Follow 

living in the netherlands

I'm in Pain, So I Finally Went to the Doctor Abroad

I have never liked doctors. I hated everything about going to the doctor in the States and would avoid it until it was absolutely necessary. I think that perhaps my resentment stems from the time I had an infected ovary at the age of 14 and the doctor came in and announced to my mom and I that I was pregnant. Umm, don't think so and don't you have to ask the parent to leave the room even if that were true. I think my mom called him an idiot. 

I took this resentment with me to the Netherlands, combined with a fear of not being able to communicate what was wrong with me, and if there was something wrong with me this news being issued to me with Dutch bluntness. Plus, I wasn't sure about costs and such although insurance is a legal requirement here in the Netherlands. Yep, occasionally I am ridiculously stubborn. 

I did manage to find a doctor though and register online just in case I ever needed one in an emergency. Today, it was necessary to go to the doctor for the first time. Right before I moved to the Netherlands, I had massive pain in my right shoulder. I went to a doc in the box because my insurance had expired when I left my job. I was told it was nothing and sent home with some heavy duty Ibuprofen. It took care of the pain for awhile, but in this last year the pain has come back with a vengeance. 

The pain normally horrible for a few days each month and normal things like getting undressed are not an option without assistance. But then the pain would be a lot less and I didn't want to go to the doctor and be like, oh yeah I had pain last week, but now it is okay. However, the pain has been pretty much constant this whole month and I haven't been able to sleep for the past two days, due to the pain. So finally I took the plunge and called yesterday to make an appointment for today. Of course today was not a terrible day pain wise, but I am still in pain. My doctor is a fifteen minute walk from my house, which is awesome. 

I got to the appointment 30 minutes early because I was expecting to have to fill out all sorts of forms. Not at all the case, I was just told to go wait in the waiting room, they didn't even want to see my insurance card or anything. I was then called back by my doctor therefore there was no more awkward waiting in the room alone.(My least favorite part about going to the doctor in the States). After a few tests on my shoulder and a talk about what was wrong, It was decided that I should take some major pain meds for the next week, 3 times a day! And a stomach med because the pain meds are known to mess with stomachs. This is amazing as I have a weak stomach. The doctor sent the prescription online to the pharmacy which was in the same complex. 

I was then asked to make an appointment next week as they are hoping the inflammation will go down a bit and I will see my doctor and a physical therapist to help figure out what the problem is since this has been off and on for two years now. She ruled out a lot and I will see a specialist. 

I was so surprised that in the two minutes I had to walk over to the pharmacy, my prescription was ready, but they come in boxes not bottles.So that is also more efficient. Overall, it was incredibly cheap and time efficient in compared to going to the doctor in the States. I don't know if this is just my doctor or if my experience is typical of the Dutch system, but so far I think it is sooooooo much better than the American system. 

Please forgive me if this post is a little ramblely, the meds are making me a bit loopy. What do you think is good/bad about the healthcare system in your country?

Until next time,

 

Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Section: 

Thanks Ladies for an Awesome May Expat Brunch

Expat bloggers

Our second expat brunch took place last Sunday. I look forward to these brunches all month long. For me, it is a much needed girl's day in a hectic, hectic schedule. What I love the most is the fact that I have a standing date to reconnect with old friends and to meet some great new ladies. I am amazed that so far everyone has meshed so seamlessly together. It is truly a highlight in my life each month.

This time, we all met in Amsterdam and had brunch at the cute Le Pain Quotidien. I had an amazing Goat Cheese Tartine and they serve their coffee in bowls. Personally, I think every place should do so. After brunch, we went out for a few beers before the ladies started heading home. Tomorrow's Links I Love will introduce you to the ladies who attended, you are going to love them!

After everyone left, Lily and I had an adventure on her Dutchman's boat, but that is such a long story it deserves its own post. Finally, we met back up with one of the girl's from brunch for the IAMEXPAT party and dinner at Va pianos. Va pianos is by far my favorite pizza place in the Netherlands, too bad they don't have them in Utrecht!

