Germany Christmas Markets in Bavaria 

I got a second chance to go to Munich. I will never understand why I am so fond of German Christmas Markets. Maybe it is the cooler weather? Maybe the hot wine and food? Maybe the Christmas decorations found in the centre and markets? I do not know why? Maybe the German Christmas markets, I went to as a kid, back in Texas inspired me to visit real German markets?   

I  had a wonderful time exploring different markets in Munich and Nuremberg. The Christmas ornaments found in these markets are just stunning and beautiful.Most ornaments are hand crafted! Original pieces of work can go for a reasonable price. I see the ornaments a fine art. The colours, the design, and creativity into making an ornament. German Christmas ornaments are one of my favorite things to put on a Christmas tree. 
On top of the ornaments, I love the food and the drinks you find in these markets. Traditional foods found in these markets: glühwein (a hot wine), beer, sausage, German sweets, gingerbread, and much more. I want to focus on my favorite item called glühwein. It is a popular drink found at German Markets. Many markets have a special decorated cup. You pay a deposit for the cup. You can keep the cup as a souvenir or return the cup and get your deposit back. 
What is glühwein? This drink is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and at times vanilla pods. It is one of my favorite things to have while exploring German Christmas Markets. 
I love being in the centre of a German Christmas Market because there is so much going on at one time. From people buying items in stalls to hearing music or food cooking on a grill. I find these markets be very enjoyable. I look forward to seeing a German Christmas Market next year. Maybe in the Northern German? 

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An Emotional Visit to Auschwitz

On March 18th, 2016, I went to Auschwitz a concentration camp in Poland. The experience of visiting this concentration camp opened a door that showed the un-beautiful and evil side of humanity. I still can’t believe how recent the crimes that took place here happened. It was nearly 71 years ago when Auschwitz closed on January 27, 1945. The Red Army (the Soviets) liberated the prisoners of Auschwitz. I’ve read a lot on this topic.    Plus, I’ve watched many documentaries about World War II and Auschwitz. I have learned a lot, but all the learning I have done didn’t prepare me emotionally for my visit.  There isn’t anyway to emotionally prepare for a visit to Auschwitz. The emotions one will experience will be dark, depressing, and just shock.

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I experienced all kinds of different emotions while at Auschwitz. I was mainly in a state of shock during my visit. It’s one thing to watch or read about Auschwitz, but to be present at the crime scene where such evil was committed is a totally different level of emotion and realism. I couldn’t believe around nearly 1.1 million people were murdered at this concentration camp at the hands of the Nazis. It’s a massive camp with smaller sister camps nearby. For me two exhibits set everything into reality: the room with all the shoes and the room with women’s hair of the murdered victims.The hair and shoes once belonged to a living person. A person with a name and life story that disappeared from this Earth in less than two hours to ash. No more and lost to time. GONE. To think this happened is a very eerie feeling and bone chilling.

All the torn and dusty objects on display still can’t help someone comprehend the large scale, for the mass destruction that took place at Auschwitz is unfathomable. One in six Jews who died in the Holocaust were murdered here, and more people died here than the British  and American lives lost during World War II combined. The life lost here is the highest in the history of mankind. It’s so high that I had a hard time trying to imagine the people lost. It’s impossible.

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As I was touring Auschwitz, I felt a heavy emotion of sadness over come me. I felt this way the whole time as I was walking around the concentration camp. This heavy emotion was like a dark rain cloud above me. Kinda of like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh with his little rain cloud that follows him around in the cartoon series. I can’t remember another time in my life where I felt such strong heartache and misery at one time. These emotions were deeper than spells of depression I have experienced in my life. When I was in my late teens to my early 20s, I had some very dark spells of depression that I had to wrestle through. It’s hard to describe such senses in writing. To feel these depressing emotions and to fully understand what I am explaining, one needs to make the trip to Auschwitz.

