12.12.2016

3 French Hens, 2 Turtles Doves, and 1 Little Pudgy Pup

Anyone who is taking the time to read this probably already knows that Slade and I adopted a puppy. But, I'm just now getting the opportunity to sit down and write about it. So, without further ado, everyone meet Babybel. (Again.)


Full Name: Babybel Rogers 
Nicknames: Bell, Bell Bottom, Jingle Bell
Birthday: September 30, 2016
Breed: Pit Bull/Retriever mix
Current weight: 11.8 pounds
Hobbies: Torturing her sister (Rizzo the cat), eating peanut butter with dad, long walks that end in finding the perfect stick, and sleeping on mom's head

We had been talking about adopting a dog for a few weeks. One of the local rescues posted a picture of a doberman puppy one day that we were really interested in, but he was adopted before we were able to go meet him. It was all fate though, because right as we were about to decide to just wait, another shelter posted pictures of Bell's litter. We fell in love with her little eyebrows in her photo, and the little pudge was the first one we laid eyes on when we made it to the adoption event at PetSmart. One application and some cash later, she was ours!

It's amazing how much a puppy can change your daily routine. People are going to roll their eyes when I say this...but it's honestly a bit like having a child. You keep your eyes on them at all times, you worry about every little thing, you wake up at least three extra times a night to tend to them, and when they're ready to be awake for the day...you better be ready to be awake for the day. I cried all the way to work the first morning I had to put her in her crate, and there are already at least 50 pictures of her on my phone's camera roll. She hasn't even been around for two weeks, but gosh, I love that little pup.

"Some things fill your heart without trying."

I found that quote on Pinterest when I was looking for a good one to describe the relationships people have with pets. It applies so much to the way that Babybel makes me feel, but it also applies to a lot of other aspects of my life right now. I never thought I would be this happy just six months after coming home from Prague. My heart is undeniably full. 

Now for a puppy photo collage, because I know that's what everyone is actually here for. Hope you all had a great Monday! 


11.30.2016

Cats, Christmas Trees, and Chicken

I'm going to tell you something that may surprise you.

Slade already had a woman in his life when he and I first started dating. This was actually one of the first things I learned about him. He told me her name, told me all about her personality, and even texted me a picture of her. Then, not too long after, I met her in person. 


Everyone, meet Rizzo, AKA: The Rizz. She's a whole lot of sass in a tiny little package. Her hobbies include racing people up and down the stairs (and tripping them on good days), loafing, flirting with her stray boyfriend through the sliding glass door, and spying on the neighbors. She's a pretty fun gal.

She's also the reason that I have to dope myself up on Zyrtec at approximately 6:30 every evening. I'm pretty sure she sees my allergies as a sign of weakness. I'm also pretty sure she is plotting my demise...although I did once read an article that said cats bite and glare at you out of love.  

Rizzo has had a particularly crazy week. I warned her that she was going to end up on the blog if she kept it up, but I think that's what she was secretly hoping for. Cats, am I right?

Slade and I put up the Christmas tree on Saturday. Ah, so festive...


Now, I'm not naive enough to think that she wasn't going to mess with the tree. She's a cat. Cats are curious. I knew it was inevitable. That's why I wasn't at all surprised to come home to this after we took a five minute trip to Walgreens. (Note the trail of flattened branches.)


Therefore, I also wasn't super surprised any of the other times we found the tree in a disheveled state. I was a little disturbed by the crazed look in her eye when I actually witnessed her take a flying leap and latch onto the top of the tree, but still...cats, am I right? Yesterday we barricaded her in the spare room while we were at work, but then decided that her freedom is more important than trying to avoid a few ornaments on the floor. Look at it this way...most people only decorate the tree once a year, but cat people get to do it EVERY DAY. 

Moving on...this morning I realized that we forgot to thaw chicken for dinner tonight. Now, one does not just leave things on the counter to thaw when they have a cat, so I devised what I thought was a genius plan. I put the chicken in the sink, then took one of our super heavy plates, that no normal cat should be able to move, and placed in on top of the chicken. I texted Slade so he could check on it when he got home, and went off to work. 

Around 4:00, I got this text:


At this point, I really did think he was kidding. 


How she managed to get that chicken, I'll never know. But at least the Christmas tree stayed in one piece. Oh, and more good news. She loves the Christmas blankets, and as of now has no plans to harm them. 


11.28.2016

Is This Thing On?


Testing...1, 2. Testing... Can everyone hear me okay?

Greetings, for the first time since...what, May? I have been such a neglectful blog parent. Last time I wrote, I was still in Prague, preparing to make the move back home to Florida. Now, I have been home for five months, and life is already completely different.

Part of me wishes that I had kept up with blogging over the past few months. If I'm being honest with myself though, I just wasn't in the right place to do so. I was worried about coming back home. I had no idea what I was going to do, or how I was going to move to the next chapter of my life. My time in Europe was surreal. I lived a dream, and I learned more about who I truly am in one year, than I possibly have in the rest of my years combined. I was sad about coming back to a more "realistic" way of life.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a difficult time being content. Being a dreamer and a perfectionist can be a tough combination, and this combination has often left me thinking one of two things at any given time over the years:

1. Why aren't you following your dreams?
2. Why aren't you living up to your abilities?

If you have been reading for a while, the first thing you probably noticed is this blog is no longer called Miranda Writes. For a few weeks now, I have been feeling ready to jump back into writing. I knew though, that I needed to begin writing under different circumstances. Miranda Writes is full of years of posts that all lead up to basically one common theme...and that is me trying to figure myself out. Or, at least trying to figure out how to live a life that is true to the person I have always known I am deep down inside.

I have always jokingly told people that I struggle with having a "restless soul." This restlessness has led to a lot of negative things in my life, but it has also given me the constant push I need to grow and thrive. I feel that I am finally in a place where I am able to use my restless soul for contentment, rather than chaos. Hence, My Restless Soul has been born. My time abroad changed me in countless ways, but this ability to appreciate my restlessness is perhaps the most crucial change.

