The expat life: Kristin in Germany

This week and next, I’m off traveling through Europe. So I thought I would ask some of my blogger friends who are also Americans living abroad to guest post for me. Kristin is the first of three. Enjoy!

My name is Kristin Kohler and I am the blogger behind Countdown to Friday. I am so excited that Nina invited me to participate in the blogger series about expat life! It has been one of my dreams to live abroad, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s been an amazing experience so far.

I moved to Germany last summer because my husband got stationed here with the military. Lucky me! I was able to get a full time job, so I spend week days working in an office. In my free time I love fashion, spending time with my pup, Rascal, and Netflix marathons.

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5 tips for winter travel wear

tips for winter travel wear

Last weekend around this time, I found myself in Cordoba, Spain. I had decided to take a day trip with a friend. Winter is setting in here in Spain, so I had to dress accordingly. Did I wear a dress? Of course! I did choose carefully, though. So I thought I would share my 5 tips for winter travel wear.

My 5 tips for winter travel wear

Many of us find ourselves traveling during the winter months. Perhaps you decided to take your two weeks off around the holidays in the Czech Republic. Or perhaps you have some time in February and decide to make your dream of visiting Paris a reality. Or perhaps, like me, you’re an expat who plans to travel through Europe little by little on long weekends and days off from your job. Either way, we do find ourselves as tourists in the cold. And as long as you are prepared, it can be just as much fun as traveling in the warmer months.

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8 hours in Córdoba

8 hours in Córdoba


One of the amazing things about living abroad are the day trips that you can take. Sure, I do love traveling to other countries and the further away spots in Spain. However there are some weekends where you don’t want to be away the entire weekend. Day trips are perfect for this. This was exactly how I saw Córdoba, Spain. We only had 8 hours in Córdoba.

8 hours in Córdoba

How to get there

If you find yourself in Spain and want to pop around to nearby towns, villages and cities, there are several ways you can travel. Here are a few:

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What I wore exploring Jaén

exploring Jaén

Recently, I found myself exploring Jaén. Jaén is a city that is just about an hour North of me in Granada. These days, I do not have tons of money to travel to big, extravagant places. However that is okay as I live in Europe. There are so many neat places to see only a few hours from where I live. So exploring Jaén was one of those closeby but awesome trips.

The dress

As most of you all know, I’m the girl who is always wearing a dress. I love traveling in my dresses and wear them all year long. So when I was exploring Jaén with my friend Sharifa, I of course opted to wear a dress. I had found this grey dress at a shop in my neighbourhood in Granada called Humana. It looked perfect for a work setting or really just anything. I loved the buttons on the front too.

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Castillo de Santa Catalina: a castle in Jaén

castle in Jaén


The lovely province of Jaén sits in the North of the region of Andalusia, Spain, where I live. While many tourists who find themselves in Spain opt to visit places like my home of Granada, Malaga, Sevilla or Cadiz, Jaén should not be overlooked. If you are a fan of history and castles, you will definitely want to add Jaén to your lists of stops throughout the wonderful region of Andalusia. El castillo de Santa Catalina sits just above the city of Jaén, the capital of the province. The city is a mid-sized city worth a visit for a weekend or a few days.

Last Saturday, my friend Sharifa and I had a nice little visit to the castle. The views were absolutely breathtaking and I’m now planning to see as many castles as I can in Europe. It’s my new mission.

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My farewell to the sundress in Ibiza

sundress in Ibiza

Ah Ibiza. A little over a month ago, I was wearing my sundress in Ibiza. The weather was absolutely perfect. Now I sit in my apartment in Granada and it is quite cold outside! Winter has arrived in Spain! And while winter here will be way more mild than what I am used to in the United States, winter is here nonetheless. I am for sure excited to wear lots of boots and tights with my dresses. However I will miss all my sundresses. They are comfortable and easy to wear. This one is one of my favorites.

When I was in Ibiza with my friend Shola, we thought this made for a lovely backdrop. I am a big fan of green, after all. If you wish to read more on my Ibiza adventures, you can check them out here and here.

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5 tips to avoid the English bubble overseas


In summer 2015, I spent about a month in Nicaragua. I was supposed to be there for a year, but had to return to the United States for some personal things with my family (a story for another time). However when I was there, I was in the mindset of living there. I made a nice group of about 3-4 friends … and they all spoke English. I remember about 3-4 weeks in stopping and thinking about it. What the heck? Why did I move to an entirely different country only to make friends who are either from my country or speak my language as their first language. I had three Americans and one Scottish girl in my group. And while I still consider all of these ladies friends to this day, I knew I didn’t want to end up in the same situation in Spain.

Upon moving to Granada, Spain, my biggest goal was to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. Practicing my Spanish was a big one, although I came here with a pretty high intermediate level (which has honestly made immersion easier). Moreover, I’m in Spain to learn about Spain. I have plenty of English speaking friends in the United States and frankly, I didn’t need a big heaping group here.

