It’s been over a year since I’ve lived in Germany. I love my life in NYC so I can never imagine myself ever moving back to Germany, but at the same time, it is a country I lived in for 3 years. Having lived there during my early to mid 20’s, it’s definitely a country that has shaped me, despite having moved on for more than a year now.

Thinking back to my time as an expat in Germany, here has definitely been a lot of pros and cons. Here are some of my highlights!

Pros

  • Experiencing a new culture is fun and exciting! Every little thing, like paprika chips and traffic lights seems strangely enticing and exotic
  • All the people you meet! People say it’s friends that shape a city and that’s totally true. I’ve met and became friends with people from all over Europe, and around the world. Dating Germans can also be very fun, I must say
  • Free education. Yep, got a master’s degree entirely for free. Cha-ching!
  • Affordable healthcare… (I’m looking at you Americans)
  • Being in Europe! People always think it’s amazing how many countries I’ve been to, but travelling around Europe is the easiest thing ever. Saying “I love going to Paris for my birthday” can sound pretty pretenious to non-Europeans, but to me, it’s just a fun city that’s only a 3 hour train ride away. No biggie.
  • The work and play mentality. When Germans clock out from work, they will travel far and wide. It’s great meeting so many like-minded travel buddies.
  • Great food and cheap beer. The average price for a beer in NYC is about $7. That gets you about 3-4 beers in Germany.
  • Reliable, punctual people. When Germans say they’ll meet exactly 13 days from now at 5pm, if they don’t show up, it means they’ve been murdered.
  • Learning German! I’m rather horrible with learning languages so this doesn’t apply to me, but I’m sure many others have been sehr erfolgreich 😉

Cons

  • Germans aren’t known to be the most outgoing people, so crazy nights out can be rare and easy friendships even rarer
  • There’s a saying that Germans are their own policemen, and it’s true. If you don’t like strangers approaching you all the time and telling you all the things you can and cannot do, then unfortunately you’re going to have a tough time in Germany
  • Bad customer service. So bad that I only shopped online from British and American retailers.
  • Unless you speak fluent German, it’s hard to integrate with society. From finding a job, to dealing with bureaucratic matters, the struggle is real.
  • Cobblestone streets. Sure they’re pretty to take Instagram photos of, but you’ll quickly learn why people wear nothing but sneakers in Germany
  • Weight gain…what do you expect from a country that’s big on sausages, schnitzel and litres of beer?!
  • Culture shock! It’s a Western country, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Have you guys lived in Germany? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Moving to New York City

by Michelle on March 6, 2017 · 6 comments

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New York City is the city that never sleeps. That line is so cliche but at the same time, there has never been a truer sentence to describe a place. It’s a city that has captivated many – including me and Yann.

After living in Europe for three years, I felt like it was time to move on. I missed living in an English speaking country and interning at NIKE as a graphic designer made me realize that it’s a career path that I’m passionate about – I had a strong design portfolio (from both my Nike and freelance work) and I was excited to see where it would take me.

I loved the Netherlands and wouldn’t mind living in Amsterdam longer, but at the same time, I was ready to see more of the world. Culturally, the US is pretty similar to home, and many people compare Toronto to NYC, but at the same time, it’s really nothing alike. NYC is filled with so many career opportunities (especially in design), interesting people from around the world, and with so much to see and do, you really feel like you’re in the centre of the world. After living in scenic Europe, I really wanted the hustle and bustle of a metropolis.

So halfway through last year, Yann was able to get a transfer to NYC. After I visited him there in June I knew this is where I wanted to stay.

Funnily enough, growing up, if you asked any of my childhood friends, they would all say that I was pretty obsessed with NYC. I dreamed of being an artist and living in an apartment in Greenwich Village. While my travels have taken me to places in Australia and Europe since then, is a bit ironic that my current life isn’t that different from what I imagined so many years ago…

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It’s no secret that going to the airports in Australia can be a pain in the neck, as the taxi and uber fares are ridiculously expensive. In fact, according to traveller.com, the cities that have the most expensive taxi airport services are Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne.