With all of this being said, I guess the last thing to do in this warm-up post is tell you what I've been up to since I've been back home. After floundering around for about a month and readjusting to the old U.S. of A, I began the job hunt and landed a position at a travel agency. I have been the office manager there for the past three months, but I was recently offered a new position as an air specialist. I'm really happy with this company, and I'm so thankful to be working in the field of travel...which is obviously very important to me.

I'm pretty settled in Gainesville, which is ironic considering I called Tallahassee home for five years. (You understand this irony if you're familiar with Florida.) But, it's nice being close to my family and friends. I also have a man in my life that I am pretty crazy about. His name is Slade, and I didn't expect him to pop up three months ago, but he has quickly earned the spot of "favorite person.".

I'm happy to finally be at a point that I'm ready to blog again. I have had several people ask me what is going on with my writing, and if I was planning to pick it back up. To those people...thank you! Writing is one of my favorite things to do as a hobby, but it makes it twice as enjoyable to know that there are folks out there who enjoy reading my thoughts.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, and I'll be back to check in soon!

5.19.2016

A Chatty Thursday (And 4 Things)

It's not even 9pm, but I am so sleepy.

And...I haven't even left my flat today.

Don't judge me though, because I have been really productive. I did my second day of Blogilates (a new venture which I will discuss more at a later time), cleaned, and slowly but surely, I have been going through all of my stuff and purging/attempting to pack. I still don't know how I'm going to get everything home in two suitcases. I keep weeding things out and it still just seems like too much. Plus, I don't want to get ripped off by the airline for my bags being too heavy. So many dilemmas...

Anywho, I feel like writing something a bit fun today, that also doesn't require too much work on my brain's part. I saw this "survey" go around a few weeks ago and thought it was interesting. So, I'm going to do it today. Introducing, the "4 Things Tag."


Four names that people call me other than your real name:
1. Randa
2. Randy
3. Rand'r
4. Randa Pooh (Childhood nicknames die hard...or just never die.)

Four places I've lived:
1. Old Town, Florida
2. Gainesville, Florida
3. Tallahassee, Florida
4. Prague, Czech Republic

Four jobs I've had:
1. Assistant Retail Manager
2. Research Assistant
3. Customer Service Representative
4. English Teacher

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Spaghetti
2. Mushroom Swiss burgers
3. French fries
4. Chocolate chip cookies

Four things I prefer not to eat:
1. Raisins
2. Sweet potatoes
3. Fried chicken (on the bone)
4. Raisins (I hate them enough to mention them twice.)

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. Any beach
2. In England (And I will be in less than two weeks!)
3. Watching a movie at the cinema
4. Spending time with my family

Four movies I've watched more than once:
1. The Phantom of the Opera
2. Titanic
3. The Princess Bride
4. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Four books I'd recommend:
1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (This is obviously a series, but I'm going to count it as one.)
2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Four places I've visited: 
1. London, England
2. Berlin, Germany
3. Vienna, Austria
4. Bratislava, Slovakia

Four TV shows I watch/watched:
1. Sex and the City
2. Scrubs
3. Orange is the New Black
4. The Big Bang Theory

Four things I'm looking forward to this year:
1. Seeing Mumford and Sons (tomorrow!) and Coldplay next month!
2. Being back in Florida with my friends and family.
3. Finding a new job (teaching, hopefully) and getting back on my feet financially.
4. More traveling!

Do we have anything in common? What are some of your "4 things?"

5.18.2016

This One's for the Prague Squad

Pretty sure this was the first squad pic ever. 
I've never been very good at making friends. 

It's not because I'm not "friendly." I would consider myself a very approachable person. However, I am a very approachable person who has social anxiety, and a severe case of "introvertedness."

As a result of this, I've never had a giant social circle. Throughout my life, in each new chapter/situation, I have tended to make one or two really close friends. This doesn't mean that I am rude to other people by any means...I'm just more an "acquaintance." Do I wish I was more outgoing sometimes? Of course. But, I am who I am...and that's okay. 

This is one reason that moving abroad last summer was a huge leap for me. I was leaving everyone I was familiar with, to come to a place where I knew absolutely no one. And, I'm really glad I did, because I have met a lot of really amazing people here in Prague, from my trainers and classmates on my TEFL course, to my colleagues and students during my teaching months. 

My closest friendships though, came in the form of the Prague Squad. Jess was my flatmate during the TEFL course, and Ephram was my best TEFL friend/flatmate for the rest of my time in Prague. After TEFL, the three of us started spending a lot of time together, and thus, the "Prague Squad" was formed. 

You can't tell, but this was taken in front of a building that I'm almost positive was haunted. 
We are three very different personalities, but I think our differences are the reason that we were able to have so many laughs. The past 11 months have been filled with countless travel mishaps, nights at "headquarters," and inside jokes. Without these two, I would not have some of my favorite Prague memories. 

Last night was our final rendezvous with the three of us together. Ephram left for Greece this morning, and I am leaving to move back home to Florida before he returns. It was a pretty bittersweet realization. But, we know that this is not the end. There will be future reunions in Europe...somehow, somewhere!

So, this post is a thank you to you, Prague Squad. Thank you for both being such great friends! You have been such a key part of my year here in Prague. I look forward to seeing what we all accomplish before we meet again. I "lo v" you both. 







5.13.2016

You're Always More than You Think


Public Service Announcement: Leaving the Czech Republic is just as complicated as getting into the Czech Republic. 

Well, I wouldn't necessarily say that either process is complicated...more like time consuming. If you want to do things legally, there are a lot of steps to take, a lot of people to talk to (or use a translator to talk to), and a lot of paperwork to complete. This has been my life for the past week. 

