Change is Imminent … You Ready Espana?!

So if you still haven’t figured it out…SPAIN, are you ready?! I have been contemplating this change for the past 12 months and preparing for this trip for the past 6, and am finally here. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEE!! The feelings stirring in me leading up to the trip were unexplainable. Now that I am here, I think I can express what exactly I was thinking and feeling. If you have traveled in the past and had to plan ahead (such as obtaining a visa and foreign drivers license), I know you can relate. Though this is not the first time I have traveled or obtained a visa, this time around, getting my visa was probably one of the hardest and most frustrating processes I’ve ever had to endure in my life. Not to mention that the Consulate didn’t completely shut my USPS envelope when returning my passport to me, so it could’ve fell out or USPS could’ve accessed my personal information. I’ve been told that I am not the only person who has dealt with this ridiculousness. But thank goodness I did indeed receive my passport, with my visa properly inserted, and in 3 weeks from my appointment. Check out my post “Preparing to Enter a Foreign Country” and GOOD LUCK!! Do not sleep on the visa process. And do your best not to procrastinate or try to travel with little time to prepare. You always want to make sure your business is handled at home, and you have somewhere to go when you reach your destination. And don’t forget SAFETY!! Initial fears and anxieties were also a dominant memory. First, I of course was worried that I wouldn’t be able to afford the trip. But with help from student loans and having saved up before I lost my job, I was able to make it work. I promised myself that I wouldn’t make this type of decision with less than $2000 left in my bank account AFTER I paid for all of my expenses and considered the expenses I’d have once in a new country. Secondly, I worried about not receiving my visa at the time that I expected, or at all. I just felt like, what if I am the person who gets declined. So glad that wasn’t the case. Next, my loved ones. I was so afraid to leave my family (and friends). They have been my support system and my reason for pushing myself to be something worth recognizing and celebrating. But with their unconditional love and support, they made me feel comfortable enough in my decision. Last, I had anxieties about standing out too much and not being able to fit in with a foreign culture. I worried about cultural barriers and not having too much knowledge about the Spanish language and culture. I was afraid that I’d be judged or unwanted. And I know these fears were kind of melodramatic because my research has shown me that Americans are welcomed and the Spanish are understanding to our lack of language proficiency and cultural experiences. But when you are moving somewhere, alone, and without any resources or contacts, such fears are bound to creep in. As for packing, I was able to put my life into 3 large suitcases (no more than 50 lbs). I double-checked everything, making sure I had outfits for every occasion (including for interviews/work), and ensuring that I had all of my proper identification and documentation in case any emergencies arose. Don’t forget leaving a copy of everything with a close family member (or friend) or 2 in case of emergencies. So after I handled everything I needed to get done. After I said my goodbyes to my family and friends. It was time for me to embrace the change of pace and place that was about to take place. And I surely did. After I let go of all of my worries and reservations, I was able to enjoy what was about to happen to me. Of course you get those jitters. A bit of bubble guts. But all good feelings of faith, hope, excitement, and determination. As I waited to board the plane, Iberia Airlines, I recited the prayer of serenity in my head. I asked God to surround me and all the others boarding the flight with me. I asked Him to bless the Captains and stewards. I found my seat (next to the window of course), placed my bag in the overhead, and as a tear (I’m assuming of joy) fell from my eye, I smiled. I got adjusted, popped in my ear phones on the plane, and touched down in Madrid in no time (7 hours). One of the longest, but best flights ever. And maybe one of the best because I was mentally prepared for a great start to a wonderfully new journey in my life. I am looking forward to the wonderful people I will get to meet. I am looking forward to finally learning Spanish and experiencing the Spanish culture. I am looking forward to strengthening my core both mentally and physically. But most importantly, I am looking forward to doing something positive for others. I am not exactly sure how I will fulfill these dreams and accomplish all of these goals (meaning I have not planned what places I will visit, which restaurants I will eat in, what hostels I will get to visit, which organizations I will reach out to in order to help others), but I am dedicated to making this experience one of the most empowering experiences that I have ever had the opportunity to dream of, let alone live.

