Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oh Darling, Let's Be Adventurous.

My first bucket list that I made was posted on this blog almost two years ago! Since then, I've checked a few things off my list and also added some (new and old things) that I feel are worthy of being on my list! I've seen and done some pretty cool things in my 25 years, and I can't wait to see more and explore more. Any other recommendations/suggestions are welcome and appreciated :) 

-Visit all 50 states
-Go zip lining
-Ride in a hot air balloon
-Go to the Ellen Degeneres Show
-Intern for the Ellen Degeneres Show
-Visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam
-Go whitewater rafting
-Live by the beach
-Ride a mechanical bull
-Donate blood
-Climb to the top of The Leaning Tower of Pisa
-Visit Stonehenge (In a series of unfortunate events, I haven't made it there yet)
-Be part of a flash mob
-Live in New York City 
-Tour Buckingham Palace
-Stand on the equator 
-Learn to drive a stick shift 
-Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower
-Ride a gondola in Venice
-Be someone's Maid of Honor
-Work and live abroad
-Volunteer abroad
-Visit Australia 
-Adopt a dog
-Win a karaoke contest
-Meet a celebrity 
-Go on a cruise 
-Make a wish in the Trevi Fountain
-Win big at a casino
-Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Ireland
-Write a letter to my future self
-Attend a gay pride parade
-Attend a gay wedding
-Visit the rainforest
-Visit Auschwitz
-Visit the Louvre in Paris
-Build a house
-Go to Las Vegas
-Adopt a child
-Ride a camel in Morocco 
-Go on an African Safari
-Ride on an elephant
-Swim with dolphins
-Ride on a wave runner 
-Learn another language
-Become an organ donor
-Get a college degree
-Go bungee jumping 
-Go hiking in Norway
-Fly first class
-Step foot in all 7 continents 
-See a Broadway musical
-See the Mona Lisa
-Kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland
-Meet Jodi Picoult (my favorite author)
-Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain 
-Float in the Dead Sea
-Attend Oktoberfest in Munich
-Kiss a stranger
-Climb to the top of the Notre Dame
-See the Colosseum
-Go skinny-dipping
-Ask someone out on a date
-Visit Dubai
-Drink nothing but water for a week
-Date someone completely wrong for me
-Learn to play a musical instrument
-Pay off all student loans
-Visit the Taj Mahal 
-Visit the Swiss Alps
-Get hypnotized
-Crash a wedding
-Stay at a 5 star hotel
-Get married to the love of my life
-Honeymoon in Bora Bora
-Visit 50 countries by the time I'm 50 (currently at 18)
-Watch my niece and nephew graduate high school
-Buy a stranger a meal at a restaurant
-Buy a stranger's groceries
-Change at least one person's mind about gay rights
-Complete the "21 Day Fix"
-Go island hopping in Greece
-Attend a Cirque Du Soleil show
-Take the first flight out of the airport
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I could've had a baby in the time that it's been since I've posted

Wow. So it's been awhile. I have been living in Prague for seventeen months now. What?! For me to even write that is crazy. If you would've told me before I moved to Prague that I would still be living here after almost a year and a half, I would never have believed you. In my mind I was staying at least six months, maybe a year if I liked it well enough. And yet here I am, still living a Czech life. So much has gone on in the nine month span since I've written my last post. Where to start?

Well, I am now living out of the city center in a nice residential area in the Prague 6 district. I have a studio apartment to myself. Although living alone can get lonely at times, I've been enjoying myself and my new place quite a bit. I have made a lot of friends and I have lost a lot of friends. I think one of the hardest parts about being an expat is the never-ending goodbyes. I have had to say goodbye to more friends in the past year and a half than I think I have in my whole life. There are only a handful of us still in Prague from our original TEFL group. All the rest have either moved on to a different country, or back to the States. Being an expat means having to deal with almost constant change. Changes in jobs, friends, name it. But I think the biggest change occurs within yourself. I know that I'm sounding cheesy as hell right now. But honestly, I feel like a totally different person from the girl that boarded a plane to Prague seventeen months ago. 

