more realistic. Is a balcony overlooking the Thames a pipe dream? Maybe for the time being but there are other options like communal garden space or scrapping the outdoor space in favor of more square footage and living closer to a park.

Trust me that some things aren’t as pricey as you might think. There are some luxuries you can totally fit within your budget but just do your research and get real with what you want vs need.

Making An Offer

This is important. The money. So you can let or rent a flat but did you know the asking price doesn’t have to be the price you pay? There is room to negotiate even though you’re not buying. So if you see something at £1300, you can suggest paying £1250 if you think that it’s more reasonable. You can also ask for things to be included and/or removed. This may sound obvious to some but in NYC, I never encountered this as a renter (though I only rented once).

And to make sure you have enough to cover the rent, this is the figure I’m using as the agent didn’t tell me a specific measurement: monthly rent x 10 +£10,000. I know it’s not a measurement that everyone uses but this is as good as I have right now.

It’s also critical that you’re aware of your job contract. The UK has lots of jobs offered on a fixed contract so if you’re trying to let and your contract doesn’t last as long as the rental period, you could run into trouble. Most agencies want a guarantee and in that case, you may need a guarantor so just keep that in mind. Maybe you want to bypass this and just do a room share rather than let your own flat.

When you are ready to rent and you’re renting with an agency, be prepared for the following fees:

  • 6 weeks deposit (they list rent as weekly fees out here but you only pay monthly)
  • Referencing fee (to run your credit check which appears to just see if you have a job that pays you permanently)
  • Agency fee
  • One month’s rent

This varies pending the agency you use but you can pretty much expect something very close to this.

Bills in London

Did you know you have to pay to have a TV? In London, the following are bills you can expect to pay:

  • Council Tax (monthly) – neighborhood maintenance
  • Rent (monthly) – paying for your flat
  • Electric (monthly) – this covers electric and heat (if you’re in a new build. If not, gas/heat may be separate)
  • Water (monthly) – all your water usage
  • Wifi (monthly) – internet
  • TV License (monthly) – owning a TV
  • Renters Insurance (monthly) – covers your flat incase of theft, fire, tsunami

Yes. Council tax and a TV license are new to me (coming from the Bronx).

Apparently the council tax is a number that depends on the neighborhood you live in. You pay monthly in order for them to keep up the roads and streets and all the other neighborhood maintenance. The nicer the neighborhood, the likelihood of your council tax being a bit pricier goes up. And then there’s a TV license. They offer free TV out here in the UK so if you get a TV and tune it, you will end up with some channels which is not how it works in America. You need to pay for cable. Here you pay for certain packages and access to networks like Sports Networks or movie channels. You can get away without paying for a license (or so I’ve heard), if you don’t tune your TV and only watch Netflix and Prime. That’s all most people use TVs for these days anyways so I think you could bypass this.

Finding Furniture

This is a strange one for me to get used to but a good deal of flats in the UK come furnished or partly furnished. You can find flats that are pretty much set up like an Airbnb or you can find some that have closets and beds included. To this I say, decide on what you’re comfortable with and how much money you want to invest in new furniture.

Coming from NYC, I’m skeptical about other people’s furniture because NYC has a bed bug problem. London is ok with regards to furniture. But you still might want to add your personal touch. Check out places like IKEA for low cost basics to get started or to least get inspired. Their room arrangements are such a smart concept because it really helps you visualize how to use small spaces and ways to decorate it. You don’t have to but furniture there if you don’t want to but definitely use it for ideas.

If you want a sofa, you can try out places like Sofology, Dunelm, DFS Sofas and Next Home. In Dunelm and Next Home, you can find other furniture basics like bedding, utensils, bathroom bits, etc. It’s like Bed Bath and Beyond or Crate and Barrel in the US. Lots of things to make your home standout and feel like you.

They also have places like Wayfair out here and Amazon so you can order things online. And then there’s the ultimate free, FreeCycle where you can grab people’s free things that they no longer have use for.

Misc.

So everyone loves a washer dryer out here. In London though, you have to beware. Apparently they set off your bills to an unruly level (or have the potential to). I have a washer dryer but have yet to use. Time will tell how much they change the bill but I will let you know once I do figure it out. If you don’t have a dryer, you can use the free clothing racks. You can dry your clothes using air and it’s even better if you have a balcony to do it on.