Stay tuned. I will be posting pictures once I get acclimated and settled. How are your new traveling experiences going? Any main concerns before you left for your journey? Do Tell Nicola…

Preparing to Interact Socially in French

1) French Culture and Traditions:

  • La Sieste
  • Walk Like a Parisian
  • Expats in France
  • Meeting/Dining/Business Etiquette = When introduced, the common thing to do is shake hands. Once established, an air-kiss on both checks for both genders (starting with the left). You are expected to say ‘bonjour’ or ‘bonsoir’ with the honorific title Monsieur (i.e. Mr.) or Madame (i.e. Mrs.) when entering a shop and ‘au revoir’ when leaving. If you live in an apartment building, it is polite to greet your neighbors with the same appellation. Also, wait until invited to move on to the 1st name basis. If invited to an Italian’s home, arrive on time. Feel encouraged to bring the highest quality bottle of wine that you can afford. If you choose to send flowers (no chrysanthemums, red carnations, or white since they are typically used for weddings), give them in odd numbers, but never 13. If you do not want more wine, leave your glass nearly full. When doing business, if you do not speak French, learn a few key phrases, and provide an apology for not knowing their language may aid in developing a relationship. Do not try to schedule meetings during July or August, as this is a common vacation period. This can be solely a perception/opinion, but it has been said that the French do not appreciate hyperbole, so avoid exaggerated claims.

2) Useful French Words & Phrases for Travelers:

  • Thank you.
 = Merci
  • Good Morning/Good Day/Hello!
  • Good evening!
  • Fine. =Bien.
  • Very well.
 =Très bien.
  • So-so.
 =Comme ci, comme ça.
  • What’s your name?
 =Comment vous appelez-vous?
  • My name is…
 =Je m’appelle…
  • It’s nice to meet you.
  • Good bye =Au revoir.
  • See you soon.
 =A bientôt.
  • Good night =Bonne nuit.
  • Where do you live?
 =Où habitez-vous?
  • I live in…
 =J’habite à…
  • Thank you very much.
 =Merci beaucoup.
  • You’re welcome.
 =De rien.
  • Please =S’il vous plaît.
  • Yes
  • No
  • Sorry or Excuse me.
  • Pardon me.
 = Pardon
  • I don’t understand.
 =Je ne comprends pas.
  • I don’t speak French.
 =Je ne parle pas français.
  • I don’t speak French very well.
 =Je ne parle pas très bien français.
  • Do you speak English?
 =Parlez-vous anglais?
  • Could you speak more slowly, please?
 =Pourriez-vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous plaît?
  • Could you repeat (that), please?
 =Pourriez-vous répéter, s’il vous plaît?
  • What’s your name?
 =Comment vous appelez-vous?
  • How are you?
 =Comment allez-vous?
  • Where is the subway?
 =Où est le métro?
  • Is the tip included?
 =Est-ce que le service est compris?
  • How much does that cost?
 =Combien ça coûte?
  • Is there a public phone here?
 =Y a-t-il un téléphone public ici?
  • Can I get on the internet?
 =Puis-je me connecter à l’Internet?
  • Can you help me, please?
 =Pouvez-vous m’aider, s’il vous plaît?
  • Where is the bathroom?
 =Où sont les toilettes?mio amico/la mia amica.
  • Where is there a good restaurant?
 =Où y-a-t-il un bon restaurant?
  • A table for two, please.
 =Une table pour deux, s’il vous plaît.
  • The menu, please.
 =Le menu, s’il vous plaît.
  • The wine list, please.
 =La carte des vins, s’il vous plaît.
  • A glass of water, please.
 =Un verre d’eau, s’il vous plaît.
  • Do you have vegetarian dishes?
 =Avez-vous des plats végétariens?
  • That’s all.
 =C’est tout.
  • The check, please.
 =L’addition, s’il vous plaît.
  • Is the tip included?
 =Est-ce que le service est compris?
  • Enjoy the meal!
 =Bon appétit!
  • To your health!
 =A la vôtre!
  • It’s delicious!
 =C’est délicieux!
  • a bottle of wine
 =une bouteille de vin
  • I like my steak rare/medium/well-done.
 =J’aime mon steak saignant/à point/bien cuit.
  • Another, please.
 =Un autre, s’il vous plaît. (masculine)/Une autre, s’il vous plaît. (feminine)
  • More, please.
 =Encore, s’il vous plaît.
  • Pass the… please.
 =Passez-moi le…, s’il vous plaît.