Speaking of changes, the contract I had with the preschool I worked for ended in June. I worked at this preschool from last August until the end of June. It was the most stressful, demanding, and rewarding ten months that I've had. Since then, I have been trying to pick up some babysitting and private English lessons as a way to earn extra money and fill up my time until I find another job. I would like to branch out of the teaching world a bit and see what else I could do as a profession here in Prague. But mostly, I have just been enjoying the summer. I did my first ever solo trip in July around Croatia. I was so apprehensive to travel alone. I had always taken the backseat when it came to directions and all the important stuff when traveling with a friend or group. How the hell would I manage to get myself around Croatia?! But alas friends, I did it. And guess what? It was amazing. I had the best time for those six days traveling around and meeting new people. There were so many other solo travelers just like myself that I met along the way. I met travelers from England, Australia, Brazil, the U.S., Canada, and much more. It was so lovely to pick other people's brains about their view on the world and traveling. I gained a lot of insight on those short six days. I also gained a lot of confidence. Since I only had myself to rely on, I had to make sure that I was organized and ready to get myself where I needed to be. I ended up doing much better than I thought I would. I navigated my way through Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb like a champ. I took a speedboat tour in Split to The Blue Lagoon and Trogir, I joined a Ghost Tour in Zagreb, and I drank a lot of wine and beer. It was the most relaxing trip that I've ever taken. There was no stress about where to go or what to do. My Croatia trip was exactly what I needed and I am 100% sure that I will be traveling solo again in the near future.

Although it is nice to have the summer off, it can also get a bit boring and lonely. I felt myself falling into a bit of a slump in my daily routine since ending my teaching job. My trip to Croatia reminded me to find the beauty in each day and really just to stop and enjoy life a bit more. So for now, I don't have a new steady job (but I'm searching!). I had an interview today that went really well, so hopefully by my next blog post I'll be ranting and raving about my fabulous new job ;)  

This post doesn't even cover half of the on-goings of the past nine months. If I were to write it all out, you'd be reading a novel. So for now, I'm going to leave you with some pictures of my lovely Croatian trip.

Until next time.


Blue Lagoon

St. Mark's Church in Zagreb

Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's Not Always Rainbows and Butterflies

 People look at specks of my life through social media and "ooh and ahh" about it. More than once, I have heard statements such as: "You're so lucky!" or "You're living the dream!". And, yes, I am extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to live and work abroad. Yes, I am living out my dream of being immersed in a foreign country. But life has its ups and downs no matter the circumstances.

There are always going to be good days and bad days. And I will admit that I don't talk about the not-so-great aspects of living in Europe and being 4,000 miles away from home. Those things typically aren't discussed over social media for a number of reasons. First of all, we don't want others to see us as that "whiny, annoying" person on their newsfeed . We all know someone who posts depressing things on their social media in order to receive some attention. Secondly, it's just not the norm to talk about the not-so-amazing aspects of our lives on social media. Most of the time, we seek gratification from our friends and peers through our posts raving about our accomplishments and our seemingly "perfect" lives. We rant and rave about the cool things we've seen and the places that we've been. We often gush about our lives...posting pictures that scream, "Look at how great my life is!". And to peoples' credit, sometimes it's not meant to make others jealous. For example whenever I visit a new place, I feel so much happiness that I want to share that feeling with my friends and family. But, as I'm sure you know, there is plenty of content floating around social media that's main purpose is to make other people envious.

Honestly, I have days here where I don't even want to go out of my flat because I'm feeling like shit that day and don't want to be bothered. Sometimes a girl just wants to go to the store without makeup on wearing yoga pants without feeling judged. Let's just say that living in the center of a capital city makes that quite difficult. There are days where it's so frustrating to not know the native language that something as simple as ordering food can majorly stress you out. There are days where the very thought of my family brings me to tears because I remember how long it's been since I've seen them and how hard it is to get to them.

I know, I know what you're thinking...I sound like a stuck-up brat complaining about my "hard" European life. But just hear me out. This post isn't meant to complain about my life. Honestly, the life that I'm living is pretty grand. I am happier here in Prague than I have been anywhere else. I just want everyone to know that my life (much like anyone else's) is not a constant dream. We all have our good and bad days. Life can be a bitch no matter where you are or what you are doing. So next time you're feeling jealous while scrolling through your newsfeed, remember that there is much more to someone's life than the rosy picture they paint on social media.
Friday, October 3, 2014

That's the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.

I have been known to be quite an empathetic (and often emotional) creature. Of course, sometimes this sucks. I could emphasize with week-old roadkill if I let myself. So maybe I'm feeling extra emotional lately...I don't know. But, sometimes a story that I read really strikes a chord with me and I can't shake off that icky feeling.

