Tag Archives: living abroad

Catching Up Is Fun #sol18

Social media has made the world smaller. Because of social media, I am able to keep up with people, no matter where they are. As we scatter around the world, we can continue to make connections with others.

I’m in Singapore for the IB Global Conference this weekend, and because of social media, I was able to connect with a high school friend I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years! She and her family now live in Singapore, so when I knew I was going to be in town, I looked her up and it just so happened that our schedules matched up.

Miranda and her son came down to my hotel, and we had dinner at Din Tai Fung before strolling down by the river to take in the city. It was so great to catch up with her. In high school, we were friends, but didn’t really hang out outside of school. Talking to her, we realized we are much more alike than we even knew. Our experiences in the past few years are very similar, and I found myself nodding along in agreement many times throughout the night. We are now looking forward to continuing our friendship, and hopefully she can come visit me in Jakarta!

Advertisements

The World Through My Eyes #sol18

Next week is Spring Break, and I’m really looking forward to my trips to Singapore and Penang, Malaysia! I’ll even get to add another country to the list…Singers will make #36! Since I have been thinking about my trip, I started reminiscing about my past travels, which prompted this poem. Rather than write about every country I’ve visited, I decided to limit to places I’ve been in the last two years. In no particular order, here’s my poem, a glimpse of the world through my eyes.

The World Through My Eyes

Indonesia is motorbikes, gado gado, macet, and the call to prayer.

Belgium is waffles, street art, and fruit beer.

Albania is colorfully-painted buildings, a perfect mix of old and new, and all the fresh fruit, veggies, and bread you can eat.

Montenegro is rocky beaches with crystal clear water, road trips, and weekend getaways with the girls.

Hong Kong is dim sum, the mid-levels, lots of hills, and like China, but better.

Mexico is beaches, pina coladas, and tourist traps.

Italy is stunning architecture, gelato, and literally the best homemade pasta of your life.

Canada is water taxis, clean and manicured, and friendly.

Senegal is bright colors, traffic, pushiness, and sand everywhere.

USA is home, comfort food, baseball, and familiarity.

Thailand is the land of smiles, tuktuks, mango sticky rice and kao soi, and three-showers-a-day hot.

The Netherlands is the most amazing cheese you will ever taste, bikes for days, and canals.

France is croissants and crepes, The Lourve, and walking two hours to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night.

Morocco is an assault on the senses, mint tea, and getting lost in the medina.

Just a Trip to the Hospital… #sol18

Even as I waited for the bus to arrive, tears filled my eyes, knowing what was to come. Despite being somewhat of an irrational fear, I couldn’t stop the worry of the dreaded needle from taking over. As we headed to the hospital, my friends and colleagues tried to distract me, chatting about last night’s Oscars, memories from when we all started together last summer at ACG, and the usual friendly banter that occurs with people who are familiar with one another.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that in order to process our work visas for next year, we had to have drug and HIV testing done (and pass, obviously). I’ve only been to a clinic and the dentist here in Jakarta, which I assumed wouldn’t be too different from a hospital. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumptions. I had forgotten one crucial difference. I had visited Western-style clinics, and we were going to a local hospital today.

Upon arrival, we were taken to a large waiting room to get a number (much like you would at the deli counter at your local grocery store back home). Swarms of people filled every available seat, fanning themselves from the heat. Those who couldn’t fit inside were perched outdoors on the rows of metal seats. A few unfortunate souls were laid out on stretchers, outside in the heat (not that it was any cooler inside, but being outside seemed worse to me), while their loved ones fed them something that looked a lot like porridge. There was even a man in a wheelchair who had his leg propped up, an old piece of wood underneath acting as a splint.

As we stood in the middle of the waiting room, taking it all in, sweat slowly dripped down my back, and I was reminded of earlier this morning when I was getting dressed and debating whether I should wear long pants and a cardigan, seeing as hospitals are notoriously cold. I thanked myself for choosing the skirt and sleeveless shirt today.

A little while later, our driver ushered us over to another building, where we assumed the ‘VIP’ area was. We came to find out there isn’t a VIP area at this hospital. While we waited outside chatting (and sweating), we were just thankful we weren’t in that other line. We did have to get back to work at some point today. When we were finally called in, the fear came back, but it was short lived as I realized this building was for checking your weight and blood pressure and signing your name. The five of us each took our turn, and then it was onto the next one (building, that is).

