In September 2016, I fled the US to live in Spain and teach english to high-schoolers. I spoke no Spanish and knew nothing about the town where I was placed, and almost nothing about teaching.

 

This extremely fortunate position gives me the ability to travel a lot and explore Europe from a home base, while still making a livable wage in the mean time. I've decided to write this blog near the end of my first year, and plan to back-track and document all the wonderful experiences I've had since becoming an immigrant.

December 6, 2018

I screeched up to the boat terminal at the exact moment the ferry was supposed to depart. My 80 year old taxi driver screamed goodbye as I threw the door shut and ran towards the gates. I was relieved to see other person in front of me, but I saw a security guard mouthing the words "CLOSED" as they approached the door. They spun around, tossed their fur scarf around their neck, ran towards me and grabbed my hand.

"We have to run around to the other side! Come on, Quick!" 

Hand in hand we "ran like hyenas" desperate to catch the boat and not be stuck there for another hour.

"I'm Nicki, by the way!" He screamed over his shoulder, his purse bopping between us.

We bound towards the cars that were still loading below and snuck onboard with them. At this point, I had  been traveling for almost 16 hours that day. I was shocked a...

March 21, 2018

An open letter to the God of Love,

I can only write this letter because I’ve fully recovered from the damage you inflicted when you left me smitten one year ago. You might have me believe you’re just some Spanish kid in a wooly green hat with a snub-nosed bow and arrow, but the day I met you was the day I met him, and this is no coincidence. This was the beginning of the end of my life for the next six months. But, all things considered, I guess I made it out all right. Your affliction takes down even the mightiest of Gods, and I’m proud to say I maintain a beating heart on the other side.

The day I met Bruno was a rainy day in Galicia. I say this as if every day isn’t a rainy day in Galicia. But in a land with 70 words for the variations in precipitation, I’ll be more specific.

The day I met Bruno was sunny at first. I stepped off the train with a mountain of expe...

December 6, 2017

Impulsive: acting or done without forethought. A force acting briefly on a body and producing a finite change of momentum. A pulse of electrical energy.

From latin: Impuls- driven onward.

I decided on my birthday trip to Paris that, within reason, I would say “yes” to almost anything I encountered. I wanted to be driven onward. I wanted a pulse of electrical energy for my 26th year. I didn’t want to wonder “What if…?” about the city I've been obsessed with since I was ten when I watched the film Moulin Rouge. This ended with me only sleeping about 8 hours total in 4 days in Paris. Go figure.

Something about crepes

The waiter just poured dry cider into a small, blue, ceramic bowl for me to drink out of. It bubbles up, glittering and murky like an enchanted potion. The air smells of butter and I’m sharing my table with a French gentleman wrapped in a bright red s...

November 4, 2017

Last Thursday I decided to go to Asturias tomorrow.

I put out feelers on Couchsurfing.

A man named Jorge agreed to host me in Gijon on Saturday, and a German guy reached out as a fellow traveler not having any luck finding a host, offering to split an Airbnb.

He was going to Gijon, but I wanted to go to Oviedo and already had accommodation in Gijon, so he agreed to change his plans entirely and meet me there instead. Meet Ben.

OVIEDO

I grabbed a blabla car from Lugo and arrived in Oviedo around 9. Ben let me in. We pretended to be old friends that hadn’t seen each other in a while, then went out into the night.

Asturias is famous for its Cider, and we headed straight for Calle de la Gascona, the famous “Sidra Boulevard,” which is lined left and right with waiters pouring the sidra as tall as they can. They stretch their arms mightily above and below, a glowing green b...

October 31, 2017

It is the year two thousand and sixteen.

I am twenty-four years old.

I am sleeping on the tile floor of a laundry room of a complete stranger in Porto.

There are sixteen other strangers here- in the apartment of this person I’ve never met.

 “Am I too old for this?” I ask myself.

“What does that even mean?” my better half replies.

I remember aching hipbones.

I remember the sunrise.

The stranger didn’t even stay at his own house that night, because 18 strangers are overwhelming to anyone.

