Tag Archives: Europe

A Look Back at 2013

A Look Back at 2013

Now that twenty-thirteen has officially come to a close, I can look back on it. I ended last year’s review post by saying, “I am so excited to see what 2013 holds and I plan to live it to its fullest!” I am thrilled to say that I have truly fulfilled these words! By far, 2013 was my most adventurous year yet. The year contained way too much awesomeness to cover in one post, but here are the biggest highlights…

I graduated from university! After spending a lovely three years living in the southern state of Tennessee, I received my degree in psychology. The mountains, forests, and people there will always hold a place in my heart.

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Graduation day

I backpacked in Costa Rica! On a whim, a friend and I took our one-way tickets and met in Central America. Seventeen days were definitely not enough in the country and I look forward to returning. The diversity of the landscapes is beautiful – it was great to be somewhere with beaches, forests, and mountains!

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Nosara, Costa Rica

Playa Pelada, Costa Rica

Playa Pelada, Costa Rica

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Sunset & horseback rides in Costa Rica

I moved to Europe! At the end of August, I packed my possessions, printed yet another one-way ticket, and headed off to Europe. I spent three months living in the countryside and then in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland. My goal was to immerse myself in the country and I did just that. I formulated amazing friendships, discovered my favorite cafés, and truly felt at home in the city. I miss it dearly and have every intention of continuing my European romance.

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Bern, Switzerland

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La Sarraz, Switzerland

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Lausanne, Switzerland

I abruptly paused my Eurotrip – When I headed off across the pond, I didn’t have any date of return. Though I had no specific trip-length, I assumed it would be somewhere between one and three years. I had my flight booked to go do exchange work on the lovely island of Cyprus, when I made a big decision… I had gotten news that my uncle was about to pass away. I then started thinking more about the fragility of life and how not all my family members would be around at this time next year. After finding an incredibly cheap flight from Switzerland to NYC, where my immediate family was spending Thanksgiving, I made the decision to forgo my Cyprus plans and surprise them there.  Genuinely, my ego fought me hard on this decision. I had thoughts pop in like, “Wow, I was supposed to be here way longer than this. I wonder what people will think of my early return…” But then I centered myself and realized the only thing that matters is following my authentic truth. Though my trip is now on pause for a little while, it was completely worth it to spend the holidays with my family and be here with them during times of loss.

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Lake Geneva, Switzerland

I surprised my family in New York City - My parents and my little sister, who lives in California, were convening in NYC for Thanksgiving. Without knowing where I would stay for the week before their arrival, I purchased the ticket. I then started reaching out to friends in the city and was amazed how the Universe provided for me. A friend who I had not seen in years so kindly offered me a place to stay. Though we didn’t get to hang out much, due to his busy work schedule, I had an amazing place to stay right near Central Park! I was there for a week before my family arrived – I’ll be uploading the videos of the surprises here soon. After their arrival, I stayed in the city for another week and met some amazing individuals. Through Instagram, I got connected with Ksenia from Breakfast Criminals and Harry from A NewYorker Travels. I spent time with a nomadic Irishman, who reached out to me through CouchSurfing, and a lovely yoga teacher, who I was introduced to by a friend I made in Switzerland! I was also thrilled to finally meet Laura of Traveling Jersey Girl. We explored Central Park together and had so much fun getting to hang out in person. She is seriously such an angel and I highly recommend checking out her travel blog. Following my pattern of one-way tickets, I bought one to NYC and was totally open to staying there for a while. However, the Universe had a different plan and when I found out I had an immediate job offer in Ohio, I found my way back to my hometown. Currently, I’m working and saving up the money I spent during my impromptu trip back to the US.

Central Park, NYC, NY

Central Park, NYC, NY (Photo Credit: A NewYorker Travels)

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Grand Central Station, NYC

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After surprising my little sister!

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Wonderful friendships forged in NYC

I concluded my 2013 by spending a fantastic evening with a girlfriend in Columbus, Ohio! We decided to go all out and do the whole shebang at the Renaissance hotel downtown. It was a such fun and I’ve adored really getting to know her these past few months. I’m all for promoting my friends, so be sure to check out her studio, L-Yoga Flow, if you’re ever the Columbus area.

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New Years Eve 2014

Twenty-thirteen is going to be a damn hard year to top, but with new adventures already in the works, I’m incredibly excited to see what 2014 will be like! What I know for sure is that I’m going to be surrounded by amazing people, travel to exquisite places, and continue on my path of spiritual expansion.

Sending you all so much love and light and wishing you a happy new year!

My Bittersweet Love Affair with Switzerland

My Bittersweet Love Affair with Switzerland

I’ve fallen in love with Switzerland and now it’s time for me to go. I first laid eyes on the country three years ago and it was love at first sight. The snow-capped mountains, lush hills, and cities full of rich history captivated me. Though I only spent a few days in this beautiful land, I knew I had to return.

