Oh The Places You’ll Go

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Dr. Seuss


So here it is, the blog post that I’ve long dreaded to write. The blog post that would mean I had returned from Spain and left my year long adventure behind me. I spent 9 months living in the beautiful island of Mallorca and traveling all over Europe. I met friends that quickly turned into family and I fully embraced myself in a culture different to my own.

A year ago, to this exact day I received my placement in the Balearic Islands. I knew very little about these islands but after immense research I fell in love. I started prepping everything possible for my new experience but with all my excitement I felt a tingling sense of anxiety.

As many of you know I struggled immensely in the beginning of 2017. A broken heart, a broken wrist, a car accident and a stolen wallet all led for a recipe of depression and a lack of will to enjoy life. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore and the pain of all these events kept me up at night almost the entire month of March. It wasn’t until I was online and saw a “TEFL” advertisement pop up on my computer that I started thinking. Why did I feel so empty? I knew I wasn’t a sad person but I was constantly irritable, avoiding friends and family and wanting to sit at home and watch TV every moment I clocked out of work.

The first step was hard. “Get a TEFL” I thought, am I really ready to go abroad with this mindset? Even as sad as I felt my gut told me, be like nike and JUST DO IT. I applied with International TEFL Academy and started looking into countries. I was asking around trying to find anyone else who had done something similar until I hear about the Auxiliares de Conversacion program in Spain. It was April 12th, application was due April 18th. Alright, sure. I ran around and got all the necessary documents and turned them in.

I read more about the program and the ability to live abroad on a visa seemed to be a difficult thing to do with other countries so this seemed like a good choice. Slowly I got admitted, accepted, placed in the islands and finally placed at my schools. Although I was still petrified at the thought of going abroad something just felt so completely right to me. My heart went from feeling so empty to having a glimpse of excitement and happiness return.

With every annoying process (other aux’s I’m sure you know what I mean) my mood kept changing. I was no longer fixating on the problems I had before but now my sole focus was to get myself abroad and save money to do so. I picked up shifts, I avoided eating out, I tried everything I could to spare a dime. I purchased my ticket for September 25th.

I didn’t know what to expect, I’ve been abroad before (and at 16) but I had a host family, orientations and assistance from regional directors if any issues arose. This time I was going in blind, completely alone with only an apartment secured from some other auxilaires I met on facebook.

I’d rewrite exactly how great the year was but luckily that’s what all my other blog posts are for. Now I want to focus on the return. After the travels with my dad we returned to Palma for 2 days before my final goodbyes. I met up with some friends to see Steve Aoki and enjoy time with them.

When it finally came time to board my flight to New York I started to feel the whole year come in the form of tears cascading down my face. The year wasn’t just a way for me to go and travel Europe, the year was for me to reinvent myself. All the travels only helped me really understand who I really was and helped me get back to the person I knew I could be. All the friends I met gave me insight into their lives and helped me learn so much throughout the year. The late night talks, the trips to Magaluf, the brunches/lunches/dinners, the movie nights that turned into mornings and the tears that turned into laughter. I can’t put into words how much each of you affected my life and how grateful I am to finally feel like the person I knew I was. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, the most confident, the most able to stand up for myself and what I believe in, the one willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs one and most importantly completely and totally in love with myself.

Now I’ve returned home and the reverse culture shock sure has set in. I’m waking up at 6:30, saying Hola to uber drivers and giving .25 cent coins thinking their .50 cent coins to confused cashiers. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. To say I would love to go back is an understatement but I realized it wasn’t Spain that changed me, it was all the incredible people I met.

I’ve now got a life ahead of me and many options of where I’d like to go. Will it be working in Dallas? Crossing the country and moving to Florida? Trying to go abroad again in Asia? Saving up and paying off all my debts while living at home? I’ve got no idea what lies ahead, but the journey… is always worth it.

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

-Anthony Bourdain 

Letters to my friends:

 Kim: We met by complete chance but I’m beginning to think that it was meant to be. You taught me to not care what anyone else thinks and to simply live my life without worries. You were my travel buddy and always willing to do anything at a moments notice. You helped me learn that it’s okay if people don’t like me or disagree with me because I have so many other people that do love me. You encouraged me to put myself out there and forget about my past. You opened up to me even when I know it’s a difficult thing for you to do. You helped me trust again and taught me that NO MAN but a good man deserves to have me. You’re going to do incredible things in Miami, I’m so proud of all you’ve accomplished and I know our paths will cross again.


       Sarah: My spiritual mentor, you understood me when I started rambling on about buddha or other weird things. We always got so deep in conversation that the time just completely flew by. You related to me when I wanted to talk about music festivals and EDM. We stayed up late talking about life and other matters and I knew no matter what you wouldn’t judge me. You were always so willing to help calm me down when I got anxious (even with silly things like a bug bite). You have a spirit to go and continue teaching english and although I’ve never seen you teach I can tell you’re going to impact so many people’s lives. Your charisma and love to help others will always take you so far in life and I can’t wait to see where life takes you. (I don’t know how we don’t have a photo of just to two of us but us playing with this dog summarizes our relationship)


       Madison: You are one of the most wholesome humans I’ve ever met. You seek out the best in everyone and you always want to make sure that people feel included and loved. Your zest for life will take you around the world and will always keep you humble. Your ability to just live in the moment taught me that I just need to slow down, and that it’s okay to just focus on the here and now. You also taught me to love, because your ability to care for others showed me that we can still be kind to those who might not deserve it. I know whatever you do next in life you will do it with a pure heart. I hope that somehow, someday we will be able to start our Thailand adventures. But like a 14 year old writing in a yearbook “don’t ever change”.


