See the World. Teach English.

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See the world with English. Yes! Why not!

 

My hands and fingers are shaking as I type this.

 

I am so excited to share with you that MyTEFL.com is giving away three (3) 120 Hour TEFL courses. (($299 retail value each). And I can’t begin to tell you how my life changed since I took their course, started living abroad and taught English.

 

This contest is perfect for you if you love to travel, looking for ways on how to travel longer, travel in a more meaningful way, move abroad, fund your life on the road or fire your boss later to design your own life and even work from home.

 

Joining is very easy.

 

Just tag myTEFL_teachntravel and thisvillagegirl in your best travel shots in Instagram and you can tag us as many as you want. 

 

Contest is from the 1st November to 1st December 2018. Winners will be announced on the 10th December.

 

I already have the teaching certificate but I will still join. This means that if I win, I will give the prize to one of you my lovely readers.

Source:MyTEFL.com

 

 

But Dani, what is TEFL and how will it help me travel longer and in a meaningful way?

 

Wiki says that Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) refers to teaching the English language to students with differentfirst languages. TEFL can occur either within the state school system or more privately, at a language school or with a tutor. TEFL can also take place in an English-speaking country for people who have immigrated there (either temporarily for school or work, or permanently). TEFL teachers may be native or non-native speakers of English. Other acronyms for TEFL are TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language),TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and ESL (English as a second language, a term typically used in English-speaking countries, and more often referring to the learning than the teaching). This means that you can look for a job and stay a bit longer than you normally would in the country of your choice and have funds to do it. This means that you will be able to see and learn from the culture, how they cook and the language they speak. This is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. 

 

But Dani, I am not a native English speaker.

 

I hear you. So am I but I’m able to do it. Don’t be so worried about this. I was asked why I should be hired instead of the native speakers. I responded by saying that the mere fact that it is not my first language and that I learned to speak it this way, makes me more favorable than those who speak it since birth and might be the only language they speak. I have more advantage because it will be easier for me to adjust to the needs of my students since we both are not native English speakers. I have the techniques and the right amount of motivation to teach it. 

 

And Dani I have no UK, US, AU, NZ nor SA passport.

 

Your passport is not the only thing that will be taken into consideration when you want to apply for English teaching positions. Sure if you have these passports and you are “white”, chances are higher but again, but not the only factor schools consider. MyTEFL.com will be able to give you lists of schools and countries you can choose from. You can contact these schools to ask your questions and/or set interview schedule with them. Some of these schools will require physical appearance for you to be able to be scheduled for interview. I can give you a guarantee that these schools actually reply and are very helpful.If you decide to take your TEFL Certificate with  MyTEFL.com, they also offer Internship Programs so you don’t have to do it just by yourself and later on, once you get the hang of it or should I say, once you already got that addicting feeling. There are also tons of teaching opportunities online meaning you can teach at home or anywhere in the world. Secure the certificate first and your options will be endless. Start designing your life with MyTEFL.com.

 

 

 

 

 

The following Terms and Conditions apply when you join. (source:MyTEFL.com)

 

1.Photo must be owned/taken by contestant.

 

2.Contestant may tag us in as many photos as they like by 11:59 PM PST on November 30th.

 

3.Contestants must be active followers of the myTEFL (@myTEFL_teachntravel) Instagram page.Contestants must be minimum 18 years of age

 

4.Contestants agree to allow myTEFL to use their photo/name/Instagram tag for advertising purposes.

 

5.Winners will be contacted via Instagram direct message and have 72 hours to respond after which they forfeit their prize, which will go to a runner up.

 

6.The winners will also be publicly announced via other social media posts/channels.

 

7.The winners will have until 11:59 PM PST on the 20th of December to sign up and begin their course, after which they have not registered, they forfeit their prize.

 

8.Winners may choose to transfer their prize to a 3rd party, the same rules apply – they must be signed up by the 20th of December or forfeit the prize.

 

9.The prize is only the cost of tuition, any further expenses (extensions, hard copy certificates, notarization etc.) will be the responsibility of the contestant

 

10.Anyone may enter to win, but myTEFL is not responsible if contestant is unable to be directly placed with employment for any reason.

 

11.MyTEFL is not responsible for any injury or misfortune that may befall the contestant as a result of the contest or subsequent employment.

 

12.This contest is in no way endorsed, sponsored, administered or associated with Instagram.

 

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Related Articles

 

10 Things That Changed Since I lived Abroad

A Love Letter to my Favorite Student

 

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Vietnam and my Newfound Bravery

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. This is at no cost to you but helps me to provide awesome content regularly. Thanks for your support!

 

My body is in Ho Chih Mihn. Inside a tour bus that would bring us to a tile factory of some sorts. It’s all blurred not because it has been two years. It’s blurred even before the plane touched Vietnam grounds. I noticed how I have always been planning little escapes. I mean, I’m happy. Am I not? I just wanted to explore. Life is short. You know, YOLO. I just don’t know where I got the guts to start doing it on my own.

 

A typical poor Filipino expat will be saving her money and not splurge for some luxurious foreign thing called travel but I couldn’t help it. Rather broke than bored. You know. Their combination is more lethal making depression and hopelessness sound a bit more enticing.

 

As I look through Ho Chih Mihn’s super busy streets plagued by motorbikes, my entire body felt numb. How I got from the airport to my hotel was still a wonder and how I crossed the street to buy food still remained a mystery. Sure the lousy traveler in me hailed a cab from the airport but the driver let me out across the hotel. That meant I had to figure out how to stay alive midst the throng of raging motorbikes. The hotel’s guard in front of the hotel saw my agony. He looked to his left and then to his right but when two guests stepped over the hotel’s threshold, his face showed that he couldn’t leave his post to come save the damsel-in-distress in me. He nodded and closed his eyes as if to show me to just close my eyes and walk towards the hotel.

I hesitated for a moment. For few seconds I stood there not knowing how to make the motorbikes stop.

I could be waiting there until my knight in shining armor shows up but I haven’t set Tinder up so he wouldn’t have a clue that I needed saving. When I felt that none of the motorbike drivers picked up the mental signals I am sending them, I took a brave step forward with a shaky leg and crossed while calling out on every saint they introduced me in the Catholic school where my mom sent me. I lived in Manila. I will survive this savagery.

 

A motorbike’s tire almost touched my right leg but the driver maneuvered his bike behind me as if it was the most normal thing to do. I was surprised that I was not screamed at. I noticed that the drivers were avoiding me so I could cross the street. It was amazing. I felt special.

 

Later on I tried crossing the street with my eyes closed. I made it. I’m still alive and now inside the tour bus waiting for other tourists outside their hotels.

 

As the other tourists started pouring inside the bus, I was just filling me eyes of the new place. Tiny table and low lying stools splattered on the sides of the streets made Vietnam to have that warm inviting feeling that makes other races want to see it and stay longer than they originally wanted to.

 

I never saw myself without a Nem Cuon, the famous spring rolls, Pho or Bánh mì.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have heard English Teaching is such an industry here. (Get certified to teach English here and use village35 code for 35% discount). Do I want to live here? This country looks like my country only we didn’t have these low lying tables sprawled on the sidewalks.


 

My train of murky thoughts was interrupted by a bump on my right hip. Someone sat beside me. A girl. She’s white and blonde. I smiled and she said hi confirming my guess that she might have been an American.

 

“If he will not propose, I will say yes to a two year Peace Corps post in Africa.” she exclaimed. How come she said that, I couldn’t remember anymore. It was not even five minutes into pleasantries. What did you ask Danica?

