Who Am I? A Glance at the Making of the Seasoned Traveler
Hello! My name is Jessica, and welcome to my site, The Seasoned Traveler. But who am I, exactly? What am I all about?
I grew up along the coast in southern California, but you wouldn’t know it by my rather pale skin, dark hair and lack of surfing ability. I was always a bit nerdy, with my nose stuck in a book and A+ report cards littering the fridge. I have been lucky enough to be raised by a mother who wanted me to explore the world in a way that she was never able to in her youth, having come from a family with 6 children. She didn’t have the opportunity to leave North America until she was over 50 years old.
So, fortunately for me, I grew up going on vacations 2 to 3 times per year, including a traditional yearly trip to Hawaii. Perhaps I was a tad spoiled.
First taste of travelling abroad.
When I was in high school, I was part of a program called Model United Nations (MUN), where we would research a current issue, represent a country, and go to conferences all over the place pretending to be a delegate from the UN. In this program, we had the opportunity to go to Italy one year, where we met with delegates who really were from other countries (not just pretending like we always were). This was my first time in Europe, and seeing the world from another perspective, meeting people from other cultures (some of which I still keep in touch with to this day, 10 years later), and seeing the amazing architecture and sights that Italy has to offer planted something deep inside my heart – the infamous travel bug.
Also in high school, I was part of a “Banking for College” program, where you take general elective college courses for actual credits that can be transferred to the college or university of your choice (see, I told you I was a nerd, and you didn’t believe me). As a part of one of these classes, we traveled to New Zealand and Australia. I know there was supposed to be something educational there, but I couldn’t tell you, because all I remember are the stunning sights and excitement that comes with exploring someplace new. I also went bungee jumping on this trip (much to my mother’s dismay), and discovered how amazing an adrenaline rush can be!
After graduating high school, I went to university and studied psychology, and spent a couple years also working and writing for a sexual education website sponsored by the school. This website reached more than 180 countries, and it was always amazing to hear from people from all over the world – their different experiences, backgrounds, etc. This, mixed with my love of travel, concreted in my mind the desire to travel abroad long term.
Taking the plunge and moving abroad.
The summer after I received my degree, I researched programs where I could teach English. I had a friend who had gone to China on one of these programs, so I spent ages researching the different opportunities available. I really wanted to go back to Europe, but there didn’t seem to be as many programs, and the visa also appeared to be quite difficult to obtain. I ended up applying to a program in China, and was accepted.
I was so incredibly excited, and I posted about it on Facebook and everything. But as I started looking more into the specifics, and as things became more and more real, I got more and more nervous…
…and I chickened out.
Instead of exploring China, I spent that year working two jobs and saving up money, determined to not let another year pass without going abroad. At some point, I stumbled upon a program centered in Spain, and decided to give it a shot. I went through various levels of interviews, and was finally accepted. This was it!
The visa process was quite long, expensive, and frustrating, but in the end, I successfully received my visa and bought a plane ticket to beautiful Barcelona. There was no turning back now.
Fast forward over 3 years, and I am still here, loving life. I had only planned to stay that one year, but hey, things change – how can you not fall in love with the lifestyle in Spain? During that first year abroad, I traveled as much as I possibly could – to Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Portugal, along with many cities throughout Spain. One fantastic thing about living in Europe is that you’re close to so many beautiful and culturally rich countries, and if you know how to plan and research, you can find cheap ways to travel.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is my love of food – one of my favorite things to do in my spare time is to try new recipes, go to new and unique restaurants, and try new foods and cuisines. Before I go to a new place, I always research local foods and the top local restaurants, so that I can not only see, but also get a taste of the local culture. I think that eating and enjoying food is one of the simplest and most pleasurable experiences in life. If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll find a lot of tasty photos and information on the posts to come!
So, there’s my life (up to this point) in a nutshell.
I started this site to share my travel experiences (past, current, and future plans), post my travel guides, give tips for travelling smarter, discuss local food and traditions, and also post recipes so that you can bring some of the world into your very own kitchen.
I hope you enjoy, and please, if you have any questions, comments, or personal experiences you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you!