Life, Thoughts

Getting Paperwork Today

This weekend I fly out to San Francisco to get my paperwork submitted for my au pair visa. I have to gather some additional things before the trip, which is what I’ll be doing today. I am going to go to Walgreen’s to get two passport sized photos and then USPS to get a prepaid express mail envelope so the Spanish Consulate can send me my passport back after it’s processed. It seems as if everything is in order.

I have some concerns about my paperwork. One of the requirements for the visa was that I get a doctor’s note proclaiming that: “the student has been examined and found free of any contagious diseases according to the International Health Regulation 2005”. When I went to go get that doctor’s note earlier last month, I was told by my primary care doctor that they couldn’t say that exact phrase in the note due to legal restrictions. So I have a note that does not say this exactly, but has documents with test results that say I’m free of particular diseases I was tested for. I am hoping that it is enough for the Spanish Consulate.

I also attempted to get a police report of myself from my local police department. I got an email with a PDF earlier that showed a police report and a note saying they do not conduct public police screenings for people. I don’t know if that is a complete police report, but I did everything I could to get one.

I have shelled out almost $1500 out of pocket so far to make this Spain trip a reality. I am hoping that it is worth all the investments I have made, because it would be such a disappointment for me and the family I’ve been in contact with if my visa gets denied. I wanted to have a year overseas to learn Spanish and explore a new country, and if it gets denied I’ll only have 3 months to go there instead. Hopefully things will fall into place and my work will be worth it.

Life, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Au Pair Visa – Preparations for Spain

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Over the past month or so I’ve been talking to family in Spain who wants me to be an au pair for them. I have been gathering paperwork in order to submit them to the Spanish Consulate on January 7th in San Francisco. This week I leave to submit the paperwork and then I have to wait a month to see whether or not it gets approved. After I find out if I get the visa in February, I make plans to leave the country by the beginning of March.

The family I have been talking to is really cool. Out of all the families I had talked to, this one seemed like the most appealing and understanding. I have been talking to the mother of the family mostly, M. Angeles, and she seems very kind. She has been helping me through this process the whole time. She even paid for the tuition for me to attend a Spanish University online in Madrid while I’m staying there. The children are all above the age of 13, which was ideal for me. The other families I had talked to had children that were around the ages of 2-8, which would have been difficult. I like that the children are older because they understand and speak more English, which is good since the only language I’ll be able to communicate with them while I’m there in is English. I also don’t have to actually watch and take care of them, I’m just another member of the family. I wanted to be able to focus on actually getting to know the family, the country, the culture, and the language, so being free from the responsibility of childcare was ideal for me.

I am both excited and nervous about the prospect of being in a Spanish-speaking country. I’m not the best at communicating in English, and my Spanish is really poor. I took Spanish for two years in high school and French for a year in college, but I don’t remember everything from the lessons. People have been telling me the best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it and the culture, so I guess this is the best way for me to learn. I also will be attending a Spanish University online, taking Spanish classes for 20 hours a week, so I’ll be learning the language both formally and informally throughout my stay there.

I have some fears about traveling with my mental health. My mental health has been up and down over the years, and although I have been pretty stable with my new medication, I still have worries that I’ll have another manic episode overseas. This is my greatest fear, because if I have an episode overseas in a country that doesn’t speak my language, I will be in very different and stressful circumstances than my last episode.  My family and I are hoping everything will turn out okay and that I’m healthy enough to travel. I wanted to do this opportunity because I don’t want to constantly be afraid of my mental illness, having it stop me from doing the things I want. I don’t want to be thinking throughout my life, “What if I had done this?” I want to be living in the moment and embracing what life has to offer despite what I’m suffering through.

All in all, I am excited for this trip. I think it will be a great opportunity for me to learn as much as I can in a new country with exciting people and experiences. I have always wanted to travel and explore the world, and this might be the first of many opportunities in the future.

Life, Thoughts

Countdown to the Philippines!

My mom and I are very excited for our upcoming trip. It’s less than two days until we fly out from Portland to begin our adventure to the Philippines! We’ve been packing and getting our travel necessities together this past week. I will try my best in the upcoming month to keep this blog updated with our adventures. My dad was kind enough to let me bring his iPad with me on the trip, and we will have internet connection on and off during our stay.

In preparation for our trip, I’ve gathered some helpful tips and tricks from travel blogs across the internet:

https://www.travelzoo.com/blog/20-tips-before-traveling-internationally/
https://www.travelandleisure.com/blogs/12-tips-to-make-international-travel-easier

Book Reviews, Life, Movie Reviews, Review

The Southern Reach Trilogy + Cartopia

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Image from: wired.com

I was blessed to be able to receive the Southern Reach trilogy from my friend, Thom. We caught up yesterday at Cartopia in Portland and had a great time eating delicious crepes and Mexican foods.

The Southern Reach trilogy, written by Jeff VanderMeer, is a great mystery, sci-fi, action, and thriller series. Recently the first book, Annihilation, came out as a movie featuring Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Jennifer Leigh (all-star, all-female cast). Thom and I went to see the movie when it first came out in order to compare it to the books. The movie by itself was pretty good, but deviated away from a lot of what the books reveal. I highly recommend reading the series before tackling the movie, just so you can have a full appreciation for the context of the books.

I don’t want to give any spoilers out for those interested in reading the books, but I will say that the trilogy is one of my favorites I’ve read. VanderMeer is a compelling writer and leads you through an intense exploration of an imaginative world. I cried, got goosebumps, and had sleepless nights because of this series. It features wilderness, spies, relatable characters, extraterrestrial life, and mystery. The series will leave you with more questions than it does answers, and make you think about Area X for a long time after you put the books down. Here is a description of the book from Wikipedia:

“The book describes a team of four women (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an area known as Area X. The area is abandoned and cut off from the rest of civilization.[1] They are the 12th expedition. The other expeditions have been fraught with disappearances, suicides, aggressive cancers, and mental trauma. The novel won the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel[2] and the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for best novel.”