Stay tuned… I will add more to this post, and will provide future posts for other countries/cultures. If you have any area preferences or questions, please ask in comment section below.

Please also see tips on entering a foreign country. Gracias!

Preparing to Interact Socially in Italian

1) Italian Culture and Traditions:

  • Riposo = Ranging between the hours of 12-4pm, Italy shuts down to allow the locals to rest after a long and hectic morning, and they prepare for the busy afternoon. Riposo takes place in a comfortable place, such as the bed or sofa, where one can take a peaceful, undisturbed nap, after having a good and long lunch with friends or family.
  • Cicchetti/Stuzzichini = These snacks, usually in the form of finger foods, (or tapas) originated in Spain, but are common in many countries. They are also known to Italian Americans as antipasti.
  • Meeting/Dining/Business Etiquette = When introduced, the proper thing to do is shake hands with direct eye contact and a smile. Italians use calling cards that exhibit name, address, title/academic honors, and telephone number, in place of the slightly smaller business cards, in social settings. Once established, an air-kiss on both checks for both genders (starting with the left), along with a pat on the back for the men. Also, wait until invited to move on to the 1st name basis. If invited to an Italian’s home, feel encouraged to bring a gift-wrapped (not in black or purple) bottle of good vintage wine or chocolates. If you choose to send flowers (not chrysanthemums, or red/yellow), have them delivered the same day. If you do not want more wine, leave your glass nearly full. When doing business, allow sufficient time for letting new colleagues get to know you (your 1st ‘business meeting’ may consist of a personal discussion before any business begins). Face-to-face contact is preferred to telephone/written communication. This can be solely a perception/opinion, but it has been said that Italians are expressive communicators, being emotional, wordy, eloquent and demonstrative.

2) Useful Italian Words & Phrases for Travelers:

  • Hello!
 = Ciao!/Salve!
  • Good morning!
 =Buon giorno!
  • Good day!
 =Buon pomeriggio!
  • Good evening!
 =Buona sera!
  • How are you?
 =Come va?
  • Fine.
  • Very well.
 =Molto bene.
  • So-so.
 =Così così.
  • What’s your name?
 =Come si chiama?
  • My name is…
 =Mi chiamo…
  • It’s nice to meet you.
 =Piacere (di conoscerla).
  • Goodbye. =Arrivederla/ci.
  • See you soon.
 =A presto!
  • Goodnight. =Buona notte!
  • Thank you.
  • Thank you very much.
 =Grazie tante.
  • You’re welcome.
  • Please. =Per favore.
  • Yes. =Sì.
  • No. =No.
  • Excuse me.
 =Mi scusi.
  • I’m sorry.
 =Mi dispiace.
  • I don’t understand.
 =Non capisco.
  • I don’t speak Italian.
 =Non parlo italiano.
  • I don’t speak Italian very well.
 =Non parlo molto bene italiano.
  • Do you speak English?
 =Parla inglese?
  • Speak slowly, please.
 =Parli piano, per favore.
  • Repeat, please.
 =Ripeta, per favore.
  • What’s your name?
 =Come si chiama?
  • How are you?
 =Come va?
  • Do you speak English?
 =Parla inglese?
  • Where is the subway?
 =Dov’è la metropolitana?
  • Is the tip included?
 =Il servizio è incluso?
  • How much does that cost? (singular-sg./plural-pl.)
 =Quanto costa/costano?
  • Is there a public phone here?
 =C’è un telefono pubblico vicino?
  • Can I get on the internet?
 =Posso collegarmi con internet?
  • Can you help me?
 =Mi può aiutare?
  • Where is the bathroom?
 =Dov’è la toilette?
  • Where do you live? (singular/plural)
 =Dove abiti/abitate?
  • I live in… = Abito a…
  • This is my friend. (masculine/feminine)
 =Ti presento il mio amico/la mia amica.
  • This is my boyfriend.
 =Questo è il mio ragazzo.
  • This is my girlfriend.
 =Questa è la mia ragazza.
  • This is my husband.
 =Questo è (il) mio marito.
  • This is my wife.
 =Questa è (la) mia moglie
  • Please visit me!
 =Vieni a trovarmi!
  • I had a wonderful time. (masculine/feminine)
 =Mi sono divertito/divertita.
  • Where is a good restaurant?
 =Dove si mangia bene?
  • A table for two, please.
 =Una tavola per due, per favore.
  • The menu, please.
 =Il menu, per favore.
  • The wine list, please.
 =La lista dei vini, per favore.
  • I would like something to drink.
 =Vorrei qualcosa da bere.
  • A glass of water, please.
 =Una bottiglia d’acqua, per favore.
  • A cup of tea, please.
 =Una tazza di tè, per favore.
  • Do you have vegetarian dishes?
 =Avete dei piatti vegetariani?
  • That’s all.
 =Basta così.
  • The check, please.
 =Il conto, per favore.
  • To your health!
  • It’s delicious!
 =È delizioso.
  • I like my steak rare/medium/well done.
 =Preferisco la bistecca al sangue/cotta al punto giusto/ben cotta.
  • Another, please.
 =Un altro, per favore.
  • More, please.
 =Ancora un po’, per favore.

There are so many beautiful places in the world. But it is something about Italy. A must visit…ASAP!! Stay tuned… I will add more to this post, and will provide future posts for other cultures. If you have any area preferences or questions, please ask in comment section below. Please also see tips on entering a foreign country. Gracias!

I dedicate this post to Indeciso on my Advice page. Buona Fortuna!!

Preparing to Interact Socially in Spanish

I am a native English speaker. I use to know more Spanish and French when I was a child, but have lost the language due to lack of use. So I thought I’d provide some useful tools for when interacting with Spanish natives.

1) Spanish Culture and Traditions:

  • La Siesta = Between the hours of 2-5pm (or 14:00 a 17:00), Spain shuts down to allow the locals to rest after a long and hectic morning, and they prepare for the busy afternoon. La Siesta takes place in a comfortable place, such as the bed or sofa, where one can take a peaceful, undisturbed nap, after having a good and hefty lunch with friends or family.
  • Las Tapas = These snacks, usually in the form of finger foods (or canapés), originated in Spain. Tapas are served day in and day out in every bar in Spain. You can also find some restaurants in the United States (Spanish influenced or american) that serve Tapas (in place of ‘appetizers’) on their menu, and many other countries throughout the world. Tapas are incorporated into the days of Spanish natives, most specifically in Spain, to accommodate their long and frequent journeys from bar to bar (and alcoholic drink to drink)
  • Meeting/Dining/Business Etiquette (I chose Spain because it seems as though most, if not all, of Spanish traditions began in Spain; but for the most part, these customs can be transferred to other countries as I have been acquainted with them in the U.S.) = When introduced, the proper thing to do is shake hands. Once established, men might embrace, and perhaps use a two-handed shake where the left hand is placed on the right forearm of the other person (i.e. pat each other on the shoulder), and women might kiss on both checks (starting with the left). If invited to a Spaniard’s home, feel encouraged to bring chocolates/pastries/cakes, wine/liqueur/brandy, or flowers to the host(ess). If you know that the host(ess) has children and will be included for the evening, a nice small gift is always appreciated. When doing business, allow sufficient time for letting new colleagues get to know you (your 1st ‘business meeting’ may be completely formal, and no business will actually be discussed). Face-to-face contacts is preferred to telephone/written communication. This can be solely a perception/opinion, but it has been said that Spaniards do not enjoy admitting when they are incorrect, so tread lightly in encouraging confrontation.

