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A whole year living abroad today!…and our anniversary

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset—- A spectacular sunset in Las Islas Cies. —-

Wooohoooo! I’ll try not to get too sappy, but I feel like today is an important date for me. I have never, ever, ever, (ever) celebrated Valentine’s day. I have even come close to hating this weird holiday; perhaps it’s the fact that I never knew what to do with myself on Valentine’s. Perhaps its all those yucky jewelry commercials on TV, which are a big NOPE for me.

Anyways, today marks my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY living abroad in Spain! I never knew I’d end up staying this long, or planning a future here. All of my life I have known I wanted to try living abroad. I was never really sure what I wanted in other areas of my life..career-wise, relationship-wise..but I knew I wanted to live abroad, that was clear as a bell.

Living as an American expat is both tiring and thrilling. Things as simple as doing groceries can be a delight, whereas things that should be easy like paying a bill can turn into an absolute nightmare. It’s full of wonderful weird experiences, and heck of a lot of knowledge on immigration laws. (Trust me, I have a lawyer haha)

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Today is also Z and I’s anniversary so we’re also really excited about that. It’s been a wonderful two years dreaming, exploring and creating a small part of the world and I am thankful to share a life and path with him.

— Here is some polaroid cheese from last summer’s visit to Sevilla. —

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— Santiago de Compostela, a great spot for kisses and pulpo—

The main reason I created this blog was to write about big experiences that started happening in my life as soon as I moved abroad, but most importantly to read about other people and to meet them!

Expats! I am looking for you! Any big feelings on your first full year being abroad? I always thought the date would be a lot more dramatic, but I feel great! 

What’s the hardest part for you being far away from friends, family…delicious native food? (I seriously need peanut butter in my life soon or else!) 

Any expats living in Spain? How has your experience been so far?

Oh, and if any of you find yourself in Murcia, teneis una amiga y guia en mi! (You have a friend and guide in me!)

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Awaiting the future in silence

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This summer I finally finished my Bachelor’s degree in Biology. It took me a lot longer than I had anticipated and a couple of failures along the way. Since I chose to study abroad for my last semester of college, I evaded( ? or missed out? I guess I’ll never really know) on the hooblah that is turning in graduation forms, getting your grad gown, pictures, parties and tossing the grad cap into the air to seal that whole chapter of your life. I actually felt a bit guilty for the whole thing because as the first born child of immigrants, my parents were really looking forward to seeing me receive my diploma.

I chose to follow my heart halfway across the world, and on my graduation night I found myself barefoot and a bit sunburnt on a beach in Spain. I dug my toes into the sand and sipped on a beer as the sun went down. Two young brothers played in the water, searching for crabs. They would screech in glee whenever one would nip at their feet and dared each other to get closer. Eventually they fell silent as they huddled together to whisper secrets to each other.

The beach was silent. There was no one to witness this moment of sweetness between the boys besides the sun and I.

I couldn’t help being extra contemplative, that night was after all, my graduation night. In the entirety of my adult life I had but one job; go to school, get a degree. And now that was over. What was going to happen next? What now?

It was the silence that answered; peace.

via Photo Challenge: Silence

 

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Kickass layover in Iceland

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When we last travelled back home to the states, we had to buy the cheapest last minute tickets we could find…Which weren’t actually that cheap since I waited three weeks before the trip. Oops and definitely won’t happen again!

As soon as I saw the flight that included an 8 hour layover in Reykjavik, I jumped on the opportunity. Z thought otherwise and prefers shorter layovers, but he finally came around. This was our chance to see Iceland without having to plan a big trip! And you best believe next time I fly back home I will be picking the flight that includes a layover in Reykjavik.

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City Sightseeing or Nature Sightseeing

If you have a layover in Reykjavik you have three options. You can take the airport shuttle which takes you directly to and from the Blue Lagoon, you can take a bus into the city of Reykjavik (about an hour away), OR you can do what we did, and rent a car and go visit Iceland’s spectacular Golden Circle. Pack something warm to take with you once you get off the plane because the weather can quickly change even if it is summer.

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Golden Circle Route in car

The Golden Circle is a route between three beautiful natural wonders just northeast of Reykjavik. This includes Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the Haukadalu geothermal area, which includes two geysers. You can also choose to do this route with a tour which you can book last minute if you have to. But keep in mind that these tours have strict hours at which they start and may not be flexible with your layover.

Another word of caution, ~heed~ my warning before you find out by surprise like we did: If you are renting a car, gasoline is expensive!!! About $7.50 per gallon. You can imagine the looks on our faces when we filled up the car and we saw the bill. I’ll spare you the dirty details, but the receipt definitely had a number with three figures. 0.0

But eff it I guess, it was hell of an adventure and now it’s a funny story to share with my friends.

We ended up renting the cheapest car we could find at the airport, dishing out the extra cash for a GPS, and lastly asking for a free map before hitting the road. I would also recommend you to not be a cheapskate and buy a damn road map so you don’t get lost like we did. Or don’t, and embrace the uncertainty of the backroads of Iceland! (and of losing your flight at that too..)

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Driving through Iceland

Once we got the hang of starting up the GPS and heading out on the road, it was soon obvious that the notion of traffic in Iceland is relatively unknown. As soon as we left the airport and began to catch glimpses of the countryside, I started squealing in delight because my gosh is the scenery beautiful!

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Þingvellir National Park

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From the Reykjavik International Airport to Þingvellir National Park there is approximately 50 minutes. We took a bit longer because we kept stopping along the way to take pictures and frolic about. Þingvellir National Park has  many hiking trails to enjoy and if we had had more time then, we would have definitely jumped on the opportunity.

