Work in Progress

“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
–Paul Theroux

I'm just a girl who loves the world, finds beauty in the unknown, and can't keep her feet on the ground. I like finding unique (and cheap) ways of making my way around the globe. Interacting with people while living, learning, and loving the culture I'm surrounded by.

This is my attempt to keep my friends and family updated, to keep track of my experiences, and to serve as an inspirational resource for all those travel addicts like me out there.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Europe or BUST

I decided in 2011 that I wanted to finish my last semester of undergrad doing my Student Teaching Internship in England instead of at home in Vegas. My last semester of school wasn't until Fall 2013. I had lots of time to dream. 

Originally I planned on spending the summer prior teaching English in Italian summer camps, but the program fell through less than a month before I was planning on arriving. The economy there was in the decline and there wasn't enough enrollment to give me a job. I wasn't just NOT going to get on the plane, but I had been counting on the money I would have made working. I went from having 6 weeks paid with accommodation funding my 6 weeks frivolous travel to having nearly 3 months in Europe with practically no money. I knew I had to get creative.

Google led me to plenty of blogs that got my creative juices flowing on how I could make my trip work with very little planning. (If I can remember the specific blogs I checked out, I will link them!) 

My Couchsurfing and workaway profiles went up almost simultaneously and emails were being sent around the world at the speed of lightening. I looked at a map of Europe about 75% of the time my eyes were open and my mind rarely strayed from the subject. Within a week I had a rough outline (and I mean ROUGH) of where I wanted to be and when. 



When I finally returned home I came across my rough draft while cleaning and thought it would be fun to go over the plans (with orange pen) with where I had actually ended up being. Being flexible allowed me to tailor my trip as I went along. I loved not feeling confined by plans. 

I traveled alone the majority of the time, only meeting up with friends every so often. By no means did I ever feel truly alone. There was always someone, or something to keep me company. Hostel roommates, strangers, store clerks. People watching, park dwellings, and cemetery wandering were a few of my favorite pastimes. 

Couchsurfing was a savior! I am going to get into way more detail about this online wonderland of international friends in a separate blog post, eventually. There is no easier way to make new friends and experience local culture. 

For the beginning of my summer I found a host through workaway.info (which will also get its own blog post, respectively). I lived in a little Italian village for a few weeks and took care of some kids in exchange for accommodation and a stalked fridge. Thinking about these first few weeks of my trip brings back such fond, humbling memories. 


View of Bagni di Lucca from Montefegatesi - Italy

Then I partied my way through Portugal and Spain with friends. A LOT of friends. 10 of us in the group total. There were a lot of lessons learned on this portion of the adventure. 

Mallorca, Spain

I took some down time with a friend who lives in Germany. He is stationed with the army in Kaiserslautern. Wine festivals were plentiful and we went to Nature One, a music festival where we camped and partied and got pleasantly rained on. 



Burg Litchenberg Castle, Kusel - Germany

Spent a whole 16 hours in Zurich because a friend and I decided last minute to take a seven hour train to Switzerland for the Street Parade. We had nowhere to stay and no money to afford anything in Zurich (McDonalds was even out of our price range), but our hopes remained high! Plus, neither of us saw the harm in sleeping at the train station if it provided necessary. Which it did. I wish I had photos of us curled up along the lockers along with hundreds of other parade-goers who had the same carelessness. 

I made my way slowly but surely through Germany, peaking over to Austria and Amsterdam. I had a pit stop in Paris on my way back down to Spain (I HAD to go back), where I couch surfed and bathed in tomatoes. 



Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Paris, France

And then to my host family in Sheffield, England. I lived there for three months while teaching 9 year olds about King Henry VIII and the metric system. Money at this point was dwindling, so the amount that I would have liked to travel England was minimal - but it just made Sheffield feel that much more like a home away from home. 


Ecclesall Woods, Sheffield - England
Manchester, Durham, and Liverpool were lucky enough to enjoy my presence. Scotland got a big dose of me as well. I took a tour from Edinburgh through the Highlands to the Isle of Skye for my half term break. It was literally magical. 


Sligachan, Scotland

Our tour guide told us this river contains Faerie magic. Upon sticking our faces in the water for 10 seconds, we would be granted the blessing of not aging for a year! 
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And there you have a very condensed summary of what my 6 months in Europe looked like. It's crazy to think about all that time, all the things I did and people I met, summed up in one blog post. 

Hopefully I will have more in depth accounts of my experiences abroad, as well as advice and tips and resources and anything else I can think of to flood this blog with and occupy my time.