In August, I took my one-way ticket and came back to see if the initial thrill could turn into something more. Without a visa, I knew I would only have three months here, but figured that would have to do. I quickly settled into life in my little, Swiss village.

Every week that passed brought more experiences, more people, and more love into my life. Now that I’m preparing to leave this wonderful country, I feel myself wishing I had more time here. While I savored each vibrant sunrise, person I met, cuisine I tasted, wine I sipped, and laughter I shared…I want more! There are so many views I didn’t see, forests I didn’t explore, city streets I didn’t walk, and people I didn’t get to meet.

Just as when one wants to prolong time with a new lover, my mind has been filled with ways I could return here and continue my stunted romance. When I first arrived I was more reserved. It took time for me to open up, but now I want to explore this country fully. I want to know its flaws, strengths, nuances, and secrets. I want to learn its languages and memorize the city streets and mountain trails. But sometimes things aren’t meant to continue, at least for right now. Sometimes, the shortness of an experience is what makes it so sweet.

I’m sure when I’ve gone I’ll experience the common signs of romantic loss. I’ll sigh wistfully when my love is mentioned, I see a photo, or any random thing that reminds me of bygone times. I’ll long to hear the familiar lull of French-speaking voices (even though I rarely knew what anyone was saying), smell the scent of freshly roasted chestnuts wafting through the streets, and have my breath taken away by the beauty of the sun setting over Lake Geneva. But I know what will overpower this longing is the appreciation for having experienced all these things in the first place.

My romance with Switzerland so recently begun and now it’s quickly coming to a close. But as with all love affairs, if it’s meant to be, it will be…

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10 Things I’ve Learned About Switzerland

10 Things I’ve Learned About Switzerland

Today marks my one week anniversary of arriving in Switzerland. (In case you didn’t know, I bought a one way ticket and will be here until the end of November!) In honor of this mini-anniversary, I will share 10 things I’ve learned since being here.

1. Not only do lights turn yellow to indicate they will soon turn red, they also do before the light is going to turn green!

2. It’s very safe and trustworthy – many people I met didn’t worry about leaving their garages or homes unlocked.

3. At many gas stations, you pump and then pay!

4. In the villages, there are self-serve stores! I was shocked to walk into many little stores and only see a place to put the money that you owed for the items that you were taking.

5. Traffic violations are incredibly serious here – think getting a speeding ticket for going just 3 kph over and getting your license taken for a month when speeding 20 over.

6. In a lot of bathrooms, there are two separate buttons for flushing (depending on the deed)!

7. Traffic lights are not located on the opposite side of the road.

8. The Swiss really appreciate their quiet time. It’s banned to do loud work after 7 pm and on Sundays.

9. Everything closes early…very early. Shops start closing as early as 6 pm in little towns and you can forget running errands on Sunday. The weekend streets are bare by midnight, even in some of the more popular destinations.

10. A lot of cars take diesel and not gasoline. (I had to find this one out the hard way…)

 

Off on my adventure!

Off on my adventure!

Hello, Switzerland.

Hello, Switzerland.

Near to Lausanne.

The perks of living in the countryside.

The perks of living in the countryside.

The beauty of Lake Geneva.

The beauty of Lake Geneva.

 

Thoughts on My Upcoming EuroTrip

Thoughts on My Upcoming EuroTrip

I now officially have under two weeks until I depart for Europe! The Saturday after next, I will be boarding a plane to Geneva, Switzerland…and I have no idea when I’m returning to the US.

I’m filled with such a mix of emotions! Obviously, excitement and anticipation are coursing through me, but there’s also a twinge of sadness when I remember what I’m leaving behind. In the moments when the realization that I’m finally leaving “hits me,” I find myself giggling, teary-eyed, and wanting to jump up and down all at the same time.

Despite my excitement, the fear-based part of my mind is coming up with “what if?” scenarios. “What if this wasn’t the right decision? What if I should’ve just gone straight to grad school? What if I should’ve bought a return ticket instead of a one-way? What if certain members of my family become ill or pass away while I’m gone? What if something “bad” happens? What if my friends back in America become angry with me for missing all the weddings, birthdays, births, and graduations? Worse, what if they forget about me?” When my mind starts going down this rabbit hole, I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and look inward. When I still my mind and really settle into myself, I realize it’s none of the things I listed above that actually scare me. What really scares me is loss of control…the elusive unknown. While I would guess that most of my friends would describe me as spontaneous, there’s still a part of me that grasps so tightly to this false sense of control.

