What to Do When You Are Spending the Holidays Away From Home

What to Do When You Are Spending the Holidays Away From Home

This year I will spend the holidays away from home for the first time! My whole family is together on Thanksgiving and on Christmas so it will be really different for me. I am thankful though that I do get to experience a new culture. And I will also be in France, so no complaints here 😉

Since I have already spent Thanksgiving away from home and Christmas is coming up I thought I would share what you can do when you are spending the holidays away from home!

Share Your Traditions

Thanksgiving is only celebrated in the U.S. so I knew coming that I wouldn’t be celebrating it. Luckily though my host family said they would love to celebrate it with me. They invited some friends over and I was able to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal for them. We also went around the table and said something that we are thankful for. Everyone loved the meal and the celebration and it was awesome for me to share a part of my culture with them!

Create New Traditions

If you are staying were you are for a while try creating new traditions that will keep you excited about celebrating the holidays! Even if you are not staying for a while in that location it could be fun to start a tradition that you can bring home.

Celebrate the Holidays Like Locals

If you get the chance, you could also celebrate the holidays like the locals do! Doing this you can also learn more about their culture. And as said above you can create a new tradition.

Find a Group to Celebrate With

If you came alone and are worried about spending the holidays alone start looking for groups to spend them with. Join Facebook groups for travelers or for example I’m a part of “Americans in Tampere.” So look for groups like that. There were people in the group offering to celebrate Thanksgiving with each other. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make the first move either!

Take a Trip

Maybe none of the above appeal to you and you want to do something different. Take a trip over the holidays to make them exciting!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday celebration!

How do you celebrate holidays when you are away from home?

 

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How to Stay in Shape While Living Abroad (or try to)

How to Stay in Shape When Living Abroad (or try to)

To me, living in Finland is like living in a candy land. Most likely because it is a new environment all they food and especially the deserts sound exciting. Meaning I have to try them! Also since I travel I need to try other countries local food and deserts too, right?! And then that’s how you get into trouble.

So how do you stay in shape while living abroad?!

Walking

I don’t really have a choice on this most of the time. I have to walk or take the bus places I need to go. When I take or pick up the kids from school I have to walk also (and up and down stairs). This helps me burn an extra 100-200 calories depending where I’m walking. I think walking has really saved me from gaining weight since I’ve been here.

Join a Gym

If you’re like me and only staying in a country for a certain amount of time go to a local gym and talk to them about what they can do for you! I went in to the local gym and was able to get a shortened contract and found out more about the packages they have. This gym has a discounted rate if you only come in before 3pm, which is perfect for my schedule. The trick though about joining a gym is to actually go 😉

Balanced Eating

I love food and deserts so I don’t see a point in not enjoying them. But I do know that I need balance. I can’t only eat junk all the time because I won’t feel good or look good. If I know I’m going on a trip I try and eat extra well before and also try and eat some healthy things while traveling.

Water

This is probably one of the hardest things for me. I really only drink water, coffee, tea, and wine but I’m not a thirsty person. I really don’t know why but I rarely feel thirsty or like I need to drink something. So I usually have to actually think about drinking water.

Find a Hobby

If you don’t like going to the gym find a hobby or sport you like! This will keep you moving and also help you meet new people.

Staying in shape can be hard at times when living abroad, but remember to enjoy your time abroad and that it is more important to be healthy!

What’s your favorite way to stay in shape?

 

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The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

How did I not know Christmas markets were a thing?

I’m being serious, I really did not realize they existed until I came to Finland. My first experience was in Copenhagen and I can’t get enough of them. I ate basically the whole day just from the market. The markets in Copenhagen had sausages, waffles on a stick, churros, mulled wine, and so much more. I love food so I was in heaven!

I have not been to all of these, but they are on my list! Here are the best Christmas markets in Europe!

Munich, German

Christmas markets are a big deal in Germany! Some other markets to check out are in Cologne and Berlin. These markets are voted some of the best and definitely on my list to visit!

Vienna, Austria

This Christmas markets has over 150 stands for visitors to visit!

Strasbourg, France

They call themselves the capital of Christmas markets. Strasbourg is said to start the tradition in 1571. This year I will be able to visit and very excited to see where it all started!

Stockholm, Sweden

This market has smoked reindeer or elk meat!

