warning: if you don't want to see a ton of pictures, old & new, from traveling you should probably stop reading. otherwise, keep looking & read my tips/lessons on moving abroad!
growing up i had this romantic idea in my head of moving abroad (i normally imagined i would be living in paris), leaving behind everyone & everything i love back in the states & jetting off to my new home all on my own. being my own person, not having to answer to anybody. i would get an awesome job, learn the language & be fluent within a few short months & never want to return; i love how naive i was. i obviously was not living in a real world when i imagined these scenarios, but who does when they picture their dreams!?

while moving abroad may not have been quite like the dreams i had growing up, i still did it & i think that is pretty cool. we have officially lived in spain for an entire year. this is a fact that keeps blowing my mind for a couple of different reasons. living abroad is an experience that i don't think you can be fully prepared for, no matter how excited or well-traveled you may be, or how much you have researched & studied before the official move, you can't prepare yourself for the roller coaster that is living abroad.
netherlands circa 2011
all the movies show moving to a new country as a last minute decision, a decision made on a whim & it just being so easy. it's not. depending on the country you are relocating to you will have different processes, but for anyone moving to spain just know now that it is not easy. spanish government is incredibly difficult to work with. getting your visa, insurance, apartment, even getting internet is a pretty big ordeal (it took us a full month to get internet in our apartment.. & that was after two seperate people came, checked it out & simply said "no"). 

attempting to figure these things out in a new country is a totally new experience, one that is not always the most fun at the time, but looking back on it they all add to the experience of moving abroad & definitely add to the stories to tell your friends & family.

beyond that it's hard when you realize life back home is still happening & you are missing out. just know that everyone back home is probably wishing that they could have the experiences you are, so enjoy it while you can. & facetime a lot.

madrid, spain circa 2015
instanbul, turkey circa 2007
barcelona, spain circa 2015

you do not have to love it. there is nothing wrong in hating the place that you have moved. you don't have to pretend to like it & that everything is perfect, cause this is real life & as far as i'm concerned, everyone hates where they live every once in a while. it's an emotional roller coaster being in a new country! sure from an outsiders point of view they may not understand how you could want to be home, or how you aren't loving every single second of your new adventurous life, but that's just it: they are outsiders looking in. they are not going through the ups & downs that take place on a daily basis when you're first adjusting. the struggle is real guys, but you will get through it!

sometimes you will hate it when you least expect it, when life has been going so great & you'll wake up in a fog & just really miss home. you will want to facetime everyone in your phonebook, just do it. do whatever you can to make yourself feel better, complain about it to your friends, go on endless rants about how ridiculous your new home is. let it all out! you will feel better & you will also get through it & realize that even though it whatever happened happened, it adds to the love you have of your new country.

marrakech, morocco circa 2015
netherlands, circa 2011
moving abroad is easier with less stuff. maybe i'm not the best example of this cause we brought 6 suitcases with us, but then again i think that's pretty good for a family of 3. i down sized just about as much as i could bringing only a select amount of clothing/shoes/accessories/books for myself. the downsizing process was quite the ordeal, i went through everything so many times. it was pretty frustrating for me, but i'm glad that i did because it made moving much easier & i also have discovered what is & what isn't important.

don't waste space bringing your shampoo & conditioner: they sell that wherever you're moving. you don't need to bring five pairs of heels, you probably will only wear one. you do not need 10 pair of jeans, how often do you even wear the other 7 anyways? anything you leave behind that you end up desperately wanting can be replaced or sent to you. if you have the slightest of second thoughts on any item, just don't take it. plus, you're going to acquire a lot of crap in your time abroad that you'll probably want to take home, so it's good to leave a bit of wiggle room.

madrid, spain circa 2014
gordesprovence, france circa 2011
sienna, italy circa 2012
i'm the idiot who thought spanish would come "naturally", i would "just pick it up", i wasn't worried. this is what i told far too many people, & they probably all laugh at what an idiot i was for not preparing before the move. i definitely laugh at myself. i laugh at myself that even after a full year i cannot speak spanish! it's embarrassing. learning a new language require extreme dedication, extreme desire & effort. i had the desire, i really lacked the dedication & effort bits though. i can get by fine enough with what i do know & i can understand a decent amount, but i am by no means able to have a full conversation. luckily for me, austin speaks spanish :)

if you move abroad make an genuine effort in making local friends, don't rely on just expats to be your friends because they move & in making a local friend, you are basically forced to practice your new language. the best way to pick it up is to speak it, not to study out of a book (it does help though, don't get me wrong). make the effort, dive head first into the culture, grab some friends & learn the language, it will make your time that much easier & more enjoyable. this would be my ultimate piece of advice to myself if i could go back & time.

cuenca, spain circa 2015
switzerland circa 2005
jungfrau, switzerland circa 2009
culture shock is a real thing people. pretty much anywhere you move there is at least the slightest bit of culture shock, i know i experienced just from moving to utah from california! & i had grown up going to utah all the time, i was still shocked. so you can imagine the extreme culture shock i experienced in moving to spain!