 

I was astonished by the bravery this girl is emitting. I only recalled asking her if is she’s traveling alone. She said that she is supposed to be doing this trip with his boyfriend but he didn’t come with her. I thought stories like this only happen on TV or in one of those romance books that I couldn’t take my hands off to. Some of the facts might have been inaccurate. My head swirled and only focused on what she will do in case her boyfriend will not propose.

 

What did she lose telling me? Nothing. What did she gain? A lighter feeling and a fan in me. Chances are our paths will never cross again. She’s an angel who delivered an important life message to me. I must admit that my life has not been the same since that day. I no longer sit to wait for things to happen and for people to show up. I no longer kill time realizing that time is actually all I have and it’s slowly killing me. Time will not pause for me. Now is the perfect time to enjoy what I always wanted to. Now is the perfect time to be alive. I can no longer be a slave to something that makes me put the life that I want to live on hold.

 

Our conversation was interrupted by a Filipino couple behind us asking if I am a Filipino. The four of us ended up being together during the trip and for some beers and some more Vietnamese food later.

 

Though I normally travel alone, I never was really alone. I keep on meeting people on the road that seemed like bearers of important life messages and Philosophy teachers in disguise. They might not know it but my thoughts are now shaped differently than how it was when I was still in the safe premises of my little comfort zone and that my goosebumps never stopped as we cruised the Mekong River that I only heard of in History class.

 

Normally I wouldn’t ask a fellow traveler’s Facebook account when I’m on the road but fate wanted it differently. I sensed that I will be needing it for some more inspiration.

 

Few months later, I saw the girl posting pictures on Facebook showing that she is already teaching in Africa. I gathered that her boyfriend didn’t propose and instead of hosting a sob party, she carved out a path where she can pursue her passion. If that is not bursting with so much courage and bravery, I don’t know what is. She might not remember me anymore but the impact she made in my life will always be a reminder of how Vietnam started changing the direction of the wind that blows my sail.

 

The bravery I found in Vietnam is the same bravery I will carry wherever the wind will bring me.

 

What about you? How do you define bravery and what’s the bravest thing you’ve seen?

Mekong River cruise

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Cambodia: Mishaps and Lessons Learned

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Let me pay for your meal.” the Canadian guy from the next table nicely offered when he heard the discussion I was having with the restaurant Manager.

 

They refused to accept my 50USD because I folded it. That’s my last dollar as I will fly back to Malaysia after lunch.” I replied almost shrinking.

 

Thank you. I will just use my card.” I tried to refuse.

 

It isn’t so expensive and international charge will be higher if you use your card.” he shrugged and gave the money to the manager. Danica, Never fold notes again! Or was I scammed?  

 

Thank you so much. If I’m not leaving now I would have offered to buy you coffee in return. Here, few Ringgits as souvenir.” I extended my arm to give him the bills and what was left of my Cambodian Riels. “I really need to leave now. Thank you so much. May the Lord always guide you and safe travels.” I continued and left like how they do it in the movies.

 

As I trudged my way out of the restaurant, I was wondering how I will pay for the Tuktuk ride back to the hotel. I only have some few crumpled Riels I intended to keep as souvenir for this trip and in case that the Tuktuk driver will accept my 50 US Dollars, will he have change? I need to catch a flight back to Malaysia. I have maybe less than an hour to pack before boarding. I can’t miss my flight. I should be working by the next day.

My brain was fuzzy and I am overthinking as I am about to wave to a Tuktuk driver waiting nearby.

 

Do you need a lift?” The Canadian was exiting out of the restaurant with an amused and warm smile.

 

Oh. No. I will take the Tuktuk.” Of course I needed a lift. I just couldn’t abuse his kindness was what I was thinking. Actually, more of pride.

 

Oh. Okay. Because I am headed home and maybe your hotel is on my way. I can give you a lift. Because how will you pay? I’m sure the driver doesn’t have the little machine to swipe your card.” Did he wink? Oh no! I am not travel romancing I told myself.

Hop in! My motorbike has still room for one.” He said and I couldn’t say that I might have a heart attack while on the motorbike but there is no time for this drama. I need to catch my plane and this is the fastest way. I didn’t think so much about the dress I was wearing and hopped on. Normally I will wonder where I will be holding but I immediately held on to his shoulders. Nope. I didn’t fantasize so much, just a little. On our way to the hotel and in between traffic, I learned that he is a teacher. He teaches Math and said that the pay wasn’t so much but it isn’t the point. I get what he means of course.

 

I said yes to this job offer in Malaysia even if my salary was already good in the Philippines. Money is not the point and will never be the point.

 

If we were flirting, it was really challenging. I can’t flirt shouting. I need to at least be lady-like. I didn’t have to tell him twice about the location of my hotel. It was also good that I remembered the street name. When we reached the street where my hotel was, he said that a colleague lives across the street. That explained why he knows the place so much not to mention the fact that he is an expat. 

 

I gave him the helmet as I hopped off his bike, said thanks quite a number of times mimicking my Japanese friend and walked back to the hotel. I have a flight back to Malaysia to catch and I still needed to pack. Overpack, I mean. 

 

 

I am the lousiest traveler I know. I just book flight, over pack and go. No over researching. No long planning. I just bring open mind and free spirit then I’m all set to go. No hassle, no drama, hence, perfect for a budding , solo traveler ADHD me. I’m confident that no matter how hard something is, I will figure it out.

I went to Cambodia having only Angkor Wat in mind to see. After all, I only have four days. I got the flight, 4 days and 3 nights with breakfast, hotel accommodation and airport transfers for 389 MYR (Malaysian Ringgits) (+16MYR debit card charge) or 91 USD. Air Asia Go is heart. I am just so lucky when it comes to promotions and deals and I know I just can’t let them pass no matter how broke I will be after that. I can’t give tips on how to become a frugal traveler because budgeting is not my forte. All I know is that I have enough therefore I’m fine. There are free drinks, coffee and biscuits in the office so I know I will not starve and we have swimming pool in the condo so I will not get bored. I don’t need much too.


Looking at all the pictures I took, I was like, what did I do? Crappy selfies are all I have. I wasn’t even able to capture a nice sunrise photo. I was too busy admiring and climbing the temples and was too caught up by the moment that I forgot I was holding a camera and a phone. Good thing though. I will not be able to say that it was a good trip if I will give a verdict based on those pictures. Because I remember, the moment I arrived at the hostel and saw bicycles, I hurriedly brought my bag to the room and even if I was still wearing a dress, I rented one right away and started pedaling my way to the unknown streets of Siem Reap not caring about the extremely hot weather and the worried look on the Tuktuk driver’s face. Suddenly I was not scared. As if I have known the place for a long time. As if I belong there.

I pedaled my way across and along unfamiliar Siem Reap roads. I turned and turned and smiled at strangers to their amusement and laughed loudly when I can’t remember the way back to the hostel. My soul knows the way. My heart was filled by immeasurable joy. It was bliss I never expected I will feel going solo. Thailand was practice, Cambodia was the test.

 

Before my trip, a friend already gave me a contact number of a Tuktuk driver she knows but airport transfers were included in this hotel and flight deal I booked so upon seeing the Tuktuk driver who picked me up from the airport, I said I will just hire him too. Normal price is $15 a day but I was able to get mine for $10 because I haggled like a maniac and he couldn’t speak English well. This worked well for me because I was able to really have my own experience of the city without anybody‘s biased opinion.