Copenhagen, Denmark

I can say that Christmas in Copenhagen is beautiful! Tivoli gardens is decked out in all the Christmas things and there is delicious food to eat. Food is high on my priority list of things a market should have 😉

Tallin, Estonia

Tallin old city is like stepping into a fairy tale. I’m sure in the winter it is even more beautiful.

Copenhagen Christas Market

Where is your favorite Christmas market?

 

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Gift Ideas for the Person Who is Always Traveling

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Gift Ideas for the Person Who is Always Traveling

Not sure what to get that person in your life that is always traveling?

I’m sharing a list of items that are perfect for that person who is always going on an adventure!

Luggage Tags

 

These cute luggage tags are the perfect gift for any traveler!

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Adapter

 

 

An adapter that is comparable for multiple countries is a great gift for the new traveler!

 

 

 

 

Anything from Jet Set Candy

 

 

 

Jet Set Candy is travel jewelry heaven! They have destination baggage tag necklaces, rings, and so many other things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekender Bag

 

 

Weekender bags are perfect because they fit in the over-head compartments and are also super easy to carry!

 

 

 

 

 

Water Bottle

 

While traveling a water bottle is a life saver! You don’t have to spend money on buying water and you help lessen plastic waste. I like this water bottle with a filter because you never know where you will have to get your water from!

 

 

 

 

Pay for Their Hostel or Train

If this person is traveling soon offer to pay for their hostel or maybe train ticket if they are taking one! Hostel and trains or metros are cheap, but they do add up and would free up some of their money.

 

What is your favorite travel gift?

 

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What to Do When You Want to Change Your Host Family

What to Do When You Want to Change Your Host Family

Things not going well with your host family?

Luckily, you’re not the only one who is feeling this! Before becoming an au pair I didn’t realize how many people change their host family. I knew there were the stories of the horrible families, but I just assumed they were stuck unless they went home. But it turns out you can change your host family!

This may depend on the country and your nationality, but it actually seems pretty easy! So what do you do when you want to change your host family?

Give it Time

If you just arrived, I would say give it time. Maybe you and the family need time to adjust and it just needs time. But after three months things still don’t feel right then it’s time to move on.

Talk to Your Host Family

If you are having a rocky start, you can also try to talk to your host family about how you are feeling. If you don’t say anything they will never know there is a problem. You may feel awkward saying anything, but it may make all the difference if you do!

Stay an Au Pair or Go Home

Now, you’ve given it time and even tried talking to your host family but things are still not good. So now you need to make the decision if you want to stay an au pair or to go home. Maybe being an au pair is not right for you and that’s okay! You need to do what is right for you!

Do Your Research

In Finland you can change a family pretty easily. Your new family will just need to go to the tax office and let them know. But this can be different for each country. Please research or talk to others who have made a change to make sure what you are doing is legal! If you want to go to a different country you may need to apply for a different visa depending on how long you are staying, so this is something you need to keep in mind.

Start Your Search

There are different websites you can find families. I personally like Au Pair World. It is super easy to search families and message them! When you are finding a family make sure you ask a lot of questions so you will get a better fit.

Inform Your Host Family

I think giving your host family at least a months notice is considerate so they can find a new au pair. This may be hard and awkward to do, but there is no need staying in a situation you are not happy in!

If you are not happy with your host family, I hope you will find a better fit!

Have you changed your host family? What did you do to change?

 

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Celebrating 100 Years of Freedom in Finland

Celebrating 100 Years of Freedom in Finland

This year Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence!

Before coming, I had no idea what their history was or who they gained independence from. On December 6, 1917 they officially became on independent state from the Russian Republic.

Finland was part of Sweden for over 600 years, but during this time Sweden and Russia fought over the land. In 1809 Finland was officially part of Russia after they won the war against Sweden.

When World War I was almost over, Finland separated itself from Russia after the Parliament accepted the declaration of independence. This then made them an independent country.

If you would like to read more about Finland and their history, you can go HERE where I found this information!

100 Years Celebration

I was able to celebrate the 100 years in Helsinki, the capital. There were so many activities! The celebration started on December 5th and continued until the 6th. The whole market square was filled with people and the national flag.

This years theme is ‘together’ to celebrate the country as a whole community. The Suomi 100 official website encourages Finns to go and do something big or small to contribute to their community.

