A Chronicle Of My Experiences Living Abroad

A Chronicle Of My Experiences Living Abroad: August 2013

August 29, 2013

Another Chance

"You have the opportunity to do whatever you'd like, even if it's a hobby that you've always wanted to learn and never had the time for..."

I've heard this on several occasions now and even my new general practitioner has said this to me. Living day to day in a new environment and culture is incredibly stressful. It is both emotionally and physically straining. And yes, I have said it before in a few posts, but can't help but think that it's really not getting through to some people in our lives. Like we are living some sort of glamorous life.

Recently, someone near and dear to us,  confessed that they've never read a single blog post of mine. That a was blow and it hurt like hell. So it's people like that, that get the impression that we lead a easy and carefree life here. Well,  I hate to burst your bubble- it's not! If one more person tells me "oh, it looks like all you do is travel and frolic around town" or "just go to a bar and meet some locals" I'll want to bash their face in! But there are always going to be people who you try to explain this to, until you're blue in the face, and they will still have no freaking clue. I think expat life is just one of those things that you have to personally go through to truly understand the huge undertaking that it is and has been. It's definitely not for everyone and you learn really quickly if this is how you want to spend the rest of your life (jumping from one place to another every few years).

As I continue to adjust, many ideas have floated around to truly immerse myself into hobbies that I've always want to learn or relearn.  In the coming months, I will be looking into courses in those areas of interest and will be blogging about them in the near future. It's given me a sense of hope and belonging.  Even if there are days that I just want give up, I am excited of where this next chapter of my life is taking me.  I have another chance...

August 27, 2013


I've always loved shopping, especially during our travels because it's part of the experience.  To me, clothes, shoes, and jewelry are great souvenirs. I'm not talking about the "I love NY" t-shirts or the mass produced "made in china" crap you can usually find at the tourist trap stores. I really try to find locally made products that are unique to the destination.

However, shopping in my newly adapted home can be daunting. Trying to figure out where to buy your toiletries, lamps, electronics, etc. are hit or miss. There are no one stop shops here, which can be a blessing. Back stateside, you couldn't come out of Target spending less than $50. Trust me, I've tried on many occasions. Clothes shopping here in Austria can be a nightmare too. The "cheap" stuff just looks and feels cheap and you don't know if you are really getting quality or ripped off by opting for the more expensive stuff. That really doesn't surprise us, because a few European friends already warned us about that.

We are so happy to have taken the advice of friends that have been living here already, before making our move to Austria. They told us things to stock up on that we would have never thought of otherwise.  We were laughed at by family and friends for making several Costco, Target, Home Goods, and TJ Maxx runs.  Our reasoning for the "apocalyptic madness"? We had room in our shipments, we already know the quality of what we'd be getting, and to have comforts of home for a little while longer. And boy are we glad we did! It was already hectic as it was when we first got here, that the last thing on our minds was to go shopping for anything.

Shopping was, and still is, my favorite pastime; although it remains dormant here in Austria. Thank goodness for our trip to Taiwan and home leave.  I'm sure I will go a little crazy stocking up on clothes/shoes and hard to get products!

August 22, 2013

Throwback Thursdays: Weddings

2008 was the year of weddings amongst our friends. We attended six weddings that year. We traveled for two and the others were in Maryland. I personally LOVE weddings. There's just something about witnessing the joys of two families coming together as one. The reaction on the groom's face as his bride walks towards him always gets my waterworks going. It was truly a beautiful year full of so much love that we will never forget. And gosh darn it, we looked so young!

What an amazing bunch of friends that we miss dearly!

August 21, 2013

Winter is coming...

I am not about to write a whole post on "Games of Thrones", if that's what your thinking. Although I  am going through a little bit of withdrawal, but that's another discussion. Toward the end of July, I noticed a store, equivalent to a Macy's back stateside, roll out their outerwear collection. Tonight, I saw a few window displays like the one below...

see all the other "puffy" jackets on the racks?

With all the polar extremes that we've experienced while living here and seeing jackets on everyone in 70 degree weather, I wouldn't be surprised that winter is indeed coming (soonish).