June's blogger brunch is going to be at a Mexican restaurant in Leiden, suggested by our own resident Mexican expat Amanda! We would love to see you there! If you want to get on the mailing list for our expat blogger brunches, send an email to GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com

Warm Goat Cheese Tartine

My brunch

Friends be warned, I take weird photos

My pizza!

Section: 

Summer Bucket List

It's funny how much a place can change you. When I lived in Georgia, I used to avoid going out in the Summer. I have really, really, really sensitive skin and the weather was just too harsh. Now, that I live in the land of cold winters and perpetual rain, I covet my summery days. 

In just a few short, and incredibly busy weeks, I'll be finished with my first year of school. While I do plan on relaxing a whole bunch during the few short weeks, I wouldn't be me if I didn't make some sort of a plan to get things done during a time when I have a bit more free time. Here's what I want to accomplish this summer.

  • Figure out what direction this blog of mine should go in. How do I want to handle possible advertisers, people asking to guest post, and most importantly, what do I want to do in this space?
  • Finally start that novel I have been planning in my head for the last few months. 
  • Get back to freelance writing part time. Can you tell what direction I want to go in here? I also need to figure out where I feel best writing. I want to put up a desk in the bedroom facing out of the windows. 
  • Rip the wallpaper off the walls and paint. I want to somehow make this apartment feel like home. I feel so at home and at peace with my expat life, but this apartment is so not gezellig. 
  • Go for runs along the canals, I want to pack healthy lunches and go on picnics, I want to read books in the park. I want to take full advantage of the few sunny day's we have here in the Netherlands, even though I am sunny days cursed, I'm almost always scheduled to work on the prettiest days. 
  • Use my discount cards. I have both a museumkaart and a pathe unlimited cards. I haven't used these to their full potential since I have work and school and almost no days off. When it rains this summer, these will be taken full advantage of. Museums, movies, and writing, perfect day. Now if only my free student transport didn't stop working in the summer.
  • Explore areas of the Netherlands other than the Randstad. I haven't been way up North, I haven't been down South, and I haven't been to the East. I've only been to the beach once. If you live in one of these areas and want to be my guide, I would love this.
  • Reconnect with my roots. I'm going to Georgia in August, I get to see all my friends and family that I have missed. Most people from back home haven't met the Verlo, so I am excited for more people to meet the man I picked up and moved countries for.
  • Learn to love my bike, or get a new one. Confession, I haven't drove a bike since last August. I have free public transport and it is faster to ride the bus to the train station. And, I hate riding my bike. I know, I know I need to fix this.
  • Try out new recipes and eat cleaner. Summer is the perfect time to try out new recipes with all the fresh fruits and veg available. 
  • Take more pictures. I am the world's worst blogger sometimes, I never take pictures of myself, my friends, or where I am. I just never think about it. I'm trying to make more of an effort. Especially since I just umbred my hair and I love it. 
  • Spend time with my godchildren! My godson Logan is going to have a baby sister, who is due when I am in Georgia. I view being a godmother as one of the greatest honors in the entire world, and I am so thrilled to be asked again! 

What are you looking forward to this summer?

Section: 

Part 3 of School Daze in Holland: Grades

Getting straight A's is not a thing here in the Netherlands. School's here give you grades on a 10 point scale. Anything above a 5.5 is passing, anything above a 7 is considered good. I was told to never expect a 9. This took some adjustment as my whole life until I moved, I was on a number system, and then A's were 4 points, B's were 3 and so forth. 

I remember when I received my first grade of the year. It was a respectable 7.5 on a group project. The problem was, I didn't know how to feel. My group of very hard workers were all congratulating each other on a job well done, I wasn't  sure how much I should celebrate. I wanted to make it fit on my letter grade scale. Then my brain went to a 75, which would be a C where I am from. Who celebrates a C? 

