I’m losing my mind.

Seriously.

My Facebook feed is chock full of friends’ updates from Spain, Italy, France, Peru, Turkey… the list goes on. And I’m jealous. It’s like I forgot how to live a normal life. I’m dissatisfied waiting tables, I’m tired of the nightlife scene, I’m craving culture; I am hungry for something new and exciting.

I know I can find certain aspects of that in San Diego, but the United States as a whole is a pretty monotone society.

At the same time, I know this intense craving to become a wandering nomad could correlate to some deeper issues. I could draw upon my commitment phobia, my occasional reluctance to trust God, or my restlessness with my love life (See No Sex in San Diego).

It’s only $500 for a round-trip flight to Costa Rica… Hmm.

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Home sweet home?

So. I’m home now.

I went from visiting a new country every weekend to moving back into my mom’s house.

It’s been 15 days. I had my first day of class and work orientation this week. Where’s the adventure in that?

It seems as though someone pushed “pause” on my American life while I was living in Europe. Same drama. Same San Diego. Same responsibilities.

Looking back on Europe: I met someone new everyday, I learned how to say ‘One glass of red wine, please’ in Italian, I practiced french kissing a Frenchman (yes, they are better at it), I had a few beers with my kinsmen in Ireland, I got stalked in Piazza Republica, I fell in lust with an Italian man who spoke almost no English, I got admitted into an emergency room in Dublin, I partied until the sun rose in Spain, I went to the real Oktoberfest in Munich, I got lost at 4 a.m. in London, I experienced my first Christmas away from home in Austria, I rang in the New Year in Prague. The list goes on.

I’m not trying to say my life is miserable back home, I’m just not the same. People have been asking me “how have you changed?” Well, I’ve changed a lot but it’s not physical and it’s not all explainable. It’s like a child learning how to ride a bike for the first time. Taking those training wheels off can be scary but once you feel that wild wind blowing in your face, well… the rest is history. The breath-taking independence and freedom is blood-pumping.

You can’t go backwards on a bicycle.

So the question is… where do I go from here?

NYE

The last day before 2012 has brought me to reflect on the past year, just like everyone else. This has been a crazy, life-changing, eye-opening year for me. Right now I am sitting in my hostel in Prague, the calm before the storm.

My 2011 resolution was to do something I had never done before every single month. Let’s reflect:

Jan: Vegetarian for a week

Feb: No caffeine

March: Daily meditations

April: Save $1K in 1 month

May: Got my motorcycles license

June: Started my blog

July: Daily meditations take II (this is hard!)

Aug:  Move abroad (to Italy)

Sep:  The REAL Oktoberfest

Oct: Gave up chapstick! Oh, and I drove on the “wrong side” in Ireland. Oh and ruptured my ear drum (this one wasn’t on the to-do list).

Nov: Stayed in a hostel

Dec: International travel (In the past 4 months I have been to Italy, London, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic)

– – – –

That’s a lot of new things.

I have fallen in love with traveling, new cultures, new people, new foods. I have fallen in love with the idea of love. I have discovered new things about myself. This has led me to determine what my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions will be and they will be s.m.a.r.t. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely)…

*drum roll please*

1. Become financially stable and independent

I have dug myself a bit of a financial grave after traveling for four months. So my plan is to re-do Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

2. Run a ½ Marathon 

European vacation= European pounds. I’ve been putting off the half marathon for a couple of years now. It’s time to check this off my list on April 29th when I run the La Jolla Half.

3.  Get involved in my church

I have been calling Flood my home church for 2 years. It’s time to invest more into a place that invests so much into me by joining an Impact Team.

4. Get published!

I know I can. I will start by sending a travel article to City Beat and the Reader. Time to play the numbers game.

5. Travel. Preferably solo.

I heard it’s an entirely different and rewarding experience. I am hoping to add Australia or South America to the list.

– – – –

Five more days until I am back in the U.S.


 

East

Dec. 23

I am sitting on a train, headed from Switzerland to Austria two days before Christmas. The old, loud man next to me just finished his third tall-can of German beer.

It’s 10:30 a.m.

…Only ¼ of the way through this journey. As the consistent sound of metal on metal gently rocks the train back and forth I look out the window to see endless amounts of naked trees in white dress; houses sprinkled with sugar; mountain tops topped with marshmallows.

I see a couple, bundled in hats and gloves walking an excited dog. I see children dirtying up the pristine snow. I see a dedicated man shoveling his driveway.

