A reflection of life two years at home after traveling and living abroad.

Two Years of Home

A reflection of life two years at home after traveling and living abroad.

December 15, 2015.

I remind myself regularly of this date. When I’m up at night, my brain whirrs as I count the days, weeks, months and now years since I turned my back on expat life.

It seems like no time has passed at all, and yet all the time in the world has passed.

December 15, 2015.

It hovers over me at times, gently bringing back memories.

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Why I Said “Adios” to Being an Expat

"You've always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself." After nearly four years of living as an expat, the story of why I'm coming home.
“You made me promise you two things,” Kyla begins as we sit in her car after my 24-hour trip from Madrid to Las Vegas. One of my closest friends in the world for almost a decade, she’s always been the one I ask to remind of previous statements I have made about life.

“Yeah …” I breathe, knowing at least one of the things about to come out of her mouth.

“One was to never let you cut your hair short again.”

“I know, but that choppy bob …”

“And the second was to never let you move back to Las Vegas.”

Right.

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The Night of 10,000 Candles: Inside Pedraza’s La Noche de las Velas

A look at the Night of 10,000 Candles in Pedraza, Spain, also known as La Noche de las Velas
The Spanish countryside unfolds before me, vibrant greens, golden hills and that blue twilight sky that forever sears itself into memory.

Holding a glass of chilled white wine in my hand, I lean against the ancient stone wall of Pedraza, taking it all in.

It’s July 4th, Independence Day. Only, I’m thousands of miles from the fireworks.

However, the walled medieval city of Pedraza has its own fire on this sultry summer evening.

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When Your Travel Plans Turn into Murphy’s Law

From on issue to the next -- what happens when your travel plans turn into a real life Murphy's Law
“If anything can go wrong — it will.”

The best laid plans.

Today, we’re time traveling to late January of this year. I’m in Madrid and I decide that it shall be my new home.

It’s really easy to get a student visa here,” my friend explains to me.

Seeing as Spain was always tops on my list for a country to plant some roots in, I immediately begin researching the process of getting a student visa for Spain as an American. Let me tell you: it’s a royal pain in the ass.

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The Best Place to Watch the Sunset in Madrid

Looking for the best place to watch the sunset in Madrid? Try the Temple of Debod: http://www.dtravelsround.com/2015/06/25/best-place-to-watch-sunset-in-madrid-temple-debod/
Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year, in terms of sunlight, and also the first day of summer. I’ve never celebrated it before, because, really, it’s just never been important to me. But, I wake up Sunday morning and feel empty. It’s one of the side effects of starting a new life and just getting going. It’s an uphill battle to feel acclimated, and one I’m really not used to climbing.

I just need to do something for me.

For the past month, I have been overwhelmed. Filled with stress over acquiring my student visa for Spain, importing my cats from Thailand, feeling utterly lost and a myriad of other things. I’ve been hauled up in my flat, motionless as I try to sort out who I am, where I am and what the hell I am doing with my life.

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The Story of My Thai Street Cats

Thai street cats
If you would have seen me the day I dropped of my two cats, Keeley and Jezebel, at their new home, you would have thought someone I loved had passed away.

Seriously.

I hadn’t cried like that in a long time.

There’s something exciting about starting a new life as an expat. A thrill. That ‘world is my oyster’ feeling. But, being an expat comes with sacrifices. Namely, having to part ways with people and animals you love.

Initially, I had considered bringing the cats with me to Thailand. But, everyone talked me out of it. And, thank goodness they did. Being a new expat, in a country in SE Asia with no home, no idea of what kind of resources were available, would have caused a lot of undue stress. Not to mention the stress for the animals I loved with all of my heart.

So, I left them in good hands and embarked on my journey.

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Reawakening in Spain

Spain

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Matias Negrete-Pincetic

“Tonight, can you please take me on a tour of my new barrio?” I ask my friend, Tobi, who has been my unofficial tour guide of all things awesome in Madrid since the second week I moved here.

“Yes,” she promises.

And then, we’re off. It’s early evening (by Spanish standards) and the sun still hangs high above the terra-cotta tiles of the magnificent colored buildings in Lavapies/Embajadero.

I’m fightings the ghosts of Chiang Mai and questioning my existence in Madrid when we head out. I’m numb. Our first stop of the night is La Inquilina, which serves up 1 euro tapas along with their booze. Tobi knows what I’ve been going through since I moved here, and tonight I am fighting past those demons in my mind. Tonight, I promise her, I want to live in the moment. To embrace my new home. And, that’s exactly what we do.

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Getting a Student Visa for Spain as an American

Step-by-step tips on how Americans can get a student visa to live in Spain via www.dtravelsround.com
For most of my adult life, I have dreamed of living in Europe. But, as an American, actually living in Europe beyond the Schengen visa limit of 90 in/90 out in a 180 day period makes it pretty much impossible (unless I get hitched to someone with an EU passport, which is never entirely out of the question).

So, what is a girl to do when those dreams of residing in this bubble of history and culture can’t be achieved without an EU passport? Answer: she gets creative.

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Daily Wanderlust: Alhambra, Granada

Somewhere between the sweet hookah smell drifting through the market and the quaint streets, I fell in love with the magical Andalusian town of Granada.

In the rain, my friend and I hike up the hill to explore the historic remains of the Alhambra. Originally constructed as a fortress in 889 and rebuilt in the 11th century, today it is easy to get lost in the touches that make it feel like time has been left to a standstill here.

Courtyards overflowing with flowers, tiny pathways leading visitors to spectacular views and buildings that have withstood the spinning of the world. It’s breathtaking and overwhelming at the same time. And, most definitely, absolutely gorgeous.

The majestic Alhambra in Granada, Spain

 

 

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