       Kevin: My first friend from the program I’m surprised with all the people I encountered on facebook our friendship actually stuck. Your extremely positive view on life and yourself made me realize that confidence looks great on everyone. You were an ear when I needed to vent. You kept me sane with your copious amounts of back rubs and time spent just watching movies or getting down on the dance floor. You complimented me when I wasn’t feeling great and always had nothing but supporting things to say. Whether you become a substitute teacher or a ski instructor in the mountains of Colorado, you’re gonna do great.


… because of all of you my heart is full again.

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
(Just because you didn’t get a shout out does not mean you didn’t impact my life. I can only cry through writing so many of these)


Final European Travels

As the school year ended (for us lucky auxiliares, not the children) we set our sights on what’s next. A few different trips stood between me and my final return home to the USA and as pumped as I was for all these trips I knew what was coming at the end.

Ibiza June 2nd-4th 

Words can’t describe how fun this trip was, it was like a girls weekend in Las Vegas only it was one of the biggest party islands off the coast of Spain. We made friends with an aux that lived in Ibiza so he was able to show us most of the ropes of the island. We had been one time before, but it surely didn’t feel like enough. The island reminds me a lot of Mallorca except for all the billboards listing DJs who are playing all summer long. Some of the biggest names went there and it was pretty fun to see people from all over the world. Our first night we went out to Club Swag which was a hip hop/r&b type club and somehow made our way into the VIP booth. It sure is nice being a girl at a club sometimes. After recovering from the first night we all had a family breakfast and prepared for a pool party at Ocean Beach Club. It was quite an experience since I had been to similar things in Las Vegas. After meeting a group of crazy British boys on a stag the night took off. It was definitely a memorable trip

Paris June 5th- June 8th 

My dad flew from Oregon to come help me get situated back home. I do feel truly lucky that both my parents were able to visit me in Europe. Unfortunately from the moment I arrived in Paris I got stuck with a pretty intense fever so all we saw the first day were the ceilings of the hotel room. Luckily by day 2 I was feeling more up and we decided to visit Disneyland. Now I’ve been to 3 Disneyland’s all over the world and I’m preparing for my next trip to the ones in Asia. I was sluggish and tired but having visited Paris before I didn’t feel too bummed out that I wasn’t able to see as much as possible. It was still a great trip, and compared to the one before I actually tried real french food! (and not just an abundance of pizza)

Munich June 8th- 10th 

Considering it wasn’t my first time in Germany I was fairly surprised about the differences between the cities. I had expected Munich to look quite a bit different than what I saw but the beauty still astounded me. Our first day we got to go visit the Glockenspiel which is a famous landmark for the clock that goes off at 11, 12 and 5 pm. It shows little characters dancing around to all the different bells.

The following day we headed to the infamous hofbräuhaus where locals and tourists drink copious amounts of beer and simply relax and enjoy one another’s company. I filled myself up on a beer that I couldn’t even hold in one hand and a pretzel in the other. After our grand time there the next stop (after digesting of course) was to head over to the Augustiner-Keller Biergarten. Little did we know it’s a fully outside serving restaurant and about 10 minutes into sitting down a torrential downpour was passing through. Thankfully we decided to stick it out and had one of the best meals Ive had here in Europe! If you find yourself in Munich I would most certainly stop by!

Rome June 10th- June 14th 

Somewhere I had been looking forward to ever since I left Rome in 2010. I always get excited to use my Italian but this trip was more of a nostalgic trip for me from my previous time spent there. We had 4 days to spend in Rome which made seeing everything rather easy. The first day we simply strolled around visiting the Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna, sampling gelato and eating a delicious meal. Rome was rather hot so it was very important to take as many breaks as possible! I was also able to return to the last dinner place that I ate with my best friend Adam prior to leaving Italy after our exchange, it was truly a memorable experience.

The next day we went to visit one of my dad’s life long goals, Pompeii. It was just as stunning as I had pictured it to see such an old civilization still very intact. Due to the heat and just pure tiredness of traveling we had a wonderful Italian meal of Mcdonald’s and simply allowed ourselves to relax for the night.

After recharging and resting we were headed to the Vatican! The last time I went there I was 16 years old, and I think we were more focused on messing around with the Swiss guards then we were actually looking at the museums. It was pretty cool to see it again 8 years later and actually have appreciation for the museums! Later on we went and had probably the best dinner of my life! I got lobster pasta and as many appetizers as one could stomach. Knowing that the rest of our trip would be quite packed it was time for more rest after dinner because the next day, we were heading back to Palma!\


We returned to Palma on June 14th, but I’m saving all of my final thoughts on leaving for the next blog. 😉