My Visa expired on Wednesday, so I had to go to the foreign police to get a stamp in my passport to show that I am re-starting my tourist Visa, since I will be here for a couple of more weeks. That was about a three hour adventure. Earlier in the week I also had to go un-register with the social office. Everything is taken care of in terms of leaving my schools, FINALLY. Now I just have to un-register with the financial office, cancel my Czech phone plan, cancel my Czech bank account, pay off any outstanding balances on my bills here, and...PACK. 

When I moved here last summer, I came with one large suitcase, a backpack, and a small duffel bag. I have since accumulated a medium sized suitcase, and bought a few things, so I'm really hoping that I can comfortably get everything back to Florida in two suitcases. I'm about 99% sure this is doable. I guess we will see as the packing process ensues. 

I went through all of my teaching supplies and important paperwork today. I trashed a good majority of the stuff, but there are a few things that I want to keep. I have also accumulated a pile of bits and bobs...bus and plane tickets, city maps, receipts from different experiences, etc. I sorted through it today as well, and decided to keep most of it. Because, hello...scrapbooks and collages are in the near-ish future. 

Something I have been beating myself up over lately is the thought that I feel like I haven't done enough while I have been in Europe. Sure, I have visited five new countries, saw a lot of things, and learned even more, but I'm still left asking...was it enough? I have no doubt that there is plenty of traveling in my future, but did I take full advantage of this experience? 

This question has popped up daily, but when I step back to really take a look at the situation, the answer is a resounding yes. Yes, I have taken full advantage. Did I get to do everything I wanted to do? Definitely not. But, with the time, finances, and position I was given...I did pretty darn well. Especially considering that this is the first opportunity I have had to feed my desire for European travel. I worked hard to be able to have this experience, and even though it hasn't ended in exactly the way I was hoping it would...I refuse to dwell on the "what if's?"

Constantly thinking that we could have done something better or different is a huge downfall of our nature as human beings. At least...I think it is. Why? Because doubts way too often interfere with our ability to appreciate and enjoy our lives. Sure...there is probably always something that we could do better, or differently, but things happen in the way that they do for a reason. 

We are always more than we think we are. Situations are not always going to meet our perfect expectations, but that does not mean that we are failures. Every day is a new adventure. When we wake up each morning, we don't wake up knowing exactly what successes or or disasters we will face. We learn as we go. We handle life as it comes. And the fact that we handle it...that is proof enough that we are more than our minds lead us to believe. 

Going through these mementos that I have accumulated over the past year made me realize that. I have done so much more than I ever thought I would. I myself am more than I think I am. And you, you are too. I encourage you to take a second to appreciate that about yourself. 

Happy Friday! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

5.12.2016

Lately in Photos

I'm a big fan of Instagram, and if you are also a big fan of Instagram you have probably noticed the new changes that have been made to the presentation of the app. I think I like it. What do you think?

With Instagram in mind, I thought I would keep things simple around here today and share some of my recent favorite moments that have been captured through photograph. Some great memories have been made, and I'm so thankful that they are mine! Please let me know what some of your recent favorite moments are in the comments below! 


//Spring trips to Prague Castle are the best trips to Prague Castle.
//I received some mail from home this week, complete with a photo of some adorable, spoiled dogs.
//I never tire of views of red rooftops. 
//Blue skies work magic on the mood. 
//I finally tried the infamous trdelnik ice cream cone. It was disgusting. (JK.)
//I was able to see a Czech performance of The Phantom of the Opera. It was fantastic!
//Prague is full of so many beautiful blooms.
//Shakespeare and Sons will probably always be one of my favorite bookstores in the world. 
//Matching sunglasses for the win.

5.02.2016

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Free Time

As you may or may not know, Friday was my last day of teaching. Well...for the most part. I still have two private students that I will have lessons with over the next couple of weeks, but two 90 minute lessons per week can hardly be considered strenuous. 

As you also may or may not know, I'm not leaving Europe to return to Florida until mid-June. When I tell people this, they always ask me the same question:

What are you doing to do with yourself for a month and a half?

Sometimes we can be so afraid of free time. We think free time equals laziness, and life wasting. This is a thought that I struggle with as well. Summer vacations in high school were honestly the last time I had more than a few days away from school or work. That's why I plan to make the most of this spare time...here in Europe, and when I return home to Florida. (Because honestly, I will probably take the remainder of the summer to readjust, job hunt, and work on my mental health.)

With all of this in mind, I decided to make a list of things that I want to do during the next couple of months. I feel like I have created a good balance of activities, so I thought I would share. I hope that anyone who finds themselves with some extra time, whether it's a few days or a couple of months, will find some inspiration and encouragement in these goals. 


1. Take care of "back burner" tasks. 
We all have things that we need to do that aren't necessarily priorities. Maybe you want to clean out your house and take some things to the donation center. Maybe you need to file away that growing stack of mail. Maybe you need to organize your email inbox. 

Before I leave Prague, I need to donate clothes (that are either too big, or too warm to take home to Florida), and go through all of my teaching materials to decide what to trash and what to keep. Do I want to spend time doing these things? No. But, will I do them? Yes. 

If we place our focus on a project, it can be completed in a matter of hours. Then, you can spend the rest of your free time with the satisfaction of knowing you accomplished something you have been putting off. It's a win-win situation. 

2. Exercise.
Since I have been in Europe, my energy levels have been so much higher. I think it's probably because I typically walk 4-5 miles a day, and I participate in much more physical activity than I was at home. I want to take that to the next level by attempting to go for jogs in the morning and teaching myself some toning exercises. I want to solidify these habits so that I can carry them home with me. 

Free time does not always have to be spent on the couch with Netflix and a bowl of popcorn. Put on some workout clothes and break a sweat. Tire yourself out, and then come home and shower and put on your favorite show. Couch time is so much better when you feel like you have earned it. 

3. Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies. 
You know those things that you would always rather be doing when you are at work or school? Well...that's what free time is for! What are your favorite things in the world? 

I plan to get A LOT of reading and writing done this summer. I'm making it a goal to blog most days, and to maybe even finish writing my novel, because guess what? I have the time! 

Decide what you want to do, and do it. Cook. Dance. Hike. Paint. Sing. Create or produce something. This is the time. 

4. Explore. 
I think one of the best things a person can do for their mood is getting out of the house. There is a beautiful world out there. Go see it! 

If you are in the position to, travel to a place you have always wanted to go. Take a road trip. Get on a plane. Heck, even if this is not financially feasible for you, go discover something new in your own back yard. 

I am planning to take full advantage of my remaining time in Prague. I'm going to re-visit favorite places and find new ones. I'm going to see Mumford and Sons in a couple of weeks, and Phantom of the Opera this Friday. I'm then heading over to England to spend two weeks there before I step onto a plane back to the U.S. 

The moral of the story is...it doesn't matter where you go or what you do...just experience something new. Make some memories. Breathe some fresh air. 

5. Invest in the people you love. 
Life is busy, and the victims of our busyness are typically those who are the closest to us. When we are going through the stresses and routines of our every day lives, we often forget to remind our friends and family how much we appreciate and care about them. It's sad but it's true. 

Take advantage of a freer schedule and spend time with the people you love. Have a conversation. Treat them to lunch. If their far away, give them a phone call or write them a heartfelt letter. Give them the love and attention that is so often tucked away into the forgotten corners of your heart. 

As a final thought, I of course believe that there is nothing wrong with relaxing and being lazy every now and then. However, I'm almost certain that there is no way to go wrong when you are balancing relaxation with the things above. Let's change the way we view our free time, so that we can enjoy it before we get back to work. 

Have I missed anything? What do you like to do when you have free time?

5.01.2016

Drunk Stalkers, Dead Rats, and Disregarding the Rules [Travel Talk]

I was looking back at some of my posts from my travels from this past year and I noticed a trend. 

For the most part, those posts only talk about the positive aspects of the trips. And, while they are obviously fun and memorable trips that I will never forget...no period of travel goes perfectly according to plan. So I thought, why not start sharing some of the less picturesque (and often funny) moments from my travels? 

I thought the perfect trip to begin this little series of not so glamorous travel experiences would be November 2015's trip to Plzen, Czech Republic. Let's get into it. 

P.S. Thanks to Ephram for letting me use his photos for this post!


Something that I did mention in my previous Plzen post is that we actually missed our bus due to being at the wrong bus station in Prague. Although it was an issue that was pretty easily resolved, it was still stressful. And...little did we know that the occurrence was just the first of many downfalls that would come along during the trip. 

When we arrived in Plzen, it was dark. Not only was it dark, but we had no idea how to get to our hostel. Luckily, Google Maps helped with that, and we were soon walking in the direction of our accomodation. 

Now, Plzen is a beautiful little city. However, like any place you visit, there are always areas that aren't so lovely to look at. So, while the hostel was the best one I have stayed at in Europe so far, the area that it was in was just a bit scary. It was also about a 15 minute walk from the center of town, and as we would make this walk to and from the hostel, we would always encounter three things:

*The very questionable looking bar/club across the street
*An abandoned building that was definitely haunted 
*And a giant dead rat next to the most frightening hideaway hole in existence

Just in case you didn't believe me. 
And yes, the rat remained there for the entire three days. 

After checking into the hostel on our first night, we went out in search of drinks...specifically beer, because as I mentioned in my last post, Plzen is popular because it is the location of the Pilsner Urquell brewery. The first place we went to was a restaurant/pub. Jess went to the washroom at one point, and when she returned she told us about a drunk guy at the bar that tried to talk to her. A little while later, Ephram went to the washroom, and he told us the same thing when he came back. 

We made a few jokes about how he just wanted a friend to talk to, finished our beer, paid, and left. Outside of the pub, we had walked about 10 feet when we noticed a man staggering towards us. Ephram and Jess both recognized him as the man that had just tried to talk to them in the restaurant. He tried to speak to us, and he was so drunk that we could not even determine what language he was speaking. 

Usually, the rule goes, if someone drunk is harassing you...you ignore them and they will go away. So, that's what we did. The problem was though...he didn't go away. 

He followed us. He continued talking and yelling. He would get unnecessarily close to us and even try to grab our arms. At this point Ephram was even yelling at him to go away, and he just wouldn't. This probably went on for a solid 10-15 minutes. Ephram finally got right in his face and yelled at him to get lost, and then we booked it and managed to lose him. 

We were really paranoid after that, looking around corners and avoiding the area we had lost him in. After another drink though, we were able to laugh about it. We even decided to give him a nickname...Germaine. Then we proceeded to joke about how Germaine was going to be hiding in the loft of our hostel room when we returned. (Unfortunately, I was the one sleeping in the loft so it wasn't too funny when the lights went out.)

Sadly...I don't have a picture of Germaine. But here is a beer in his memory. 
Let's fast forward to the next day. I also mentioned in my Plzen post that the main reason we went was to experience a beer bath. We were able to reach most places in Plzen by walking, but the spa that we were going to for the beer bath was quite a distance away. Therefore, public transportation had to come into the picture. 

A quick piece of information: most European cities have really great public transport options. For example, in Prague, we have the metro, trams and buses. Some parts of Plzen had trams, but they also had what we deemed a "bram," because it looked like a cross between a tram and a bus. 

Another quick piece of information: Public transport is not free. It's cheap, but not free. And, if you get caught on transportation without a ticket, you get a fine. 

All three of us have unlimited monthly transportation passes for Prague. However, when we were getting ready to head to the beer spa, we couldn't figure out how to buy tickets for the transport in Plzen. Jess suggested that we just ride the bram without buying them. She pointed out that the city was small, so we would probably not get checked. 