Cleaners. I personally think this is a wasted expense. Absolutely frivolous unless you have a huge house or a lot of people in your house messing up. For one person, two people or even four people sharing a flat, you should be able to clean up after yourself. Not only is it a good skill but it can you help save money. I’m not looking down on having a cleaner but for any budget conscious person, this isn’t the way to go in my mind. However, it seems to be a little more common out here than one would think. When I was looking for shared flats a while back, I saw that almost 80% worked in cleaner costs into the bill. Um, pass.

Parking. A lot of people have cars out here so street parking may not be your friend depending on your neighborhood. Think about how much you want to pay for having a car and if finding a place with designated parking is a priority. Do you really want to park on these small streets?

This is my guide. It’s as comprehensive as I could get for now but I will certainly come back to this as I experience new things and get more information to update. Hopefully this helps. Let me know if I left out anything and I’d be happy to answer!

 

 

6 Low Key Things To Do In Lisbon

Spoiler alert, I went to Lisbon Portugal and had an amazing time!

This was one of those trips where I didn’t plan much aside from where we were going to stay and how I was going to get from point A to point B. Other than that, I arrived in Lisbon with a clear state of mind and had absolutely no expectations as to what I should see and do. I usually have a mental list or notes on my phone of food I want to eat, monuments I should see and experiences to try but it just didn’t happen here. For this trip I thought what was best was to plan nothing and embrace everything. And being honest, my mind was distracted with work up until that point.

To embrace all that comes your way in Lisbon and to give you a head start on doing nothing but still having a great time, I’m sharing six things I highly recommend that will leave a sweet spot in your heart for Lisbon. Pocket friendly and cultural, do these things to see what Lisbon has to offer (and it works just as well if you’re short on time in the city)!

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Breakfast at the Brunch Cafe

My husband arrived in Lisbon late on a Saturday night. Deciding to just cosy up at our airbnb for the night, we made a decision to taste some of the food that Lisbon had to offer the very next morning. Enter the Brunch Cafe.

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I’ve never had breakfast or brunch that took up the entire table. I felt like a glutton but was also very pleased.

Now if you’re going to this cafe on a Sunday, please do make reservations because everyone and there mom will be there and you’re likely to find a line. This happened to me so we made reservations for the next morning (Monday) and rolled up to find the place was not as booming (no lines). Any who, once you get in you enter a small but cute space with over 10 different brunch items on the menu. Choose from pancakes or classic bacon and eggs – it’s all there!

A great way to start your morning tour of Lisbon, we paid 12 euros per person for two drinks (hot and cold) plus all you see at the table in the photo! The vibe is also super relaxed. No one is rushing you out the door and the staff are very friendly and patient.

Look at all the Street Art

Nothing screams chilled that free art. Especially street art. If you like browsing the streets of Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY or Shoreditch in London, UK, Lisbon is your place to see a new style.

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If you love color, you’ll love Lisbon!

A great activity to do after eating a large breakfast, literally every corner in Lisbon has something interesting to look at. Make sure you bring your walking shoes because you will be climbing up the city hills and admiring all that is before you because there is a lot. For instance if one corner you might find art that you feel belongs in a museum and on another you’ll find something that reminds you of a beautiful comic book that speaks to your being (or whatever art critic you may be harboring). Various colors, drawing style, patterns and more are all over the city. What I love about this activity is that it’s free and you can stumble across many other parts of the city without using a map. Just follow what delights your eyes and I’m sure a cool cafe or trendy shop will lure you in.

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Bifana and Vhino Verde Break

After you’ve had a chance to view some cool art (and take photos of it for Instagram of course), what you should do next is head to the Bifanaria Lisboa because you will have renewed your appetite.

I’m not a Bifana expert but I will say that although it looks like a tourist trap, this place is pretty nice. The upstairs seating is well decorated and the price of the Bifana (a pork sandwich that can include cheese or chips) is not too bad. It isn’t hugely filling but it is a nice snack that will definitely top you up after you’ve burnt some energy looking at all that art.

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The atmosphere is very relaxed and the food is tasty. I had a Bifana with chips and a glass of some Portugese wine (vhino verde) which was really yum. Take a chance to chill out with some bubbly wine and just people watch from the window upstairs. I really liked this place as it was an unexpected cosy spot. You could catch your breath, plan your next move, or just sit there editing your photos to make people jealous of your vacation.