2) Useful Spanish Words & Phrases for Travelers:

    • Hi = Hola
    • Yes = Si
    • No = No
    • Please = Por favor
    • How are you? = Cómo estas?
    • Nice to meet you = Mucho gusto
    • My name is… = Me llamo…
    • What’s your name? = ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal, or when you know the person) / ¿Cómo se llama Usted? (formal, or when you are new acquaintances)
      We’re from… England/Canada/the USA = Somos de… Inglaterra/Canadá/los Estados Unidos
    • I’m from… = Soy de…
    • Thank you = Gracias
    • Thank you very much = Muchas gracias
    • No, thanks = No, gracias
    • I don’t understand = No entiendo or No comprendo
    • I don’t speak Spanish = No hablo español
    • I speak a little Spanish = Yo hablo un paquito español
    • Good morning = Buenos dias
    • Good afternoon (used after 12:00 PM) = Buenas tardes
    • Good evening/Good night = Buenas noches
    • Do you speak English? = ¿Hablas ingles? (informal) / ¿Habla Usted ingles? (formal)
    • Nice to meet you = Mucho gusto
    • Excuse me… or Forgive me = .. or Pardóname
    • Where’s the bathroom? = ¿Dónde está el baño?
    • Of course = Por supuesto
    • I (don’t) like it = (No) me gusta
    • We like it = Nos gusta
    • At what time… = ¿A qué hora…
    • When… = ¿Cuándo…?
    • Why? = ¿Por qué?
    • Here = Aquí
    • Could you write it down, please? = ¿Lo podría escribir, por favor?
    • You’re welcome = De nada
    • This is for you = Esto es para tí (informal)/ Esto es para Usted (formal)
    • There’s a mistake… = Hay un error…
    • Now = Ahora
    • Today/tomorrow/next week = Hoy/mañana/la semana próxima
    • Help!/Stop!/Go away! = ¡Socorro!/¡Pare!/¡Váyase!
    • Where is….? = ¿Dónde está…?
    • Perfect = Perfecto
    • I don’t need that = No necesito eso
    • It’s too expensive = Es demasiado caro
    • How old are you? = ¿Cuántos años tienes (informal)/tiene (formal)?
    • How much is this? = ¿Cuánto cuesta esto…?
    • And that (one)? = ¿Y ese?
    • Could you repeat that, please? = ¿Podría repetirlo, por favor?
    • Do you have anything to drink? = ¿Tiene algo a tomar?
    • Is there a cafe near here? = ¿Hay un café/una cafetería cerca de aquí?
    • Can you recommend me a good vegetarian restaurant? = ¿Me puede recomendar un buen restaurante vegetariano?
    • Where is the nearest pastry shop? = ¿Dónde está la panadería mas cercana?
    • Where can you go for a cheap food? = ¿Dónde se puede comer barato?
    • What’s the local specialty? = ¿Qué es la comida típica en este región?

It’s crazy how much of the basics I have forgotten. I feel like a child, starting from scratch, learning a language for the 1st time.

But as you can see, there are links on all of my informational posts (see La Siesta, Las Tapas, Etiquette, etc.). If you have any trouble locating the links, let me know. Stay tuned… I will add more to this post, and will provide future posts for other cultures. If you have any area preferences or questions, please ask in comment section below. Buena Suerte!!

Please also see tips on entering a foreign country. Gracias!

Preparing to Enter A Foreign Country

So, as you know, I am from the United States. I have been out of the country before, but never for too long of a period of time (no more than 4 months at a time). While I intend to visit some places, both domestically and internationally, for a short amount of time just to take in the culture and to be inspired by my new surroundings, I am thinking that for other personally special locations (such as Africa and Japan), 90 days just won’t be enough.