August 20, 2013


The Viennese love their "ice cream". Without A/C, it's a delightful reprieve for anyone.  When you're walking the streets of the 1st district, every other person is enjoying a cone or cup. There's always a queue at the popular "eissalons".  Here, there's no such thing as what we Americans call ice cream, it's almost all gelato or sorbet. What's the difference you ask? Gelato has less fat and air churned into it and uses more milk than cream. That makes me feel a little better for our (multiple) weekend indulgences of this delicious treat.

We found this "old school" gelato parlour in the 10th district. I especially love the cute uniforms and diner-like setting. It has A/C too, which is a big plus!

We also discovered St. Anton Church around the corner. The facade is gorgeous, but were disappointed with the more "modern" interior. It's because this church was bombed twice in WWII and when it was rebuilt, they left it white due to the lack of funds.

              Right outside of the church, you can see old tram/train tracks that are no longer in use.

August 18, 2013


I never thought of myself as a great writer. It always took me a great deal of time to write papers in school. Will my writing style captivate my audience? Am I as witty as other expat bloggers? So it was natural that I felt apprehensive to start a blog and write about our adventures abroad. However, I got over that fear quickly and continue to truck along. My initial motivation for this was to have a "forever journal" of our experiences and to connect our family and friends to what we are up to.

And as I sit here writing my 100th post, it's been more than that for me. It has encouraged me to learn new things, help me grow in many ways, and let me relive the experiences as I document our adventures for interested readers. Not to mention, it keeps my writing skills in check. Since living here, I feel like my vocabulary has been dwindling and sometimes I forget words here and there. It's a commonality amongst us expats, especially when residing in a country that English is not the spoken tongue.

Thank you to all my loyal readers and continued support throughout our crazy adventures.  And if there's any other topics I haven't covered yet, I would love to hear suggestions!

Here's to another 100 posts!

August 14, 2013

Amsterdam (Part Three): Culinary Delights, Windmills, Clog making, and more

People have commented that our travels revolve around food a lot. Some of our best travel memories stem from food. We don't necessarily consider ourselves food snobs, but we do gravitate towards more complex flavors and aesthetically pleasing plating. And to us, food plays a huge part in learning new cultures. Our trip to Amsterdam was no exception. We had an array of cuisines-even had Indonesian for the first time. Did you know that Indonesia was formally a Dutch colony? The influence is still around with many of its restaurants dotted around town.

Lobster flown in daily from Nova Scotia- closest I will get to Maine Lobster, YES PLEASE!

Don't get me wrong, I love European pastries but sometimes I just miss the buttery and fluffy American style cupcake. We found a cute little place that does just that with a Dutch twist. Super yummy!

Indonesian Rice Table- we got to try 25 different dishes

In between eating our way through Amsterdam, we did a half day trip to Zaanse Schans. It's a small little village just outside of the city. The village is famous for their working windmills and other Dutch traditions like wooden clog making. Sure, it's touristy but lots of fun.

video of the inside the oil windmill that was built even before the United States was formed!

Wall of clogs! And yes, we did bring home two pairs.

And to wrap up our trip, here are some other random things I saw around town.

Hobbit-sized doors all over the city.

LOVED the bicycle traffic lights!

Pedal-powered drinking bus (apparently, these are popular in Europe-we've seen them in London and Budapest also).

See the hooks on each house? That is there for moving purposes. Since the stairs are very narrow and steep, it would be impossible to move furniture or anything bulky from inside of the homes.

August 13, 2013

Amsterdam (Part Two): Red Light District

I'm not going to lie, the Red Light District shocked me to the core. The ladies in the windows were expected, but not the insane amount of sex toy shops with things that make you go " Who the heck came up with that idea?!?!". It was an adult playground. The streets were lined with sex shops and the famous so-called "coffee" shops- that don't serve coffee. The air smelled of weed. It was definitely a (no pun intended) over-stimulating experience.

I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of the "crazier" things we saw, so the ones below will have to do and the rest I'll leave to your imagination.