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Gullfoss Falls

From Þingvellir National Park to the enormous Gullfoss Falls there is about an hour and fifteen minutes, but it did take us a lot longer due to nasty weather. I had checked the weather the day before, but sunny skies were quickly replaced with some rain and strong winds.

The size of the Gullfoss Falls alone can take your breathe away. It made me want to never return to the airport and possibly find a job herding sheep or something. As long as I could see natural beauty like this on my day to day..

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Haukadalur geothermal area

The Haukadalur geothermal area which is a speedy ten minutes away from Gullfoss falls offers two geysers; the one and only Geysir and Strokkur. I’m also pretty sure the northern lights can be seen in this region at nighttime if you have the luck of elongating your stay. By the time we reached the geysers we were running out of time so we had to quickly look at everything, take a picture and rush back to the car.

From the Haukadalur geothermic area there’s about an hour and forty minutes, plus the extra time needed to return the rental and go through airport security again.

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If I were to be honest, I felt a bit sad to leave Iceland with still so much to see, but by managing our time as wisely as we could, we still managed to get an eyeful of natural beauty before heading out to the LA concrete jungle.

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Southern Spain’s own super bloom; Springtime in Cieza

Now that we’re in the full swing of the spring season, the weather has been absolutely kind to all of Murcia’s inhabitants. The sun lingers till 8:30pm, and it’s been all clear blue skies and cool breezes. Spring weather invites me to leave my home and stay out longer, which is why spring is absolutely delicious. This is when I get out of hibernation mode and start considering going out on more morning runs and try to reverse the effects of winter foods (but that’s a whole other story. Sigh.)

Sundays have always been my favorite day of the week, always reserved for day trips and fresh air. Growing up in Southern California that meant going to Newport Beach. My mother would pack a picnic basket full of Mexican pastries and cafe caliente for breakfast, and tortas for lunch time. By 6am, we’d be camped out on the shore watching my dad catch some waves as we played in the sand. Ever since I moved to Spain, Sundays have been dedicated to taking local trips and getting to know more of the region. 

To celebrate spring we decided to take a day trip to the local town of Cieza.

Cieza is a quiet, small town in the south of Spain dedicated to agriculture; easily overlooked on the map, which is why I wanted to share this experience. If you’re anything like me, hidden gems of adventures that take me outdoors are most preferred!

Cieza is one of the many towns in the region of Murcia that prides themselves for their high quality agricultural products. But the southern region of Spain also suffers from something we are all too familiar with in California; drought. Luckily, Cieza is one of the towns through which the river Segura runs.

We had heard that the almond trees would be blooming soon, but we wanted to find a sweet spot where the countryside meets the river, perfect for picnicking. But did this spot exist? If so, how would we ever get there?

Solution: We consulted with our local viejos at the bar (you know, your classic boina toting señores in you local Spanish bar). When in doubt, ask in bars! 😉 

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Some of the señores were kind enough to give us written directions to a spot where we’d be able to park and hike down to the river. And so on Sunday we headed out to Cieza!

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Towns like Cieza have always captured my attention; small close knit communities living in the countryside awaiting to be discovered. 

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Almond trees painting the countryside in various shades of pink and white.

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We spent the day close to the river collecting wildflowers and relaxing in the shade. It’s situations like these that make me long to have my own dog to bring out to the countryside.. one day..soon enough!

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I really can’t get enough of spring lately. Anyone else find some sweet spots to bask in the spring glory??

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Creating my own little corner of the internet..

You have no idea how hard it is for me to write an intro.

Usually I have the middle chunk written out, maybe even the conclusion before I even touch the introduction of anything I have ever written.

I have also always struggled when it came to introducing myself (ugh, those damn icebreaker games in class remember?). And although I really liked the idea of starting a blog, I kind of put it off for a while, figuring I’d get around to it..eventually.

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So here we are!

Starting a blog is something that has taken me years to do. I have always written for myself; starting with spiral journals (something I stopped doing once I found out my sister was reading them on the toilet) and eventually landing on tumblr. I thought I had grown out of writing once I began taking my upperclassman Biology courses which left zero room for my creativity to run free. I realized that all the scientific journaling and lab reports were turning me monotone and extra factual when it came to writing. I had to branch out of writing about the super interesting life cycles of sea sponges and sea grasses!

Not too long ago, as I was sitting with a close friend scrolling through our pre-20s tumblrs and I was really taken aback by the pleasant nostalgia. I was revisiting my tiny spot on the internet, and it encapsulated exactly what it felt to be me as a teenager. Thoughts, photographs, exchanges, all perfectly preserved. So this is where I pick up where I left off!

I want to share and exchange life experiences with others as I continue to grow, travel, and decide what becoming a woman means to me.

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Who I am

2017 brought me the gift of creating a home with the one I love; finally together on one side of the world. I moved from California to Spain, and slowly we’ve been creating and stitching a life together.

I met Ze a year ago when he was studying abroad in San Francisco. I knew I had to learn how to make him laugh and hear all his stories the moment he walked into the room. A month later, I would be telling him I loved him great tenderness in my heart. We became long distance, with a couple of amazing trips in between and finally we closed the gap in the beginning of 2017. Moving to Spain has been scary and wonderful at the same time. No matter how much you read about moving abroad and being on your own in a foreign country, the reality is still always surprising.This year I hope to finish up my undergrad in Biology and see what the future holds for both me and Ze..Tomorrow never knows!

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Here are some of the bits and pieces of what is ‘lately’ to me!

Hope you can enjoy and/or relate, and come back to my little corner on the internet!