Self-Discovery Through Travel

Months ago I wrote a post about leaving it all behind–packing my life into boxes and putting them into a storage unit; quitting my job; leaving a stable life full of friends and loved ones–and hitting the road. I didn’t know what the next few months would hold for me. I knew that they’d include the freedom to come and go as I pleased, to explore some new regions of the world, and to create some amazing experiences and memories for myself. But I also didn’t know the self-discovery I’d make along the way.

Before I left, I knew one thing: that I was tired of the life that I’d been living. I was tired of my job, the Texas heat, being far away from family, and feeling stuck. I was so excited and nervous to set out on my travels, hoping that I’d learn something about myself. Hoping that I’d find a lifestyle that finally felt “normal” and right for me.

I didn’t find that.

don't rush anything
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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

While I only write about travel (and travel-related things) on my blog, I do have lots of other interests, and one of the biggies is architecture and interior design. In fact, when I was in high school, I considered going to school for interior design; my senior project was interior-design related–I redid my entire bedroom for it. I instead decided to major in English, but my love for architecture and interior design never really left.

I can appreciate most styles of architecture and interior design, but mid-century modern will always reign supreme for me. I love clean, straight lines; minimalism; and simple shapes. Many consider Frank Lloyd Wright the father of mid-century modern, so when I visited Pittsburgh, I knew I had to visit his Fallingwater house, just about an hour away from the city.

frank lloyd wright fallingwater pittsburgh

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What to Wear in Dubai

Before my trip to Dubai, I was sort of torn about what to pack. I knew that the United Arab Emirates was Muslim, and thus I’d probably need to be mostly covered, but I’d also read that Dubai was sort of a fashion metropolis, jam-packed with malls teeming with awesome clothing stores. So–what do I do? I wondered. I scoured the Internet (Google searches, Pinterest, etc.) to see what I could find, and I really didn’t find much that told me what was appropriate. Instead, what I found was, “cover your shoulders and knees.” Okay, easy enough, I guess.

So, I thought it safe to pack what I would ordinarily wear and feel it out on the first day and alter my outfits if need be from there on out. Honestly, I don’t know what I was so worried about. I saw girls in skirts, tank tops, spaghetti-strap dresses, etc. Sure, there were plenty of other women completely covered, but lots of Westerners got away with bare shoulders and knees in malls (where you’re supposed to dress modestly as even the signs on the doors tell you so). I always try to respect local customs, so I remained covered while I was in Dubai.

dubai mall dress code

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Shocked in Germany

I write this knowing exactly how ridiculous and unfounded it is—but for as long as I can remember I’ve had a particular bias against Germany and Germans (said by a girl whose ancestry is hugely German). I have always disliked the language, have thought of Germans as harsh and cold people, and haven’t had any interest in visiting, experiencing their culture, or tasting their foods, etc.

german meme butterfly

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I know where it stems from—the Holocaust. And I’m not a stupid or ignorant girl—I recognize how stupid it is to blame an entire country and culture for the wrongdoing that one person started and that people were essentially forced to follow (or succumb to their own deaths). I also know how hard it has been for Germany to move forward from those events and from that period in their history. Up until probably sometime within the past few years, Germans were afraid to show any sort of pride for their nation because that would somehow translate into being too nationalistic again—something that they wouldn’t want to appear—lest the comparisons to the Nazis start again. So, please, believe me when I say that I know how stupid my bias is, but that I have been deeply affected by and interested in the happenings of the Holocaust since I was a young child and I can’t undo 20 years of ill feelings or bias overnight.

Or can I?

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Foodie Friday: Samosa + Chai = Love

One of the things I loved the most about Dubai was the huge population of Indians and Pakistanis. Of course this is for purely selfish reasons: it’s my favorite cuisine.. ever. (In fact, my friends would probably tell you that it isn’t even worth asking me what kind of food I want to eat when going out–my answer is always “Indian”.)

One evening in Dubai, I was dying to visit the older areas of the city–the areas that aren’t flooded with tourists, malls, and skyscrapers. So my friend and I headed towards the gold souq so I could do a bit of ogling and we could see a different side of the city.

old dubai gold souq souk

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Iceland Stole My Heart

Iceland glacier landscape

I’d always sort of thought of Italy as my first and only true love. And then.. I met Iceland.

I’ve never considered myself much of a nature-y type of gal. I don’t enjoy getting dirty; hate sweating; I don’t like camping; I need to wash my hair every day; I’ve never liked being isolated. I’ve just always considered myself a city girl; there’s something alluring about city life–the culture, bright lights, skyscrapers, hustle and bustle.

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Humankind(ness)

When you travel for a while, you encounter all manner of people, and I’m sad to say that sometimes those encounters can sour you on humankind.

I’ve always wanted to believe that every person is truly good at heart, but when I look at the state of the world, I know that it’s naïve of me to think that.

While I haven’t encountered any earth-shattering experiences, several days during my first three months of travels were challenging.

people are cruel

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Foodie Friday: Trattoria Montepaolo

trattoria montepaolo dovadola

Tucked away almost in the middle of nowhere exists a restaurant so charming and so lovely that you’re happy it’s almost a secret. Walking into Trattoria Montepaolo in Dovadola, Italy, you’re transported to another time–a simpler and rustic era. The views of the rolling green hills invite you in, the Victorian-era-meets-farmhouse decor welcomes you, and the fresh, Italian scents implore you to stay.

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What to Wear in Morocco

Morocco is a colorful place, and as such, it’s a great opportunity to step out of your usual blacks and browns and into something that it inspired by the sights surrounding you.

what to wear in morocco fashion style

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Five Romantic Places You Shouldn’t Visit When You’re Single (And Bitter About It)

Let’s face it—sometimes being single can be a totally awesome thing. Like those times when you don’t feel like showering for two days or leaving your couch because you’re glued to a crappy crime show marathon on TV. Or, you know, like when you decide you want to quit your job, put everything you own in storage, and leave your “real” life behind for a while.

But then, after a few weeks of being totally alone, you realize that sometimes being single sucks a little bit. Especially when you’re in those horribly romantic places where everyone around you seems to be in those first few weeks of puppy love and they’re sucking face and you’re thinking, “Jesus, now I just want to go home and listen to James Blunt” (who my local radio DJs dubbed, “the music you want to slit your wrists to”).

slutty crisp

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So, if you’re single and don’t want to be constantly barraged by those gross couples who are madly in love and want to show it to the world, don’t visit any of the following places. And, on the other hand, if you are one-half of those gross couples who are madly in love, maybe you should go to all these places.

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