However, there are certain ways that you can do to make your commute to the airport cheap and affordable. We discuss the prices you will have to pay for the cab and Uber rides when going to airports in Australia, and of course, the most affordable options.

Melbourne

Taxi fare from the City Business District Airport to the Melbourne Airport: Around 50 AUD

Skybus: 18 AUD

Uber: 39 – 51 AUD

If you are not in a hurry and you have extra time to spare, then try taking a Craigieburn line train from any of the stations on the CBD. Get off at Broadmeadows and walk out of the station all the way to the bus bays and board the route 901 bus going to the Melbourne airport. The cost in total? 6.06 AUD during the weekdays, and 6 AUD during the weekends.

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Things to do on a Sunshine Coast road trip

by Michelle on December 8, 2016 · 5 comments

Australia is a country I’m really excited to go back to. Despite all the travels I’ve done across Europe for the past three years, Australia is still one of my favourite countries in the world.

While being out of school and having a full-time job means I can’t travel as much as I’d like to, I also really like the idea of doing one big trip a year. While I’m already planning on spending most of my vacation days in Asia in 2017, my travel goal in 2018 is to go back to Australia, visit all of the places I’ve loved and to explore some new ones as well.

One of my favourite places in Australia is the Sunshine Coast, which is located in Queensland, about an hour north of Brisbane from Caloundra to Cooloola. It’s a popular tourist area, and understandably so, as the area is lined with pristine beaches and home to more national parks than any other area in the state.

Its name, the Sunshine Coast, couldn’t be more accurate, as it really has amazing, warm and sunny weather all year round…averaging more than 300 days of sunshine a year! I was there during Australian winter and it was still warm enough to enjoy the beaches there.

While the Sunshine Coast is easy to access and navigate around, because of the size of the region, car hire companies such as Alpha Car Hire, are great for groups of friends who want to travel together and save money while doing it.

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My last day in Europe…a sunny visit to Copenhagen!

by Michelle November 28, 2016

Copenhagen was my last stop before going back to Canada for a bit, and then ultimately, on to NYC. After living in Europe for three years, it was hard to say goodbye, but at the same time, with the ever so competitive flights these days to Europe, I know I’ll be back to visit soon. Despite all the travelling I’ve […]

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Best birthday gifts for people who love to travel

by Michelle October 24, 2016

I love shopping for birthday gifts for my friends and family, especially for those who love to travel. When I’m travelling, I love browsing little shops and finding unique gifts for people that they normally can’t find at home. I’m not a big fan of souvenir shops since I find gifts there pretty uninteresting (although I did go a bit […]

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Thumbnail image for Going onwards: Fez and Chefchaouen

Going onwards: Fez and Chefchaouen

by Michelle October 7, 2016

After our Sahara trip, a group of us took a taxi to Fez, which took a crazy amount of hours. A few short breaks here and there, and 7 hours later, we were finally in Fez. Surprisingly we had enough energy to wander around the maze like streets of the medina for hours afterwards, get dinner, drink mint tea, admire […]

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Into the Sahara

by Michelle September 20, 2016

One of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on was to the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Travelling from Marrakech, we went on a 3 day tour that took a small group of us through the High Atlas Mountains, the Draa River Valley to visit a bunch of interesting traditional Berber villages and towns, and to the Merzouga desert, where […]

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Thumbnail image for Landing in Marrakech: The Moroccan adventure begins!

Landing in Marrakech: The Moroccan adventure begins!

by Michelle August 16, 2016

Morocco is definitely one of the most adventurous places I’ve been to. After so much travelling within Europe for the past few years, I knew I was ready to move on. While Morocco is really only a three hour Ryanair flight away, arriving in the country makes you feel like you’re in an exotic country that’s much further away than […]

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2 days in Gibraltar: Britain in the sun!

by Michelle July 25, 2016

Gibraltar (“Gib” as locals call it) is a hidden gem that often gets overlooked by travellers and is undoubtedly one of the most interesting countries I’ve ever been to. With only about 30,000 residents, it’s the smallest member of UEFA. As a British Overseas Territory located at the tip of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea, it’s rightfully nicknamed, “little Britain in the […]

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