That was when I was explained the you should be proud of a 7 and think of it more like a B. Because no one every gets 9's. Well, I am happy to say that thus far, I have received four 9's and even a completely unheard of 9.5. 

It is all about adjusting your expectations. 7.5 is my happiness limit, if I get below, I am pretty upset. It is important to note that the only grades received are those at the end of the period. Each period has one project, perhaps a portfolio or two and a few final exams. 

My grades are something I am pretty proud of this year, however I have failed an exam. I could go on with excuses about what all was going on in my life, (I was pretty depressed about all the deaths of people I cared about) but really I didn't study as much as I know that I could have. Now, if I was pursuing a degree in the States, this would mean that I would have to take the class over. In the Netherlands, it just means that I have to retake the exam. You can retake the test up to 5 times. You have to reach a certain number of points to make it out of each year, but if you fail one class it is not going to impact you that much, If you don't have enough points to pass the first year, you can not continue with that major. 

How does this compare to when and where you were in Uni?

Don't forget to check out:

Part One of School Daze in Holland: MBO, HBO or WO, Higher Education Levels or TV Channels?

Part Two of School Daze in Holland Series: You Better Like Your Classmates, You See Them Everyday.

Section: 

The Last Queen's Day

Yesterday, we here in the Netherlands welcomed in our new monarchs. That's right, we now have a king, King Willem Alexander. I could go more into the monarchy, and maybe one day I will, but what is important for now is that yesterday was not only Queen's Day, next year we will have King's Day, but that it was the last one for the foreseeable future. Last year, the Verlo and I braved the trains and ventured up to Amsterdam. This year with the stepping down of the Queen taking place in Amsterdam, we decided to forgo the insane crowd and stay in Utrecht, after all, I have never celebrated Queen's Day in my home city. 

One thing I noticed is that in Amsterdam the crowds are everywhere, in Utrecht they are in a few key areas around the city. I also noticed a lot more performers in Utrecht that I did last year, but that could just be that I walked around and last year we found a great spot and stayed there. Either way, Queen's Day is awesome!

There was music everywhere!

These kids were playing Smoke on the Water, pretty impressive at their age!

And these girls were singing the Andrew's Sisters, I love how eclectic the city is. 

One of the things about Queen's Day is that it is the only day of the year where markets are free to have. Hence you get everyone sharing their junk! 

This little girl was dressed as Pippi Longstocking. Fun fact about me, the year I went as Pippi for Halloween was my favorite costume ever!

And of course, some people party a bit too hard. I have no idea where this guy thought he was going to climb to, but he was unsuccessful. 

Off course, you need to have lots of orange decorations!

The Dutch may love Willem's wife, the newly crowned Queen Maxima, even more than the king.

Have you ever been in the Netherlands for Queen's Day?

Section: 

Friday Links I Love Vol.2- Meal Plan Edition.

Links I Love

I can't believe it has been a week since the last time I talked to you guys. To be fair, as the Verlo pointed out last night, he hadn't seen me in a week either. Clearly something has got to change if I haven't had a home cooked meal in about a month.Luckily, next week is a welcome break. I have the whole week off of school to celebrate my favorite Dutch holiday, and I am only working three days! Looks like it is time to go back to my meal planning ways, which is what today's links I love is all about. Sharing with you the recipes I am going to make for the upcoming week. I am so excited to be cooking y'all.

 

Let's start with Sunday. Since I am going to go see some of my wonderful friends at O'Leary's play traditional Irish folk songs, I think I am going to en the day with Guinness Soup from My Baking Addiction.

I'm working Monday night, so this will be a great thing to bring for my lunch. For the rest of the week, I am planning on making this Honey Chicken Salad from Running to the Kitchen for lunch.

Tuesday is Queen's Day and I will be gone all day and drunk-this is what you on Queen's Day, don't pretend otherwise.