Many people call Auschwitz a museum, but to me it is more than a museum or memorial. It’s a cemetery to those who were murdered by the Nazis. There are no individual tombstones marking every single victim killed, but there are building remains from 1940-1945 and memorials setup as reminders of what happened to all the victims. The victims’ ashes were thrown in the nearby river or placed on the soil.

Going to Auschwitz is a form of paying your respects to the victims of the Holocaust and remembering the evil that was committed there. As mankind as a whole, we mustn’t forget these evil crimes committed. We need to remember what happened and never repeat such crimes. If we forget, we have set a destiny of repeating such tragic and horrendous crimes again to our fellow brothers and sisters of the human race.

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One thing that really annoyed me while I was at Auschwitz was the lack of respect had people had for this place. I saw a lot of people taken selfies with selfie sticks. Let me ask. Would you take a selfie with a dead loved one in their casket? The answer is probably no.I think it’s unacceptable to take selfies with selfie sticks at such a place.

I recall seeing people taking selfies with the entrance gate with the famous words Arbeit Macht Frei sign. Just made me sick seeing people take these pictures. Another incident was a person climbing over a chained off area to get a selfie with the remains of one of the crematoriums. Absolutely totally no respect for the victims of the Holocaust. Seeing people have no respect, made my stomach twist and turn. I was very sick seeing these people take out a selfie sticks and take pictures at Auschwitz. I definitely believe selfie stick should be banned at this location because it is a cemetery and memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

I do realize that humans react differently to events, stories, and ect. However, I still believe many people would experience the same kind of emotions I described above. I just do not understand how people could think it’s a great idea to take a selfie with the remains of a crematorium where innocent peoples’ corpses where burned and turned to ash. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think it’s very disrespectful to take pictures of this nature here.This was the only thing that made me very upset about others at this concentration camp. This is my only complaint. Now on to why everyone should visit Auschwitz.

I believe everyone should make the trip to Auschwitz. Why? Auschwitz shows mankind how evil and dark the human race has been. It’s an important reminder that humankind mustn’t tread in those waters again. Seeing Auschwitz shows the soul the dark side of human nature that is possible if one is allowed to do such horrid acts against their fellow brothers and sisters of the human race. We mustn’t forget where we have come from because if we forget we are doomed to repeat such atrocious acts. History can and will repeat itself, so it is our duty to be educated about the events of the past and not to forget what mankind has done.

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After this trip, I feel that I am better human because I have seen the remains of what happened at Auschwitz. Going to Auschwitz has been on the major life changing highlights of my life.  I am aware of the dark side of humankind and how this evil can act towards fellow humans. I pray we never enter this realm again. We must never forget what happened during the Holocaust.

Solo Travel: Why I Love Going Solo

Over the last year and a half, I have become very fond of solo travel. I have been on many solo trips to Paris, London, Munich, Vienna, Italy (Rome, Florence, Naples, Scotland, and more. As female solo traveler, I find power and freedom in going to places by myself. It is a rewarding feeling to know that I planned and put a holiday together by myself. This gives me confidence in believing that I can do anything in life that I want to accomplish.  Solo traveling makes me a stronger human.

I love going on trips by myself because I can promote more personal growth. Plus, allow myself to discover the world without other people affection my views on life. During my holidays, I don’t feel alone on my trips ever.  Because no matter where I have gone by myself, I have always met many people on my trips. When traveling by yourself, you are never truly alone. Some way you meet other fellow travellers on the road.

Safety is very important to me. When traveling alone, I always put my safety and well being at the top of my list. It’s all about using common sense. Bottom line is don’t leave your common sense  at home. I don’t put myself in unsafe situations. I take care of myself because I can on depend on myself while I am traveling by myself.