 

I was able to use my own senses. I took my time admiring everything I will lay my eyes on. Facts and all the other information can be googled anyway. I still can say I was on my own. I ended up tipping Mar, the tuktuk driver, $5 because he was such a sweetheart.

 

A friend already told me about the Tourist Pass but I still flinched when I was told that it costs $40 for 3 days and wanted to cry when on our way to Angkor Wat to witness the famous sunrise on my last day that it was missing. My jaw almost locked as I reluctantly handed another crisp 20USD bill only to find out later that my 3-day pass was stuck inside my crumpled scarf. Why did I have to bring a fooking scarf in Cambodia where the weather almost got me killed after climbing temples after temples under the biting heat of the sun? Danica!!!

 

Well, some lessons needed to be learned in the hardest way.

 

The first night I tried the night life. I went to the Night Market and Pub Street to try the night life and Khmer dishes and of course, beer. I travel for beers.

 

 

 

 

I saved Angkor Wat on my third day.

 

Mar called to wake me up at 4:30 am so I can catch the famous sunrise. It was worth the very early wake up call. I didn’t just feel like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider I also witnessed one of the most magnificent creations I have ever seen and nothing can replace that feeling. Not Prada. Not even LV.

 

I don’t have photos of this famous sunrise. 

Mar brought me to see the other temples after Angkor Wat.

We had lunch in one of the famous Khmer restaurants which I didn’t like because they have separate place for the drivers. It was so discriminating . I can’t even begin how I will describe the happiness I saw in Mar’s face when he told the waiter that I am allowing him to join me for lunch. It was clearly the first time he will be able to eat inside that restaurant. It was a simple gesture but meant a lot for Mar. Maybe that’s what Santa Klaus feels whenever he will give gifts to kids. It was an addicting feeling; travel addicting feeling.

 

   

 

We went back to the hotel after lunch. It was so hot to wander outside too.

After a long good nap, I realized 2 days are actually enough to see Siem Reap. Not just Siem Reap but cities in general. I realized that if I am not going to the beach, 48 hours in a place is enough.

 

I felt I needed a break from all the temples so I consulted google and found Tonle Sap Lake. I decided to go to the floating village. $6 for return tuktuk trip and $30 for the ticket which I thought was a rip off.

Siem Reap

 

But when I saw what was in that village, my heart was shattered to pieces. Residents build houses there because they can’t afford a parcel of land to build a normal house on. There is also a school for orphans whose parents died fishing in that lake.

 

I realized how lucky I am. I am blessed because my parents, though struggling, gave in to all my whims. Even gave me things even I don’t need and I am still ungrateful.

 

My life flashed in front of me. That same day, I promised I will stop whining and will be more thankful for the littlest blessing I will receive. It is indeed true that traveling makes one richer. In my case, it gave me heart.

 

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A Love Letter to my Favorite Student

a letter to my favorite student

My Ever Dearest Student,

 

I don’t want to play favorites but since you are the youngest, allow me tell you that at 19, your age, is when I wish the world, at least mine, has stopped revolving. That time, I didn’t mind crawling on my way back home, sleeping in my neighbor’s lawn nor partying again the following day and just let hangover be cured by another drinking session. I wish I see things like how I see them now then maybe I am not having panic attacks every five minutes. I was one of those kids who was always in gasoline stations, drinking and skipping classes.

 

Let me tell you that there are so many cooler things to be done aside from that. Being ignorant isn’t cool. I wish I chose to learn more so I don’t feel insufficient most of the time. How can I wonder where time went when I relentlessly killed it wishing I was older and now that I am older, I want to punch fairy godmother in the throat for refusing to undo that silly wish.

 

You were just my classmate then. You were the kid with few words. The only one who refuses to laugh at our German teacher’s wickedly dark dry jokes. You were the fastest to learn the awful German language but still chose to remain lull about it. You always sit across me and I didn’t know that you’re the group’s baby who required more attention, affection and guidance. One day you got tired of scowling and smiled at me. I smiled back and that same afternoon, we all went to eat ice cream. It was hard to explain that I can only have one scoop because my metabolism isn’t as fast as it used to be and I am sure that it will just sit proudly on my hips and thighs. 

 

Please know that I feel flattered when you and our other classmates constantly bug me to hang out to check the nightlife out. It was hard to say that I can’t stand loud music anymore and i don’t want you and the others dragging me out of the pub after one drink. I will never forget how your mouth dropped when I showed you my passport to reveal my real age because you won’t believe when I tell you that I am not a teenager anymore and that I will be your teacher soon. Asians don’t age so fast and this is one of the things I am thankful for.

 

With your limited English and my limited German, I can’t make you see the entire picture. I am avoiding hanging out with you because I want to maintain a professional distance and not because I am scared of you being a Muslim and whatever hideous things society attached to it. I am avoiding hanging out with all of you because I can’t promise that I will be able to control my sobs when I hear all of your heart-wrenching stories. I am not that brave. My heart isn’t as cold as I am projecting it to be. I am “avoiding” hanging out with all of you because my bills won’t fend for themselves. Studying and working at the same time is a bitch. My parents have a point when they didn’t allow me to do both of them earlier.

 

These days, even shaping my brows needs to be in my appointment list.

 

One day my wish of you finding a girl came true and I can’t describe the happiness I am seeing from you. I wish you knew how genuinely happy I am for you. You literally seemed floating after the class just to be with this young lady and can’t stop talking about her and how you both loved football. Oh. Puppy love! Days passed and your glow was just making the entire room bright and I was silently hoping to feel what you’re feeling too but I have things to do and can’t decide if I want a prince charming or pursue my dreams. I sucked at juggling and my love life isn’t something to be proud of. Nevertheless, I still wished for your happiness to continue, for your love to flourish and for you to be a man I somehow hoped you to be. I prayed the lord to continue to inspire you to be motivated. You might not know this but I feel like you’re the son I still don’t have.


But I will never forget that one sunny afternoon after our class. I just wasn’t able to ask why you looked so different during the class. Won’t smile. Won’t look at me and won’t reply to my Whats-app messages. We used to exchange messages even during the class. I called to cancel my babysitting that afternoon to invite you for ice cream. You said yes but I waited for us to be seated in the nearby park to ask you what’s wrong. You looked away and said “She is gone.” I understood what you meant but I pressed for details.

 

As your mother, I want to know not because I am nosy but because I want you to tell me how you feel about it. I want you to feel better. “Her dad saw us playing football in the park and approached us. He asked his daughter how he knew me and his daughter said I am a Refugee. The father looked at me and asked if I speak German. He told me that he doesn’t want me having anything to do with his daughter and to break contact immediately.” You said with a voice so controlled so tears won’t fall. I didn’t know what to say. I can’t pretend to be cool because nothing is to be cool about it. I was so mad. My heart was crashed into thousand tiny pieces. I want to be mad at the world for being this harsh to you. I wanted to take away the pain that you feel. I wish I can change the world for people like you. Your innocence doesn’t deserve this. I wish I didn’t ask for details. I wish I just pretended not to care and maybe that way I wouldn’t know how crap this world can be. “It’s okay. You’re young and you’ll find another girl.” It was the most nonsense reply I could give you but what can I say to make you feel better? Nothing. It is the way it is. There is nothing at that moment that can make it better.

 

“Focus your attention in learning and do all the sports you want. It’s not easy I know but it will just pass.” I even told you. I just hope that my hugs made you feel that I will always be here for you no matter where I will be. One day though, I know I will be able to tell you that I became a better person just by eating ice cream with you.