In order to travel to a foreign country (for 3 months or less), of course you need the obvious Passport. But if you are planning to travel for a period longer than 3 months (or 90 days), you must obtain a long-term/stay travel visa. The longer you want to stay in another country, the more difficult the process is, and the more barriers you will face when trying to obtain your visa. Now there are many types of travel visas, but I will shortly discuss the most common:

  • Residence – allows the holder to reside in place of travel without undertaking any type of work or professional activity; most commonly, applicants get married and attempt to apply for citizenship.
  • Student/Study – allows the holder to remain in place of travel in order to pursue courses, studies, research or training programs; this visa requires that you choose a foreign institution and enroll in your classes and make an advance FULL PAYMENT. Students who are studying for more than 180 days will be given a 90-day student visa to enter Spain, and once in Spain, the student must go to the nearest police station and “exchange” their 90-day visa for a residency permit.
  • Work/Professional – allows the holder to undertake work or professional activity; applicants must obtain a notification of work and residence permit approval in advance.
  • Au Pair – allows the holder to reside in place of travel with a host family, while caring for their children (in a nanny-like capacity) and being in pursuit of some sort of academic/research studies. Some countries do not recognize this visa and encourage you to consider applying for the study visa even if you choose to Au Pair for a host family.
  • Tourist/Transit/Business (typically short stay) – applicants should show proof of a round trip airline ticket PAID IN FULL, a detailed hotel reservation, most recent 3 bank statements, a major credit card and a statement exhibiting the designated card balance, and a letter from an employer exhibiting purpose of visit or an income tax return if you are self-employed.

Here are some major and useful tips:

  • Do your research. Based on your home country and the foreign country you intend to travel to, there are guidelines and regulations specific to every countries entry requirements. Do not hesitate to ask questions at the foreign countries’ consulates located in your home country. It is better to ask a question when you are unsure, than to guess and then walk into the Consulate on the day of your visa appointment and get turned away. Believe me…it’s an embarrassing and frustrating experience!!
  • For the most part, every long stay visa requires that you obtain a medical certificate (a document issued by your physician stating that you are in good health and not a threat to the public based on the 2005 World Health Organization). Here is an example for Spain:
  • Also, for long stay visas, all applicants (but don’t quote me on this as all countries have different requirements) must receive a livescan/DOJ clearance and Apostille/authentication. So you know how you get a livescan for your job in your home country? Think of applying for a visa like applying for a job. They want to know where you have been and if you are prone to stir up any trouble in THEIR country. So this step can be a stressfully long process. First, you have to go to a local facility that offers Livescan Fingerprinting. Make sure you use the correct document (Form BCIA 8016) based on the type of visa you are applying for. Then you wait about 1-2 weeks for your “results” to be mailed to you. Next, you email a copy of your results to ‘‘ (see Step#4), and wait about 1-2 weeks for them to mail you an official document with all the right signatures (from the Criminal Identification Specialist for the Attorney General). Now, you have to visit the Secretary of State (or you can mail, but I highly suggest you walk in and spare 1-2 hours of your day, versus waiting another 1-2 weeks for the document to be mailed back to you) to get your document notarized for authentication (aka an Apostille – and DO NOT remove staple as it breaks seal and makes the document invalid). And lastly, the document needs to be translated (I suggest searching for a foreign language translating notary) to the native language spoken in the country you intend to visit. So as you can see, this process can take up to 3-6 weeks, so do not procrastinate and do not sleep on how important this document is!!
  • You must also be able to prove that you can support yourself financially. So whether you have grants/scholarships/financial aid, or your host family provides you with a notarized letter stating that they will cover your room/board and any costs incurred from unforeseen emergencies that might occur, or you are able to prove the funds that are in your bank account. Either way, don’t think another country is going to welcome you with open arms as a drifter with no income and with intentions to stay longer than 90 days.
  • Visa Costs can rack up to about $255+ (depending on your home country and destination) = Livescan Fingerprint ($50) + SOS Certification/Apostille ($25) + Pre-Postage USPS Return Mailing Envelope for Passport ($20) + Visa Application Fee Money Order ($160)
  • Do exactly what it says on the visa requirements page for your chosen place of travel AND SOME!! And here is a helpful tip based on personal experience about a year ago… For some countries, it says that you cannot apply for visa more than 3-4 months before “date of departure” and no less than 1 month. But to them, “date of departure” may translate as “date that program/classes begin”. Can we all agree that “departure date” and “program date” are 2 completely different things? The reality is that everyone makes mistakes, but under these circumstances, rules are rules, and even if the Consulate does not display their information accurately, they cannot process your application and you will have to hope that another appointment is made available (which is very unlikely as appointments book up 3 months in advance). For more personal experiences, try searching for the Consulate you intend to apply on and check out reviews from other applicants.
  • Remember, you want to schedule your visa appointment 6-7 months (in advance) before you are expected to begin your work or study program. So if your job or classes begin in August, you want to schedule your April visa appointment in January.
  • Be warned that you may have all of your documentation (that you know of). But something may “go wrong” during your appointment, and you may be told that something is missing or you have “too many breaks” in your class schedule or your “employer” didn’t sign ALL the right documents. And you may go in thinking you were going to receive a 6 month visa and only get approved for 4. Keep this “worst case scenario theory” in mind before you make any life changing decisions (like renting your apartment out to someone else or spending money on expenses that are non-refundable) or make any big promises to individuals in your country of travel. But also, if the Consulate begins processing your application, they may take your payment and passport and instruct you to bring back any missing documents, and you will not need an appointment to return after they hold on to your passport. In this case, you just want to make sure you retrieve all the requested documents in time for them to mail your passport back to you in the expected 3-4 weeks. Just a heads up. Just want you to think smart and don’t set yourself up for disappointment. So just make sure you are thorough in all aspects.
  • Useful Sites for Travel Preparation:

Applying for a visa is a major process. Come on…think about it. Imagine when you are just trying to move to another state, you have to get a new I.D. and change your car plates and complete all types of documentation to show you are now a resident of another state in your own home country. So entering another country is 5 times the extreme. So do not take the process for granted. Do not underestimate how serious (some) other countries are about keeping you OUT of their country.

Set a goal. Do your research. Establish a plan. Consider your budget. And plan in advance. Change is already an overwhelming and scary thought in itself. So you want to pace yourself to ensure you are in good spirits and have high hopes (optimism) throughout the process.

If you have any visa questions please ask in the comment area below, as I have experience with multiple countries. And please share your experiences also. Unexpected experiences, such as my example in #6 above, are what people want and need to know.

Thank you for reading. I am looking forward to learning about your visa experiences.

ATENCIÓN: Por favor, utilice este enlace, Free Translation, para traducir mis posts. Una vez que usted visite el sitio traducción, se encuentra la “lengua” (con la imagen del mundo junto a él), en la parte superior derecha, para elegir el idioma que prefiera. Gracias.

Deciding when it’s Time for a Change of Pace and Place

Has someone close to you ever said something like, “When it’s the right time for a change, you’ll know. And no one will be able to tell you otherwise“?

For some, it is an inquisitive thought tickling those adventurous curiosities, anticipating the opportunity to live carelessly and vicariously through the eyes of your other (inner true) self, like the explorative kitten or baby impatiently waiting for something or someone new to see, taste, feel and experience, with no fears of consequences or shame. For many, this feeling can seem like an overwhelming cloud of sadness, anger, insecurities, and regret, weighing on you each day, telling you that the life you’re living isn’t really the one you were meant to live. And for those few others, who are blessed with the life-changing occurrence of discovering the magic bestowed within them the day they became a reality of existence. The thoughts, feelings and occurrences of change can come with notice or unexpectedly. It is up to you to determine if you will take heed to it’s advice…

The mysteriously colorful journey on the road to changing paces and places brings about the possibilities of the same change and evolution we all seek at one point or another. The change that will breed the opportunity for us to be someone else, live somewhere new, meet people (un)like ourselves, and set goals that we hope will bring about a life where the fears and consequences of sadness, anger, insecurity, pain, and regret cannot survive. Life is full of change, even though we may not even realize the change occurring because we are too consumed with our everyday struggles and lack of focus on achieving the life and potential that we were born to lead.