I love how I can focus on what I want to spend my time on in a city. If I want to go slow, I can take my time and enjoy what I want to see. There are times that I want to move fast and have an action packed day. When I was in Paris, during the November 2015 attacks, I had one day see what I could in Paris. I got up early and went out to see the major attractions of Paris. Plus, I saw the Eiffel Tower twice in that day. It was amazing. I hope to go back to Paris next spring, so I give the city of lights a proper chance. I enjoy creating the pace of how I will move and see things during my holiday.

I am hoping to spend another year in Spain and then move to Korea. I am running out on places to see in Europe. Don’t get me wrong I love Europe and living here. However, I want to see other parts of the world and allow myself time to see new cultures and learn a new language.  While I am in Korea, I want to go to Japan, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and more a few other places.  For places like India, China, and Thailand I will go on a group tour so I can be safe.  I want to experience life, be happy, and travel.

Update 19/2/16

At the start of February, I went on a weekend trip to Romania and Transylvanian. Other than traveling, I have started walking 3-4 times a week with a friend. My back is doing a lot better compared to a year ago, but three weeks ago I pulled a muscle in my back and was home for over a week. I was nervous about my back causing me to go back to my back doctor. All that matters is that I can go to work, walk, and live a normal life.

On the 15th, I got news that I had been waitlisted for a master’s programme in Madrid. I am hoping to be back in Madrid next school year. I am having to wait till May to find out if I will be in Galicia or Madrid. So nerve wrecking at times because I want to know where I will call home next school year. I want to stay in Madrid. I recently booked everything for Semana Santa. I plan to visit Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, Prague, and Poland during the break. I still need to plan a trip for the long weekend at the end of April. Also, I planned a weekend trip to Barcelona. I am looking forward to experiencing Barcelona in the late spring. This is everything going on in my world. I can’t believe March will be here soon. I only have 4 months left till I fly home for the summer. Time is flying by too fast here.

Bucharest Romania’s Capital and Transylvania

When people say they are going on holiday to Europe, most people think of going to popular places such as London, Paris, or Barcelona. Most American tourist don’t usually think of Romania as a place to spend their holiday. I got to spend a weekend in Bucharest and a day in Transylvania. I enjoyed how cheap this holiday was for me compared to my to visits to cities like  Munich, London, Paris, or Barcelona.

I still can’t believe how cheap this trip was compared to my other holidays in Europe. My accommodations only cost me 27 Euros for three nights. Food was so cheap too! At the time of my holiday, the 1 Euro got me 4.65 Romanian Leu. I had 50 Romanian Leu left over from my trip that I kept as a little souvenir. In a couple of years, the Romanian Leu will no longer exist because Romania is in the process of going to the Euro. Another reason to go now is because of how cheap it is to visit on the USD or the Euro. 12705433_10153589724814024_5652674921384820730_n.jpg

When Comparing my other holidays in Europe, I didn’t see as many tourist in Bucharest as I did in other major European cities. This was a treat for me because sometimes I become overwhelmed with too many people around me. It was very nice to have a change. This is another good reason to go to Romania. I believe Romania is often over looked as a place to visit because it is in Eastern Europe and not as popular as other destinations in Western Europe.

What to do in Bucharest? I kept myself very busy.  I spent my weekend exploring beautiful old orthodox churches, seeing the Palace of Parliament, enjoying the Old Town in the city centre, and just getting lost in Bucharest. I think Bucharest is cleaner than Madrid, Spain, where I have been living for close to two years now. I became a big fan of Victorian architecture, the mark the Communist era left, and the grunge vibe.  I like how all these themes can be found in Bucharest. This makes the city unique to over cities in Europe.