The Suomi 100 official website states, “The centenary of Finland’s independence in 2017 will be the most significant commemorative year for this generation of Finns. The centenary emphasises Finland’s strengths, such as equality and democracy by offering Finns and friends of Finland diverse and international centenary programme in Finland and abroad. The centenary year provides opportunities to better understand the past, experience the jubilee together and set the course for Finland’s future success” (suomifinland100.fi). This statement really shows how they feel about this big event and how special it is for them!

 

I’m truly happy I was able to have this experience and learn about the country more!

Have you ever celebrated a holiday in another country? Tell me about it!

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What I Learned From Traveling Solo

What I Learned From Traveling Solo

If you told me a year ago, maybe even three months ago, that I would be traveling solo I don’t think I would believe you. Before I came I think I had it in my mind that there would be so many other people that would travel with me. While it is true that there are people here that want to travel, sometimes times and places don’t work out. So instead of not going, I decided I was still going to travel. And I’m so happy I decided to do that! So if you’re thinking of taking a trip by yourself and not sure, here are some things I have learned from traveling solo 🙂

You can navigate a city all by yourself

I think this is one of the things that worried me the most. Not knowing where I’m going and not able to speak the language. Figuring out the public transportation or getting to and from the airport. Maps on iPhone has saved my life, but I did it! First I usually figure out the way I should be walking and then start walking. That way I don’t look at my phone a lot so people don’t think that I’m a tourist. I guess I’m pretty good at it because every time I’ve traveled someone has asked me for directions because they think that I’m a local! I then have to admit that I have no idea where I’m going also 😉

Having meals alone isn’t that bad

We also picture in our minds this image of people eating alone as sad, but really it’s not. I bring a book or sit at the bar. When you sit at the bar you can usually meet other people there too.

You don’t get as lonely as you think

Honestly by the time the day is over I’m just ready to go to bed than socialize with people! When you are traveling you are probably going to be sight-seeing all day which means you will get tired by the time night comes. But, if you still want to go out, reach out to the people in your hostel or the front desk to see of any bar crawls going on.

You’ll be happy you didn’t miss out on seeing a new city!

I think this is the biggest one. I’m always so happy that I got to see a new city and experience everything about it. What if I didn’t go just because I was going alone, I would have never got to experience it. So lesson of the story is- GO FOR IT!

If you’re interested in seeing my two trips (so far) that I went solo you can read them: HERE(Prague) and HERE(Copenhagen).

Have you ever traveled alone? What was your experience or favorite thing?

 

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6 Beauty Products I Can’t Travel Without

6 Beauty Products I Can't Travel Without

Makeup and traveling is tricky. You wan’t to bring everything, but you don’t have room and sometimes you don’t even end up wearing it. After taking some weekend trips I have figured out the products I can’t travel without! These are my go-to things and are also super easy.

6 Beauty Products I Can’t Travel Without

  1. Concealer: I really like Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. It is thick and covers what you need it to without being too much! Usually I will just wear concealer and not any other face makeup.
  2. Sunscreen: Lately I have really been into sunscreen. I have come to realize that being wrinkle and cancer-free is much more important than tan! I mix sunscreen and my coconut oil moisturizer together in the morning. I currently us ACO sun face fluid that is also mattifying.
  3. Mascara: My favorite all time mascara is Better Than Sex by Too Faced!
  4. Wave Spray: I love love love OUIA products and especially their wave spray. I once got a sample of it and fell in love! It isn’t too heavy and is a super easy way to get beach waves without the beach.
  5. ColorPop Ultra Blotted Lip: When matte lipstick came out I was allll about it, and I still am! I am the type of person to mess with my lipstick until it comes off, but with matte lipstick I leave it alone. I love this color, Zuma, it is a perfect daytime lip color that goes with everything.
  6. ColorPop Blotted Lip: In Sucker and it’s a color that I love. This is a light red/orange that adds a little brightness to your lips!

My daily makeup routine is super simple and easy so it makes it easier to pack and go!

What are your favorite travel beauty products?

 

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Three Things You Should Know Before Traveling Abroad

Three Things You Should Know Before Traveling Abroad

I remember stepping off of the metro into Barcelona like it was yesterday. It was a completely different world that we had never been exposed to before. Your first time abroad you make mistakes and learn a lot! Every country is different and it’s important to remember that. Just because it’s not the way you do it, doesn’t make it wrong- just different. I see a lot of people who have never been to another country not realize that things can be done in completely different ways, that’s why I think traveling is important. You learn so much.