Wednesday I am thinking of trying some Korean Beef from Lizzy Writes. Quick and easy since May 1st should be known as National Dutch Hangover Day.

Thursday I am also thinking quick an easy with this Chicken and Kale Casserole from Serious Eats and Martha Stewart. I'm in such a kale mood lately, that I may even make some Kale Chips to snack on, you can make the 10 different ways from Refinery 29. Did I tell you that I joined a gym?

Saturday I am working and the weekends are normally when the Verlo takes over dinner. Yep, I have a good one! I'll let you know how everything turns out since I have never made these recipes before. And, I promise next week you will once again be a priority in my life.

 

Section: 

Our First Blogger Brunch

Yesterday it was finally time for our Expat Blogger Brunch. Honestly, we could not have planned a better day weather wise. In the end, there were 9 of us girls. It was a great brunch, okay maybe the food could have been a bit better, but the conversations and fellowships that developed were right on par with what Lily and I were hoping. Sometimes it is just so great to be surrounded with other people that you can relate to in a city that you love. 

expat blogger brunch Utrecht

After brunch, a smaller group of us went for a walk around the city. The sun was shining, there were dance events and it is the 300th anniversary of the Peach of Utrecht. We wandered around the city in the sunshine. Don't let that coat in the picture up there fool you, it was soon time that I regretted the fact that I had any sleeves on at all. Which for those of you who don't live or visit the Netherlands often, you can't realize how big of a deal this is in the rainy often cold country I call home.

The day ended at least for me, with drinks at the Louis Hartlooper Complex. I had the Maximus Brutus  beer from a local brewery here in Utrecht that I didn't even know existed. Turns out, it is actually right by my house, anyone down for a brewery tour? 

To the ladies who came, thank you so much! You made my Sunday awesome and I hope you also had a great time. For those of you who couldn't make it, Lily and I have already started planning for next month, we will keep you posted with more info when we have it.

 

Check back in on Friday where I will have my first ever link up and share the blogs of our April attendees. 

Section: 

For the Love of Travel Series- Lily from Lily Wanderlust (Guest Post)

Lily in Ghent

Today, I bring you a post from one of my best friends, not just in my expat life, but in life in general. Lily of Lily Wanderlust. After all, it isn't many people you down two bottles of wine with over lunch the first time you meet them. I could go on and on about how awesome she is, but I think it might be best for me to just let her speak for herself. Here it goes. 

Tell us a bit about you.

Hi there, Georgia Peach Abroad readers! I’m Lily, an expat blogger and friend of Kaitlin’s here in the Netherlands. Amsterdam has been my home for the most part since 2009 when I moved here on the fly to work as an au pair and in that time, serendipity brought my Dutchman and I together and now we live along the canals.

Where are you right now?

Keying in tonight at home in Amsterdam.

Where did you grow up?

My early years were spent outside of Chicago, so my roots are Midwestern but my formative years were spent in Central Florida which explains my penchant for southern charm, bluegrass tunes and a constant craving for sunshine! My mom is a flight attendant, so it’s no surprise my first passport was issues at only a few months old and every holiday from school was spent in a different corner of the world! I’ve been to 35 countries so far and plan to keep that list growing. My mom definitely instilled an appreciation for cultures and globetrotting. 

What is your favorite destination and why?

My current favorite is South Africa! I honestly had no idea what to expect before spending three weeks trekking around on safari in Kruger Park and road tripping along the Garden Route with my mom. Aside from the friendly, interesting people of South Africa, learning about nature on safari and exploring a completely new side of the world, there's just so much to learn about yourself and others while traveling through new places! 

What is your least favorite destination and why?

You’ve got me racking my brain trying to think up a place that I’d probably never return to again and I can’t think of any! In my experience, every location has its perks and disappointments and every adventure comes with a lot of laughs and a few tears of frustration. Although, I will admit that studying abroad in China made me lose all appetite for their cuisine, sadly.

What is your favorite vacation memory?