An underground renegade free hostel, of sorts.

We used towels for blankets and were grateful we had privacy behind our laundry room door.

Sometimes, this is what couch surfing is.

I remember eating exquisite figs from the stranger’s father’s house the next morning.

I remember small bottles of port wine.

When we arrived, we drove our tiny orange rental car down a walking path, thinking it was a...

October 22, 2017

I’m in Amsterdam for 16 hours.

An old man paid 500 euros for me to accompany him for one night here.

We will call him Bill.

Bill is a friend of my mother’s.

Bill is a pilot for a major international company.

Bill assured me he expected nothing sexual in exchange for this ticket.

Bill contacted me after my mom withdrew her offer to come visit me in Spain in the wake of our political differences skyrocketing in intensity after Donald Trump became President of the United States.

Bill told me he used to own a travel company in Rome and would love to “facilitate” and show me the city some time.

Bill got tired of traveling to European cities alone, you see. 

Bill normally stayed in the hotel room if he didn’t have anyone to go out with.

Bill had an adopted daughter who was close to my age.

Bill asked me if I wanted to come with him to Amsterdam in two days.

Bill liked art too.

Bil...

October 22, 2017

I found myself tangled amidst the Christmas decorations of a Chalet in a Swiss village called Grimentz. My hair has a mind of its own, and always gets tangled in ways such as this. I was with a lad I met on public transportation in New Orleans two and a half years before, when he was stumbling around and lost at 4:30 in the morning.

Meet Sebastian.

The night I met Sebastian in 2014, he was near the beginning of his all-American road trip. He was completely obsessed with Alabama, and just spent his first and only night in New Orleans on Bourbon Street with his friend Tom. After we figured out the streetcar together (which behaves peculiarly in the middle of the night) I persuaded them to stay with me the next night and let me show them the real New Orleans before moving on to Texas. I couldn’t, in good conscience, let them leave having only seen the armpit of the c...

October 21, 2017

BACKGROUND

I lived in New Orleans for three years before moving to Europe, and I'm still in love with its contagious enthusiasm for life... it's a place where people leap at any excuse to celebrate or dance… For its glitter and its dirt, for the life the city breathes into anyone that steps foot into its bumpy, sinking streets. My first real pang of homesickness happened during carnival time, as Mardi Gras is the most important time in the life of a New Orleanian. Mardi gras is as close to a religious holiday as I've ever had.

I recently learned a Portuguese word “Saudade”, which means a deep emotional state of profound nostalgia or melancholic longing for an absent something or someone (or someplace)- especially if one knows that something might never return. Another person described it as "the love that remains." I certainly have a lot of lov...

August 1, 2017

In the weeks leading up to my trip to Sicily, several people responded to my enthusiasm with "Sicily? Alone?? Why Sicily? Isn't it pretty dangerous?" and the more I heard that, the more I began to question my decision... I guess the mafia is still a thing and Sicily is notoriously difficult to travel around once you get on the island. Not a great place to start off solo foreign travels, perhaps, but I was determined. Though I loved the hostel experience in the Canary Islands (and Lisbon and Marrakech,) I decided to go with Couchsurfing this time. Nothing like experiencing a city through the eyes of a local. Couchsurfing is an organization similar to Airbnb but instead of exchanging money, you exchange culture...and sometimes you end up sleeping on a couch or on a floor instead of getting a private room. I've been using it since 2011 and love...

May 11, 2017

Morocco: an enchanted, alluring melting pot between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa... My heart has longed to return ever since I left the first time, and last weekend I finally had the opportunity to dip back in. 

I never realized until I was there in 2015 that the Strait of Gibraltar is only 14km (9 miles) wide, and that it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to Tangier from the southernmost surfing village of Tarifa, Spain. A short 40 minute ferry ride will get you across the mouth of the Mediterranean and a new stamp on your passport (finally.)  When I was there last time, I stayed with a kite-surfing guide who told me he frequently kite-surfed between the continents! Be that as it may, we chose to take a plane from Madrid.

My dear friend Andrea came to visit me from Canada and we spent the week catching up...

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