This is my first blog post ever and probably my first time writing something real since my creative writing class in high school- so don’t judge. If you know me, it’s no secret that I love to travel. Let me step back, I love a lot of things. Being an extrovert, I get my energy from other people. Therefore, I hate being bored and I hate being alone. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy my me time as much as the next person, but I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by people. I have a great family, awesome friends, and have been blessed with some pretty amazing experiences in my 27 years.
If you read my about me section you already know where “be anything but boring” comes from. If not- here’s the cliff notes version. When I graduated from college, my mom got me a compact mirror with this saying etched on it and it’s stuck with me ever since as sort of my mantra you could say. I’ve always been curious. I can’t sit still to save my life. I’m always planning my weekends out months ahead, because heaven forbid I have a weekend where I have to stay home due to a lack of plans. Anything but boring right?
Growing up my family took vacations, it was always a toss up between the mountains or the ocean. Skiing out west in Colorado or collecting seashells along the sunny Florida beaches. These annual vacations were great, but by the end of my senior year of college I was yearning for a big adventure before joining the real world as a working woman. And two weeks after graduation, I found myself on an epic European tour with two of my best girlfriends. We went to London, Paris, Barcelona, and Rome; doing all of the touristy things and loving every minute of it. I rode the London eye and hung out in a red phone booth, took your typical Eiffel tower jumping picture, toured the Coliseum and threw a penny in the Trevi Fountain, explored Gaudi’s Park and made new friends partying on Las Ramblas street in Barcelona. It was an amazing two weeks, which opened my eyes up to how big the world really is.
As soon as I got back home from a whirlwind of a trip and got over my jetlag, it was time to pack up and move from my forever home in Detroit, Michigan to Sheboygan, Wisconsin where my new life (and job) awaited me. Little did I know that I wouldn’t even have 6 months to get settled in before packing my bags again for the opportunity of a lifetime. Shortly after starting work, my new boss asked me how I felt about an expat assignment in Paris, France. And let me tell you, I felt extremely excited about it! Living in Paris?! Was this real life? Fast forward a week or two, and real life set in. I quickly learned that being a happy go-lucky tourist in Paris was very very different than living there. Besides the fact that I couldn’t speak five words in French to save my life (picked the wrong language to take in high school), I had to learn how to grocery shop at an outdoor market every Sunday (no chicken tenders there), learn how to hang my laundry up to dry on a clothesline (dryers aren’t a thing in Europe), figure out how to pay for things in Euros (I swear the coins all look the same), navigate 3 train transfers to make my way to work (without getting lost I might add), form relationships at work despite the language barrier (easier said than done), maintain relationships at home (thanks 7 hour time difference), and the most important thing I had to learn, was how to be okay being by myself.
The learning how to be okay by myself thing didn’t happen over night. In fact, it happened over a lot of tears, homesickness, care packages, and pity parties. Until one day I snapped out of it. It went something like this, “HELLO! You’re in Paris! Get a grip!” I only had 4 months left there and was determined to make the most of it. I signed up for private French lessons after work two nights a week. I found that it was possible to be a tourist in my own city and would take the metro to different neighborhoods after work to explore the dessert and shopping scene. (Confession time- I had to buy a new suitcase by the end of my time there to fit my new Parisian closet). I learned that despite being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, that I didn’t need them; I was okay being on my own. That moment right there was life changing. The next phase of the new me attitude realized that I could be a tourist in other cities on my own too, not just in Paris. This was the moment when I caught the travel bug (again). I found that being in Europe already made it SO easy to hop on a train or a plane and go someplace for the weekend. And go places I did- Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy. I was fortunate to have some visitors while abroad too, and the trips with them were the best! The four remaining months flew by fast and by the end of it, my new closet and I were ready to return home.
It’s been 5 years since my expat assignment in Paris and to this day I still reflect on it and truly believe that I’m the person I am today because of it. Don’t worry, my story doesn’t end here, this is just where it starts. In the past 5 years, despite returning to work back in the US like a normal person, I’ve managed to maintain a pretty great work/life/adventure balance, and through this blog I hope to show you that you can too. I’ll be writing travel centered posts (while most likely rambling about my life) around each of my favorite places and trip itineraries in hopes to inspire you to chase your passion of traveling or whatever that may be.