In January, I spent a few weeks back home in Florida. It’s my current favorite for the great memories I made catching up with hometown friends. Most afternoons were spent relaxing in the sunshine so this wasn’t what I’d consider wild traveling, just a (well needed) holiday. Spending cozy, quality time with my amazingly sharp 95-year-old Granny was a big part of my trip home as well. 

What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?

I split my week between an English language preschool and working as the Lifestyle Editor forIamExpat.nl a media platform for, you guessed it- internationals in the Netherlands. You could say I’m very immersed in the expat community here in Amsterdam, which makes sense since culture and creativity are two important aspects in both positions. Engaging with other’s who are living overseas is great and after going through so many up’s and down’s in my own expat experience it feels good to help other’s find new ways to settling into life abroad.  I’d love a job that requires more travel and still haven’t given up on my mom’s dream for me to join a flight crew! At the moment, any travel for work is within the Netherlands and usually related to international community events.

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with your?

I’m definitely a light packer- that is, unless I’m heading back from America with a suitcase of my favorite bits from home (especially hot sauce, sour patch kids and beef jerky for my Dutchman). For trips two weeks and under day backpack and a purse fits enough. This backpack and sleeping bag have been to a few different continents with me and I recommend both!

Clothes always flex with location but I’m a casual traveler. Mix and match outfits work great and save space. In my experience, long skirts, a jean jacket and a multi purpose scarves can go a long way with the right clothing combinations. 

At least one camera is always on hand while traveling! I use the Cannon Powershot G series, my Iphone 4s and on occasion one of my 35mm cameras like an old Nikon or Holga or FishEye. Capturing special moments while traveling make the best souvenirs. 

My must-have list includes: an mask, q-tips, rosebud salve, baby wipes, mini first aid kit and a good book. Any favorite things usually end up staying tucked inside and ready for the next trip! You can read about how I packed for safari in Kruger Park here.

Do you have any trips planned for the future?

One of my best friends from back home is visiting me in Amsterdam (this week!) and we’re heading off for a few days in Paris together! It’s her first time in Europe and I can’t wait to her around Amsterdam! Plus, I haven’t been in Paris in years so there’s a lot to look forward too.

How do you plan your trips?

Planning trips is one of my favorite hobbies! Not just for the anticipating and curiosity that comes with discovering a new place but also because I genuinely really, really, enjoy research and planning! I like to pick my top 5 - 10 spots to check out (museums, festivals, monuments, eateries, etc…) and the adventure comes along with trying to navigate your way there- I love maps and navigation, getting lost is half the adventure!

What is your dream vacation?

South East Asia  and India are both high on my list for my next big trip. My Dutchman has visited multiple times and a slight hint of envy always strikes when he talks about how amazing his adventures were! Visiting India has always been a dream and after this much time spent in Holland I’ll take as much sunshine and warmth as I can get!

What kind of traveler are you? 

Budget travel is definitely a preference, along with discovering places off the beaten path and supporting the local businesses and artisans. Growing up, my mom and I made it all over the world with a rental car and an overly examined map and that’s still how I tend to travel today. A lot of our favorite adventures came along whilst trying to get to ‘our final destination’ (isn’t that what they all say?) For suggestions, my travel favorites are Lonely PlanetSpotted by Locals and Couchsurfing. Of course, if you have any connection to a local (through friends or family) then it’s great to get in touch and hear tips from locals.

After finishing university I spent 6 weeks backpacking and couch surfing around Scandinavia with a childhood friend. We made it all the up to the Arctic Circle of Finland for a friend’s summer wedding and also celebrated Swedish midsummer in the countryside in an adorable farm house stuffed full of Couchsurfers! That was such a random and memorable travel moments!

My personal blog is www.lilywanderlust.com,  a lifestyle blog about everyday adventures of life in Amsterdam. You can also find me on instagrampinteresttwitter!

