Lindo Puerto Rico

This holiday season, I decided last-minute that I was going to Puerto Rico. To be able to book a last-minute trip anywhere I know is not something that anyone can simply do, so I feel fortuitous to be able to do so.

I had originally thought of going to Puerto Rico in March during my birthday month but after realizing I had leftover time from work that I had to use or lose, I made the most out of my time off.

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Puerto Rico was a my top choice out of all of the other places I had considered because I wanted to travel to a plan that is very warm, relatively cheap, and a place where I would be fine to travel solo to. Puerto Rico basically fit this criteria, though if I go back, I would prefer to go with a friend!

What did not surprise me about Puerto Rico is that the people were in general, extremely warm (as warm as the climate!). For instance, my first day I got a little lost on my way back from the beach and this elderly woman pulled me close to her so that I could share her umbrella. I am not so sure if people where I am from would consider doing this with a stranger!

One downside to Puerto Rico is that if you are a woman walking alone outside -in the daylight or not-you can expect to be catcalled. I learned this within minutes of stepping outside my front door. Another downside is that walking outside at night was not safe, based on conversations with locals. It sounds like a common sense but in Puerto Rico, you have to remain extra vigilant. These two things aside, Puerto Rico is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and I would love to go back again to explore the island further.

On a trip to Puerto Rico, the positive things you can expect are:

  1. Warm weather all year round;
  2. Kind locals;
  3. Breathtaking sunsets and sceneries;
  4. The only tropical rainforest in the U.S, El Yunque, which i did not go to;
  5. RICO COMIDA (“delicious food)!

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You should consider Puerto Rico for your next long weekend getaway.

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7 Things that Surprised Me About Germany and German Culture

My 10 days abroad  in Germany were a success. Sometimes my days were dauntingly long but nonetheless, I came out learning a lot more than I thought I would. This is mainly because I spent 6 days of my vacation volunteering at a small village called Laubach (app. 1 hour away from Frankfurt). However, my first impression of Germany continued until the end of the program…

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Where I stayed in Laubach. It reminded me of home so much!
  1. The landscape of the northern part of Germany (and perhaps all of Germany), is very much the landscape that we see in New England. You will find lush, green forests and after spending many hours walking with German students in them, it felt at times as though I was in my own backyard.
  2. Frankfurt itself reminds me of my city, Boston. This observation was apparent as soon as my taxi from the airport approached my hotel. In Frankfurt, there is an older section of the city with more traditional German buildings, as well as some of the tallest skyscrapers in Europe. Though Boston doesn’t boast the tallest buildings in the U.S., the buildings were comparable to ours and the city felt just like home.
  3. Germans are extremely organized and punctual. This is not a bad thing and doesn’t seem like such a surprise but after spending time living in Spain where everyone is 15 minutes late, it was a difference experience to be where everyone is 5 minutes EARLY.
  4. Germany isn’t perfect. You hear that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and it’s true. Even with socialized medicine and education, people still still worry about the same things that are worried about here in America like mortgages, juggling work and home life, etc.
  5. There are good German songs. Here’s proof.
  6. Germany is more of a melting pot than I imagined. You may have heard that there are a lot of Syrians going into Germany and as whole, lots of people have been flooding into the country. To an outsider, Germany would seem like a favorable place to move to. Education and healthcare aside, Germany has the top employment rate in the Europe next to Sweden (based on a Statistica finding). The government has also been vocal about allowing migrants into the country. Whether that is a good thing or not is its own debate.
  7. As a whole, Germans tend to value staying in one place and not moving to other parts of Europe. As some Germans explained to me, if a person finds a steady job, they are not too keen to jump from job to job. When I asked about how they felt about Americans, I was told that their was an idea that Americans move around a lot changing jobs, but that we must easily move to different states for work. This is ironic because I would have thought that with European citizenship, a European would be keen on moving to different countries!

Visiting and moving to a foreign country will always be an eye-opening experience for me but what I was not expecting on this trip was that I would connect so well with the German people. The language was so different but the people and lifestyle reminded me of American culture which was surprising. However, I look forward to going back someday and visiting some of my new German friends. Despite what you might think about the “rough” German language and any stereotypes you may hear, Germans are as lovely as the country.

What’s Up Next…Volunteering Abroad!

As a person who has lived abroad in Spain and had the opportunity to travel to lots of different places, people have frequently have said to me, “You must have been to Germany.” The answer has always been “no” with a sigh. When I was studying and later working in Spain, I went to a lot of the surrounding countries – except for a number of countries in northern Europe – but never have been to Germany. So, I am excited to announce that come next week I will be in Germany volunteering!

So, in case you are wondering how this all started…

While I was trying to get to bed at 2 AM one morning and failing, I was on Google randomly looking at volunteer opportunities and stumbled upon a company called Diverbo which places native English speakers in a villa in Spain or Germany for 5-7 days with meals and accommodations, in exchange for speaking in English to English learners. It sounds easy and it is, if you are fine with speaking up to 12 hours a day! I am fine with this and it is perfect because longer placements would be impossible, since I work full-time.

If anyone is interested in doing something similar, you should check out their website and stay tuned because I am hoping to come back with lots of anecdotes and some insight about German culture since I will be speaking to Germans for 12 hours a day for 5 days. 🙂

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Me holding my most prized possession.