I could honestly go on about that forever, so here are three things you should know before you travel abroad!

Food Customs

This is one that I see surprises a lot of people. In Europe and other countries as well, they eat different things for breakfast. For example for breakfast in Europe you will most likely find a spread of bread, cheese, meats, and vegetables. This may seem really weird at first, but trust me it will grow on you! Go ahead and grab some bread, butter, add cheese, and put your favorite veggies on top and enjoy! Trust me, you’ll wonder why this isn’t a thing in America.

Some countries also eat dinner at different times. This really varies country to country. In Spain you most likely will find that restaurants are closed in the afternoon for “siestas” and then not open again until dinner. But dinner for them usually starts at 7-8pm, or even later.

The way you eat may also be different. In some Middle Eastern countries you should not eat with a certain hand. In some countries, like France, you will notice they even eat pizza with a fork or knife.

Garbage disposals are also not a thing. So save yourself the time ( getting grossed out touching wet food) and make sure all your food is in the trash or recycling before you rinse your plate.

Bathrooms

I think this one is also something that is really different for some people. In Europe you will find that the bathrooms are smaller, sometimes are separate rooms for a toilet and then the sink and shower, the sinks are super tiny, and the toilets are not filled with water. To flush the toilet you also have to hold down a button depending on what business you did; this changes the amount of water used.

In many countries to use public bathrooms you need to pay to enter. If you plan on exploring the city a lot be prepared and bring coins or plan your bathroom visits around meals.

Some countries may also have bathrooms that are really just holes in the ground. For these you need to learn to master the “squat.”

Because water prices may be high, remember to keep your showers shorter than you normally would while at your own home. The water may not be as hot, so that may encourage shorter showers 😉

Social Customs

I’m sure you have heard someone in your life say “the people in blah blah country were so rude.” While to you they may be “rude” because they are not as outgoing, to them this is very normal. Waiters will not check on you every second (and yes you need to ask for the check, yes it will be weird at first), people will be direct about how they feel, and people won’t smile at you on the street. While this is not true for everyone, it’s just an overall generalization of what to expect. I’ve had really friendly waiters and also locals who have talked to me and were really outgoing, but not everyone.

I think the most important thing is to remember what I said at the beginning, just because it’s not how you do it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. That’s what makes this world so amazing is that we are all so diverse. Traveling wouldn’t be fun if we were all the same!

Wherever you’re going I hope you have a blast!

 

Where was or is your first trip abroad? What surprised you the most?

 

 

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Three Things I Am Thankful For This Year

Three Things I Am Thankful For This Year

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the States! While I am sad I am not able to celebrate today with my family, I am however celebrating tomorrow with my host family. They suggested celebrating and inviting friends over, which made me pretty happy I will still get to enjoy the food!

Recently I was listening to a podcast where the speaker said that each day at dinner that the whole family said three things they were grateful for that day. They wanted to instill in their children a lesson on being thankful/grateful. The speaker went on to state that this also had an effect on him and his wife. Because they had to say three things each day, they were forced to look deeper on things they are grateful for. He stated that simple things like toilet paper were things that his children would say they were thankful for. You never know how thankful you are for toilet paper until you don’t have it when you need it.

With this in mind it made me look at my own life and how thankful I am. While today I am sharing with you three things I am thankful for, I am also challenging you to find three things you are thankful for each day until Christmas. I created a five week (also what? There are only five weeks until Christmas?) Grateful Journal for us to log what we are grateful for each day. But first, here are three things I am thankful for!

All the Opportunities I Have Been Given

This year I graduated college and also moved to Finland. While I am swimming in student loans, I have to remind myself that only 40 percent of the U.S. has a college degree. I am lucky enough to be one of those people.

Since I am living in another country I have the opportunity to learn about a different culture and also travel. This is something that some may never get the chance to do.

Family and Friends

My family is close and supportive. I am very thankful for that.

I have amazing friends who are supportive, but also some of the most driven and intelligent women that I know. They push me to be the best I can be.

Diversity in the World

I love that the world is so diverse. From the different climates, cities, and the people who live in them; I love how different it can be. While “different” might be weird to some, it’s one of my favorite things.

 

What are you thankful for this year?

If you are up for my “Grateful Challenge” and want to join me on listing three things you are grateful for each day, download your Grateful Journal here:

Grateful Journal

 

 

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