 

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10 Things That Changed Since I Lived Abroad.

Penang Hill

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Dani, how did your life change since you lived abroad?

 

A Facebook private message read. 

 

Me: I became a minimalist, more tolerant, more patient, more flexible, more open minded, faster to learn a language, frugal, good citizen, lesser judgmental, culture sensitive, appreciate silence more, complain lesser and lesser, more creative and most of all, wide reader and a budding writer. 🙂 The list goes on and on and it’s easier to say that the old me that I know died. Even the name Dani that I coined just to sound cooler changed. I’m now Danica.

 

This was the shortest response that I could give her because I got scared that I have turned to a madwoman too after moving abroad twice. I could have given her a revised and expounded reply but I don’t know if she will be interested to read a memoir.

 

Shortly after I sent her that brief answer, there were nearly a thousand words that started bouncing up and down in my head. The blabber in me was triggered. I know I will be able to come up with more than a thousand words that will pass as a blog post entry. I can not not elaborate on this. I can not not justify it. Freak alert!

 

  1. I have turned to a frugal minimalist

In 2014 I moved to Malaysia and the only thing that I got sad about was not being able to fit my exaggerated shoe, dress, bag, book, magazine and other trinket collection inside my 24 kilo allowed luggage. I remember my carry on almost bursting. I was tempted to wear 5 dresses just to save space and be able to bring more. I wasn’t sad because I will not see my family so often anymore. I was sadder that I will leave the wardrobe that I built and looked forward to building a new and bigger one which started not even a month after I settled in. I was shopping like I have shootings and tapings to attend to. I forgot that I am not a celebrity who was paid to look good and must avoid being seen wearing an outfit twice in such a short span of time. Moving again made me live like a nomad everyday. I no longer need buy things I will not use. I am no longer being affected by the demands the biggest brands are creating. I have what I need to live the simple life that I want. I don’t need more stuff that give me headache and anxiety. Having less is the answer to having a peaceful life.

 

 

2. I became more patient.

I learned how to live slowly. I understand the “power of now” better and it makes sense. There is no need to rush everything like my meal. Being fully present in every single task that I do made me see more beauty and learn more profound lessons. From paperwork to doing my weekly grocery to cleaning my space to learning basic Coding for my website. Living abroad has made me complain lesser and lesser. I used to be the brat who bitched about every single thing in my life and cried for help at the very first sign of discomfort. I learned to be patient with myself and realize that I am a big work under progress. I never saw how blessed I was until I traded my little comfort zone to the real big world where people try to make ends meet and/or save their lives by seeking refuge in another country. Patience came with compassion.

 

3. I realized that school is not everything.

Everything that I have learned from all the schools I have been to didn’t teach me what I needed to know to survive in this life. Okay, I learned how to read and write but they are not everything. I wish they also taught me to love myself and gave a friendly reminder that I am not just born to pay bills and die. I wish they taught Happiness 101 or Introduction to Self-Care.

 

4. I read like a maniac.

Whatever I am not confident to ask, I read. Whatever I can’t afford to learn, I read and then teach myself. Now I have more books than clothes and I find them more useful. I now see the benefits of freeing time to read. It has opened my mind more than I have expected it to. I never thought that there are still unexplored part of my brain. Every book that I have read has become a part of me. Little by little, I am able to name emotions I couldn’t name before and amazed that other people have experienced it too. Reading alone gave me an assurance that I am not alone and that what I am going through is not unusual. Someone somewhere felt it too and put it to words. I just needed to pick up the right books.

 

5. I became flexible

I still can’t pass to be a record- breaking gymnast but I’m surprised to know how fast I can adapt to a new environment. I thought I am a mermaid but I was wrong. I am a chameleon who can blend anywhere easily. Living abroad has deleted all my preset expectations of how I want my life to look like and really take each day as it comes. I no longer beat myself for not preparing as early as now for my future because I know that I am working very hard each day for the one that I will love living more. A second from now is the future. Every second that I spend hating the situation where I am (e.g. job I hate) is every second of my present and future already wasted. I thought travel has trained to me to be flexible but it didn’t. It wasn’t enough. Living abroad is like a form of yoga. There are so many poses I needed to practice first before I can truly be flexible.

 

living abroad

 

6. I became more creative

Being in a new place, with different seasons, different culture, different smell and people with different perspectives inspired me to start embracing my inner artist of life. I’m no artist whose expertise in some sort of art will make tons of cash but I am an artist of life. It took me so long and so many failed attempts to find out who I really am and what I want to be but now I know why I took Communication Arts. Communication is my art. I might have only lasted one painting class session but that doesn’t mean that it is the only form of art I can be good be at. Life is an art and I am the artist in mine.

 

7. My love for languages

I used to imitate not just Indian accent but also all the others different than mine that I can hear. My friends thought it was hilarious and their wild roar of laughter stroked my ego and boosted my confidence. I thought I was a clown. But Germans actually have a term for that. Sprachgefuehl or the feel of language which actually means ones ability to learn a language fast. (See my favorite German words here.) Sure my German is still like of a toddler’s but I am trying to learn as much as I can every single chance I get. I am not a native English speaker neither but I am making a conscious effort to improve and use it like how the natives would. I fell in love with the thought of learning new languages.

 

8. I became an Introvert

It’s the biggest shocker for me. I used to drag my friends to the loo because I loved having them around. Because I mean, I can not not speak my head out alone, can I? I need to always talk, to always look good, to stand out, have more and be obnoxiously funny to be liked, right? But when I moved out of my country, I realized what an introvert I really am. I never thought that I would enjoy my time alone so much that I looked forward to coming home as fast as I can to be able to curl up and read. The only fear left  is not being able to read enough books.

9. I became less judgmental.

As I started hanging out with people outside my own race, all my preconceived notions and stereotypes started melting away. Not all Muslims are bad. Not all Chinese are racists. Not all Americans are stupid. Not all South East Asians are ignorant. Not all Filipinos are gold diggers. The list can go on but I don’t have them anymore. In fact, people I keep on meeting people on the road who have shown me kindness, understanding and compassion that I never experienced in the safe premises of our village or even my own country. At the end of the day, I came to realize that we are just all the same. We are all fighting for survival but being disrespectful and judgmental are things we never really needed.

Living abroad

 

10. I became an ambassadress of Self-love.

 

I am no longer apologetic for being who I truly am and what I will still become. I no longer look at my thighs and inspect them for possible cellulite. I would see physically challenged people really trying to do their stuff with so much gusto and there I was silently cursing my thighs for not shrinking no matter which diet I try. I heard their voices in my head saying “I will do whatever it takes to have thighs on which I can walk like a normal person.” I forgot to thank my body for allowing me to do all the things I want to. I never celebrated the power of my mind in trying to understand things it does. I forgot to thank my heart for still working no matter how many times it got broken. Of all the love I was giving away, I never gave myself some. My anxiety, insecurity, depression and the need to have more and be liked faded away. Living abroad and away from all the things familiar has made me a child trying to learn how to crawl, walk and speak again. Living abroad made me fall in love with myself and all the flaws it came with. Not only that. I am getting better in directly expressing what I want. I grew up in a culture that sugarcoats everything because we are trained not to upset other people. I have learned to say “no” more often. I have become selective of who I allow in my life too. I have learned to prioritize myself and do what makes my heart swell with joy.

 

 

Have you lived abroad? How did your life change?

 

 

 

Please share if you like. =)


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Learning German: A love-hate relationship.