Ephram and I agreed with this, and we did manage to make it all the way to the beer spa without a ticket. We had our bath, relaxed in the spa, and left feeling rejuvenated. On the walk back to the bram stop, we continued to speak about how rejuvenated and relaxed we all felt. 

We were two stops from where we were planning to get off, and two young blonde women enter the bram through the door that we were all standing closest to. We thought nothing of them until they pulled out their badges and asked to see our transportation tickets. All three of us exchanged a wide-eyed look because we were obviously (and knowingly) not following the rules. We then quickly formulated what we were hoping would be a well-executed plan. 

We whipped out our Prague transportation passes and showed them to the women. 

They looked a bit confused and thoroughly inspected the passes. We were all still looking at each other wondering if we would get away with our crime. It seemed possible until...

"These are tickets for the city of Prague," Blonde Woman #1 told us. 

It's this point in the story that we decided to play the tourist card.

"Oh, you mean those aren't good for the ENTIRE Czech Republic? We thought they were!"

Unfortunately, they didn't fall for our tricks. We each proceeded to pay a 500 crown penalty (which is only about $20, but still a lot when you're on an English teacher's salary!), and we were then given lovely pink ticket slips. The woman who wrote our tickets smiled at us and left us with a kind "Welcome to Plzen!"

Paying for our crimes. 
The End. 

4.30.2016

A Year Abroad : Food Favorites

I've had plans to do this post for a while now, but each time I would think about writing it was somehow always a time when I was hungry. And...this isn't really the type of post a person wants to write when they're hungry but have none of this delicious food to cure their cravings. So, if you're hungry, read with caution. 

I just had a lovely brunch of chocolate chip pancakes with a friend, and I'm quite full, so I'm seizing the opportunity. As my year abroad is coming to an end, I find myself reflecting on all of the different aspects of living and traveling in Central Europe and the U.K. I realized, that one of the aspects I haven't talked very much about is all of the amazing food that I have consumed. 

Living abroad has put me in the unique situation of being able to eat a lot of delicious food while also losing weight at the same time. This will probably never happen again...but at least I will have this blog post to look at in fondness in the future. So, without further rambling, let me introduce you to some of my favorite food experiences from the past year. 

***Disclaimer: I'm not a picky eater by any means, but I'm also not the most adventurous. Some of these may not be the most exciting foods, but I loved them anyway!***


Since Prague has been my home here in Europe, let's begin with the Czech food, shall we? Now...I have to be honest. There isn't a lot of Czech food that is appealing to me. Cabbage and pork knuckle just aren't things that I'm dying to order at a restaurant. However, if you have any sort of appetite for meat and potatoes, you will find dishes that you like.

Chicken steak with peppers, vegetables, and "American" potatoes.
So, technically, my favorite food that I have eaten in the Czech Republic isn't a traditionally Czech food...but the Czech version of it is just delicious. That food is goulash, more specifically, beef goulash with bread dumplings. I have tried several different variations of it here. The main difference is usually how the dumplings are prepared. But, I can honestly say I haven't found a variation that I don't like.

The first meal I ever had in Prague. 
These dumplings have pieces of bacon in them. Be still my heart...literally,, because cholesterol. 
Every Sunday morning, my friends and I go for brunch at Cafe Sladkovsky. It has a really nice atmosphere, and their breakfast food is SO GOOD. And also really affordable, which never hurts. There is nothing that is super special about the foods they serve...it's just typical breakfast food. But, the way they prepare the food is what makes it stand out. It's just so tasty. If you're ever in Prague, I recommend going to Sunday brunch here.

Bacon and eggs from Cafe Sladkovsky. 
Now, I can't write this post without chatting about "street food." When traveling, this is sometimes the easiest route to take, because it's cheap and fast, but still really good. The Christmas markets in Slovakia, Germany, and the Czech Republic were full of more options than you could imagine, so it was pretty mandatory to try something. Plus, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to visit Austria or Germany without trying a sausage.

Ciganska pecienka (Gypsy roast) at the Christmas market in Bratislava. It's basically chicken or pork meat, with onions and mustard served on a bun. 
Bratwurst in Berlin. 
This next food favorite is a bit random, because it's definitely not a meal that would come to mind in relation to Europe. When Shahid and I visited Berlin the first time, we ate at a really good Thai place near the famous Checkpoint Charlie. (I sadly cannot remember the name of the place, or find it on Google...I'm sorry!) Anyway, they have a Checkpoint Charlie sushi roll that is to die for. I never thought I could love sushi, but I loved this. We even went back to get it again on our second trip to Berlin. I'm not kidding when I say I think of this sushi at least once a week.

The Checkpoint Charlie. I would describe it as a fried California roll with a really yummy, sweet sauce. 
To wrap this post up, let's end with some dessert. To put things simply, I have "ice creamed" and "pastried" my way through my travels. Again, I'm not the most adventurous with sweet stuff. I like things plain and simple, yet delicious. I'm still amazed at the amount of pastries around every corner...and the variety! I hope you like sugar.

Chocolate croissant in Vienna. 
Ice cream trio in Prague Old Town. Chocolate, vanilla, and hazelnut. 

Chocolate twist from the supermarket. 
Gelato at Amorino in London. The dulce de leche was AMAZING. 
And...there you have it! Some of my favorite food experiences from the past nine months. The good news is, I still have about six more weeks to add to this list. I'm still on a mission to try the coveted trdlnik ice cream cone. Last time I tried to get one the line was CRAZY, but I think Shahid and I may have to try again when he is here in a few days. I will keep you updated on this venture.

What are some of your favorite foods you have tried while traveling? Please leave me a comment and let me know!

4.29.2016

Giving You the Blue of the Sky


Well, my first venture with teaching English as a second language is officially over.

Today was my final day of teaching with my language schools. I have spent the last five days saying goodbye to my students...who also happen to be really, really, extraordinary people. I have been teaching some of these people for eight months now, and it feels strange to know that I'm never going to walk in and sit down to have a lesson with them again.

