2019

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January

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February

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March

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April

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May

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June

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July

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August

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September

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October

 

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November

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December

2019 has been a strange year.  A year of change, transition, ups, and downs.  A year I’m ready to let go, but a year to remember nonetheless.  I am hoping 2020 is a little more settled, a little more cheerful, but no less adventurous.  Happy New Year.

What A Long, Strange Winter It’s Been…

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Hello, World.

I feel like I’ve shut you out for a while.

These last few months have been dark, cold, and difficult for a number of reasons and I haven’t been in the right headspace to say much.

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I still don’t feel at home in China just yet and culture shock has been a daily reality.  The new job has proven itself to be quite stressful and time-consuming.  The pollution has been worse since the seasons changed.  The sun rarely shines here in winter.  You get the drift.

I’m holding out hope for the best, but I know the only thing that will help this season pass is time and patience.

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That’s not to say it’s been all bad.  I am in a very cool Dungeons and Dragons campaign here, I’m sticking with my yoga class, and I got to see Disney on Ice (albeit in Chinese).  I’ve hired a tutor and am taking private lessons, though I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with the language just yet.

This is all just to say I’m still alive and weathering the storm.

Hongyadong

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Hongyadong, or Hongya cave, is an architectural oddity and key landmark of Chongqing.  Though it is a modern building, it has been built to resemble traditional Chinese market halls.  Each floor boasts a series of winding, narrow walkways filled with shops, restaurants, and stalls selling everything from carved wooden Buddhas to Dairy Queen Blizzards.

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As an aside, there is a rumor that Hongyadong inspired the bathhouse featured in Spirited Away.  I don’t think I buy it, but I do see the resemblance, which only made it feel more magical to walk through.

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As you move to the upper floors, you can take in excellent views of the Chongqing Bridge as well as the meeting point of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers.  It was lovely enough by day, but the view becomes even more spectacular at night, when the whole city lights up.

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While we enjoyed the luminescent skyline, we decided to try the local specialty – hot pot.  Hot pot is a sort of spicy fondue, except instead of cheese, everything is cooked in hot chili oil.  It was pretty tasty (great with a cold beer!), but definitely not a quick meal, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re hangry.

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After dinner, we walked along the bridge to get a view of Hongyadong from the river.  This was easily the highlight of our visit.  I’ll let the photos do the talking here.

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It is a nice change of pace to be living in a city with so much to do and see.  I’m looking forward to more local adventures.

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Nihao, Chongqing.

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We’ve officially been in China for two weeks and my head is definitely still spinning.

In a nutshell…the city is huge, the food is spicy, the weather is very hot, I am still processing a lot of information from our orientation, I start teaching next week, I also start my own classes next week, I optimistically joined a gym…and…that’s it so far.

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Though we have been spending most of our time working, settling in, and trying to prepare for classes, we have tried to get out and explore this gigantic city a bit.  We walked through the Expo Gardens (didn’t even scratch the surface on that place) for a bit of exercise one afternoon and we recently took a taxi into the city center to get a feel for some of the main squares.

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I am very happy to report that I LOVE our new apartment and there is plenty to do in our neighborhood, including a fabulous gym and a great local cafe that sells good coffee and craft beers.  It’s only a five minute walk to grab groceries, which is LIFE-CHANGING after living in the middle of nowhere in Turkey.

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It is still taking some time to get used to everything being unfamiliar again.  The language, culture, and landscape are all still alien to me, so I am looking forward to getting to know it all better.

Here’s to a new adventure.

 

Another American Summer

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Kansas sunsets really are the prettiest.

Greetings from China!

Yes, we are here and settling in, but before I talk about that, I feel compelled to talk about our hectic, brief summer in the U.S.

We knew this summer would be unpredictable.  International moves always are.  I’ve learned by now that the visa process is usually one big question mark until it isn’t.  It makes it difficult to plan much because everything has to revolve around the visa timeline and (of course!) you can’t make appointments.