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Walk the Tram 28 Route

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I found out about the famous tram 28 while in Lisbon and was tempted to go on a ride. But then I looked it up online. It’s the opposite of chill. It’s so touristy in fact that you have to wait two hours online to buy a ticket and once you get on, you end up packed inside a local cuisine favorite (a sardine).

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People love it because it takes you past all the bits of Lisbon city center that you hear about in the guide books but honestly, walking along the route is better. You see more and you get more space and autonomy. Also, if you are desperate for a tram ride, there are other ones that you can get on and they wont be as packed. I’m all for not being stuck in a commuter ride situation where you’re smelling someone’s armpit (not on vacation anyway).

Ride the Metro

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At this point (if you’re doing this all step by step), you’re feet will be hurting so I recommend you give them a break by heading to the metro. I feel like riding the public transport is a great way to get an idea of the kinds of people that inhabit a city. You see who they are, how they interact, how clean the metro is (or maybe not), how it’s designed, etc. For a very curious person, this a great thing to do. It’s also pretty cheap so that can’t do you any wrong.

The metro in Lisbon is also very cool. Aside from the culture, you can see that the art extends from the city walls to the underground. Some cars have graffiti on them, others have colorful chairs and some stations have really unique facades.

Jump off at the Botanical Gardens

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Not pricey and very peaceful, the botanical gardens is a nice place to visit. I went on a Monday and the vibe was very chill. Stroll through the gardens and look at all the flowers and trees around you. Sit down at one of the many benches and do a sketch, listen to music or even journal. My husband and I did this (he sketched and I journaled). It was a great way to take in everything while also letting out some emotions all while on vacation.

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The gardens are also a wonderful backdrop to take photos. I certainly had my husband take quite a few of me because I’m always hungry for content ideas even if I don’t have a particular idea nailed down. It’s fun to just figure things out on the fly.

So there you have it! Those are my ideas to enjoy Lisbon while on a budget and without too much fuss. The people that know me know I like to enjoy and indulge but I also dislike the extra commotion that can sometimes occur when you travel. If you’re like me then these tips will certainly make your time in Lisbon even better.

Have you been to any of these places? Have you been to Lisbon? What’s the most chill or most low key thing you’ve done there but still had a lot of fun doing?  Let me know!

 

Coffee With A View in Silves, Portugal

I’ve never once claimed to be a coffee connoisseur. In fact, those who know me, know I only tolerate coffee that’s flavored or topped with whipped cream. I can’t even handle a cup that tastes like there is too much caffeine in it for fear that my head will explode. Now that I’ve shared these points with you up front, I can get into my post about coffee in Silves.

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Bird song, colorful buildings, cheerfully pink blossoms, the sound of water rushing and the breeze floating through the air paint a gorgeous picture in Silves.

Stroll past the museum and you’ll find the cutest courtyard before your eyes. Pastel pinks mixed with rustic tan, chirping birds, deliciously scented pink flowers. It all awaits. Follow the staircase down into it and to your right, you’ll find Cafe DaRosa.

The aesthetic is very cool and charming. Actually, I found it to be quite French with the blues and whites. Everything was beautiful. A bit hungry and always thirsty (I’ve found Portugal a place that never quenches my thirst), we grabbed a seat on the outside of the cafe as most places in Silves (and Portugal) appear to be a seat yourself sort of atmosphere. I then took it upon myself to run inside for the detail of it all.

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This blue and white tile work is very much part of the Portugal aesthetic. I went to a tile museum where I saw handcrafted bits like these, using blue and white for the color palette and the work was quite beautiful. For some reason however, I did feel like the tile work and the chairs seemed very French but maybe that’s just because I’m in a European place.

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The chairs were too cute. 10 points for ambience no?

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And these little bottles of liquor had a very Alice in Wonderland feel. I’m not sure what purpose they served aside from looking cute but I’m sure they’re probably used to make coffee drinks a bit more potent.

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Lots of biscotti type cookies in jars. If you like biscotti (I’m not the hugest fan), then this is your spot.

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But the main attraction to me was the pastry counter. Would they have the coveted pastel de nata that I so deeply desired? Of course they did as we’re in Portugal. They also had a variety of other tarts that tempted me but I resisted. By the way, how many pastel de natas are too much for one sitting? Three? Eight?

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We ordered and I opted for a pastel de nata with a mocha coffee and my husband went for the espresso (he’s lactose intolerant which can limit things) and a bean tart.  Both items were tasty but being honest, the best pastel I’ve had so far was in Lisbon from a bakery outside of the botanical gardens. This one was a solid but comes in last place out of the three places I’ve tried a pastel de nata. My husband did love his bean tart though. Also, my mocha was like any other mocha. Nothing to write home about but it was good.

