Fall in Granada

fall in Granada

Every single year, the coming of fall has signified a change. As a child, it meant that I was one grade older. New classmates, a new teacher, new school supplies and new clothing. In university, it meant the same thing in addition to a new place to live. Perhaps new roommates and a new class schedule. Getting settled into my dorm or apartment was always an exciting process.

For many of us, these changes stopped when we entered the working world. After all, most careers do not necessarily follow this same schedule of a renewed fall. I imagine that for most, the fall just feels the same. You might notice the leaves falling and the fact that Starbucks now serves a Pumpkin Spice latte. However my life from age 22-30 has looked a tad different than someone who perhaps found a 9-5 job and worked it for the next 5-10 years. It has always seemed that the fall continues to mean change. It was during August/September that I had to return home from Nicaragua to be with my mother in the hospital (you can read that post here). It was also around this time last year that I moved from the United States to Spain.

fall in Granada

Fall in Granada

This fall begins my second year in Granada, Spain. Ah fall in Granada. This year, however, feels quite different. Last year I arrived in Granada on September 23rd. I had very specific goals for what I wanted my life to look like in Spain. The biggest and most important goal was to surround myself in the culture. Bettering my Spanish was a big goal of mine and it still continues to be. After all, I’m so lucky to live in Spanish-speaking country for two years. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, so I want to take every opportunity I can to practice and better it. I also am a huge extrovert, so it’s important for me to be able to connect with the locals. In the South of Spain, Spanish is essential to do this.

However more than anything, my goal was immersion. It can be so easy to just stick with people from your culture when living abroad. I remember I first noticed this in university. My school had a lot of students from India and they always seemed to spend time together. I remember thinking “they have traveled halfway around the world to attend college in the United States and yet they just make friends with people from their own culture?” Fast forward about 8 years to the month I spent in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. I did the exact same thing. All my friends that I made in Nicaragua were either American or Scottish.

From my experience in Nicaragua, I knew it was super easy to just stick with people from my own culture or who spoke my native language. As a social person, I knew I had to really be conscious of this and work against it. So the first thing I knew I could do to work in the direction of immersion was to find Spanish roommates. Would it have been easier to live with other English teachers? I’m sure. Would it have taken less than a week? Potentially. Would it saved me from crying in the corner of a cafe one afternoon? Honestly, who knows. The overseas life can be tough in general. At the time, my piso hunt felt like the worst. Now I look back and laugh. You can read all about it here.

fall in Granada

fall in Granada

This fall in Granada has been quite different. September started with escaping a not so good aupair experience in the Czech Republic. It meant arriving to Granada on a Friday morning broke, tired but ready to get back into the routine. I was alone in my new piso as my roommate had yet to arrive. The peace and quiet was exactly what I needed.

I started back to my old routine a bit. I began teaching private English lessons with some old and new families. I caught up on sleep. I drank a lot of coffee and I just breathed. I cooked dinner for myself and enjoyed the nice weather. I escaped to the beach in Malaga one Sunday and I watched the sunset over Granada. I counted my blessings. And I started a new online tutoring job … one the really values my time.

fall in Granada

fall in Granada

Putting the energy out there

I believe that you receive what you put out into the world. After a rather tainted summer, I wanted to get back into the essence of who I was. I’m someone who is super extroverted and also highly sensitive. It means that I enjoy bringing everyone together and making everyone feel included. It means I likely overthink things. It also means that I sometimes have a lot of feelings and say ugly things as I am also an extrovert. I’m really and truly trying to work on that last one.

I had extra space to sleep two extra people, so I decided to open my home up to other English teachers in my program who were looking for housing. Basically, I invited them to stay with me while they looked at flats. I simply made a post in our Facebook group and had a few ladies take me up on my offer. Since it often takes about a week, the costs of a hotel, hostel or Airbnb can really add up. I was happy to host and to have the company. One of the other girls in my program joked that it was like I was running a hostel. Sort of. However only three girls total stayed with me, so you can hardly consider it a full hostel.

One of the girls who stayed with me is Amy from North Carolina. Like me, she was also an auxiliar last year. Also like me, she is not fresh out of university and had a career before moving to Spain to teach. It was really great to host her and get to know her better.

She wanted to practice photography and I always need blog photos, so we went outside one morning and shot these. She really did a great job. Thanks Amy!

fall in Granada

Welcome fall, welcome change

This dress is actually a year old and was bought here in Spain. I feel like it’s a perfect symbol for fall in Granada. Fall is when everything is new again. This year change means a new piso, a new roommate (still a Spanish one … duh) and a room with a larger bed. It means meeting lots of new faces. This means working in two new schools in the city center of Granada. It means walking to work rather than meeting teachers to carpool three mornings a week.