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You’re already almost a year in Germany and all you can say is “Ach so??”

 

Thank you soooo much! Please rub it in! 

 

Dear Diary,

 

I am going crazy. The first two weeks of learning this language is the most horrible phase of my life. My headache never stops. I feel hungry all the time. At the end of the day I want to eat something really crunchy and/or punch someone in the throat. I’m going ballistic. I joined the classes when some of them are in the middle of the book already and I can’t be proud that all I know was just “good morning, thank you and bye” at all! I needed to do a lot of catching up.

Diary, I don’t really see why I need to learn the language to begin with. I am an aspiring English teacher and where will I use German after here? I don’t plan to stay for long anyway. I just need to learn Teaching and that’s it. I will be gone. Okay? Thanks! Bye! And that is very very soon!


Dear Diary,

 

I don’t know where the f*ck these Germans got their words from! And I don’t know why they have different Articles for “The” and genders! They don’t effin make sense AT ALL! “der, die and das??” Seriously? Who has the time? Life is too short to focus on learning German. Besides, how can they expect me to pronounce f*cking things right when Tagalog alphabet only has 20 letters? (Wikipedia says Modern Tagalog Alphabet has now 28 letters)

We don’t have C, F, Z, Q, V and X. English is already challenging at 26 letters. F, V and Z already gave my tongue a good workout then German Language has umlaute??* How am I supposed to pronounce “schwarz” and how will I remember “Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” ?? (law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling)

 

That is not even the longest German word. I am losing it, Diary. I’m losing it!

 

*umlaute* source wikipedia
Ä (ä) // Long ä pronounced similar to ‘ae’ in ‘aero’
Ö (ö) // No English equivalent sound. somewhat similar to vowel in ‘jerk’, ‘turn’, or ‘third’, but it is critical to note that there is no “r” sound that is pronounced in conjunction with the ö.
Ü (ü) // No English equivalent sound

The ss-Ligature, ß
ß (es-zet or scharfes es) // Pronounced like ‘s’ in ‘set’ or ‘c’ in ‘nice’

*Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft. Currently this is the longest German word meaning “Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.”

 

Dear Diary,

 

Today, I almost fought with my classmates who will be my future students. They are bullying me for not trying (to learn at least). Duh?! I’m just an Intern. I am not here to learn the language. I am here to learn teaching and please! I’ve gone so far with my English. It’s enough! If there should be learning German, should be them not me. Besides, almost every German speaks English and they always say they love practicing it so please, LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

 

 

 

 

 

4-5 months later…

 

Excuse me. Why is the shop closed?” An old lady asked me in German.


“Because of the flood.” Unglaublich! (Unbelieveable!) I replied in German and I needed to stop a bit though the lady has walked away. I had a small talk in this language I started having a love-hate relationship. I mean, my German can’t still save my life and once Germans felt that I am abusing their language, they immediately switch back to English. No one should put the language into shame. Nationalism. They teach that in school too. They didn’t realize that doing this makes me so happy more than Bratwurst.

 

Dear Diary,

 

I can’t believe I will at least be able to somehow pick up the language I was so skeptical about learning. I might not need it professional wise but to be able to make a small talk with the locals and especially to be able to buy something using their language feels so good. I suck at languages and I am well aware of that already. I stayed in Malaysia for nearly two years and I can’t even say a complete sentence in Malay, Tamil or Mandarin. I have convinced myself that I don’t need anything aside from English. How full of myself have I become? Looking back Diary it was just an excuse I kept on saying and telling myself because I was too lazy and too close-minded for learning.

 

No matter how much I deny it, I was just in Malaysia to earn a living and not what I was claiming that I was there for culture when I didn’t even made an effort to integrate. Though I fell in love with it, Bahasa was like a flaw I didn’t fully embrace. I want to regret it and if I will live there again, I will surely try to learn it. Languages have this beauty that I was only able to see at 30.

 

Currently “Mein Deutsch ist noch peinlich.” (my German is still embarrassing) as how I would normally start a conversation with Germans to warn them I am about to murder their beloved language but they reply with their eyes almost popping out of their sockets and the more that they will encourage you to speak. “At least you’re trying and that will get better in time” is how they console me. Germans aren’t so German after all and I can’t believe I will admit to watching German TV and movies now and read local papers, books and magazines. The headache started to subside. Even my host family stopped using English with me and I know in few more months, everything will be better like the weather.

 

 

After two years, my German is still not as good as I want to be but I can now have simple conversations. (Click here for the list of my favorite German travel words)  I wasn’t able to use what I have learned in the German course like all the things I did in school. Real life is just the best teacher. Learning a new language at 30 might not be easy but I would never have it the other way. Otherwise, I will never be able to appreciate its beauty like how I do now in my adult years.

 

It would have been easier if Filipinos aren’t so harsh about laughing at mistakes as if we are so prone from it and I wish we don’t make fun of everything. My self-esteem has been so affected and I have zero confidence. A German friend said that I shouldn’t be worried because Germans, knowing how difficult their language is, will not laugh at me trying to speak and learn their language and that whatever fear I have for speaking it is also the fear they have for speaking a second language. The perfectionist in me may never be able to master it but at least, I still learned. I still won. 

 

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#TravelForPencil: Traveling One Step Away From Ignorance

 

 

There’s one question I failed to ask myself when I started testing the waves outside our Philippine shores. Why am I doing it? To find myself? Sure! But I have not really thought of traveling with a cause. After one place after the other, there is something else that I still wanted but couldn’t put a name on until I bumped into the Facebook post of my University friend’s little sister.

 

I can only remember how young she was when I would do sleepover in their house. Their mother’s cooking is still one of the bests my battered taste buds have ever tasted. Though now a grown up lady, my memory of her was still of a little girl. It is just like every parent even when their kids grow up. It will always be little fragile kids in their eyes. At some point, they just stopped counting the age no matter how many birthdays come. That’s how she is to me: a little girl who is doing something very impressive that makes me feel so ashamed of myself given my old age. Her parents must be so proud of her. Prouder than I am.

 

 

 

As I stare at the photos, I couldn’t help but stalk her profile where I would see even more of what will further touch my heart. She is doing it right. She is doing it like how I myself want to do it. Being outside our own country and coming across with all the stereotypes other nationalities throw at Filipinos for being poor, ignorant and uneducated, I would want to start doing something that will somehow put an end to it and prove them otherwise. I am such an ambassadress for the limitless powers that come from knowledge and some sort of nerdy things. Travel for Pencil. What an amazing idea! I got so inspired and I just couldn’t help myself but bug her with tons of questions.

 

 

Tell us something about you. (What you do. Your age.)

 

My name is Nikhail Grace Gonzales. I am 27 years old and still single. I work for one of the biggest telecommunications company in the Philippines for five years now. I love traveling and adventures. I balance my life through service and traveling. Aside from working 5 times a week, I see to it that I balance my time for my family, service and travel.

 

 

 

#Travelforpencil. I know that the idea is already there but how did your project start? What inspired you to do it? Are you doing it alone? Are you getting suggestions?