Anyone who is a teacher of any type knows that there is so much more to the job than simply "teaching." We may be there to share our knowledge, but we also end up learning in return. Working with Czech students has given me the ability to not only see their language skills improve, but also to learn so much about their culture and their personalities. It's an experience that I will never forget, and I hope it's not the end of my teaching career.

In true Czech fashion, a couple of my students gave me goodbye gifts. One gave me a rose, and one gave me chocolate and a cool notebook. The student who gave me the chocolate is a meteorologist, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that she is one of the most interesting, successful, and strong women that I have ever met.

The chocolate that she gave me was in a blue box. She explained to me that she found one in a blue box on purpose, because she wanted to give it to me and leave me with a Czech proverb. When translated to English, the proverb reads:

"I can't give you much, but I can give you the blue of the sky."

We parted with well wishes to each other, and I was really grateful for the chocolate, but even more grateful for the meaning that accompanied the chocolate. It has left me thinking all day. And here is what I have concluded.

We meet a lot of people throughout our lives...more than we could ever possibly remember the names of. Some leave us with good memories, and some with bad...but regardless of the feelings we associate with them, they are always going to remain in our minds. What if we could give something to each and every person that we encounter? What if we could send them on their way with something that would benefit their life each and every day?

Obviously it would be impossible to leave each person with something material...but I believe that's where this proverb comes in.

We can always leave people with the blue of the sky. We can leave them with wishes of luck, with hope for their futures, and with positive thoughts to reflect on in their daily lives. We can leave them with respect, and kindness, and fondness. We can leave them with reminders of new and exciting times to come.

So, that is how I'm going to view this past year as I prepare to leave Prague. When I depart from this beautiful city in a few short weeks, I will go with fond memories of every person I have met. To everyone I have gotten to know since last summer, whether you are a student, friend, fellow teacher, or acquaintance, I'm leaving you with the bluest of blue skies.

4.10.2016

Numbers


3 : The number of teaching weeks I have left here in Prague. 
8 : The number of weeks I have left of living in the Czech Republic. 
10 : The number of weeks I have until I am back home in Florida. 

Let me be honest...I haven't blogged because these numbers are all I have been able to think about over the past few weeks. I have so many mixed emotions about everything that is happening...about everything that is yet to happen over the next few months. I don't want to leave Europe, but I do. I want to move home, but I don't. I want to be able to forget about all of the things I haven't yet done, and be thankful for the things that I have been fortunate enough to do. 

I want to stop worrying about money, and what type of job I am going to be able to find when I get home. I want to stop being sad when I think about being across an ocean from my boyfriend, and be happy about working towards our future together. I just want my brain to stop for two seconds so that I can enjoy not only the remainder of my time abroad, but also the transition that I know is about to take place. 

I have been avoiding writing because I don't want to come across as selfish or negative when I speak about these things, but I think the reality of traveling and being abroad is this...it changes you, and it makes you feel strongly about where you are in the world. My heart is feeling torn between three different countries...America, where my family and my friends and my comforts are, England, where Shahid is, and the Czech Republic, which I have learned to love despite the struggles I have had since being here. I feel as if I have been struggling to find my place in the world for a long time now, and after spending time abroad, I'm not closer to that, but further from it. 

And, I know this will all change. It's just a matter of being patient, and making the most of any situation that I find myself in. I am so fortunate to be living this life, and I would not trade it for anything...even to ease my confusions. It will all work out in due time. 

Sorry for this crazy rant...I'm trying to get back on track with my posting. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful upcoming week! 

3.21.2016

I'm Gonna Be a Failed Expat


Oh boy, where to even begin?

I'm still not sure that I'm even ready to sit down and write about this, but I believe doing so will provide some extra clarity and help me come to terms with some things that I need to accept. 

So, I will begin by just spitting it out...

I'm not renewing my Visa to stay in the Czech Republic, and I will be returning home to Florida in about three months. 

Okay, it's out there and I can't take it back. If you are close to me, I have most likely already discussed this decision with you at some point over the past couple of weeks. But, the majority of you are probably confused...especially because you know I have been planning to make this a semi-long term situation. 

I guess the first and most important point I would like to make is, I am NOT leaving because I am unhappy with living abroad. It is not something that everyone is made for, and I feel confident in saying that living in a foreign country is something that I find rather enjoyable and rewarding. This is not the post where I will ramble on and on about the amazing things that have happened to me on this journey (one of those will come later on at some point), but believe me when I say that I would continue to travel and live in Europe if things were different at the moment. despite the challenges that come along with being here. 

I wasn't completely sure if I was going to share the precise reason I will be returning home, or if I was just going to keep it limited to the label of "personal issues." Ultimately though, I have decided to be completely honest, because I want people to come to this blog and relate to the things that I am writing about. I want to help people avoid the same situation if they happen to find themselves faced with it. 

With that being said, I feel comfortable telling you that I am going home to dig myself out of a bit of a financial hole. Over the past 8 months, my money situation has gotten worse and worse. All of the costs of getting settled quickly diminished the money that I had saved, and even with my full-time teaching schedule, I am not making enough to make ends meet. If I didn't have American bills that I was still having to pay, the situation may be different. However, I cannot afford to continue along as I am, and I can't afford to travel, which is half of the reason that I'm here! I'm slipping further and further into debt, and an income of Czech crowns cannot be much assistance with this. 

I have tried really hard to balance things out and solve the problem over the past few months, but I have just had to accept that there is nothing I can really do. Plus, the stress of trying to figure everything out has led to a resurfacing of my anxiety, and I am more anxious about things right now than I have been in a very, very long time...or possibly ever. So, to sum it all up, the responsible choice is the one that I have to make here...for my future and for my mental health. 