A good example of this is a viral video that I recently watched. It shows an autistic boy who thinks he is doing the ever popular "Ice Bucket Challenge". Instead, he gets a cruel surprise when the bucket being dumped on his head by his "friends" is filled with urine, feces, and saliva instead of ice water. I remember being horrified when I first read this story. How can I live in a world where people do this to other people? I felt so angry, sad, and disgusted. What would I have done if this boy had been my friend or family member? The anger I felt about what had happened to this virtual stranger was so fierce.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love fiercely. You can say whatever you want about me, but as soon as you talk about someone I love, we'll have a problem. I protect my niece and nephew like they are my own children. I'd like to think that one day I will have a family. But honestly, it scares the shit out of me thinking about bringing a human being into this world. I endlessly feel the need to protect my loved ones from all the bad things in our world. The logical part of me knows that that is impossible. There are always going to be good and bad people in the world. There are always going to be situations that you can't control. I just can't fathom seeing my (very, very, theoretical) children being hurt by these types of people. It makes me sick to think that people like this exist. And it just seems to be getting worse. With the internet and social media, it seems that people think they can do or say whatever they want without any repercussions. It's so disgusting to see the things that strangers say to other strangers. Do they not realize that a real person is on the other end of that message that they send? That someone's life could be affected by their words? Words can be so powerful.

I'm a strong believer in putting good in the world to get good out. I admit...sometimes it's hard for me, especially living in a big city. There are so many shitty people I run into on a weekly basis. Sometimes it makes it hard to want to be a nice person. Like the person who runs into you without giving you a second look...or that asshole who is making fun of a stranger on the street for how they look. Lately, I have had little faith in humanity. It makes me wonder what makes people the way they are. And even though there will always be shitty people trying to bring you down, I think it's important to try to stay positive and remember that there always will be good people out there. You just have to look for them.

Today I saw a girl wearing a shirt that read, "Don't Let Idiots Ruin Your Day" and it made me smile. Although it was a little silly, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I know I will probably never understand or be able to change those people who do horrible things, but I am always in charge of myself. I can control how I make others feel. It is simultaneously an amazing and scary sentiment. We as humans have so much power to affect others with our actions and words. Today and every day, I will try to use that power for good.
Sunday, July 27, 2014

You've got a Gypsy Soul to Blame...

These past three weeks have been great because I've finally gotten to travel a bit! First, I went to Krakow, Poland and the weekend after I was off to Budapest, Hungary. It feels really good to be traveling again. Prior to these trips, I had only visited Vienna, Austria (twice!) since being in Prague, and both of those trips were for visa stuff. Which reminds me...I finally have a visa and a work permit, so I am officially legal to live and work here! Yay!

My weekend trip to Krakow was great. Honestly, the main reason I wanted to visit Krakow was to take a trip to Auschwitz. Other than that, I was pretty ill informed about the actual city itself. My traveling buddy Tori and I took a night train to Krakow, which was about an 8 and 1/2 long trip. We booked the train because, A.) we thought we could sleep on the train and B.) it was cheap. Well, weren't we in for a surprise when we found our seats. The seats were broken up into different carriages that seated eight people per carriage. I say the word "seats" lightly. They were basically glorified benches. I half expected the dude from Eurotrip to be sitting next me massaging my back and saying, "mi scusi, mi scusi". Thankfully, the people in our carriage were awesome and we ended up drinking most of the night and playing Cards Against Humanity. By the time we arrived to Krakow, I was still a bit intoxicated and tried to take out a ton of money at the ATM because I didn't understand Polish currency. (Just giving Americans a good name, as usual). When we were finally able to check into our hostel, we took a well deserved nap and then explored the city. Krakow exceeded my expectations. The city center was beautiful and the streets were full of life. We saw a parade and a few shows just walking down the streets. Tori and I visited Oskcar Schindler's Factory, which was extremely interesting. Each room had a different sort of "theme" and made you feel like you were back in that time period. It was eye-opening and made me even more anxious to visit Auschwitz. 

The next day, Tori and I took an hour long bus ride to Auschwitz. Even though our tour group was huge, it was still a really enlightening experience. Some of the things that I saw were almost unbelievable. There were piles and piles of suitcases, shoes, kitchen utensils, etc. that belonged to the many victims of the camps. The most disturbing thing that I saw was a giant pile of human hair. Everyone who came into the camps had to get their hair cut, which resulted in tons and tons of human hair. It was a really eerie experience, knowing that I was in a place that became a living nightmare for so many. I stood in a gas chamber where people unknowingly were murdered after being told they were going to take a shower. Seeing the little holes in the ceiling of the building where the gas was dropped down was almost too much to bear. How did something this horrific and cruel go on? It was very bizarre to be in the same place that I have read, researched, and learned so much about in my short lifetime. I was at such a distinguishing place in human history that I don't think it really sunk in until after I was back in Prague. People kept asking me how my experience visiting Auschwitz was. I couldn't find the right words to accurately describe it. Amazing? No. Awesome? No. All those words seemed like a disrespectful way to describe such an important place in history. Honestly, I'm still not sure how to describe my visit to Auschwitz. But I can say this. Visiting Auschwitz was very eye-opening and almost unbelievable experience. I think that everyone should visit at least once in their life to understand the horror of events that occurred there and to make sure that something like this never happens again.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Praha Life