As we made our way through the throngs of people seemingly waiting in lines, we were met with another large, overflowing waiting room. Taking the only available seats, we ate our snacks (thankfully, we came prepared!) and waited. A little while later, we were taken to a smaller, yet still crowded, room to wait in line for our blood tests. In the middle of the communal room, the numbered stalls sat waiting for people to be pricked. I guess privacy wasn’t a top priority here. As we stood in line right in front of the door, so as not to lose our place, we were constantly in everyone’s way, shuffling this way and that way. The heat and the screaming babies only added to my anxiety.

One by one, people were taken to a vacant stall to be pricked (i.e. stabbed) with a needle, the line inching forward with each prick. Rebecca went to the toilet, and upon her return, informed us that there was no soap or towels in the bathroom. As in they don’t exist there, not as in they’re out. I’m disturbed that the hospital where I was about to have a needle put into my arm doesn’t have soap in the bathroom. My wavering confidence took another nosedive.

My turn. I begrudgingly followed the attendant to stall #4, where I apprehensively sat down. Armed with funny videos on my phone and Rebecca and Miriam’s constant stream of conversation to distract me, I steeled myself for what was to come. After triple-checking that the nurse was using a new, clean needle and gloves, I looked away and shut my eyes tight, bracing for impact. I felt the needle pierce my skin, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d built it up to be. A few seconds later, it was over, and I didn’t even cry!

Our last stop was at yet another building, which, to our surprise, was blasting cold air, clean, and virtually empty. Here we were asked to fill out paperwork, pee in a cup, and talk privately with a doctor. The doctor’s chat was a bit unusual. We were all asked basically the same questions, with a few variations. The most interesting bits from my conversation were:

Are you drink alcohol? Yes, occasionally.

What? Vodka or Whiskey or… Ummm…rum I guess, and sometimes cider.

Are you drug user? No, I’ve never used drugs before. (What an odd way to ask that…why not ‘Have you used drugs before?’)

Show me your arms. (She then checked for track marks before recording “Track marks- negative.”)

How about your feeling now? (After realizing she was asking about my mood…) I’m just fine.

You have hallucination? No.

Or delusion? No? No.

Okay finished!

I’m always intrigued by the different experiences I have as an expat. Before moving abroad, I took for granted that basic things like going to the doctor, shopping, and getting around town could be so different. I just assumed the major things like the type of food, language, and locale would be different, but culture runs deep and seemingly little things can be a whole new experience!

My Life in Numbers

Several of my fellow slicers have written their own ‘life in numbers’ posts this month, which is a list of facts about them, corresponding to the numbers 1-10. I enjoy these posts, as they give an insight into the author. Here’s mine, but as the rule-breaker I am, mine doesn’t follow the 1-10 format. Instead, it’s a list of number-based facts using any numbers I deem necessary. But I’m not an animal…they are listed in numerical order. πŸ™‚

1- I have 1 brother, Andrew, who’s just shy of four years younger than me. We are quite different, starting from our heights. He’s a full foot taller than me! We have different careers, different tastes in food, I live abroad while he lives where we grew up, he’s married with kids and I’m single, and the list of differences goes on. Despite our differences, I love my bubba and look forward to seeing him whenever I’m back home.

IMG_5785

2- I’m an aunt to 2 adorable kiddos, Randi and Logan, who are some of my favorite people on this earth. They make me smile and laugh whenever I’m with them. I think about them all the time. And they are so full of personality! I love them soooooo much!!

4- I’ve broken 4 bones in my lifetime. Two fingers, one on each hand, and both arms simultaneously. Yes, that really happened. I earned the nickname “Monkey Girl” during my eighth grade thanks to my accident on the monkey bars. As a middle schooler, naturally, I was mortified. As an adult, it’s a funny memory.

5- So far, I’ve lived in 5 countries (soon to be 6). USA for my first 29 years, Australia for 6 months, China for 5 years, Albania for a year and a half, and Thailand for the past 2+ months.

7- I’ve been slicing as part of the Slice of Life community for the past 7 years, and it’s been so instrumental in my development as a writer. I cannot thank all the co-authors enough for this opportunity, and all the slicers over the years who have encouraged me as a writer!