 

I had this trilogy climb at Nasugbu, Batangas with my friend last January 2017. We were able to climb three mountains for a day- Mt. Batulao/Mt. Talamitam/Mt. Apayang. It was indeed one of my greatest achievements when it comes to hiking. I wasn’t expecting to finish three mountains just for a day. It was so tiring but with God’s grace, we were able to conquer it. After that climb, I felt that something was missing, I began to ask myself, “Bakit parang my kulang?:” (why does is feel that something is missing?). After reaching the peak, posting the pictures on social media and sharing the experience, I felt that there was a piece missing, “Ano na? Ano ngayon kung nakaakyat ka ng bundok? Nakatulong ka na ba?” (what now? So what if you’re able to climb a mountain? Were you abel to help?) These questions lingered my mind, I was inspired by many kids along the way, along the trail, as they chose to help their parents earn a living on a weekend instead if just playing. Some kids help their parents sell and some earn by offering their services as a tour guide. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, (I told myself) How can I be of help to these kids in my own simple way?? I was led to move and do my part. And so I thought of this pencil to give out to kids wherever they are whenever I travel with my friends since pencils are lightweight and easy to carry.

 

 

 

On my next climb at Mt. Gulugod-Baboy in Mabini last March 19, 2017, I brought with me 15 pieces of pencils just to start. The day when Travel for Pencil was born. Honestly, I do not know what I was doing. I even doubted myself. Tama ba tong ginagawa ko? (Is what I\m doing right) Along the way, I cannot forget the look and the smile the kids have given me. I knew that was it! That’s the answer! And so I shared my experience in social media. People began asking why I give pencils and admittedly, I do not know what to say (at first). Hindi pa rin clear. (It is not clear) Little did I know, they were also moved by simple act. And from then on, pencil donations just came on pouring from my relatives and friends and even from people I do not know.

 

 

 

How do you find the kids or the places where you;ll do your next project? Do you have contacts there? How often do you do it? How may times have you done it?

 

I hand over pencils to random kids who I met along the way anywhere. No specific community. I target to have a trip at least once a month. We just think of any place to go. Sometimes, I got invites from groups to join their trip and bring pencils with me. As of to date, we were able to give 473 pieces of pencils to 11 locations in the Philippines.

 

 

 

Do you get support (financially and morally) from your friend and family? Did you get any negative comment or discouragement from anyone? (like me for example when my family told me to stop helping the refugees) if yes, how do you deal with it? What are your challenges if have any?

 

I didn’t expect to receive so much love from the people around me through this advocacy. People support me through pencil donations. Some even sent money for me to buy pencils on their behalf. I am so touched with every gesture showing their love and care for the kids. I also get more inspired when people send me private messages telling me about how they were moved and called to act accordingly. Amazing! I really do not know how will be able to sustain this advocacy, but with God’s grace, He continuously send me people who will help me out. From donations, connections and suppliers.

 

Talagang matinding kalaban ang sarili. (Oneself is really the toughest enemy.) There were times I doubt and lose the sense of pursuing this. But every time I feel this, God sends people for me to realize that there’s sense and that many people are being blessed by TFP. I really thank God for guiding me on this journey. For being my strength and my guide.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any unforgettable experience whilst doing your project? Did you cry or got so emotionally overwhelmed?

 

Ate*, here po yung some stories sa blog ko. (|Here are some stories in my blog.) Http://nikhsplorer.wordpress.com *In the Philippines, we call older sister Ate.*

 

 

 

This Village Girl: How did your life change since starting the project? Where do you draw inspiration?

 

I won’t forget the day I made my decision to get out of my way to serve others in ways I can. I began to think of others more. I appreciate every little help that is coming because I know it is from the heart that wants to reach out and love and that it comes from God.

 

 

 

I get so inspired how a piece of pencil brings a smile not only to child’s face but also to their parents who have witnessed the simple act. I didn’t expect how a piece can delight one’s life. Na parang sa isip ko lapis lang naman yun eh pero sa kanila parang napakalaking bagay na. (It’s like in my mind, it was just a pencil but for them it’s such a big deal.) Yun pala kasi yung simpleng lapis na yun pahirapan pa bumili. (Turns out that it is so hard to buy a penicl.) Dahil nga naman sa hirap ng buhay nila sa probinsya, sa bundo, sa bukid at liblib n alugar, mas uunahin ang pambili ng pagkain kaysa lapis. (Because instead of buying pencil first, they will of course prioritize buying food because life in the village, in the boondocks and in remote places is hard.)

I have witnessed poverty but I see hope. Yes, I have cried a lot of times most especially when I felt so helpless. TFP has thought me to be more loving and giving because I am so blessed. At wala akong dapat irekalmo sa buhay. (There is nothing in my life that I must complain about.) Dahil yung iba (Because the others) despite their situation, they still manage to smile, live simply and go on with their lives. Sobrang nakakainspire. (It is so inspiring.) Kung meron mas natutulungan dito sa advocacy na ito, ako yun. (If there’s someone that this advocacy is helping, it’s me. )

 

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I believe in God’s promise that all we are going through is all part of His plans for our lives. No matter how difficult our situation is, no matter how poor or rich one is, nothing can stop God’s great plans for our lives. God will pout us to where He wants to be, where we should be.

 

 

 

Do you have dreams for TFP? Like thinking of opening it for sponsorship and help more? Do you promote it? Please share us your dreams for it. Who knows there are like-minded people who’d be interested to help. =)

 

Some people were asking if bakit lapis lang? (why just a pencil?)I told them that little by little. I believe in the power of small. I am not closing doors for TFP. I am very much open for opportunities and collaborations. This isn’t for me. This is for the kids who I believe to be the hope of every family in our county. Ang edukasyon and tanging kayamanan na hinding hindi mananakaw. (Education is the only wealth that nobody can steal.) Gaya ng pangarap ng bawat magulang na makapagtapos ang kanilang mga anak para matamasa ang maganda at masaganag buhay. (Like every parent’s dream of their kids finishing school and have a better life. )I believe in their dreams also that one day they will be the one serve our children and for the generations to come.

 

 

And so just recently, I have ordered the string bags and add some notebook, crayons, eraser, sharpener, and pencil case. I look forward to giving a complete set of school supplies to every child. I’ve got a lot of plans to reach out to more people and help more kids. Narealize ko, maraming tao pala ang gusto tumulong pero hindi nila alam paano. (I realized that there are a lot of people who want to help but they just don;t know how.) I praise and thank God that through TFP, people were able to touch other people’s lives ways. Walang imposible! (Nothing is impossible!)

Today, I have been receiving messages from different people on how they will be of help. And I look forward to have more for TFP so that we could help more people too. One or two years from now, I can see TFP collaborating with schools, groups, communities and other programs and organizations.

 

Hesitant pa ako gumawa ng Facebook page. Hahaha. (I was so hesitant to create a Facebook page) Nahiya kasi ako. (I was ashamed. ) But I don’t know, pinush ako ni Lord na gumawa. (I don’t know, the Lord pushed me to make one.) And so now, mas madali na nga naman idirect yung mga tao na nagtatanong about sa TFP because I just have to direct them to the page mismo. (So now, it is easier to direct people who are interested about TFP because I just have to direct them to the actual page.)

 

I am very open naman kahit kanino who extends their help for TFP. I receive private messages from TFP’s page and my own account too. Nakakatuwa how people extends their help. (It feels so good how people extends their help.) Para saken walang maliit na tulong basta bukal sa pusong nagbibigay. (For me there is no little or big help as long as it comes from the heart.)

 

 

 

 

*One pencil costs 7 Philippine Peso (0.13 USD/ 0.11 Euros) and it’s a step away from ignorance.

 

If you’re interested to help us educate more young people who will be taking over the world someday, you can send Nikhail a message by visiting Travel for Pencil Facebook Page. 

You can also visit her blog for more inspiring Travel for Pencil stories. 

 

Thank you so much!

 

Over to you!