Thanks so much Lily! Check out her awesome pictures below. If you love her pictures or have any questions/comments drop them below. Also if you want to help a student out and be part of the series, drop me a line at GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com

South Africa

South Africa with a Cheetah

South Africa

China

Lily in China

Panda China

HollandDutch Canals

Sweden

Midsummer Sweden

Venice

St MarksB

 

Section: 

5 Things

Lily called me out on this one, and since I love any chance to over share, I'll contribute my 5 things to the pot.

1. I can not stand silence. Seriously, much to the chagrin of my 5 hostel roommates last week in Berlin, I have to have noise. Unless, I'm sleeping. Which is why if I am home alone, there is always background noise.

2. I'm double jointed in my knees and elbows. This means, I can lick my own elbow and that when I stand, my knees are hyper extended backwards. Great, now if you see me in real life, you are going to check my stance.

3. I love soup! I could eat soup everyday. It is so versatile and can be incredibly easy to make. My favorite is my Aunt Jan's Potato Soup or my mom's Cilantro Soup. Sooo yummy!

4. I have never been further West than Texas. Sometimes, I really wish that I had traveled more in the US before packing my bags for the undetermined future to live in Europe. Seriously, it is embarrassing when you meet a European who has been more places in your home country than you have. 

5. I love hip hop. People have a certain image of me. It has been suggested on more than one occasion that I am a hipster. For what it is worth, I'm not. I'm not anything. I like all sorts of music. But because I wear my glasses now almost on a daily basis, people think that I do not like hip hop as much as I do. Somehow, people seem to forget that I am from the ATL! If you take me to a club, I will dance all night. Except Techno. Sorry Europe, no matter how long I live here, I will never.ever.get.electronic.

Want to make a list of your own? Head over to Lily Wanderlust and linkup with her!

Section: 

For the Love of Travel Series- Sarah from Life in a State of Wanderlust (Guest Post)

This week's post comes from Sarah, a fellow American expat who currently resides in Tillburg (in the Southern part of the Netherlands, for those of you who aren't familiar).She is originally from Virginia (Southern Girls Unite!) I've had so much fun learning about Sarah's adventures and it looks like soon she will be moving closer to my neck of the woods! You can learn more about Sarah at Life in a State of Wanderlust

Let's do this thing!

Tell us a little about you.
 
Let’s see. I’m 23 years old, and I have always loved to travel. So far, I have lived in three countries and visited 20 others. My bucket list is a mile long, and I’m constantly adding to it. I was born and raised in the United States, but I spent the past year in London completing my Master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Politics Science (LSE). Currently, I am residing with my boyfriend in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Living in Europe provides far more opportunities for international travel than in the States, so I am trying to take
advantage of every chance I get to see as much as I can while I am here!
 
Windmills do exist!
The cliché is true- windmills are everywhere in the Netherlands
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I spent my whole life in Virginia before I moved abroad for graduate school. Virginia was an amazing place to grow up. In only two hours by car from where I lived, you could be hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, swimming at Virginia Beach, or enjoying a city-break in Washington, D.C. There’s really something for everyone.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
This is a difficult question! There are so many amazing places around the world. I think my favorite destination so far would have to be Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik’s nickname is the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” and if there is any city that deserves its nickname, it is Dubrovnik. There are gorgeous beaches, winding alleyways to explore, and breathtaking cliff side cafes where you can dive right into the sea—if you dare! The old town is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, yet there is so much more to the area than meets the eye. Dubrovnik was nearly
destroyed during the Balkan Wars in the early 1990s, yet it has been painstakingly rebuilt over the years. You can still see evidence of the war if you look closely at the famous red roof tiles, because the ones that were replaced after being bombed out are slightly different colors than the original tiles.
 
The Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia
The Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
My least favorite destinations are those where the only “cultural experiences” include laying on the beach during the day and partying every night, only to repeat the process for a week straight without ever leaving the resort. That is pretty much my travel nightmare. I travel because I love history, culture, and seeing the way different people live around the world. If I wanted to party into oblivion, I might just as well do it at home.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
In 2011, my dad took me and my brother to Tanzania for two weeks. We spent half of the trip wilderness hiking and camping in the African bush, an experience that was unlike anything I had ever done before. The trip was more than just a typical safari-vacation for us, though, because Tanzania was also the place that my dad grew up. His parents were missionaries in Arusha, and he lived there from when he was a baby until he returned to the U.S. at age 17. This was his first trip back to Tanzania in twenty years, and the first time my brother and I got to finally see the places we had been hearing about in stories our entire lives. The trip brought both tears and laughter, but having that shared experience definitely brought us closer together.
 
The house in Arusha, Tanzania, where my dad grew up.
The house in Arusha, Tanzania, where my dad grew up.
 
At the top of Ol Donyo Sambu, Tanzania
At the top of Ol Donyo Sambu, Tanzania
 
Close encounters of the elephant kind
Close encounters of the elephant kind

 

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
I have traveled so much in the past two years that I pretty much have packing down to a science. I generally try to travel with only a carry-on, mostly because I am cheap and hate paying baggage fees. The possibility of forgetting things used to worry me, but I’ve since realized that stressing over something like a toothbrush is not worth it. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world; I promise you will be able to buy a new toothbrush when you get there.
That being said, I always take my camera (of course), a good book, and a pair of earplugs. Nothing can ruin a trip like a symphony of snores coming from your seat mates on a 14 hour overnight bus ride in Morocco.
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
I have been living in the Netherlands for months now, but my Dutch boyfriend has still never been to the United States, so I would love to take him on a classic American road trip to show him my home turf. On the other side of the globe, my best friend is currently teaching at an international school in Brunei (on the island of Borneo). If I had the opportunity to go somewhere a little more exotic, visiting her would definitely be first on my list!
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
I love planning trips! Researching and learning about my next destination is one of my favorite things to do. I’m one of those people who brings along a stack of information with me whenever I go somewhere. I still love to do spontaneous things once I get there, but the planning is part of the fun of travel for me. It increases my anticipation and excitement for the place I’m going to be. It is always a good idea to at least learn a few words in the language of the place you will be, and not just assume that English will be spoken everywhere.
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
I believe it is important to pick your travel companions wisely, no matter where you are going. I grew up taking road trips with my family, which I think is a great way to develop a love of travel. Now I generally travel with my close friends. I have found that small groups are always better to travel with than large groups. Large groups (even if you are all friends) mean too many opinions. Everyone is forced to compromise on what they want to do, and in the end no one is satisfied.
 
I am definitely not a tour group kind of person. I know some people greatly enjoy tours, but I do my best to stay away from them. Tour groups hardly ever allow you to do something on a whim—the kind of random adventures that make travel exciting. I don’t want to spend ninety percent of my vacation on a bus with people from my own country. That defeats the point of travel for me.
 
Thanks so much Sarah! I enjoyed reading about all your adventures, and I am totally with you on the tours thing. I hope you guys are loving this series as much as I am! If you want to be involved, and I so hope that you do, drop me a line at gapeachabroad@gmail.com.
 
Check out these other gorgeous pictures!
 
Middle East
Sarah with her Berber guide on a camel trek through the Moroccan Sahara
Sarah with her Berber guide on a camel trek through the Moroccan Sahara
 
A Sufi Dervish (“whirling dervish”) ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey
A Sufi Dervish (“whirling dervish”) ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey
 
Europe
A cold winter night in Bruges, Belgium
A cold winter night in Bruges, Belgium
 
View of London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral
View of London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral
 
Prague Castle at night
Prague Castle at night
 
At the top of Untersberg Mountain near Salzburg, Austria
 
Light streams through the windows inside St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican City.
Light streams through the windows inside St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican City.
 
If you liked this post, and I know you did. You should check out:
 

Section: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - living in the netherlands