11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

9- In order to feel fully rested, I need 9 hours of sleep each night. I usually don’t get this much, but I strive for at least 8 hours of good sleep.

11- In my lifetime, I have lived in 11 different houses or apartments. This may not seem like very many, but considering that I lived in the same house until I was 22 years old, I think it’s quite a few places. One of these places was a townhouse I owned from age 26 to 29, my first and only place I’ve ever owned.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My first home I owned πŸ™‚

13- I’m currently in my 13th year of education, and in those years I’ve taught Grade 3, Grade 4, and Preschool, been a literacy coach and a part-time PYP Coordinator, and served as an elementary principal at two schools.

19-Β Not counting babysitting when I was younger, I started working at the age of 16 as a skating Sonic carhop, and over the past nearly twenty years, I have worked at 19 different places. Reading that you probably think I can’t hold a job, since it averages to about one per year, but most of these jobs were part-time and held simultaneously. With the exception of one job at age 17, my stint as a nanny in Sydney, and my summers as a camp director, all of my jobs were held for at least a year, the longest being 5 years.

22- I have 22 cousins, including their spouses and children, who I now consider my cousins. I love seeing many of them at our annual Kesler family reunions. Can’t wait to see them again this summer! πŸ™‚

img_0358

35- So far, I have visited 35 countries, including the ones I’ve lived in. Check out my Where I’ve Wandered page to see where I’ve traveled across the globe. While 35 may seem like a lot, it just seems like a drop in the bucket to me. There’s so much more I want to see!

43- Last year, I read 43 books. I’m hoping to read more this year though! πŸ™‚

9,156- I’m currently living 9,156 miles away from home in Bryan, Texas. No wonder I’m tired traveling to and from!

 

 

Adrenaline

There’s something about the end of the school year that just gets my adrenaline pumping. The combination of the million things that have to be done, the dress up days for Spirit Week, the reflecting on the year’s accomplishments, the fast pace of trying to squeeze it all in, the weekends with friends enjoying the sunshine, the kids buzzing with excitement, the flurry of teacher interviews and meetings with prospective parents telling them about how awesome my school is…all of this and more adds to the adrenaline pumping through my veins. MY brain is in overdrive and I’m having trouble sleeping, but I keep going, working toward that finish line. Once I reach it, I know I’ll be exhausted and in need of a break. This is why schools invented summer breaks. As much as the kids need a break from the go-go-go, so do teachers and administrators (even more I think!).

And then summer comes and I get to breathe. I get to do what I want to do, and it’s amazing! Things like sleeping in, having long, wandering conversations with friends and family you haven’t seen in a year, reading for pleasure, barbecues with loved ones, going to the cinema, shopping (!!), having more time and space to write, really reflecting on the past year and making plans about how to improve when I come back in August, trying out new recipes, and swimming and laying out in the sun.

I have two more weeks of adrenaline. Two more weeks to get it all done. Two more weeks to say goodbyes. Two more weeks to enjoy my students and teachers. Two more weeks to enjoy Tirana before heading out for six weeks of traveling and visiting home. Two more weeks until the first year at ACT is done. As much as I want time to slow down, I know it’s going to be here in no time. I’m going to try and slow down as much as I can, take it all in, and enjoy all that our team has accomplished this year. Starting a new school is hard work, but the rewards are great!

Amsterdam in a Weekend

IMG_2349

Can I just tell you how much I love Amsterdam? Like I’ve been back a few days, but I’m still on a high from the loveliness that I experienced love. Like I wanna pack up and move there right now love. Like I can’t stop talking about how amazing it was love. Seriously…when can I move there?

Last Thursday, I headed to Amsterdam for a work conference, and decided to stay the weekend. It was a last minute trip, so I didn’t really have time to look into what I would see or do, nor have I ever really given much thought to traveling to Amsterdam. It was one of those “if I go, I go. If I don’t, I don’t.” situations for me. The only thing I had really heard about it was that you could do drugs there. Well, that’s not appealing to me at all, so I didn’t think much about it. Boy was I wrong! There’s so much more to Amsterdam that the drugs and the Red Light District!

My favorite things about Amsterdam can be summed up in these categories: Bikes, Food, Cheese (yes, I realize it’s food, but let’s be honest, it really needs its own category), Canals, Flowers, and Architecture.