 

Have you asked the purpose of your existence too?

 

If you’re traveling, why are you traveling?

 

I’d love to hear and learn from you. Let’s exchange stories. =)

10 German Travel Words That I Wish We Have in English.

 

Okay. I am not a native English speaker but breathing English since birth makes me feel like one. Sure, moving to Germany and learning this awful language according to Mark Twain, I can now agree that whoever didn’t study it doesn’t have any idea how difficult it is to acquire it. As I eavesdropped my way to somehow understand it, I found myself developing a love-hate relationship with it. Most of the words actually don’t make sense when translated to English but diving deeper into it gave me more reasons to be fond of it especially these travel words that don’t have English counterpart.

With these words, I cornered my German boyfriend one Sunday morning after breakfast. I don’t know if he is just like a typical guy who doesn’t want to discuss nerdy, stupid things like this or it was too early to think in second language. Sure, I was able to force some answers from him but being a bonafide German speaker who uses it as verb and adjective, I felt that it will make more sense to ask my Filipino cousin who grew up in Germany who can easily switch to Tagalog, English and German seamlessly.

 

Wanderlust [vandɐˈlʊst]

Fact: did you know that our favorite travel word came from German words, wander which means to hike and lust which means desire. So wanderlust is actually the desire to be with nature through hiking that is now a very popular term to describe endless desire to travel.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

 

Reisefieber [raɪzəˈfi:bɐ]

I guess this should really be the English equivalent of Wanderlust. Reise means travel and Fieber is fever the sickness. My sources said Reisefieber is stronger. This isn’t just that kind of sickness you feel after your last trip and the pain of excitement for the next but emphasizes a stronger desire for not wanting to stop traveling.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

 

Fernweh [fɛrnve]

Fern means faraway and weh means sore or painful. This is the antonym of “homesickness” but this is that aching feeling of wanting to be somewhere far from home. “Farsickness” could be the more fitting word if that ever exist.

 

German Travel Words

 

Sehnsucht [zeːnzʊxt]

Sehn is to see and sucht is addiction or obsession and when put together, doesn’t just mean craving but also a longing, an unanswered question or the desire to have other experiences or deeper meaning.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

Kopfkino [kɔpfˈki:no]

Kopf means head and Kino is cinema or movies. I would say that this doesn’t have a lot to do with traveling but to have “movies” in your “head” simply suggests daydreaming. Your thoughts are flying somewhere far from reality.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

Zeitgeist [zʌɪtɡʌɪst]

From Zeit ‘time’ and Geist ‘spirit’. German Philosophy rooted from the 18th to 19th century that translates to “spirit of the age” or “spirit of the times”. This is that feeling of being in a different era and traveling through times.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

Torschlusspanik [tɔɹ.ʃlʊsˌpæn.ɪk]

Tor is gate, schluss is closed and panik is panic. Etymology says to close the city gates at night for safety and whoever comes late has no choice but to stay outside to be exposed to dangers. When translated to English, this means that fear of not having enough time to achieve your goals.

I will be BS-ing you if I will say that chasing my out-of-this-world dreams doesn’t scare the hell out of me even a little. In my country, the Philippines, I am already considered an old maid but here I am, still pushing myself out of my little comfort zone to grow and get more out of this life. Sure, in some part of the world, the gates might have closed for me but I am determined to open the ones that I like. No panic here. =)

 

German Travel Words

 

Sprachgefühl [ʃpraːxɡəˌfʏːl]

Though not really a travel word, this means the talent to quickly learn a language. Sprach is to speak and Gefühl is feeling or simply the feeling of a language. While the Germans who witness how I murder their language say I have talent with languages, I still disagree. I push myself so hard to learn because I realized that just to travel is not what I am after but culture. And to understand culture, knowing the language is essential.

 

German Travel Words

 

Schnapsidee [ʃnapsʔiˌde]

Schnaps is a shot of Vodka or any alcoholic beverage. Idee is idea. Literally a crazy idea.

How many stupid things have I done just because I got drunk? Sure alcohol has made my English and German way better but Schnapsidee is not a travel word. Who knows, the next best Schnapsidee will bring me to where I really belong.

 

German Travel Words

 

Gemütlichkeit [ɡəˈmuːtlɪxkʌɪt]

I asked a German what will he do if he was told to prepare something gemütlich and he said he will prepare the sofa with nice pillows, light some candles and watch some movies. He said he will wear sweat pants and get ready to just relax and enjoy the romantic atmosphere. Gemütlich is synonymous to the Danish word Hygge which means coziness. Wikipedia said that Gemütlichkeit was derived from gemütlich, the adjective of Gemüt, which means “heart, mind, temper, feeling” expressed by (and cognate with) English “mood”. Though not a travel word, gemütlich is now one of my favorite beautiful German words.

German Travel Words

 

I’d love to learn from you. What are your favorite beautiful foreign travel words?

 

10 Things I Love about Germany

There’s more to Germany than bratwurst, beer, Berlin and Munich. It wasn’t just its fairy tale-like castles and amazing cars but its people and culture that made its way to my heart. Though learning the language almost got me packing my bags and running as far away as I can but it’s the richness in history in contrast with the German’s simplicity that made me stay to learn more. 

 

  1. Orderliness

Germans often say “Ordnung muss sein!” (Order must be) and will often get headache when some things are not planned and not in order. Their discipline when it comes to separating and taking the trash out and having everything in schedule is just awesome. It’s one of the things that I have learned to adapt whether be it in my personal space or in the things that I should be doing. Not all Germans are spontaneous. A meeting or a get together should at least be arranged two weeks prior.

  1. Football is not just a game. It’s a Religion.

I once went out one afternoon only to find the streets and the public transport almost empty. Everyone is at the pubs or at home watching if they are not able to secure tickets to watch it live. It is like when our famous Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao has a boxing match. There’s almost zero crime rates because even the burglars, rapists and other criminals are also watching.

  1. Bread

There’s one store in Malaysia I loved so much and despite the long line, I always find myself queuing to get my fix. It’s not healthy but I didn’t really care. I thought I will never fall in love with other bread after that but I was wrong. Here in Germany, I am crazy not just over their Broetchen and Brezel. I am crazy about almost all of their breads that comes with different textures and toppings like seeds. The quality, the taste and the options are just amazingly good. They have wide array to choose from and for someone who has hard time digesting Gluten, they have a solution for it too. Just looking at every store’s wide selection, it makes me feel so happy that I have almost forgotten the ones from home.

  1. 4 pm means 3:55 pm.

Or else you’ll find yourself being scrutinized by your German friends or worse, being told to go back to your country. This is not just limited to business meetings but also when getting together with friends, families or even with your date. They take being on time seriously like how they take other aspects of their lives. Maybe meeting friends, it’s okay to arrive at exactly 4 pm but never like in the Philippines where 4 pm is actually 5 pm or worse, later. 4 pm ish doesn’t exist. I have learned to value not just my time but everyone else’s.

 

  1. Sunday is Ghost Town day.

Supermarket and almost everything is closed on Sundays. You’ll even be fined when you recycle or throw your glasses and they make so much noise. So Sundays here is literally a lazy day where you can have coffee and cake in the afternoon with friends or family. Big shopping malls with cinemas, cafes and restaurant are not so common so a relaxing activity is in order.