It is also the choice that I have to make for mine and Shahid's relationship. We have been long distance since we started dating last year...me in the Czech Republic and him in the U.K. Now, we are about to be even more long distance with me in Florida. But...if I'm in Florida, I'm in a better position to prepare for our future together. Regardless of whether we decide he is going to come to the U.S., or I'm going to go to England...Visa expenses are not cheap, and I want to be able to prepare because I want to be with him. (I know, I know...so much sappy stuff!) 

And there you have it...I'm going to be a failed expat. 

I have so many mixed emotions at the moment. I turned in my resignation notices to my schools today, which was bittersweet because I am really going to miss my students. I'm sad about leaving Europe (even though I'm POSITIVE I will be back plenty more times), I'm sad about being on a completely different continent than Shahid and the friends that I have made here, and I'm sad that this experience has flown by so quickly. But, I am also happy to figure out the next step, and I'm extra happy to be back closer to my family and friends at home. 

So, what's the exact plan? My Visa expires on May 11th. My last day or work will be April 29th. May will be spent getting things wrapped up here (because my gosh, is everything a process when it comes to living in a foreign country), and enjoying Prague for a bit longer. I would also like to take one last trip if I can swing it. Then, I will head over to the U.K. in June to spend a couple of weeks with Shahid, and head back to Florida from there. 

Whew. I feel better now. That's all for now, folks. As always, thank you for reading my ramblings! Until next time...

3.19.2016

London in a Blink

It's 12am on Sunday here in Prague and I cannot sleep, so I thought I would take advantage of this time and reacquaint myself with my blog.

I have been back from my London/Florida vacation for a week now. I'm not going to lie, I have been suffering from post travel blues (and a lot of jet lag), so that's why I took an additional one week hiatus from writing. But...I'm back and ready to go now.

I thought I would share the first leg of Shahid and I's journey with you today. Since he lives in the UK, and I was coming from Prague to meet him, we spent part of one day/one night in London before heading off to Florida. This was actually my second time in London...my first being when I was on my way to Prague for the first time.

 It was COLD, but other than that the weather was beautiful. We stayed in a cute part of the city right near Buckingham Palace, and did a stand-up job of playing tourist. It was a short, yet memorable, time.

We began with a late lunch at a pub called The Queens Arms. I had a burger (typical "Yank"), and Shahid had the fish and chips (typical Brit, ha ha). After that, we made the 25 minute walk to see Big Ben and Parliament. I feel like these are things you should always see when in London, ha ha.

After that, we walked along the river and checked out the London Eye, then we headed over to Trafalgar Square and explored that area. It wasn't long before we were distracted by our shared weakness...ice cream. (No really, we eat ice cream in every city we visit together.) So, we ate the best gelato I have ever had at Amorino (the dulce de leche was to die for) before heading back to the hotel for an early night since we had to wake up at 4am for our flight the next day.

We left from Heathrow the next morning, and that was that! Check out the pictures below.

I have a lot of posts coming...some with some announcements of change and future plans, so I hope you will stick around in the coming weeks. Have a great rest of the weekend!









2.28.2016

My Perfect Travel Playlist


As you are reading this, I have made it to London from Prague!

Shahid and I will leave from Heathrow to head to Florida at 9:30am tomorrow morning. For today, we are going to enjoy some time in London and get an early night's rest. It will take us about 12 hours to get to Orlando International tomorrow.

Last weekend, I spent a good deal of time perfecting my travel playlist. Everyone has different preferences when they are preparing a list for traveling. The three main ways that songs make it onto my Travel list are:

*I have listened to them during my past travels. The nostalgia makes me feel like I need to listen to them each time I'm on the go. 
*They are just all around amazing songs. Maybe they're inspiring and relaxing, or maybe they're just fun. 
*They somehow have a travel themed message. 

I thought it would be fun to show you a little sample of the songs I have been and will be listening to on my journey. I'm going to put my list on shuffle and share the first 25 songs that play. Let's do this!


What do you listen to while traveling? Give me some recommendations below!

2.23.2016

My Top Travel Prep Tip


A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about different types of anxious travelers. If you haven't read it yet, you may want to hop on over and check it out. Because, today's post is for all of you "fully" and "preparation" anxious travelers. 

It's no secret that preparing to travel can be stressful, especially if you are going somewhere far away from home. There are tickets and hotels to book, bags to pack, things to buy, schedules to coordinate, and all of these things usually have to be done within a budget and a particular time frame. It is a lot to do, and there are many different ways to make sure that these things get done. 

But, the more I travel, the more I realize that there is one, simply, itty bitty, tiny trick that will cut the stress of getting ready to travel in half. Are you ready? I hope you are. 

That trick is...

DON'T PUT THINGS OFF UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. 

It's that simple. Don't procrastinate. I know it's difficult, but just don't do it. You can save yourself a world of worry. So, how can you you leave the procrastination station for good? Well, I have a few more little tips for that. 

*Have a plan. 
The moment that you are 100% certain that you are going to be traveling somewhere, begin your research. Check on flight prices. Look at hotels or hostels in the area you are going. Even if you are still months away from departure, it never hurts to check and see where flight/bus prices are standing. Know your facts in advance. 

*Make lists. 
I know, this one is a bit explanatory...but I find it so helpful! Take all of the information you found in your research, and put them into list form. When you accomplish something (like booking a hotel or buying something you need), cross it off. Begin making packing lists a couple of weeks before you leave, so you can add or remove things as you go. 

*Keep your destination in mind. 
Travel is one of the most rewarding opportunities in life. To keep yourself from stressing unnecessarily, remember to look forward to the experience that you are preparing for. Don't let worries consume you! Even if something does go wrong after all of your planning, it will be okay. There is a solution out there to every problem. 

And with all of this being said, I'm going to go add a few more items to my suitcase. Just four more days until I'm London/Florida bound!

If you could give one piece of travel advice, what would it be? 