The English bubble, as I like to call it, is so easy to fall into as an expat, especially if you live in a large city. In Granada, we have something like 80-100 or more auxiliaries (other English teachers in my program). Plus we have lots of English academies that employ British and Irish teachers, and we have a university that draws expats. Basically if I wanted to, I could fill my entire circle English speakers. And while I do not think people move to a foreign country specifically to do that, many end up in this trap. After all, it’s comfortable to stay with people from your culture. You can speak your language and they get you. And you see this all over the world in different expat communities. And if this is where you are and you like it, I’m not knocking it at all. I just knew that for me, I wanted to meet and befriend more Spaniards than Americans this year. If you too would like that from your overseas experience, here are my tips.

5. Make friends with Americans who don’t live in your town

So I might have slightly lied. I have American friends who live in Spain. In fact, we are all a part of a group chat together. I love technology. This summer, I joined several Facebook groups for my program. I met and befriended different people. One of my closest new friends is a girl named Shola who lives in a town an hour or two north of me. We’ve become travel buddies and chat all the time on WhatsApp. And if she lived in Granada, I’m sure we’d hang out all the time. Which sounds like fun, but we’d never practice Spanish together if we did this.

avoid English-speakers overseas

Here are some of the ladies in said group chat. This was from that olive oil tour we went on (wrote about it here). Everyone in this picture lives at least an hour from one another. And it’s great.

When they visited this weekend, we were those Americans all together and speaking loudly. It was fun and relaxing. And it was also something I knew I didn’t come to Spain to experience every single weekend.

4. Go to intercambios

If you live in a larger city, there are tons of intercambios. What is an intercambio? I’m glad you asked! An intercambio is a weekly event where you can practice languages. They are usually held at bars and are pretty relaxed. Spaniards come wanting to practice their English and English speakers come wanting to practice Spanish. Often times connections are formed and people decide to hang out outside of the intercambio for further practice. It’s a fantastic way to meet some nice locals.

I’m in a Facebook group called Granada language exchange and meeting events. I’m sure if you look on Facebook or Google it, you can find lots for wherever you are.

3. Make a few English speaking friends in your town … y ya esta.

So again, I do have a few. But literally like three. When in a foreign country, it is nice to have some people right there with you would you can complain about crap with. Your friends for home don’t get it and your Spanish friends don’t either. So it’s good to have a few.

And then you can invite them out with your Spanish friends and it’s not awkward because you don’t have like 20 people (flashbacks to freshman year of college and hanging out with your dorm floor all the time).

avoid English-speakers overseas

Here my American friend Cassie and I are with some new friends on Halloween. She’s the one in from in white. She later joked that this is the one and only time she’ll ever be a giant. I’m in the back looking a bit …

2. Live with Spaniards

It took me a week to find my piso and crying was involved. I came to Granada at a time when everyone was looking. It was like we were all vying for the same spots. And sure, I could have found a nice English-speaker or two to go find a place with. But I held out. I knew that my level of Spanish could only go up if I lived with Spaniards. And lo and behold, I found these lovely people to live with. This photo is them mixed in with my American friends when they came to visit. We made them American breakfast.

avoid English-speakers overseas

1. Find a Spanish novio

Kidding but not.

 

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An olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada

An olive oil tour in Granada, Spain is the perfect way to spend a girls weekend! This past weekend, I saw a new side of Granada with three of my fellow English teachers who live in different parts of Andalusia. For those of you who are first timers to A World of Dresses, I’m an American girl who now teaches English in Granada, Spain. Granada is a nice city in the South known for free tapas (with the order of a drink), the Alhambra and the beautiful architecture. That is the city that I live in. However Granada is also a province with many cute towns and lots of olive trees. My fellow English teacher friend Sharifa organised a little outing for us and I could not say no. I’ve always loved olive oil and olives.

Through an online search, she found Olive Oil Tour in Granada. The tour includes a bit of history and a bit of tasting. And for a little extra, you can sample some Spanish wines and eat tapas.

Part 1

The tour starts out in Granada. They will arrange to pick you up somewhere central in the city. There were four of us Americans on the tour and a family of three New Zealanders. The tour was led by a nice French woman and she gave it in English. According to the website, the tour can be given in English, Spanish and French.

From Granada, we drove outside of the city for about 30 minutes. Our destination was the lovely town of Niguelas, Spain. However we first stopped to take a look at the olives and the view.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Tasting a bitter olive

So has anyone attempted to taste an olive right off the tree? Apparently they taste horrible. What we eat is after it has been cleaned and prepped. However she opened it up for us to try. Sharifa stepped up to the plate. She said it was way more awful tasting than she had thought.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

So pro-tip if you find yourself in the countryside of Southern Spain: don’t just go grabbing olives off of olive trees.

The olives and the people

Many Spaniard families in this area have a group of olive trees that have been passed down through the generations. A plot of maybe 20-30 is sufficient. Here is an example. They are watered through and old but efficient irrigation system.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

The xv century oil mill

Next, we all piled back into the van and drove into the town of Niguelas. I just love little Spanish towns. They are so cute and so different from the bustling city life. Once in the town, we parked and walked over to the old mill where they use to make the olives and olive oil up until the 1920’s. It’s so neat being around things and spaces that were used long ago.