So what do I think of Cafe DaRosa? Its atmosphere is amazing. Tres chic and tres cool. The food, it’s decent. Nothing amazing but it’s good and the price wasn’t too bad (6 euros in total).  So if you find yourself in Silves, definitely stop by for the atmosphere and a little treat but if you’re looking for mind blowing food, you could try another spot.

The Inadequate Expat

In an effort to be more transparent, I wanted to post about a subject I’ve been journaling about for the last few weeks, being inadequate.

If you’ve followed me on Instagram, I’m guessing my subtext (or perhaps lack there of ) shows quite clearly that I’ve been wavering on my abilities to be the best. Not the best there ever was or will be (though I’m not opposed to it), but being the best me by excelling, whatever that means. It’s been hard. Really hard. Not because of my Capricorn like traits (if you believe in that sort of stuff) but because of all the changes happening in my life. The biggest of them all, becoming an American expat in the UK.

The people that know me know that I’ve been pushing for my dream of moving to London for years. I wanted to be an expat as early as 2012 but I didn’t truly make a move until 2016. From that point, my life trajectory was in a state of flux. Traveling back and forth from NYC to the UK, developing a new relationship, trying on new careers, developing different skills; all of this was done while I was busy trying to make my dreams come true. Through a random happening of events and following my ambition, it did come true. Not in a way I expected yet still the most magical of happenings.

With all that magic however, there are changes abound that make being and feeling your most confident self at all times, pretty difficult.

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To believe in yourself whole heartedly, at every moment of every day can be challenging.

One moment I’m telling myself that I’m awesome, a positive affirmation trick that can help you fake it until you make it. And the next, the doubt comes crawling in. Something I did was not quite up to snuff. I forgot an important date. I’m not keeping in touch with friends and family back at home enough. It can all be challenging. It’s a challenge that I want and have accepted. But it’s still doesn’t make any less difficult.

I’m always someone that looks at the bright side but becoming a full fledged expat is hard. It’s not just the paperwork but the process of finding your normal all whilst maintaining and building new relationships. This doesn’t include getting used to the nuances in how people communicate or the way basic things function (what is council tax and why do I pay for my train according to the time I travel?).  It can feel overwhelming, to the point where you wonder if you ever measure up. To anything.

What do I do when I feel in a funk, like I’m miserably failing or someone who just can’t cut it? As noted, I try the positive affirmation route. I’ll write down words to explain how awesome I am (privately of course). I’ll journal about issues that seem to be clouding my brain, slowly working through why I feel that way and how I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill. I’ll take a break and go to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror and say what’s bothering me to my face (I’m not crazy, it can help). I talk to someone who can hear me out and listen to their perspective. There are many ways but those few are ones that help the most.

Despite this, being an expat is a wonderful thing. The doubt surges through you every now and again but in life, most people can expect to experience doubt or question themselves no matter their situation (be it in a familiar place and job or in a new country). What’s important to remember is that you’re not inadequate. Things take time. Making friends take time. Getting into a new work rhythm takes time. Find your new life takes time. You may think there’s only so much time you get before you need to be “perfect” but there really isn’t. Keep pushing and soon, you’ll find that you aren’t inadequate and that you’re doing just fine.

Have you ever had these feelings? Was it as an expat or as a regular old human trying to adult? How do you cope? Let me know in the comments.

Communications Breakdown As An Expat

The idea of talking to someone is easy enough. You start with the standard “where are you from” or “what do you do.” You pick up on social cues and interactions, joining in a conversation where the group is talking about something you’re familiar with or directing the topic to something adjacent in which you have more knowledge.

For instance, someone begins discussing artists who tackle dark themes and you shift the convo toward a dark humor play you saw. I’m familiar with the ways of socializing, even when I’m not particularly social. But lately I feel my communication skills have left me. Why? I’m an expat.

Granted I’m an English speaking expat in an English speaking country but American english is quite different than the Queen’s English. And the people in the UK, they can be quick to tell you that they aren’t following you or you don’t make sense. I’m not speaking in riddles or, you’d think I could grasp the idea of keeping a conversation flowing but sometimes, being honest, Brits can be a bit aggressive, unwilling to truly hear you out.haha

Currently I’m living as a married American expat in the UK. London specifically. Things aren’t that different from what I’m familiar with, haven grown up in the Bronx and worked in NYC. People go to work, they talk about the weather, they complain, they discuss TV and relationships but the changes in dialogue, they are a lot. CH CH CHANGES.