As I look out onto the horizon of this school year, I realize that I love Spain so much. This is exactly where I want to be. This year my goals are still the same as last year. I still want to practice as much Spanish as much as I can and meet lots of new people. However this year, we can add saving money to the list. I will be more diligent about saving what I earn rather than just spending it here and there. I will do what is free over what costs money. Will I still travel? Of course! Just not every weekend. After all, living in Granada means actually living my life in the city.

My other big goal for this year is to take this blog to the next level. My plans are to develop and e-course and make my blog something that would support my life here in Spain. My plans are to continue to make connections with other bloggers, travel companies and brands. If we can all work together, we can all mutually benefit.

fall in Granada

The road less traveled

One of the things my mother always told me was that I have always been super independent. I also always believe that there is another way. The fact is, finding a way to stay in Spain or in the European Union in general when you hold a passport from outside of the EU is not easy. It’s like people immigrating to the United States (although I think my country makes it much harder for immigrants than Spain would make it for me).

However I am determined to work and find a way to stay not only in Spain, but in Granada specifically. Like here is the best and to be honest, I just want to stay.

So over this next year, I will be working my behind off to make my dreams a reality. I hope you’ll follow along. Feel free to download my e-book here. It’s all about my journey to moving overseas to Spain.

What does fall mean for you? Does it signify change for you as well?

Today I’m linking up here.

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fall in Granada

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Why I wanted to start a travel blog

start a travel blog

As we settle into the middle of September, I find myself reflecting on where I was two years ago at this time. September has always been a season of change for me. However the changes that that particular summer had brought were vastly different than anything I had experienced before. My mother had suffered a brain aneurysm at the beginning of August and was in the hospital. I had flown home from Nicaragua, where I was supposed to be living for that next year, to be with her. My days were spent visiting her and processing what was going on.

I needed something in this time in my life. I needed something to focus my energies. I have always found a lot of healing in creative endeavors, so I decided to start a travel blog. Except life in that moment did not really allow for travel, so I decided to start my blog with a bit of a different focus.

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What went wrong in Nicaragua

wrong in Nicaragua

What went wrong in Nicaragua? This is the post I’ve held off on posting for some time. This is the post at some points where I was like “nah. Maybe I shouldn’t.” However I feel like honesty and sharing stories are quite powerful things. And if I can help a few travelers, do-gooders and people seeking out the expat life, then even better. So here’s my story. Here is what really happened in Nicaragua.

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My 7 travel fails

Sometimes things are not instagram-worthy. Sometimes you fall or say something awkward. Sometimes you just fail when traveling.

Looking over this past year of living and traveling in Europe, there were definitely some travel fails. So I thought I would recount some of the best … or worst moments when traveling.

All of these are sad but also really just funny. Like how could I have been short-sighted? Others just … the elements of nature got together and made some less than fun situations. All in all, they’re funny to look back over.

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6 Bachelorette party-planning tips

bachelorette party-planning tips

We talked about it for years. We made pinterest boards about it and mentioned it casually in conversation. We wondered if it would over come. And then it did.

My best friend is engaged! Like lots of women, I’ve known that I would be maid of honor for like the past 6 years. And she will of course be mine if and whenever marriage happens for me (ha!). It’s always an honor when I get asked to be in a friend’s wedding. You know they really like you when this happens.

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Summer update: where is Nina?

where is Nina

So several things in my life have changed: my monthly salary, my diet, the bed size I sleep in and lastly, the country I live in. However it’s just for the summer. Don’t worry, I still call Granada, Spain my home. However I’ve realised that those of you who follow me on social media have probably noticed that my posts are coming from the Czech Republic. So I thought I would fill you in on where I am and what I’m doing.

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3 websites that pay you (for all … not just bloggers)

websites that pay you

Several days ago, I transferred $63 into my bank account from my PayPal. This money was from simply sharing things on the Internet. It was the extra little bit that I needed this month. It was awesome!

When I got to thinking about it, there are several websites and apps that I use that pay you. That’s right … they pay you actual money that you can deposit into your account. These three sites pay you to do what you already do. So since I’m a loyal user of all three, I thought I would share them with you all. Who here would love a few extra hundred bucks this month?

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6 tips for self-care living overseas

self-care living overseas

I’m just going to come out and say it. Life can be hard living in a foreign country, especially when there’s a language barrier. You then add in different norms for social behavior, different traditions and overall different customs, and it can be exhausting. I’m finishing up my 8th month in Spain and while this year overall has been amazing, there have been frustrating moments. I’ve realized more than anything that you have to take care of yourself first. My days and weekends are so much better when I’ve just taken the time for me. Here is what I’ve found works for me. I hope this can help any of you who are living the expat life.