Rigidity causes things to break, while flexibility allows things to thrive. While I am a believer in the Law of Attraction, I find it funny how we are convinced we have such control over life and try so hard to hold onto it. I have this visual of a person clinging tightly to the “stable” trunk of a tree, yet failing to notice that the tree itself is floating down a river. Going down the river of life is ineludible, but how we navigate it is up to us. We can either struggle against it by kicking up stream, or we can go with the flow.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s not to live by the “what if” scenarios. I constantly encourage friends to just leap and remind them that the Universe is there to catch them,  post inspirational Instagram photos telling others that things are being orchestrated on their behalf, and share Facebook statuses telling people to follow their dreams. Now, it’s my turn. It’s my turn to trust. It’s my turn to embrace the unknown. It’s my turn to leap into life!

What’s in store for the foreign exchange rate in 2013

What’s in store for the foreign exchange rate in 2013

Alright, folks, I’ve decided to open up Adventurous Andrea to guest posts and will be featuring more guest writers as time goes on. I love hearing other’s adventure, travel, informational, and life stories, and figured you do too! Because of my upcoming travels to Europe, a topic I’ve been researching more and more is exchange rates. When Peter shared some of his content with me, I was intrigued and figured I’d offer some of his knowledge to you. Without further adieu, I give you…

What’s in store for the foreign exchange rate in 2013

08.04.2013
by Peter Lavelle

Are you planning to move to Europe, like Andrea? If so, find out here what’s in store for the foreign exchange rate in 2013!

So far in 2013, the US dollar has been king of the hill where the foreign exchange rate is concerned.

On March 12th for instance, the greenback hit its highest against the UK pound since June 2010, or almost 3 years.

And on the 27th of March, the buck touched its strongest against the euro since November 21st last year, or close to 6 months.

How come? Well, it’s because, while the economies of Europe are still stuck in the mud, the US has been entering top gear.

For instance, the US has created close to 215,000 jobs each month since last November, which is no slow going.

Moreover, there’s an excellent chance the foreign exchange rate will reach fresh heights before the year is out.

First, this is because, if the US keeps creating jobs at this pace, the Federal Reserve will decide the economy no longer needs support, and stop printing money. That will quickly lift the buck.

Second, Europe is in recession, and looks set to stay there. That will put continued pressure on the UK pound and euro.

Given that, not only is it a good time to exchange currencies, but the foreign exchange rate could continue to pick up this year!

About the Author

Peter is an economist at foreign exchange broker Pure FX.

If you’d like a personalised forecast for the foreign exchange rate, pay him a visit! He’d be delighted to tell you what he thinks will happen next to the US dollar.

Exchange Rate

Steps to Become an Au Pair in Europe!

Steps to Become an Au Pair in Europe!

1. Explore websites
-www.greataupair.com
-www.aupair.com
-www.aupair-world.net

2. Determine personal stipulations
- What country/countries do you want to work in?
- What length of time do you want to be in Europe?
- Do you want to live in a city or the country?
- Is it important for you to have the weekends available?
- Are you willing to work weekends?
- Do you want to live-in or live-out?
- What is the minimum amount of money you are willing to accept per month?
- Are you willing to do (light) housework?
- How many hours are you willing to work per week?
- Will you work with single parents?

3. Make detailed online profiles
- Many pictures
- General letter to potential host families
- What sets you apart from other au pairs
- Ideal weekly schedule
- Ideal pay rate
- Other relevant qualifications

4. Reach out
- Mark profiles as “interests” or “favorites”
- Send families messages expressing your interest
- Create a blanket message to send out and cater it to each family

5. Skype with serious interests
- Discuss expectations
- Express concerns
- Clear up any confusion
- Meet the children
- Get a virtual tour of the home (specially, your bedroom)
- Figure out about the surroundings of the family’s home
- Decide on a length of stay

6. Finalize
-After deciding which family you will be an au pair for, confirm that plans are in order
- Research visa options (if necessary, visit a consulate)

