Choosing Hostels When You’re Traveling Alone

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Out and about in Barcelona with Hostel One Paralelo

When I travel alone I often stay in hostels for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s cheaper
  2. I meet people

Basically, if I don’t know anyone where I’m going, I’ll stay in a hostel. The more I travel, the better I get at choosing hostels, and I had such incredible hostel experiences on my most recent 4-month solo adventure around Europe that I wanted to share my latest “formula” for choosing hostels.

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How to Meet Expats in Paris

I just spent a month in Paris and have the DL on how to meet other expats living in the city.

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When I arrived to Paris I didn’t know anyone and didn’t really have any kind of plan. I didn’t know how I was going to meet people, or practice my French, or even what I was going to do with my time. So, as soon as I arrived, I went online and googled a few keywords such as “French conversation groups in Paris” and “meeting expats in Paris”. Here’s what happened….

1. Meetup.com  Continue reading

Dating & Relationships When You Live Abroad: Part 1

When you live abroad, you inevitably end up dating and having relationships with people from other cultures, which comes naturally to the existential migrant since they are xenophiles that are inherently more attracted to what is “different” and “unfamiliar” anyway.

However, although many existential migrants actively seek out foreign partners, this decision can bring on a whole new set of problems and challenges….as if dating and relationships weren’t hard enough! Not only do you have to get to know each other and integrate your unique personalities like any other couple, you have to do this while trying to transcend linguistic and cultural barriers. On the other hand, these differences can also be the main driving force behind cross-cultural relationships that do work. Meaning, what can tear you apart can also keep you together.

Based on my experience and that of other expats, I’m breaking down cross-cultural dating by examining a few of the stand-out influential factors affecting these connections.

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8 Things you realize about the U.S. after you move abroad

Randy_Broshankle1. We have no system for greeting or saying goodbye

Unlike many countries that have clear systems (such as an air kiss on the cheek, or an air kiss on both cheeks) the U.S. has no system for greeting and saying goodbye. Do you hug? Shake hands? Kiss? Do nothing? There are no clear rules. Well, if you’re meeting someone for the first time, you shake hands, and if you’re seeing someone you haven’t seen for a while, you hug. But what about all of the situations in between? Meeting friends for lunch, arriving at a party, coming home from work, dropping in on a neighbor? Confusing.

2. We are conservative

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Cat calling in Buenos Aires versus elsewhere

Builders-whistling-at-a-womanMy experience with cat calling before arriving to Buenos Aires (in the United States, Europe, and other parts of Latin America) was as follows: men in teams or groups, yelling or speaking loudly, sometimes using vulgar or offensive language, sometimes accompanied by whistling or gesturing, which generally would go on for a bit too long (until I was out of sight), possibly because they were attempting to get a reaction out of me. Because this type of cat-calling is always quite public, and men are not on their own when they do it, it almost seems like it has more to do with impressing other men rather than actually wanting to call attention to the woman’s appearance.

Cat calling in Buenos Aires is a very different experience. For me, this type of cat calling is private, quick, complimentary, and totally free of expectations. Men, as they’re walking past me on the street (or driving by me in their cars) will make a quick and quiet (almost whispered) comment to me about my appearance. The most common remarks I hear are “Que linda que sos!” (How pretty you are!), “Que hermosa que sos!” (“How gorgeous you are!”), and finally, my personal favorite, “Que Belleza!” (“What beauty!”). This type of cat calling is generally (in no way do I want to claim that it always happens this way as I can only speak about my own experience) quick and private, done in passing, meant for my ears only, using complimentary and non-vulgar language, and with no expectation of a reaction or other interaction to follow. It’s as if they just want to quickly compliment me, and for us both to continue on with the day. So, what’s bad about that? To be honest, it doesn’t bother me personally, but when I think about it, I do recognize that cat calling, in any form, proliferates the importance that society places on female appearance, delaying the strides we are making towards gender equality.

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What is Existential Migration?

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One of the best explanations right now as to why Americans or other expats decide to live abroad is the theory of “Existential Migration” (Greg Madison, 2006). Unlike economic migration, simple wanderlust, exile, or variations of forced migration, existential migration (based partly on Heidegger’s alternative understandings of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’, and the concept of ‘home as interaction’ rather than ‘home as place’) is seen as a chosen attempt to express something fundamental about one’s own existence by moving abroad and becoming a foreigner.

“Rather than migrating in search of employment, career advancement, or overall improved economic conditions, these voluntary migrants are seeking greater possibilities for actualizing, exploring foreign cultures in order to assess their own identity, and ultimately grappling with issues of home and belonging in the world generally” (Existential Migration, Madison, 2006). 

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