After making the decision to seek a change of pace, I can now admit that I am the woman who has had the young girl buried deep inside, banging (in)discretely, trying to break free and express myself for me, and not for who I thought I should be or who others expected me to be. I am the woman who has made countless (repetitive) mistakes due to carefree tendencies, growing pains, and just plain selfishness, rebellion, and ignorance. I am the woman who has been overwhelmed by sadness, anger, insecurities, and regret, thus enduring sleepless nights, choosing the wrong relationships, destroying sincere relationships, and losing myself altogether on my reckless journey to, what it seemed like, a depressive state of nowhere.

So because it seems as though my decisions led me to a place of isolation, loneliness, and despair (i.e. nowhere), it made the most sense to also seek a change of place. I know this might seem a little melodramatic, so please do not misconstrue. (Laugh out loud). For me personally, when you are stuck in a 9-5 job that you don’t enjoy. When you find yourself being unsure about who you can trust (because let’s face it…we live in a secular world with so many others going through “life”, looking out for themselves and doing their best to “survive”). When you haven’t reached the level of accomplishments and success that you have aspired to for so long. All of these disappointments and failures can lead one to a “depressive state of nowhere”.

Therefore, sometimes, when you are stuck in an “empty life” and this cycle of repetitive self-destruction, your body begins to slowly dissipate, your mind begins to wither, and your soul can no longer absorb the colors of life that we have been so fortunate to have at our fingertips. Have you ever just sat next to your window in the morning as the Sun began to bless us with its presence for the day, and noticed the colors in the sky and felt the warmth of the sun on your skin? Such beauties are wonders we tend to take for granted due to our blind inability to absorb the colors of gratitude, happiness, and life.

But again, please don’t misunderstand. I dare not promote the act of giving up or “running away”. I am encouraging the power of self-empowerment and personal growth. I am expressing that only you can determine the colors in your stars. If you stop, and take a second to really think about who you are and where you would like to be, versus what you haven’t done thus far to get to where you think you should already be, you will be able to see a little bit more clearly. Your own perception of yourself is bound to become a little less blurred. You will be able to recognize that sometimes you have to step away, reboot, and then return to the healthy aspects of your life (such as a supportive family, real and loyal friends, and a good job, that hopefully you can come to adore and enjoy), so you are finally able to love yourself and be a better you, and in turn, truly love another. And maybe once you’ve stepped away for that moment and taken advantage of a positive change of pace (and place), you might realize that your journey has open doors and insights into the life that you had been searching for so many years.

My blog will discuss my changes of pace and place. It will expose you to the mysteriously colorful people, places and experiences that life may bring on the road to self realization, empowerment, exploration, and discovery. It will also introduce you to the journeys of others that I come into contact with that are willing to share their life-changing decisions and experiences. You will get to see me from a blurred, yet transparent, point of view as I travel the world in search of finding myself, experiencing true love for the 1st time hopefully and unconditional friendship, and touching the lives of others as I participate in global efforts against child abuse and human trafficking. I will share my experiences ranging from the process of determining my next place of travel, to obtaining a travel visa, to finding the best places to eat, to personal interviews with individuals suffering in at-risk conditions.

As I share with you, I hope to open the world to my heart, encouraging you to share your reservations, passions, and aspirations with me.

Is it your time for a change? Do tell Nicola…

Please use this contact form to ask any questions that you seek advice to whether it is related to relationships, experiences, aspirations and/or making the decision to seek a change of pace. I will post your questions anonymously and provide a response:

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ATENCIÓN: Por favor, utilice este enlace, Free Translation, para traducir mis posts. Una vez que usted visite el sitio traducción, se encuentra la “lengua” (con la imagen del mundo junto a él), en la parte superior derecha, para elegir el idioma que prefiera. Gracias.