My Top 5 European Travel Destinations.

Remember how in my resolutions post I mentioned wanting to travel more? I’ve made a list of the places I’d like to go to in order to help me organize myself. These are my top 5 travel destinations in Europe (I had to limit myself to Europe because if I didn’t, instead of a top 5, it would be a top 20):

1. Italy

I’m actually going to be checking this one off my list during semana santa! I will be spending all of semana santa exploring Pisa, Florence, and Rome! I’ll be travelling with one of my friends who is also a language assistant, which marks my first non-solo trip. I’ll also be meeting up with a friend from MD in Rome! It’ll be so nice to see a familiar face again. My wanting to go to Italy is a surprise to no one that knows me. I love food. I love Italian cuisine. My friend and I were joking about how we’re more excited about all the things we’re going to eat than the sights we’re going to see. That being said, I am insanely excited to see the Duomo, Colosseo, and Fontana di Trevi! I have a feeling this trip is going to be of epic proportions!

2. France

I know, I’ve been to France before…but that trip was not enough! I was in Paris for three days when I went in November and it was not enough to satiate me. My plan is return to Paris again during the long weekend in May. I LOVED Paris! I could honestly spend an entire month there and never be satisfied enough to want to leave. So for now, my goal is to have more time in Paris. However, there are several other cities in France that I’d love to explore in the future!

3. Ireland

I don’t know what it is about Ireland that appeals to me so much, but I am dying to see if it is as magical as I picture it to be. I think a lot of Ireland’s appeal for me is that I love medieval history and Ireland is full of gorgeous medieval castles like this one:

Another thing I really want to do in Ireland is kiss the famous Blarney Stone. And, alright, I totally want to go to the Guinness Storehouse.

4. Germany

I mentioned above how Ireland holds a lot of appeal to me because of the castles…well, Germany is like the holy grail of gorgeous castles! I think I would need at least a month to see all of the castles I want to visit in Germany. I’ll leave this link to a wikipedia page with the castles here. Aside from the castles, I would also like to visit some of the concentration camps. I remember going to the Holocaust museum in DC when I was a sophomore in high school and I can say with all certainty that it really changed me. I’ll never forget walking through the room that had the shoes of victims from a concentration camp, breaking down in tears (I mean, I lost it when I saw the baby shoes) and being comforted by my religion teacher, Mr.Mac. I will always remember what he said to me as he hugged me, “This is one of your best qualities: how deeply you feel things and how much you empathize.” Sometimes I feel it can be more of a curse than a blessing. While I know walking through a concentration camp will be difficult for me, it is still something that I would like to experience.

5. Spain

The beautiful El Escorial monastery.Source

The beautiful El Escorial monastery.
Source

I am well aware of the fact that I am currently living in the aforementioned country. However, Spain has a lot of places I would still like to see. I want to travel to locations like Galicia, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Cuenca, and Salamanca. Oh and Mallorca and Ibiza. As you can see, there is LOTS I still want to see in Spain. Even within Madrid, there are still museums I’d like to visit and I am determined to go to El Escorial before the beginning of summer.

So for now, these are my travel goals. There are, of course, many places outside of Europe that I’d like to visit, but I’ll save that for a different post. What are your top 5 travel destinations?

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Budgeting Your Life in Madrid

A lot of potential auxiliares worry about the paycheck and how they will make ends meet every month. I’ve asked around and done some research in order to tell you the average that people spend on things like rent, groceries, and utilities every month (this information is regarding the Madrid community).