In most conversations it’s made glaringly obvious that I have an Amercian-ness about me. I’m not ashamed of this. Actually, I think this makes me cooler in a country full of people speaking like Stewie from The Family Guy (I kid, SERIOUSLY). But sometimes, I feel my accent or way of developing speech has UK peeps and Europeans at a lost.

For starters, most people are used to writing words with a u (i.e colour and honour), why is that a thing. But there’s also just the way I phrase things.

Let’s say there are a group of people talking about the benefits of hazelnut chocolate and then here comes me, entering the conversation; I am easily misunderstood. You’re thinking how but I assure you I am. I’ll say something like “Oh wow, I totally heard that about chocolate. It can be a way to make you stronger.” To which someone replies “No, that’s not it. The chocolate with hazelnut makes you stronger, not just chocolate.” I wouldn’t think I’d need to clarify I was also talking about hazelnut chocolate if that is what the general topic was. Me saying chocolate would imply hazelnut no? This then requires me to explain further which makes it seem like I’m not on the ball or aware at all. To me, it can be tiring trying to explain myself or reminding myself to be hyper specific. People are ready to tell you no, you’re not right.

British people are sarcastic with hard edges. They don’t like upbeat optimism. That’s the stereotype anyway.

It could be that American’s are soft or call you out in a different way. All I know is my American-ness rears it’s head in certain social situations.

Most people can forget how rough it can be trying to build a connection while simultaneously remaining worried that someone will call you out for something that isn’t right but really, it is right or works just as well. What I mean is, it would be right in the US and still makes total sense here but because it isn’t usual, it’s odd. I’m not saying I want everyone to conform to my speech but perhaps we compromise? Maybe that’s too much to ask in a place all about Brexit. I joke again BUT not really, lol.

But think about it, you are a foreigner in a foreign place. You’re excited to be there and looking to make relationships. Your friends from home aren’t around but that’s the trade-off you made (one of many) to become an expat. Not everyone will be your best friend or even a friend but it does a person good to be able to have a conversation without always having to explain yourself. There are so many other challenges and hurdles to get used to and to have communication be a thing that makes you second guess yourself, girl please. We need all the confidence you can get at this point in life.

The moral of a story, being an expat is hard in some of the most simple of ways. I’m learning these things day by day. Do they get me down? For a brief moment. I go insane in the membrane, trying to figure out what makes me so wrong. But then I pick myself up, I remind myself of all the cliches (Rome wasn’t built in a day). I learn about new British phrases to implement, not conforming or changing in a way that isn’t me but building up a vocab that requires less explanation. Time will continue to smooth these little blips out but for now, I figured I share this expat woe with you all.

Is this something you deal with? Have you had expat communications breakdown in a place where you speak the native tongue? Let me know!

 

4 Highlights in Berlin, Germany

On January 1 2019, my husband and I made our way to Berlin.

I was desperate to kick off the new year with a trip abroad because I felt it would set a trend for the rest of the year. Germany made the most sense for our destination as it’d be a relatively cheap and short trip from London. Because I had spent so much of 2018 without my passport and making plans for 2019, I figured heading to Berlin would be perfect. A city full of culture and history, we could have a nice city break in the winter and enjoy the local fare.

Here are some of my highlights.

The Treats In Berlin

 

 

Germany is not known for their food. At least not to my knowledge. When I think of amazing world class cuisine, and maybe I’m bias, I don’t think of German food.  If I do think of German food, I think of sausages and boiled something or other. Not my idea of a great meal. BUT, I did very much enjoy my bratwurst sausage. I felt like I had to have a German sausage because I was in Berlin. To my surprise, it wasn’t too bad. It was essentially a giant semi bland sausage on a roll but it was ok. The pretzel I had was also ok. I think I’m slightly spoiled by soft, warm buttery pretzels in the American chain Auntie Anne but it wasn’t too bad.

My favorite bit however was the Gluhwein. If you find yourself in Germany, get a cup. It’s essentially mulled wine but sweeter. When I had my first sip, it tasted of cinnamon, citrus, warm wine and other beautifully sweet things. For people with a sweet tooth, beware of this inconspicuous treat. I easily could have drank 4 -5 cups of this but I would regret it in the morning as there is plenty of alcohol in this drink.