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I got to get out of Bucharest for a day to go visit a Romanian palace and the famous fortress where Dracula lived in the world renown region called Transylvania. I like this region of Romania because the people in this area still believe in witchcraft and old folklore. Plus, the area is covered with forest and mountains.The little villages that are found in this area still look like little medieval villages. In a way, I felt as if I went back in time to the Medieval Ages. I went on a day tour from the capital and went to three major points of interest: Dracula’s Castle, the city of Brașov, and my favourite the Peles Palace12688052_10153585814219024_5128288122318918900_n.jpg

Peles Palace is amazing because of the German influence the royal family incorporated into the building. The architecture is amazing. There’s a lot of wood used on this building that adds to the beauty of the building. I haven’t seen a palace like this one in any other part of Europe.  The inside was beautiful, but you had to pay a silly tax to take pictures and wear blue plastic shoe covers inside. I think the outside is best part of this building. It was built in the 1870s by King Carol I as a summer palace for the royal family. Today nobody lives there. If you come to Romania, book a day trip to Transylvania and you won’t regret your choice to visit this beautiful region.  If you have the time, you should go to Romania for a quick visit. 12670229_10153586639164024_7772893915103208041_n.jpg

Update: Start of 2016

I had an amazing holiday during my two and half week winter break. I went to Munich, Vienna, Naples, Florence, Rome, and Vatican. The beer and classical music was enjoyable in Germany and Austria. In Italy, I enjoyed fine art, history, and Italian food. After my holiday ended, I had to return Madrid and work. The first week back from holiday I had to start applying to teaching programmes for next school year. I will hopeful be back in Madrid for another school year. I will have a better idea of where I will be in April/May. At the start of February, I will be going to Romania and spending time in Bucharest and Transylvania. Other than trying to figure out next year’s plans and traveling, I am trying to come up with my travel plans for the rest of the school year, planning my summer, and studying for the GRE. 10374943_10153530299689024_6683189955234436784_n

Travels for the Spring: I am thinking about going to Berlin, Budapest, Poland, and Prague for my long spring holiday. Then, one more major trip out of Spain to possibly Amsterdam or Oporto. In May, I will have friends visiting Spain and will more than likely go back up to Barcelona for a 3 day weekend. =)

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Summer Plans: This year I will be staying in Madrid till the end of June. Then, I plan to return home to Texas for a couple of months. I hope to go out to California and Washington State during July. Go visit family all over the place and just enjoy being home. I am looking forward to getting my favourite coffee, Tex-Mex, and other amazing things I can only find in Texas. Then, return to Spain in September for another school year.

Leaving Early from Spain Through the North American and Language and Cultural Programme

I’ve been wanting to write a post about my experience leaving Ministry of Education Programme early. During March, I made the choice to go home early. For most of the summer, I was worried about jeopardising my chances of being able to participate in the Ministry of Education Programme for the 20115-2016 school year. Why was I worried? I didn’t find enough information about leaving early and how it would effect me in the Ministry of Education Programme.  I think anyone would be nervous about making a choice like this and not fully knowing what the end results would be. Especially, if you are living and working overseas.

I have been very lucky with the school I was assigned to work as an auxiliary. My school was fine with me leaving. This may not be fine in other communities in Spain. I have been in Community of Madrid for nearly two school years now, so double check with the community you work in. It depends on the school  and community you work for and if they are willing to let you leave early. As long as you follow the exiting process with the Ministry of Education, you are fine to come back for another school year. Before I left Spain for the summer, I had to write a letter stating that I was leaving early for a summer job and that I didn’t expect pay for the month of June. After the letter was submitted to my boss, I was free to go and it didn’t jeopardise me coming back. I still had some doubt in the back of my mind that I was going to have trouble.

When I got back to United States, I had to apply for a new visa to come back to Spain. It was a pain, but worth going through all the pain to come home early. Plus, I had to request a Spanish background check from the U.S. I got my background check without any issue. It took two weeks to get the background check. I was surprised about that because Spain is notorious for taking forever to accomplish anything.

When I returned to Spain, I made an appointment to get a new NIE card. I got back to Spain and had no issues with getting a new NIE card or going back to school. Also, when applying for new NIE card you act as if you are getting a NIE card for the first time. My visa is about to expire at the end of December, but I can now come and go as I want without any problems.  Again this is a reminder that everything works out in the end.