  1. Germans actually have humor.

I was wrong when I first declared that Germans don’t have humor. They are actually one of the craziest breeds I have ever met. They are just really reserved but once you get pass that, expect to have the loudest laughter and crazy banters with them. Their sarcasm, dim wit, dry humor and straightforwardness is going to make you fall off your seat. Bonus, they are also one of the most open-minded and well traveled people I’ve known. They coined the word “wanderlust”.  Once they have started loving you and told you that you are their friend, you are their friend. They will love you more than how you gave love definition and for whatever kind of love it is.

  1. Germans and the Naked truth.

I was once shocked to find out that everyone in the gym’s locker room was naked. Living in a Muslim country, Malaysia, before moving here didn’t help. I grabbed my towel and held it tighter around me to stop my heart from an anticipated heart attack caused by so much nakedness. Few months after, I stopped thinking about how horrible my cellulites might look like and just walk around the gym like how everyone is doing it. Imagine my jaw dropping and knees wobbling when a friend brought me to a sauna and everyone was just on their birth suit. I didn’t know where to look nor what to do. And some Germans actually go hiking sans clothing. I guess an entire article dedicated to this interesting topic is indeed in order.

  1. Banking is few years behind.

Working for banks for few years in Asia got me a little confused when I got here. They’ve got to be sh*tting me when I am knowledgeable with almost every banking policy. A lot of establishments refuse to accept debit or credit cards and Germans do pay using cold cash. Sure there are enough machines to take your cash from but whenever you’ll do a trip to the supermarket, better make sure you have enough cash and coins because otherwise, first, you can’t assume that the store has a terminal for your card and second, you’ll have to carry your stuff all around the store because you can’t get a cart without coins and then be prepared to pay for plastic or shopping bags in case you have forgotten to bring one. Also, there’s no bagger by the end of the line to pack your goods. You’ll have to do it by yourself.

  1. Germany: The land of Pfand

Whenever you’ll buy drinks, be it a plastic or glass bottle, be ready to pay a bit more for it because it has a deposit of sometimes 25 cents which Germans call as Pfand. You’ll be able to get a refund for this when you bring back the bottles to the store which has machines that will take all those bottles. You’ll then get a receipt which says how much you got in return on which you can use to pay for your what you’ll shop or just simply en-cash. This is also why there are people who actually pick up bottles from the trash and collect them because they simply mean additional budget for the next supermarket trip.

  1. Germans aren’t small talkers

Germans don’t take “how are you?” question lightly. This is the reason why I learned to stick to just “Hello” and pretend that I don’t speak nor understand German at all especially on days that I need to run tons of errands and want to come home quickly. I would often spend at least 15 minutes per person I will bump into if I made a mistake of asking them how are they. I once bumped into seven or eight fitness classmates and I asked each of them how they were only to find myself late for the class I wanted to attend and it wasn’t just one time. Only when I have a little more time to spare I dare to ask that question.

 

 

In Malaysia, it’s never too late to dream a new dream.

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I once belonged to Manila where everything cool seemed to happen on a daily basis. Atleast from the eyes of This Village Girl. Tall buildings, nice big shopping malls, cozy cafes, awesome nightlife and  busy streets. Dreams for this village girl. Then  my life started to become a reflection of this fun. I already have them all.  I was renting a place in congested Makati, doing sports after work and getting drunk with friends and colleagues every weekend before heading back to Batangas where I want to spend quality time with my brothers. Our parents are away to earn a living and to be able to send us all three in good schools. Education in Philippines is a luxury. Not everyone can afford it. We must bear the distance.

This life went on for nearly four years and I felt the pain of having something new but I can’t tell exactly. I gave the place in Makati up and chose to brave the traffic and endure the daily two to three hour commute from Batangas to Makati. I will wake up at 4:30 in the morning and leave the house at 5:30. I will sleep in the bus all the way to Makati and will feel energized to work when I reach the office. I will eat in between daily tasks and will nap during my lunch break. I will head to the bus stop right after shift to avoid the rush hour. I will nap in the bus on my way home again and will do sports before bed. This went on for few months until I decided I want change. I was bursting with so much energy.

I took advantage of my ten-day mandatory annual leaves to look for other jobs. A job offer in Malaysia came and though I wasn’t so interested, I accepted it anyway. For a breath of fresh air. A desperate act to start something new I reckon.

I didn’t expect so much change to be honest since Malaysia is just a four hour flight from Manila so it felt like I’m still in Philippines. I continued living the same life in a different country for the first few months. I felt nothing new ever took place. I’m just working, working and always working. That can’t be. I started looking for other activities and this lead me to meet new people.

I have started hanging out with people who don’t speak my language. I have heard beautiful stories that tickled my imagination. I ate dishes I will not normally eat. Later on, I will crave for flavours I can’t even put a name on. In a way, I have started having this voice in my head to see them for myself but I always had the fear to start. How and where will I start? I will excitedly gush about this to my friends and we have promised to try it together sooner but our schedules never allowed it. I can’t wait forever. I just can’t. Anymore. I suddenly have new dreams and these dreams can’t wait.


I explored Malaysia like a maniac that I can even walk around it with my eyes closed. Needless to say I fell in love with it. Everything felt cheaper allowing me to enjoy  life here more. Public transportation system was so good it made me to always be on the move. Like Manila, it started feeling like a comfort zone that even I have almost seen the entire continent, it’s not enough. I wanted more and I felt unstoppable.

I packed my bags, booked the flight and left.

Yes. I didn’t say goodbye.

Because…

How do we say goodbye to places we called home?
How do we move on?
How do we start embracing new cities where everything spells uncomfortable?
How can we say we are homesick when we don’t know (yet) where home is?
How bad do we want our dreams to come true and what are we willing to sacrifice to get them?
How many bridges are we willing to burn? How many bridges are we willing to cross?

Honestly, I don’t know how to write about Malaysia without shedding tears; without this heavy feeling in my heart that every time I will feel discomfort, I want to fly back.

Malaysia, I haven’t thanked you yet for true friends that turned to family outside our home, for introducing new and different tastes to my taste buds and new-found love for learning about languages and cultures.

I didn’t say goodbye because you didn’t matter. I didn’t say goodbye because I didn’t know how.

You made me realize that there’s a completely and magical world outside your equally beautiful self. You made me think of not wasting anymore time. Now is the perfect time. You made me leave all the judgments I have before I entered your door. You made me feel more alive. You made me ready for the world. You made me dream a new dream I never thought I will at this age. I miss you more than I miss home. But where is home?  You made me feel that I can be home anywhere. You made me even stronger than I thought I already was.

The best days of my life started happening when I welcomed you in my life. I am not the same girl who cried a river when she can’t fit the mountainous clothes and the nearly hundred pairs of shoes into her allowed 30 kilogram- luggage.

Malaysia, how dare you change me but thank you so much! I’m so glad I plunged into your unknown world.
I didn’t say goodbye not because you didn’t matter. I didn’t say goodbye because I didn’t know how to. I didn’t say goodbye because I know it is not goodbye. I am just not sure when I will see you again. All I know is that you are my comfort zone but I need to grow more. After all, you’re my home. I will come back for sure and who knows, might stay for good.

 

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About Us

 

Dani is a plus sized Filipina ADHD kid, recovering shopaholic, alcoholic and workaholic. She doesn’t take herself seriously. She has an insatiable wanderlust, out of this world food cravings and goof addiction. If she is not busy planning her next adventure, she will be spotted taking OOTDs and OOTNs. She took a break from the crazy corporate world to see the real one. This is not another travel blog. This is her journey to self discovery, embracing flaws and feeding her soul of what sets it on fire. She is out to prove that life begins at the end of the comfort zone.

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