Amidst the chaos of moving from Turkey to the U.S. and then packing again for China, 5 weeks of rapid couchsurfing around Kansas, and going to Chicago for our visas, we did manage to enjoy ourselves a bit.

Indulge me as I go through the highlight reel:

img_20190801_134339Hanging out with my grandma’s adorable cats!

img_20190801_134316Eating my grandma’s peanut butter pie!

img_20190710_150803Enjoying a beautiful Chicago summer with my partner in crime while we waited for our visas to be processed

img_20190711_130659Trying aerial yoga for the first time (loved it!)

 

img_20190723_155126Childhood treats

img_20190726_115942Reminiscing

img_20190727_192935_1Drinking wine in the Flint Hills

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Drinking more wine…this time from the wine box we sealed at our wedding.  As it was our 5th wedding anniversary, we got to open this bottle and replace it with another (to be opened on our 10th.)

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Saying goodbye (for now) to the U.S. and hello (or nihao, rather) to a new adventure.

 

So there you have it.  A very brief recap of an all-too-brief summer.  More to come on China soon!

Görüşürüz, Türkiye.

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As I type this, I am sitting in my grandmother’s air conditioned house on a hot Kansas afternoon, trying to find the right words.  To be honest, I still haven’t processed it all yet.  Leaving Turkey felt like stepping through a portal from one universe to another.  There is a piece of me that still thinks it will all be there waiting for me exactly as I left it, even though my head knows I won’t be going back for quite some time.

I didn’t sleep the night before I left.  The day was filled with tearful goodbyes to students, colleagues, and dear friends, followed by an epic Turkish party at night.  We were packing until the very last second.  I wouldn’t have left any other way.

I am so tremendously thankful for the memories, the people, and the life-changing experiences.

Her şey için teşekkürler, Türkiye.  Sizi özleyeceğim.

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Where We’ve Been

As we near the end of this first expat journey, I want to recap all the places we have been so far so we can look back on this moment for years to come.  When we started down this path over four years ago, we did so with the goal of visiting 30 countries before we turned 30 – a goal that we exceeded with 3 years to spare.  Some of these places we have visited more than once, but I will only list the year of the first visit.  Here is where we’ve been so far:

  1. USA – 1991IMG_0044
  2. France – 20095116_107584356659_504141659_2833515_4519609_n
  3. Spain – 2009DSC_0063
  4. Paraguay – 2013 (Sadly, no photos)
  5. Iceland – 201410347547_1504545873093609_8899424320537876548_n
  6. Turkey – 201512074588_1667618120119716_36044510800056699_n (1)
  7. The Netherlands – 201512274306_1676022422612619_3590003824024621316_n
  8. Hungary – 2016BudapestLift3
  9. Slovakia – 2016DSCF3990
  10. Czechia – 2016DSCF4059 (1)
  11. Austria  – 2016 (Bad experience. Didn’t keep the photos)
  12. Greece – 2016DSC_0452[1]
  13. Sweden – 201613096107_1724698541078340_7433953853444923562_n
  14. Bosnia & Herzegovina – 2016DSC_0083 (2)
  15. Italy – 2016dsc_0168
  16. Norway – 2016dsc_0169
  17. Scotland – 2016dsc_0173
  18. Georgia – 2016dsc_0159
  19. The Maldives – 2017dsc_0095
  20. Sri Lanka – 2017dsc_0247
  21. Switzerland – 2017DSC_0065
  22. Slovenia – 2017DSC_0035
  23. Albania – 2017IMG_1188
  24. Belgium – 201720171120_144155
  25. Israel – 201820180121_154233
  26. Jordan – 2018IMG_3158.jpg
  27. N. Cyprus – 201820180403_163706.jpg
  28. Germany – 201820180422_161503.jpg
  29. Kosovo – 201820180526_131557
  30. England – 2018IMG-20180823-WA0005
  31. Ukraine – 2018img_4919
  32. Egypt – 2018IMG_20190126_202502_195

33. Denmark – 2019

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I’m anxious to see where life takes us on our next adventure.