The Transportation

 

 

 

While in Berlin we ended up riding the tram, U-bahn and S-bahn. It’s super efficient and a relatively cheap way of getting around the city. The design is also a bit funky but seems perfectly right for the city of Berlin. It’s definitely experience you should do to get a taste of local life. The only thing you need to remember is to stamp your tickets before getting on the train because if you don’t and a train cop finds you, you could be paying a fine.

The Sights

 

 

 

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Berlin is known for the art. It’s also known for being very hipster. Think of everyone you know who wears Warby Parker glasses, converse, skinny jeans and old grandpa sweaters. I feel that’s the vibe you expect and what you really get when you visit the city. While I was in Berlin I went to the East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. Each bit had a story to tell about the city of Berlin and each bit were beautiful to look at. I’m glad I got to see and highly recommend that you stop by these sights, if even for 5 minutes, for the experience.

The Palace Charlottenburg

 

 

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We paid money to enter the palace Charlottenburg but I’d say it’s worth the price tag as there is a lot to see. There are three sites at the Palace to visit including a mini museum house and a walk around the garden. It was pretty cold when we went so visiting the palace was a good choice. Plenty of shelter from the outside winds and lots of history to explore. You can’t touch anything but you pretty much walk through all of the rooms of the house with a free audio guide that gives you the lowdown on how the palace came to be. I enjoyed my time here and think it’s worth a little trip. Plus, just across from the palace is a chill cafe that has some tasty pastries and drinks.

So those are my Berlin highlights. There’s definitely more to Berlin that what I noted but think that anyone who is headed to the city for a quick trip would certainly feel they had a good time if they indulged in my top finds of the city.

Let me know if you’ve been to Berlin and what you found to be worth trying or visiting!

Click Here For Writing

I’ve wanted to write for a long time but I have been distracted. In case I haven’t mentioned, I started a new job in the UK which has taken up most of my days and the last few weekends. And well, things have been a bit nutty. But I’ve been staring at the write button in my mind for a few days now. What do I want to write? Everything!

I went to Berlin in January and those posts are long overdue but I’ve failed on getting it together (for the time being). I swear I’m not trying to be lazy but everything is escaping me. I’ve been consumed with wanting to do and wanting to be seen a certain way. It’s not entirely healthy but I know that it is some function of my personality so I deal with it and monitor it. But I will get to those posts, I’m just working my way back up to managing what I like with all the new. Cryptic syntax much?

Another thought to share – change is exhilarating but it also unbalances.

I cannot count how many times I’ve felt off kilter these last few weeks. Questioning my being. Wondering when certain things would happen. Trying to find a rhythm. This is all basic stuff but for some reason, I forgot how change can be so momentous, even dealing with the small stuff. Let’s take my NI number saga. I finally received it last week Thursday after I made an appointment in the middle of November. The waiting game and then actually receiving my number in the mail, it’s changed how I view my value as a “whole” person in the UK. I feel more like someone who isn’t just visiting, I feel like an expat. And again, that feeling invites so much change. So many new questions to float through my brain like making friends, building a career, being happy, earning a living, etc.

Some might call me lucky and say,”Girl you’re tripping.” Why? Because I do have support. I have my British husband and some of his friends and family and some of my extended family but it’s still a lot to process. It’s still a lot to grow accustomed to and feel like it’s my normal. I’m grateful and happy for all these wonderful changes but I won’t act like everything is going perfectly according to my London dream. I’m not the bell of the ball and I’m not exploring new city spots around the city. I feel I did that more when I was trying hard to become an expat as a tourist but my most recent days have been filled with interviews, paperwork and finding myself in loopholes. I have seen the light though. As I said, I have a job, my NI number, a bank account, it’s all good. There’s still more to accomplish and live but it’s all good.

 

My 2019 Top Travel Destinations

I started my 2019 as an expat in London who went on a mini trip to Berlin Germany. One would think that you’d call that travel goals or at least, a healthy start for anyone who has resolved to travel more in 2019. To that I say you’re right, but my list of things to do this year, it’s oh so long.