The last time I posted, I was anxiously awaiting my arrival to Prague. Well, now I have been in the city for three amazing months. These past three months have been a whirlwind. I have learned so much and met so many new people. My time here has flown by without me even noticing. Twice now, I have tried to write a new blog post, but have come up short. I'm not sure I can fit the on-goings of these past three months into one blog post. So many things have happened since then. I can, however, briefly sum it up.

Prague is everything I hoped it would be and more. The city is gorgeous and there is so much to do here. I am never bored. I have an apartment in the center of the city with three people from my TEFL course. The apartment is a two-minute walk from the Astronomical Clock and our street is always bustling with tourists. On any given night, I am bound to hear singing and laughing of drunken tourists outside my window. Although the tourists can get a little annoying when you're in a hurry to get somewhere, I keep reminding myself how cool it is that I live somewhere that people want to visit. I am so lucky to be here. I wake up every day feeling extremely grateful to be living in this beautiful city.

The first month in Prague was filled with lesson planning, teaching, and a decent amount of stress. I received my TEFL certificate on April 12th, 2014 and am now working part-time as a preschool teacher for 3-5 year olds. The TEFL course was demanding and terrifying at first, but I made it through. Teaching is a lot harder than I expected and a bit of a daunting task. I met some great friends in my TEFL course and have had so many adventures with them already. We all came to Prague as strangers, and now it feels like we've known each other forever. I couldn't ask for anything more in my life right now. This is exactly where I want to be and I am so grateful that I decided to take the risk to move to a foreign country. I'm so happy to be living my dream :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Final Countdown

     Well, twelve days from now I will be on a plane heading to Prague. I honestly cannot believe how quickly it has crept up on me. I feel so unprepared. I still have a million things to do. And packing? HA that's funny. I have virtually nothing packed. I remember scrambling around the night before I left for London trying to finish my packing. Let's hope I don't repeat that this time around. I feel like this day is sneaking up on me so fast. In less than two weeks, I will be back on European soil. I am not even going to try to lie, I am really scared. The closer it gets to March 12th, the more apprehensive I become. This time around, it is so different. I am going completely alone without knowing anyone else. Also, I think the fact that I don't know how long I'll be gone is freaking me out a little bit. When I was studied abroad, I knew down to the day how long I would be away. This time around, I could be gone for any amount of time. Two months, six months, a year? Who knows. It's going to be harder for me because I don't know how long I will be away from everyone that I love.

    The last time I went away, my nephew was just shy of three months old. I missed him horribly. Now, my little buddy is almost three. I am so fearful of leaving him. He is old enough now to understand that Aunt Keek won't be back for awhile. On top of that, I now also have a five month old niece. I will be leaving not one, but two little ones behind. I have so many reservations and I know a lot of my loved ones would feel relieved if I changed my mind about going. Despite all these fears and reservations, I know that I won't change my mind. I have spent way too much time dreaming of this day that is fast approaching. I have obsessively researched job opportunities abroad. I have prayed and hoped and dreamed of this moment. I couldn't imagine my regret if I changed my mind. This is hands down the most brave thing that I have ever done. Five years ago, if you would have told me that I would be moving to Europe all by myself, I would have laughed in your face. I have never considered myself a particularly independent person. I rely on a lot of people for help and advice. My family and friends have always been my crutch. I guess this will be the first time I will truly be on my own. After 23 years, I will finally feel like an adult. Of course, in true Kasey style, I can't easily transition into adulthood like a normal person. Instead, I pick the most drastic change that anyone could go through. I can't help that I caught the travel bug. I can't help that I'm different from my family and 90% of my friends. I don't believe that life is meant to be spent in one place. I want experiences. I don't want a boyfriend or a husband or a child right now. I just want to go see the world. Whenever I am feeling apprehensive or afraid, I need to remember why I am doing this in the first place. I need to remember what made me fall in love with travel. One of the worst feelings is living with regret. I refuse to live my life with regret. So, in twelve days, I will board a plane to Prague, feeling fearful and anxious. But underneath all that uncertainty, the desire to travel and explore will fuel me to keep going. I know that this is what I am meant to be doing.