What would it be like to live in a town like this? Do they still borrow sugar from their neighbors?

I watch as the brown-white-green scenery whizzes by me.  The white baking-powder-covered ground beckoning me to disturb its stillness.  Riding-hood-red benches dot the clear blue Swiss lake.

Dec. 29

One week until I hop on a plane and return home. I am currently writing from my hostel in Budapest, Hungary at 3 a.m. I can’t sleep. I want to be awake and alive for the last 168 hours. I stay up flirting with the cute local working the front desk. A drunk Swiss man just stumbled in the door asking if we were in Bulgaria, kebab sauce dribbled all over his mumbling face. “God gave me loudness,” he says (so I’ve noticed),  “I love Bulgaria!”

I’m Going for Broke

Literally.

I have 50 Euro left in my pocket and 18 days of travel remaining. 

This predicament has led me to read some interesting articles:

How to Travel the World for Free

The man who traveled the world for free using only Twitter

World-wide opportunities on organic farms

After reading these I became inspired and encouraged. Of course, I know I should have budgeted accordingly, but what’s done is done. I already have my couch-surfing account set up and my ticket home, what else do I truly need that I couldn’t get for free?

I’m just going to have to nix the 11 euro cocktails, fancy club events and lavish meals. Are all those things fun? Yes. But so is walking the streets of a new city, meeting locals and working for a hot plate.

Let’s see how this goes…

Cow Stomach & Cold Feet

Did you know that a cow has four stomachs?

Did you know that all four of those stomachs are a popular commodity in Florence?

Well, I have been working up the courage to try this popular street food for over a month. I would walk by and watch the eagerly awaiting locals in front of a popular Florentine vendor. They would finally get their fresh Lampredotto or Trippa panini and sit on the nearby cathedral steps, devouring them feverishly.

One day, I was walking by, just as I had tons of times before. But this time, I stopped. I was gonna do it!  I walked up to the front, nervously, and ordered una trippa panino. The older Italian man behind the counter, with kind eyes and a happily wrinkled face, regrettably told me that they were out but gladly offered me Lampredotto!  The difference? Trippa is made from the first three stomachs and Lampredotto is made from the fourth. I mentally prepared myself, settled my [own] stomach, and ordered! I waited for about five minutes and watched from the sidelines as the cook pulled the long, sauce-covered, white meat from the huge pot. He slapped it onto a toasted panino bun with some extra sauce from the pan, a little red and green salsa. He then grabbed the top bun, dipped it in the vat of simmering liquid and threw it on top. With a smile, he handed me my very first order of cow innards.

I grabbed it and joined the slew of locals on the steps. I got comfortable, said a little prayer, and peeled back the white paper to expose what would soon be my first bite.  I was timid but had high expectations. All of the locals went crazy for this stuff, right?? I went it for the kill.

Hmmm… well, it’s not exactly what I expected. It’s not disgusting though. The smell was new to me. It smelled of raw meat and earth. I tried again…

You’re not eating cow stomach, you’re not eating cow stomach, you’re not eating cow stomach.

I felt like my brain was interfering with my ability to enjoy this local delicacy. I got half way through and finally threw in the towel. I gave it a solid effort. My stomach was fighting me the whole way, growling and grumbling. I felt bad and  little guilty throwing away the other half, knowing Italians would gladly finish it.

I walked back to my apartment with a pep in my step, proud of my accomplishment. But excited to go back home and make yet another pan of chicken pasta.

I’ll admit it, I initially had cold feet. But I was glad I tried something new and immersed myself into the local culture.

I also have cold feet, literally, in the sense that our heat in Florence was JUST turned on two days ago. Yes, it’s regulated. We only get heat in our apartment for eight hours a day, at times the government chooses. So when it’s 32 degrees outside and we’re all shivering, huddled up in blankets, all I have to do is remind myself that I am living in ITALY! 

Next on the Delectable Dare List: A donkey panino… wish me luck.

My Trip to an Irish Hospital

My time in Ireland was amazing. My strawberry-blond hair and freckles made me appear to be a local and I was welcomed in Dublin as such. Everyone was SO friendly. My itinerary: Dublin -> Cliffs of Moher (in the running to become one of the Wonders of the World and rightfully so) -> Galway (great pub scene) -> back to Dublin (friendly Hospital).

Yes, I ended my joyous Gaelic Getaway in the Emergency Room of an ENT hospital in Dublin at 9:35 a.m.