10 Reasons Why Becoming an Au-Pair is Exactly Like Online Dating

10 Reasons Why Becoming an Au-Pair is Exactly Like Online Dating
  1. Obviously, to get the best results, you need to actually make an online profile.
  2. Said profile contains descriptions, photos, and general qualifications, all meant to portray yourself as the ideal candidate. If you’re lacking detail in one of these facets, you become substantially less appealing and the same goes for the other party. You stare at your profile, trying imagine how viewers of it will perceive you. You also start wondering if you’ll ever find an ideal match.
  3. There’s an intricate balance between being fully authentic and showcasing your finer attributes (Obviously, you don’t want to mention that you can belch loudly, before you’ve even met them…). This all is occurring within both parties. Sometimes, you’re left wondering about the validity of certain profiles (e.g. “Is this host family really able to pay me €500 per week?” or “Can this au pair actually fluently speak/read nine languages, including ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics?”).
  4. You spend hours sifting through hundreds of profiles, marking “interests” or “favorites” along the way. These people get notified and there’s a moment of elation whenever they send back that they’re also interested in you. Unfortunately, you can’t help but feel a bit of rejection, whenever you get a notification that the party you were very interested does not reciprocate.
  5. If both parties are interested, one reaches out to the other and a message chain is started. Likes, dislikes, mutual interests, and what each party is looking for in the other are discussed.
  6. After realizing that the other party is everything you dreamed of, the excitement sets in. You find yourself talking about them to friends, many of whom will think it’s odd, seeing as you’ve yet to meet them. You have pictures of them on your cell phone. You have your friends sit with you and pour over their online profile. Overall, you’re just so thrilled that you found your ultimate match online, that you’re willing to tell anyone and everyone who will listen.
  7. There may a time when you haven’t heard from them in a week or so. You get very worried. You wonder if you’ve done something wrong and look back through old messages to see if you missed anything. The same people who you gushed about them to now get to hear how concerned you are. You realize you may have to accept that they’re not really “the one” and move on. Right when you’ve been about to give up, you get a message from them apologizing for the delay and explaining what had happened. You’re so relieved!
  8. Around this time is when you think it’s serious enough to tell your parents. You’re excited and nervous about what the future may hold. You gush about how great they are to your parents and show them an exorbitant amount of pictures.
  9. After much online communication, you decide upon a time to meet.
  10. Finally, you’ve realized they’re the one for you and decide to move in.
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    This is the face you make when you finally find your host family!

Vlog: Travel Update

Vlog: Travel Update

Hi, lovelies! A lot of people have been inquiring as to my current game plan for Europe. Here’s a quick update on my plans!

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  • During late July and early August a few girlfriends and I are trying to arrange it so we can travel around together! The biggest hinderance is finances! Any tips on ways to make/save money on the road? We’ll be using www.helpx.net, www.couchsurfing.com, and staying in hostels to travel as cheaply as possible. 
  • At the end of August, I will move to Lausanne, Switzerland to be an au pair for a spectacular Spanish family! This is a great opportunity, because I adore Switzerland and would love to brush up on my Spanish. Although I will be doing some traveling on the weekends, I will be saving a lot of the money I make to put it toward further travels. Additionally, I’ll have to be putting a portion of it toward student loans.
  • The last week of November will mark the end of my Swiss living. That means I have December to travel around and hang out with friends…
  • If you are around wherever I am, I’d love to meet up! There’s a small possibility that my parents will try and come over and visit during this time. That would be great, seeing as I have no idea if I’ll be spending Christmas alone in a hostel (I doubt that would happen, though, as I have a knack for randomly meeting new friends!)…
  • In January, I will move to Torino, Italy to become an au pair for another beautiful family. I am thrilled!  I will stay here for a least six months.
  • After Italy, I will hopefully return to Switzerland for another three months.
  • Then…who knows!

Lost in Zurich

Lost in Zurich

ImageIn May of 2011, I boarded a plane for my first European adventure. Despite not sleeping a wink on the plane, I was full of energy when I stepped foot into Zurich, Switzerland. It was still daytime there and I had a full day day of me! After getting settled into the hotel, we all changed clothes and prepared to explore the city. The group I was there studying psychology with ended up separating. The two groups of energetic American co-eds split ways to experience our respective guided tours. My friend Michelle and I stuck close together and chattered continuously. This is where my ease with being in foreign environments came into play…

ImageAll of a sudden, Michelle and I realized that we were with the wrong group! We laughed about how distracted we had become and looked behind us to see our original group crossing a bridge. We quickened our steps to try and catch up to them and hurriedly crossed the bridge. The group walked around a corner, but we were gaining headway and it didn’t really concern us. When we rounded the corner, they were gone! We spent the next 15 minutes fruitlessly searching for the gaggle of students. It was as if they’d vanished into thin air. Image

I decided the next best option would be to find the hotel we were staying in. We figured it had to be within a couple miles of us, so we started asking locals for directions. Every Swiss person I’ve encountered since then speaks multiple languages, but for whatever reason, no one we approached could understand our plight!  Well, they may have just been laughing at the silly American girls…

It was when Michelle started to get concerned that I had a beautiful realization. I thought to myself, “We are in Europe! Specifically, Zurich, one of the safest places to be. It is 23 °C outside and there’s no rain!” I wondered why the heck we were spending our time being flustered, instead of enjoying this experience. I convinced Michelle to enjoy a drink with me, at a little outdoor cafe by the Limmat River. We sat there for awhile, chatting and people watching, before continuing to search for a group.

 Amazingly, we saw our trip guide across the street. We flagged him down and were able to reunite with our group. While our professor was quite displeased with us, I still look back at the time I was lost in Zurich with great fondness. We were able to see many historical sites, explore the city, and even watch a game of chess!

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Cafe in Zurich, Switzerland.

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Outdoor chess game

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Zurich, Switzerland.

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Lovely garden!

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Exploring the city.

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