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A letter to the best mom ever

best mom ever

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone in Spain and happy future Mother’s Day to those of you in the USA. This will always be a day that I’m fond of. Those of you who know me personally may be wondering why I just said that as the truth is, my mom passed away almost a year and a half ago. True, this could be a day where I cry, and feel all the feelings of anger and frustration. And some people who have lost their mother may be in that place, and that place is 100% okay. We all handle the death of someone close to us in different ways because we are all different people. That’s what makes the world beautiful.

However today I thought I would use my little space on the internet to write a letter to my mom. Even though she is not on earth, I want to take this time to really appreciate her and say thanks. That is what I would do if she was still alive, after all.

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4 things that supercharged my Spanish

things that supercharged my Spanish

I speak a second language and I love just about every second of it. For those who may be new to the blog, I am an American living in Spain. Before moving to Spain, I spent a year working a bilingual job at a non-profit organization in my city. However if we’re being honest, I didn’t really pick up Spanish until just a few years ago. While I most certainly do not speak the language perfectly, I spend a lot of my life in Spain speaking Spanish. I love it.

Life is funny, isn’t it? I get to see the language-learning process in reverse for me living here in Spain. I work as an English teacher here, so I’m constantly helping Spaniards improve their English. Often times I know their struggle because I have been there. Other times I find myself thinking “you know this is what really helped me over this hurdle or that. You really should do X thing.” So I thought I would share my tips on the blog. These tips can be applied to all foreign languages. So here are 4 things that supercharged my Spanish.

1. I stopped saying that my Spanish was bad

I find Spanish people saying that their English is bad all the time. And I just kind of want to scream, quite frankly when they say this. We all know that positive thinking can do wonders. If you always think that you suck at speaking your foreign language, will you really improve? One day it dawned upon me that I frankly never had time to think that my Spanish was bad. I got hired to work a bilingual job and thus I had to communicate the best way that I could. Many people who called the organization spoke no English, so I was forced to only speak Spanish. What I noticed I started telling people was that I did not have perfect Spanish. And of course they would always reply with “well of course! It’s not your first language.”

So language-learners, replace “my French/Spanish/German/Arabic or whatever language you’re learning is bad” with “my Spanish is not perfect.” You’re not telling any lies as your of course it’s not perfect … you’re still learning. For me, it helped me to think more positively about my Spanish and speak with confidence.

2. Not. Everything. Translates.

When I first studied Spanish, I worked with Daniel from Coffeeshop Spanish. He had a dinner at his house and I remember a fellow student saying “if I could just translate my thoughts.” I responded with “honestly, that’s never going to be a reality so you might as well just accept that.” Maybe that was harsh, but I like the truth man.

In Spain, I find Spanish people all the time translating everything. I will tell them some phrase in English and they will ask me what that translates to in Spanish. And the truth is, not even all expressions translate. Idioms and expressions develop out of cultures … and cultures are different. So of course such and such phrase from German will not have a similar one in Spanish and so forth. Also sometimes one thing is a verb in one language and an expression in another. Perfect example is kick vs. dar una patada. In English, we just use the verb “to kick” when someone swings their leg in order to hurt another person. In Spanish, they use the expression “dar una patada” which literally translates to give a leg. It would just be strange to directly translate that to English.

When I speak Spanish, I try to jump into the Spanish world as much as I can and think in the language. I try to learn words or phrases within the language. And I do not try to translate every single statement back to English. I couldn’t hold a conversation if I did that.

3. I put myself in situations where Spanish is the only option

I realized that a big reason my Spanish improved rapidly is because I was continually forced to “find a way.” Working at Su Casa, I was forced to speak with people who only spoke Spanish on a daily basis. You learn quickly when there is simply no option.

So because this worked so well for me, I sought out a flat with Spanish people who all spoke little English. We all just always speak Spanish to each other all the time. I wanted to be forced to speak the language every day here in Spain, so I figured Spanish housemates (vs. other English teachers) was the best way to ensure that I would speak Spanish daily.

4. I stopped believing the b.s.

Apparently it’s harder to learn languages as an adult. However I never let that stop me from pushing hard. Also people also want to believe that some are just more wired for languages. I honestly think that’s a load a crap. Maybe there’s a slight truth to that, but the only reason I think I speak decent Spanish is because of how much I immerse myself in it. When Spanish people are amazed that I speak well for only having spent 6 months in their country. So I explain that I spent 40 hours a week for an entire year speaking Spanish. That really is the only difference.

I think that language-learning is hard and of course people get frustrated. And so these things can be nice excuses. However if you believe them, they will hinder your progress. And that is no good.

At the end of the day

I do not speak Spanish perfectly and there’s still so much I could learn. However it’s most important to me that I keep my mind positive. That positivity will help you make tremendous leaps and bounds.

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