Here is where they separated the olives by family.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Then we walked inside where they’re created a small museum. We got to see how the oil was broken down and processed many years ago. They would use these huge stones and would work for many hours. They even had a few beds for when people wanted a quick siesta.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

It was neat to see what they used so long ago and just imagine life in the mill. I’m sure it was such hard work.

Time to eat and drink

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

This part may have been my favorite. I love any opportunity to eat and drink. I was especially excited for some olives and may have eaten a few too many black olives.

The tasting was guided. Each participant had a placemat and little cups of olive oil numbered 1-5.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

We each got a few gifts to take home. I’m excited to try my olive oil. They also had various wines, olive oils and other olive-based products available for purchase.

Overall, the wine tour was a fun experience. If you are in Granada for a bit, it’s a neat way to see a different part of the region. Oh and I snapped a few photos of the town on the way out.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Did you know about Spain’s history with olive oil? Did you know that olive oil in Spain was such a big deal? What do you normally eat olive oil with?

Oh and if you find yourself in Granada, Spain, here are the details of the tour:

Name: Olive Oil Tour in Granada, Spain

Duration: About three hours

Cost: 38 euros a person and an extra 15 euros if you want to taste the wines

Languages: available in English, Spanish and French

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My experience, Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Stylish Plus Size Dresses & Separates
Several weeks ago, I found myself basking in the sun of Ibiza poolside at Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza. It was a wonderful weekend. In fact, I wrote about my journey in 5 Reasons why you should see Ibiza in off season. I really did enjoy my weekend on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

My friend Shola and I came to Ibiza to attend a Kizomba dance conference. For those of you unfamiliar, Kizomba is a style of dance similar to salsa only in that it is a partner dance. Kizomba, however, actually originated in Angola and has had significant popularity in Africa. My friend Shola is a fan of dance in general and thus various dance conferences and events are always on her radar. When she saw that this one was happening in Ibiza, she jumped on the opportunity. After all, she was going to be living in Spain like me and teaching English. She needed a buddy and I said “why not?” It was my first time learning Kizomba and both of our first time in Ibiza.

The hotel

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Upon arrival, the hotel seemed decent. It is situated on the beach and is within walking distance of shops and restaurants. It has a pool, tennis courts, a restaurant and other such typical things of a hotel. Had I seen more elaborate hotels? Absolutely. But it seemed nice and was definitely worth the price we got through the conference.

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

The room

We noticed a stark difference going from the lobby to the second floor where our room was located. In fact, we both took a look around and were like “well, this hallway isn’t as nice.” Don’t get me wrong … the hallway was clean and all. It just was more basic and felt like we were back in the 1970’s. I suppose I’m used to hotel chains in the United States and their pristine hallways.

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

The room was nice. I was loving the balcony! We had a nice view.

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

The layout of the room was nice. It was generally clean and comfortable.

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza

Spain vs. the United States

As I’m adjusting to life here in Spain, I’m of course noticing all of the differences between the two cultures. In the United States, a majority of hotel rooms have carpeted floors. There is normally one bed that is either queen or king-sized. And in this hotel, you had to put your room key in this slot to activate the electricity.

My friend Shola and I initially burst out laughing when we saw the two beds pushed together. However it did allow for each of us to have our own space, which was nice.

Overall

Overall, Sirenis Hotel 3 Carabelas Ibiza is a decent place to stay. Have you stayed on the island of Ibiza?

 

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My new go-to dress

Stylish Plus Size Dresses & Separates
Hello friends! I am happy to inform you that I have my new go-to dress. When making the move from the United States to Spain, I had to leave behind many of my dresses. I opted to bring with me only a small roll-on bag, a duffle and my backpack. In fact, this Instagram photo here shows all that I took. In retrospect, I’m glad I packed light. And everything I brought, I have put to good use!

So minimalist moving ways have allowed me an excuse to shop (and I don’t really that’s how minimalism works … oh well)! Spain’s department store or their version of Macy’s is called El Corte Ingles. I luckily or unluckily live only a 2-minute walk away from one of their two locations in Granada. So I of course have made my way through their racks. I stumbled upon this and just had to.

go-to dress

go-to dress

go-to dress

go-to dress

go-to dress

go-to dress

A day in Andujar

These photos were shot in Andujar, the town that my friend Shola teaches English in. I decided to venture out of my big city of Granada and see what her town was all about. I had more of a fun time than I was expecting! We met great people, ate great food and stayed out a little too late.

The thing that always amazes me about Spain is that even small towns feel “urban,” as we Americans would define it. People still choose to live in apartments over houses with a front and back yard. People still choose to walk rather than drive. Life in the town centre is still lively. And you really cannot say that for most small towns in the United States. Here are a few shots of Andujar:

go-to dress

go-to dress

go-to dress

go-to dress

If you are planning a trip to Spain, Andujar is worth a bit of your time. Or if not Andujar, small town Spain is just such a neat experience. I feel like you get a sense of the real culture.

The last day

We shot some by this amazing graffiti wall.

go-to dress

go-to dress

Have you explored small-town Spain or small-town Europe? What were your thoughts? which do you prefer?

I’m linking up here today.

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