Check it out!

Life, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Anthony Bourdain R.I.P.

I was on Facebook today and saw this picture posted by one of my friends. As I near the ripe age of 22 and prepare for my trip next Monday, this quote connected to me a lot:

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Source: Facebook – The Chef’s Circle

Anthony Bourdain was highly admired, a star chef, and a lover of life. He showed us the importance of traveling and adventuring and experiencing another person’s lifestyle. In witnessing his exploration of the world I was taught empathy and passion and a love for food.

Growing up, my mom and I spent little time together as she worked the majority of the day and wouldn’t get home until late at night. Most of the week I was either in school or with my grandparents, where we spent our television time watching game shows or sports. During moments where my mom and I would be able to spend time together at home, we took pleasure in watching Anthony Bourdain’s: No Reservations on the Travel Channel. My mom and I loved his poetic and raw outlook on life, and it was always interesting to see what adventures he experienced. I have many fond memories of us watching his trips together, reacting to the dishes he would eat (how we would want to try this or that someday), laughing at his (sometimes crude, but always real) comments, and wishing to one day go where he has gone.

Anthony Bourdain suffered from heroin addiction when he was younger, the same difficult struggle my late brother battled with. While they were both alive, Anthony Bourdain’s triumphs and long life gave me hope that my brother would beat his addiction and life an equally full life.

He also suffered from depression, but didn’t let that prevent him from experiencing the world as much as he could. I also suffer from depression and other mental health issues, but Anthony gave me hope that the world could be better, that I could accomplish and experience things that I’ve only dreamed of. It saddens me that his battle with depression ended this way.  I was told that he never sought treatment, dealt with it by himself without trying to seek help. I am grateful for the community I grew up in and the information I was given about mental health and depression, to be able to seek and receive treatment. No one should ever be pushed to this point in life, where they feel like there is nowhere to turn to.

For anyone reading this: If you feel like you are alone and have nowhere to turn to, know that there are always options to get the help you need and that there are people out there who will care and support you. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Anthony Bourdain, you fought your demons for as long as you could and inspired so many people to live their best life. My condolences and best wishes to your family and friends. Thank you for all that you’ve done to bring the world together.

Life, Thoughts

Hot Yoga

In preparation for our trip to the Philippines next week, my mom and I have been taking classes at Flow Hot Yoga in Vancouver. We wanted to acclimate our bodies to heat before our trip while increasing our stamina. While it’s not our first time taking hot yoga classes, it’s still a pretty difficult and new experience.

Over the past ten days I’ve gone eight times, and it’s crazy how much progress I feel in my flexibility. Every other day they have a different class and different instructors, so there is a wide range of poses to do each week. I’ve noticed in my own body that I have underdeveloped upper body strength and a lot of tightness in my hips. The yoga classes have helped me identify these areas to work on and have given me a chance to appreciate the beauty and strength in my own body.

Hot yoga is different than regular yoga in that we do each session in a hot room. This makes the experience feel a lot more difficult than regular yoga. According to their website, hot yoga allows the body to detoxify, lengthens and strengthens muscles, increases lung capacity and circulation throughout the body, boosts metabolism, and burns 600-1200 calories per hour.

Each time I’ve gone I’ve definitely felt a lot better coming out of the studio. It’s a workout for sure, and lets me push myself and my limits to the max. This week I’m aiming to go every day before we leave next Monday. Hopefully when we come back from our trip I’ll be able to continue the yoga practice as much as possible before school starts up again in August.

Happy Sunday!

Life, Thoughts

Nostalgic Dreams

During the school year I didn’t have any dreams at all. Ever since moving back home for the summer, I’ve been having really strange dreams.

Last night I woke up twice in the middle of two different dreams, both dealing with things I’ve been working through in my personal life. One of the dreams I don’t remember as clearly, but I’ll share the content of the other.

I had a dream that we were throwing a graduation party in my grandparents’ house, and two of my ex-childhood best friends were there. I haven’t talked to them in a very long time but know that they have graduated from their colleges through pictures on social media.

In the dream, I remember them sitting at a table with me. I was so happy they were back in my life. I remembered one of them was very skeptical about being there, and didn’t want to be celebrating with me. I told them that I had no expectations for our friendship and didn’t care what would result from their visit, just that I was happy to see them and have them in my life again. Then a different person, an old classmate from middle school, came into the room and tried to pick a fight with me. They ended up grabbing a keyboard that was sitting on a table and tried to hit me over the head with it, which is about the time I woke up.

I miss my old childhood friends a lot, but understand that they no longer want me in their lives. I was surprised that when I woke up, I didn’t feel sad. I felt like my dream was trying to tell me something – to cherish the memories that I had made with them, but to move on. The things I said in my dream about just being happy that they were in my life resonated with me. It doesn’t matter how long they were there, it’s the fact that the memories were made in the first place. I should have no expectations about how long people will be in my life. I should just be happy that they were there in the first place and remember that people will come and go.

I think I’ll make a habit of writing down my dreams again in a dream journal. My brother had asked me yesterday about lucid dreaming and whether or not I had ever had one. I have, but it was only once or twice and it was after religiously writing down my dreams every night and working towards the goal of having a lucid dream. I think it would be an interesting goal to have again, at least while I’m on vacation and have the time and ability to do it.