As 2018 wrapped up, I saw lists curated on the best destinations to visit in 2019 and all I could think was “man, there are a lot of places out there.” How could I possibly find the time and money to do it all? The answer  is that there isn’t enough time but it doesn’t hurt to try. With that, I’m sharing a few of my travel destinations for 2019. This isn’t based on data or even places that I’ve completely experienced but for some reason (probably Instagram), I’m getting vibes that these places will see more tourism.

italy magazine

Seen in Italy Magazine

Rome

Located in Italy is the beautiful city of Rome. I mean, there are lots of beautiful cities in Italy but Rome is the classic. It’s the one I recall when watching Mary Kate and Ashley jet off to another foreign place that was alive with cool outfits, adventure and somehow, a cute boy just waiting to fall in love with your feminine mystique.

In 2019, I foresee people aiming to live their best lives since 2018 was kind of meh for some. This means, indulging in yummy pastas, gelatos and wine, waistline be damned. But not really. You can walk all over the city to help restore a balance to your feasting and somehow, the pasta is less fattening there. Maybe I’m lying to myself but I have heard European food can be leaner than their American counterparts.

In Rome awaits, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, a detour to the Vatican, amazing architecture and yes, food! Why wouldn’t this be a stop in 2019.

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Seen in Tap Air Portugal

Dakar

Visiting a cosmopolitan city in Africa is easier than you think. One place that will delight you is Dakar, Senegal. Lined with beaches, delicious food, culture and lots of sunny vibes, Dakar is one of those places that will offer a magical experience. It’s a little less popping than places like Morocco or South Africa is (I saw so many Instagrams and I myself went to Marrakesh) so I have a suspicion that more eyeballs will be on the hunt for some place like Dakar since it is unique.

Not only will you be blown away by the landscape but you’ll learn a lot too. There are lots of museums about the slave trade and though it may not be a fun subject, it is one of very great importance. I’m hoping I can find my way there this year.

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Seen in Travel Triangle

Bali

So if you were on Instagram at all last year, Bali was all over the shop. There were photos of influencers in tubs filled with rose petals or sitting in a pool eating what appeared to be a delicious spread of a floating breakfast. Now that’s luxury!

When you arrive, perch on a beautiful sandy beach, climb a volcano or visit a temple. Some people love to have monkeys all over them but I say ditch that and just look at them from a far. This location has been on my list for two years now as somewhere I need to visit and that still hasn’t changed. Located in Indonesia, I’m dying to one day set off for warm rays, yummy food and a bit of adventure. I’m sure Bali will still deliver fierce photos on social media this year.

tandl

Seen in Travel + Leisure

 

Palawan Islands

Just a few months ago this location sat at the top of my list for places to consider for my honeymoon. As soon as I “discovered it” however, I saw it appearing on way too many Instagram feeds for my liking. I wanted a remote, relaxing honeymoon adventure so I put it a bit further down on my contenders list but it’s still up there in regards to must visit. Why? The breathtaking views.

Sit on a white beach overlooking turquoise waters while sipping on a tasty drink. Go snorkeling and discover the flora and fauna below. Head off to a lagoon, an underground river or a cave to find hidden treasures. Or island hop and indulge in the local cuisine. This is truly a vacation to unwind, relax and dazzle your eyes! I definitely see more people heading here in the coming months.

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Montego Bay

Although I have Jamaican heritage, I’ve never been to any part of Jamaica. I have been to the Caribbean (DR) but not to any island. For shame, I know. But this year I suspect I might get there finally and so will others.

A tropical paradise, Montego Bay offers fun island vibes. Sip on my fav drink of pina coladas; eat jerk chicken, roti, curry goat, plantains, dumplings and all the goods; lay in the pristine sand reading a good book. There are a lot of ways to just exist in bliss on this island and I see many people in need of a remote holiday without spending tons of cash. Montego Bay in Jamaica is the answer.

visitsedona

Seen in Visit Sedona

Sedona

A fan of hiking and spa days? Sedona will be your local place to head to in 2019. Taking in beautiful sunsets or sunrises, you can do yoga from a hill top or find a masseuse that will workout every bit of stress from your body.

What I like about Sedona and suspect others will enjoy this year is that it is low-key but surrounded by astounding beauty. Red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests are around so the nature lover in you will have something to constantly take in while in the city. You’re also pretty close to the Grand Canyon so you can take in those views and eat some delicious food that is likely to have a Mexican influence. And if you love spirituality, I know this place will be for you. I see mental health and spirituality topping people’s lists this year so don’t be shocked to see them all in Sedona.

 

Those are my thoughts based on no scientific facts, just my hunch. Let me know if you agree!