 At around 3 a.m. on Friday morning I woke up with excruciating pain in my left ear. I tried to tough it out as I hate to admit pain or weakness, but by 8 a.m. the blood streaming from my ear was a pretty tell-tale sign that things weren’t going too well. Afraid of staining the pristine white hostel (Times on Camden- I HIGHLY recommend it), I awoke my brother and his girlfriend, and we went downstairs where the very helpful receptionist called a taxi.

The Hospital I checked in to.

This little problem with my Hearing Hole put quite a dent in my plans. We were supposed to check out the local gardens, see a few museums and pop into the Jameson Distillery. But instead… we went to the emergency room. My brother and his gf  were good sports and helped orchestrate everything.

While in the emergency room a young doctor from Toronto proceeded to make small talk with me while cleaning out blood from my ear with a vacuum (that was a lot of fun): 

“So what are you studying?”

“It’s too bad you have to leave so soon, me and my friends are going to the jazz festival in Cork this weekend.”

Mister Doctor, I really  hope you’re not trying to hit on me after I have been up for six hours in pain with blood leaking from an orifice on the side of my head.

Turns out I ruptured my eardrum, probably from flying with a cold. I am currently on one oral antibiotic, two different ear drops, one nasal spray, and two different kinds of pain relievers. All of which I need to use three times a day. I also have to stick a vaseline-covered cotton ball in my ear when I shower, I can’t fly for six weeks, and am not allowed to blow my nose.

However, other than this little debacle, the trip was great. We rented a car and drove three hours on the “wrong side of the road” to get to the Cliffs of Moher, which were jaw-droppingly beautiful. We were all walking back when it started to rain and suddenly a huge rainbow appears right in front of us, with one end protruding from the Atlantic Ocean. So obviously we did not get a pot of gold… or a leprechaun.

Rainbow at The Cliffs of Moher

To my brother, Matt, and his girlfriend, Lisa: you guys made this trip incredible and I am so glad you made the trek from San Diego. Matt, even if we were six beers deep when we had our brother-sister bonding moment in the midst of drunken Irishmen in a crowded pub, I meant every word. And Lisa, without a doubt, you get my stamp of approval!

Being so far away from family and friends has made me appreciate them so much more. And it has made me appreciate the new friendships I am forming on my travels, whether they be for one night or for a lifetime.

Beer, beer and oh ya… Beer!

 First and foremost, I was in Munich for Oktoberfest this month, and trust me when I tell you, you don’t know beer and you don’t know how to party until you meet the drunken Germans during this glorious month.  Try mixing a multicultural crowd of 100,000 with an endless supply of beer and live music. Wanna’ know what you get? Of course you do… 

You get incredibly friendly people, lots of dancing, most of which takes place on tabletops, and after parties that rival the main event (Lions Club, see video, enough said).

[p.s. I’m working on my videography skills everyone, take it easy.]

Something else you get is a lot of “friendly” men.  A few steins deep and these guys hit on everything in sight.  However, I did meet a few locals who got us into the best beer tents and a group of Irishmen who challenged me to stay standing after 4 steins (Megan=1: Irish=0).  They owe me a beer in Ireland. And I’ll be there in one week to pick it up!! It pays to pace yourself boys, I remember my first beer…

Sidenote: I have midterms this week. In Italy. That’s like putting a fat kid in a candy store and giving him a plate of celery.

– – – – – – – – –

  • Next Blog:  Cow stomach & Cold feet
  • Check No Sex in San Diego (NSISD) for an upcoming update on my precarious interactions with European men (one in particular).

Lost and Loving it

The Blogger of No Sex in San Diego now gives you Raconteuse on the Loose!

“Why does one girl need two blogs,” you ask? Well, I have a lot of supposedly interesting things to write about. My passions in life range from writing (obviously) and relationships & sex (abstinence from the latter while trying not to abstain from the former) to my faith, traveling and fashion.

Both blogs allow me to exercise my witty and undeniably entertaining banter, but No Sex in San Diego will remain my blog for relationships and faith and this blog, Raconteuse on the Loose, will be more about traveling and fashion (focusing on street fashion).

What the *#^@ is a Raconteuse? Well shucks, I’ll tell ya!

rac·on·teuse

Show Spelled[rak-uhn-tœz, -tooz, -toos]
noun, plural -teus·es. A woman who is skilled in relating stories and anecdotes interestingly.

Right now I am currently living and studying in Florence, Italy and traveling all over Europe. Check No Sex in San Diego for my last three travel blogs, but from here on out, you can get all the goods propio qui (right here)!

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