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Why I Prefer To Be Rich in Experiences

Before I graduated from university, I envisioned my post-grad life to be somewhat of the following: successful career in PR, apartment in the city, happy hours with my girlfriends, etc. After I studied abroad, as cliché as “I found myself in Europe” may be, I did absolutely discover that travel was going to be a priority in my life and the aforementioned vision of what I though being a young adult entailed was getting blurred.

As graduation neared and it came time to start looking for a job, I couldn’t help but question if I really ‘had to’ jump right into my career. Thankfully, the bad economy was on my side, and try as I might (though half-heartedly) I wasn’t met with any offers. Instead of being disappointed, I saw it as an amazing opportunity to ditch the path laid before me by so many others and create my very own.

Most of my fellow middle-class Americans are set on the road to success: go to college, graduate, find a ‘real’ job, marry, have kids…rinse, repeat. This is a perfectly respectable path, handed down from the hard-working generations before us. It’s a path many of my countrymen before me have taken; and most when met with old age, can reflect on life and be thankful for taking this secure route.

But for me, there was something crucial missing in this cookie-cutter plan. I realized it’s easy to get sucked into a life of climbing corporate ladders and before you know it, you’ve worked your life away and aren’t free to explore the world until you’re 65. It both broke my heart and made me utterly happy to see old couples hand-in-hand amongst the ruins of the Acropolis, or the majestic Alhambra.

It broke my heart because I could only imagine how hard it must be to get around and spend a day on your feet sightseeing when you’re old, but it made me happy that they were out there anyway, enjoying their retirement that they’ve worked so hard for.

It made me realize that while the rest of the world works to live, my hard-working fellow Americans live to work, and that I never want to live like that. I never wanted to wait until I’m old to start seeing the world. So whether you have 2 weeks of vacation a year, or 3 months, use it wisely. Make travel a priority.

And though my post-grad life looks nothing like I imagined it would, I’m doing what I love and I’m seeing the world while I’m still young. It’s not because I’m lucky, or rich. It’s because I prefer to be rich in experiences and made it a priority to do so. It’s because learning a new language and experiencing a different culture was something I wanted to do, so I found a way to do it.

It wasn’t easy to get here though. It took a lot of self-doubt and “what the heck am I doing?!” to get where I am and realize I’m exactly where I need to be. For right now. :)

I’ll leave you with this: “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”- Anonymous So, what are you waiting for?

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Life Lately via Instagram

So all you fellow iPhone owners are likely familiar with the app Instagram. If not, it’s an app that turns your blah camera phone photos into something a bit more eye-catching with fun filters.

Anyway, a fellow blogger, Jenni of Story of My Life, started documenting her day-to-day life via Instagram, compiled them into a weekly round-up and has encouraged other bloggers to participate. So with no further ado, here’s life lately through the lens of my iPhone:

A walk around the neighborhood at sunset. Love the bright colors+Spanish architecture.

Meanwhile, back home in Seattle, snow dumps in my parent’s backyard.

Guilty pleasure: trashy magazines to build my Spanish vocabulary. :)

Cous-cous and a lentil+curry soup drizzled with coconut milk. Courtesy of mi amiga. :)

Weather in Spain in January. That’s Morocco in the background!

Who can resist the bi-annual sales in Spain? Not this girl.

Coming from Seattle, I’ve promised myself to never take the sunshine for granted. Especially in winter!

Sunrise from my balcony.

Here’s to another lovely week!

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Today, yours truly hits the quarter-of-a-century-old mark. As I’m celebrating turning 25 in San Francisco, I wanted to share my reflections on what the past 24 years of my life have taught me—lessons I’ve learned, and am sometimes revisiting and reminding myself of.  

  1. You are responsible for your own happiness. Fight for it.
  2. Never take the good people in your life or your blessings for granted. Thank God for them before you fall asleep each night.
  3. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
  4. Taking well-calculated risks now and then is healthy and makes you feel alive.
  5. Learning a second language lets you connect with just that many more people in the world. Do it.
  6. Our grandparents are our sources into the past. Cherish them and all elderly as they’ve made it farther into this journey than any of us have.
  7. Find what you’re passionate about and dedicate time to it daily.
  8. Be the type of friend, partner, co-worker, sibling, etc. you want to have.
  9. The grass may always be greener on the other side, but on your side you can always plant flowers. :)
  10. Travel is the quickest way to give yourself a new perspective, and make you realize that your first-world problems, aren’t really problems at all.
  11. Handwritten thank-you notes and love notes will never go out of style.
  12. Be a renaissance man or woman. Know how to change a tire AND make a killer meal. (Hmm, might need a refresher course on that tire-changing thing, Dad!)
  13. Respect the teachers in your life and their work. It’s one of life’s most under-appreciated professions and it’s 10X more difficult than what it appears.
  14. If you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t. If you believe you can, you will. Simple. (Unless you’re believing you’ll sprout wings and fly…then I can’t help you.)
  15. Dream, often. Make goals, but make them realistic too.
  16. Keep your mind open to new ideas, people, places and experiences.
  17. Even if you’re no longer a student, always continue learning. Teach yourself useful skills, read a lot, and find a mentor whom you can ask advice from. Furthering your education doesn’t have to mean dropping thousands on higher education.
  18. Make the best of what you have, and never settle for less than you deserve.
  19. Forgiveness is sometimes difficult, but always liberating.
  20. Be nice to waiters, to the store clerk, and to all people in service positions. A smile and a thank you can go a long way to help them through their day. (Says the ex-grocery store bagger, hostess AND waitress!)
  21. Find the beauty in simplicity. Appreciate the little moments.
  22. The only whine worth your time doesn’t have an h.
  23. Turn your wounds into wisdom.-Oprah (Couldn’t have said it better than this woman!)
  24. Excuses only keep you further from achieving your goals.

As I’m off in the States traveling for a few weeks, catching up with friends and family, I hope you’ll check out the guest posts I have lined up from a few fabulous bloggers! Check back often for new posts :)

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I'm Christine - a 25 year old expat living la vida Española on the Mediterranean coast in Spain!

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My Top 10 Everything
Street art
Blue Bottle Coffee
Arrested Development
Wine & cheese night
My old Instamatic
Arcade Fire
Hiking the redwoods
My iPad
Bocce ball
Public transit

My Recent Flickr Photos