spain has an amazing culture & madrid has definitely kept the "old" culture alive. one example of the culture shock i experienced were getting used to the siesta. siestas are going strong here in madrid, whether you appreciate it or not, restaurants just aren't open all day, it's practically unheard of. they generally open for breakfast & then close around11 a.m. open somewhere around 2 p.m., close again & then reopen around 8 p.m. so that's a tricky thing to figure out. restaurants are sort of the only thing that is open during siesta, stores, markets, banks & all sorts of businesses close for their siesta & some re-open after while others don't. this was truly fascinating to me when we moved here.

everywhere has it's own culture & my advice is to dive head first into it. you will learn from this new experience. you didn't move across the world to be in a culture just like the one you left behind, you wanted to try something new & this is it.

take it, appreciate it, embrace it.

madrid, spain circa 2014
cinque terre, italy circa 2012
if you're like me, you were addicting to traveling long before your move abroad. if you aren't like me & didn't really care about travel, it will become one of your passions. over the years i've noticed that seeing a new place & culture sort of sparks a flame that just grows & people begin to crave traveling & the adventures that come with it. & who could blame you? when you live abroad you have the perfect excuse to travel as much as you can because you don't always know how long you will be living abroad, when you'll be back & when it will be as easy to visit all these different amazing places. if you see cheap tickets anywhere, buy them & go. you won't regret doing it.

neuschwanstein castle, germany circa 2014
barcelona, spain circa 2009
amsterdam, netherlands circa 2011
anything you once knew to be "normal" suddenly changes when you move abroad. the things that you do will not seem "normal" to the new people around you & what they do may not be "normal" to you. save yourself some time & give up your sense of "normal" & embrace the new. you will become a more open, better, less judgmental person for this.
san sebastian, spain circa 2009
paris, france circa 2013
moving to a new country gives you a completely new life experience, similar yet unlike anything else & it forces your to grow. you are basically forcing yourself to learn about a new culture, new language, new lifestyle & with that you become a newer, better version of yourself. you will realize just what you are capable of, how strong you are & how brave you are, cause let's not pretend like moving abroad isn't scary. moving abroad has taught me more life lessons that my entire life summed up into one event.

if you have the chance to move abroad, do it. just go. yeah it might be a pain, but it is most definitely worth all of the stress & struggles it takes to get you there. just go!

venice, italy circa 2012
istanbul, turkey circa 2007
it's not going to feel natural overnight, you will not meet your new best friend the first day you move, you won't understand the people immediately & that is all O.K. there is a learning process when moving to a new place. you need to give yourself time to learn the place, get adjusted, get used to your new life, surroundings, culture, language, whatever it may be. give yourself time, you have plenty of it. slow down & enjoy your experience because it goes by faster than you can imagine. take time to watch the people around you & learn from them, it will make you appreciate your home that much more.
florence, italy circa 2012


  1. PREEEEEACH. I found myself nodding my head at every single point. I'm pretty sure when we first moved to Grenada, we experienced every last thing you mentioned in point #1. When I get frustrated, I just have to smile and say, "It's ok--this isn't America, and that's ok." I've definitely picked up a travel bug here, while simultaneously picking up a whole new appreciation for the incredible place that is the Unites States of America. I feel like I'll be more grateful and happy throughout the rest of my life because of these two scary, uncomfortable, wonderful years abroad.

    1. ahh that is the best compliment. writing the post i kept making my husband read it to make sure what i was saying even made sense, but to know that someone else -besides him- had the same feelings while living abroad is nice to know! Grenada would be amazing to live in!

  2. Whooooa. This post is gold. I've never lived abroad, and I don't think it's likely to happen for me, so this was very eye-opening! you have had some incredible experiences. Also, don't feel bad about having a hard time with Spanish! I have the worst time with learning languages. I can't tell you how many times I've tried learning Spanish. We planned our trip to Brazil a year in advance and I tried to learn Portuguese but it was so hard. I would study and practice every day. I even had Stephen talk to me in Portuguese all the time around house! But it just never clicked on my brain. It's so tough!

    1. languages are just so hard, it's so disappointing! props to you though for wanting to learn a language just for a trip! that is extreme dedication!

  3. Thanks for sharing these, really helpful! Also the first photo is amazing!


  4. wow you guys have traveled so much together!! how cool! i remember thinking every.single.one of these things when i moved from europe to america. it was the worst and i hated it for a little while but i'm so glad i did it!!

    1. not all of these trip pictures are from trips i've taken with austin, but we have been able to travel a lot together which is very lucky!

  5. that was a fantastic post...you put it all in a nutshell! plus, i love all the pics!

  6. Lexi Davis is a writer who enjoys writing on a number of different verticals. For more on studying abroad, Scholarships, Grants,best essays and Events Abroad offers readers information on studying abroad in high school.