2.22.2016

A Day So Bad it Deserves a Post


Today, I'm going to tell you a story about last Wednesday. Sit back and grab a snack. I'll try to make it short and to the point, but there may be some rambling ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you. Also, this is not me trying to complain, because I know we all have bad days. I honestly just think the sequence of events is funny. Quite unlucky...but still funny.

Moving on...last Wednesday was one of those days where every single thing that could have possibly went wrong...did. Every. Single. Thing. I felt like I was in a sitcom, or some hidden camera comedy show. 

It all began with the night before. Shahid and I bought our plane tickets for Florida late that Tuesday night, and it took a bit since we were doing it separately, and prices were steady going up. We finished up with that around 12:30am, and then I could not sleep to save my life. I had a 5:30am wake-up call for Wednesday morning, and I think I finally fell asleep around 2:30...meaning I had roughly three hours of sleep. 

So, my alarm went off. I got up, and got ready. Right as I was about to walk out the door, I received a text message from my morning student saying that she had to cancel due to being ill. 

Ok...no problem. It should have been a good thing...because not only would I still get paid for that class, but I would also get to go back to sleep for a couple of hours. And trust me, I tried to go back to sleep...but it was impossible. I slept maybe 30 more minutes, but then I was just feeling so anxious (for a reason that I will explain in a later post) that I laid awake and stared at the ceiling until it was time to go to my next class. 
Now, the weather in Prague over the past couple of weeks has been a lot warmer. So, thinking that day would be no different, I grabbed my jacket and backpack and walked outside. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by fairly heavy snowfall. (I hadn't opened the curtains that morning since it was so early and not much light would have came in anyway.) 

Now, the snow was nice and all the first time it happened...but it has not taken very long at all for this Florida girl to grow tired of it. Therefore, I wasn't too happy, and I felt completely unprepared. I ran back upstairs for a scarf, and then ran off through the snow to the bus. 

By the time I made it to my stop, the snow had picked up quite a bit and the wind was blowing. Also, this wasn't nice, fluffy, white snow. It was icy...which equals slippery. So, I carefully set off through the snow, hands numb and snow in my eyes and soaking my hair. This would also be a good time to mention that the class I was heading to (one of the seven that I have on Wednesdays), was a new class and I had never been there before. Which makes it the perfect setting for me to get lost. 

With a bit of determination though, I turned myself around and found the business where I was teaching. I arrived right on time. Soaking wet and flustered...but still on time. I practically had to beg for assistance at the reception desk (gotta love that Czech customer service), but after signing in I made my way to the correct floor and taught the two classes that I had there. 

After that, it was back into the snow to head to another place I had never been. I picked my way through the snow to the metro station, and went five stops to a part of the city I have never really been to before. When I got off the metro, I was about 30 minutes ahead of schedule, and hoping for a warm place to gather myself. Instead of civilization though, I walked out into a frozen wasteland, and the first thing I did was slip and nearly bust my rear. I stood up, brushed myself off, and was greeted by the site of a homeless man peeing on the wall.

So, I turned in the other direction, with no idea where the bus stop I needed was, and I was greeted by another trio of homeless men who begin yelling things at me. I had no idea what they were saying (because Czech), but I didn't stick around to find out. I wandered around and finally found my bus, and by then I was really soaked. The bus took about 10 minutes to come, but when I was finally on it I began to relax for the first time in a few hours. Then I realized...

I was on the right bus, but going in the wrong direction. I had gotten on the one that was going the opposite way of where I needed to go. Perfect.

I hopped off at the next stop, and tried to google directions from my new location while snow soaked my phone screen and my scarf attempted to strangle me. For some reason, my phone wouldn't give me any worthwhile directions, and I had to refresh my search several times for my phone to pick up my location. At this point, I had about 8 minutes left to make it to my class. The travel time it showed me was thirteen minutes. Before this, I had never, ever been late to a lesson. So I wasn't happy.

In my panic, I found the correct tram stop, but then proceeded to get on the wrong tram. The amount of times I screwed up with my directions that day was a record, considering I am usually fairly good about getting where I need to go easily. I was texting my mom and crying by that time, because I was soaked, lost, and running late, and it was all happening while I was running on three hours of sleep.

Needless to say, I found where I was going. The receptionist didn't want to let me in the building because she didn't understand why I was there, and my broken Czech was not enough to explain that I was there to teach an English lesson. Miraculously though, she finally pointed me in the right direction, and I made it to the correct floor exactly 10 minutes late.

I walked to the front desk, showed the girl my paperwork and told her why I was there, and then she told me...

"We don't have English lessons today."

You gotta be kidding me. 

I explained to her what I was told we were beginning today. She called all of the students who were supposed to be in my lectures, and not a single one of them knew about the lessons. The contact person had obviously not given them the update. Only one person would meet with me, and he made it very clear that he wasn't going to give me any longer than 20 minutes.

I struggled through a very awkward 20 minutes, and they told me I could leave so I was just about to when a couple of other students came to me and told me that the time for the lessons didn't work for them and I would have to come on different days. If you are a freelance teacher, you know how frustrating this is...especially if you work at a language school where your schedule is made based on your free times. I finally had to tell him that I would speak with my school and we would send a different teacher if necessary because these are the times I was told, and the times that they want don't work for me.

Here's where the day began to look up. I got out of there over an hour early, which would give me time to collect myself before my 4pm class, and when I walked outside the snow had stopped. Sure, I would look like a drowned rat for the rest of the day anyway, but at least the snow appeared to be finished.

But, with ceased snow comes muddy sludge, and the snow was already rapidly melting. So, I slipped and slid back to the bus stop. My bus came, and two young boys got off and immediately began kicking icy mud at each other. Of course, one of the kids missed the other and the spray of brown ice splattered all over my jeans. I should have been mad, but at that point I expected nothing less.

The End.

P.S. The rest of my day turned out fine. 
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