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.

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.


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


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...

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© 2018 by OLIVIA MOTLEY//

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