Before I get into the breakdown of rent and such, I have to discuss the average pay for auxiliares. For the ministry program, auxiliares in Madrid get 1000€. With BEDA, the pay works differently. Your pay with BEDA depends on the amount of hours you work. Here is a breakdown of the payment:

  • 24 hours: 1200€ (gross)
  • 22 hours: 1100€ (gross)
  • 20 hours: 1000€ (gross)
  • 18 hours: 900€ (gross)

Now, with that being said, we can move on to where that money will be going every month. First up is RENT. The bulk of your paycheck will be going towards rent. The average rent in Madrid ranges from 300-550€. The range is large because there are areas of Madrid that are more expensive to live in than others. Malasaña and Salamanca are two areas that tend to be on the more expensive side. Places like La Latina, Moncloa, and Príncipe Pío tend to be a little more reasonable in their rent. How much you’re willing to pay for rent really depends on you and the type of place you want to live in. Another thing to keep in mind is that the utilities are often not included when they tell you the rent, so add another 30€ or so to it.  More

This Was My Lunch Today:

This Was My Lunch Today:

Have I mentioned how much I love Spanish food and my Spain family?! And yes, the bottom one is Paella Fideua. Deliciousness.

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Going Along with My Post from Yesterday…

This is a picture I took of the Puerta de Alcalá during my very first week here in Spain. If there’s one more thing I could add to my list from yesterday, it would be the Madrid sky.

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Things I Love About Living in Spain.

I was talking with a fellow language assistant a few weeks ago about how sometimes I feel like I take for granted that I live in Madrid. She was saying how she has those moments sometimes and then she has to tell herself, “Shut up. You live in a European capital city.” And a few days ago, I came across this quote on tumblr:

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That quote reminded me of why it is that I love Madrid so much. After all, Spain has been my dream country since I was in middle school. So here are some little things that I love about living in Spain (especially Madrid): More

Changing Beings.

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I have been in Spain for over 4 months now and I’ve been reflecting on aspects of myself that are different since my new life here. I use to think that it was such a cliche to say that people change when they travel, but it really is true. I have noticed so many new things about myself and I have changed in so many ways already in the short time I’ve been here in Madrid. Or maybe, we don’t change, but we discover things about ourselves that we never knew before.

One vast improvement (at least for me) is that I am significantly less shy. I would describe my former shyness as debilitating. Really. I would miss out on opportunities because I was too shy to ask someone a question or for more information. That has definitely changed. While I was in Paris, I had no issues walking right up to people to make sure that I was heading in the right direction or for recommendations of places to eat that were nearby (and I had to do this in French!). This is, by far, the change that I am proudest of since moving to Spain.

Another thing that I have noticed about myself is that I no longer care what other people think about me. It’s so liberating. I use to base so many of my decisions on what I thought the reactions/opinions of others would be. Not anymore. I do and wear and say what I want and I don’t care what others think of it.

Sort of along the same vein as not caring what people think is that I am much more outgoing. This may be due to the fact that I live in a European city where I know next to no one and have the mentality of “when will I ever see these people again?” that causes this…but I like it.

I have also found that I am much less dependent on others to do things that I would like to do. I use to hate doing things on my own – even going to the convenient store. Now, I’ve traveled to Paris and London all on my own. I’m thinking of doing another solo trip to Paris in May because there are so many things I still want to see there. Plus, the puente in May is about 6 days, so I could see the things I want without feeling rushed like I did during my last trip.

All of these things may seem insignificant to others, but I am really proud of my little accomplishments/changes. I hope they stay with me even after I leave Spain.

What things have you discovered about yourself when you’ve traveled?

New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve been back in Spain for over a week now and it has been nice to get back into the swing of things. I didn’t realize how much I actually missed teaching my students until I went back to work on Tuesday. The kids were a lot more enthusiastic about being back than I had anticipated. And it’s always nice when a group of 11-14 year olds are super excited to see you and are asking you all sorts of questions about your holidays. The only damper on my first week back to school was my terrible jet-lag. I was on Maryland time for the vast majority of the week, which meant that I was terribly sleepy at work and wide awake when I was trying to fall asleep at night. All of that’s over now, though, and I’m back on Spain time.

This past year has been a bit of a roller-coaster for me. I went from not knowing what in the heck I was going to do, to applying to be an auxiliar in Spain, waiting in limbo until I found out whether or not I would be accepted, and then prepping everything for my move to Spain. And in the spirit of this new year, I have decided to make some resolutions for the first time ever. Here are a few of my resolutions for 2013: More

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