IMG_2419

Bikes. First of all, they’re everywhere! All around town, you can find them chained to bridges and fences, crammed into parking lots (just for bikes), crowding sidewalks, and of course, being ridden. I love their sturdy design and the front apparatus for attaching all sorts of baskets. There are separate bike lanes on all roads, and they always have the right-of-way. I would be in heaven here!

IMG_2407

IMG_2353

Food. OMG! If you are a foodie, Amsterdam is for you! I have to go back just for the sheer fact that I didn’t get to try all the foods I wanted to with the limited time I had. Not only can you get amazing cuisine from around the world (I had some pretty bad ass Thai food!), you can get some local delicacies only found in Holland! Two of my favorites were the poffertjes, pillowy little pancakes that are tasty with just a touch of butter and powdered sugar, and the most delicious cookie I’ve ever had, a double-chocolate confection that, when broken in half, reveals a melted white chocolate center. Both are pictured above. Apologies if your mouth is watering now.

IMG_2363 IMG_2447

Cheese. Seriously, this was one of the highlights of my trip! I love good cheese, and I did not come across a cheese I didn’t like while I was there. In addition to my cheese plate for dinner, I visited the cheese shop three times to sample and purchase the variety of cheeses and sauces you see above. I brought home a spicy chili gouda, pesto gouda, 6 month and 12 month goat cheese, 4 month and 24 month gouda, apple cinnamon gouda, cranberry gouda, Maxima, and Old Amsterdam cheese. Additionally, I picked up some whole grain mustard, balsamic mustard, and pomegranate jam to go along with them. I cannot wait to break into them! Yumm!

IMG_2404

Canals. Who doesn’t love the novelty of beautiful canals running through the city? Amsterdam’s canals reminded me of Venice. I didn’t have time to take a cruise around in a boat, but next time, I’m definitely going to do it!

IMG_2421 IMG_2359

Flowers. I missed tulip season by a few weeks, but that didn’t matter, flowers were everywhere! Beautiful blooms dotted the cityΒ in planters, vases, flower shop stalls, gardens, and balconies. The vibrant colors and gorgeous varieties caught my eye everywhere I went!

IMG_2393

Architecture. The old European feel of the city came through in the architecture. I loved the ornate designs on the old churches, the rows of townhouses and shops that lined the canals, and even the occasional leaning building. Amsterdam is definitely charming!

Overall, I highly recommend putting Amsterdam on your list! This beautiful, surprising city has catapulted to my top 5 cities around the world!

Brought in 35 with a BANG!

So…my birthday was last week, and I celebrated on Saturday night with an epic theme party (oh how I love a good theme party)! My friend Keri and I planned one of the best parties I’ve ever had! The theme was Prom, and the plan was a scavenger hunt bar crawl. The best part was that we actually had a surprise prom set up at the last bar, complete with decorations, a photo booth, snacks, cake, and spiked punch.

It all began with the invitation…including a picture of me at my Junior Prom (19 years ago!!!). Oh man, I had such a baby face back then!

IMG_1904Next up was planning the scavenger hunt…this was definitely the most fun part of the planning process! We categorized the tasks into photos, videos, things to collect, and drinks to drink. The best part was that all photos and videos had to be uploaded to Instagram throughout the night with the hashtag #keslerprompubcrawl so we could follow the other groups and see what they were up to!

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 8.14.27 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 8.14.37 PM

We all met up at one bar, got into teams (we were Team Spice Girls), and began working our way through the scavenger hunt. Along the way, there were checkpoints where we would see our friends/competitors and trash talk one another. Some of my favorite tasks were singing “I’m a Little Teapot” (with motions) in front of a slew of people at a crowded bar, finding a stranger to play Rock, Paper, Scissors (we had to teach him first!), and me convincing a stranger to let me try his food (it was good, by the way).

The Prom party at the end was AMAZING! Not only did it look (almost) like a real prom, but we had hired a DJ to play music that would have been at my prom, so everyone was dancing and singing along to songs like Will Smith’s Getting Jiggy With It, K-Ci & Jojo’s All My Life, and N’Sync’s Bye, Bye, Bye! Everyone had a ball taking selfies and group shots in front of the photo booth display. At the end of the night, we even crowned a Prom King and Queen…and guess who was Prom Queen?!? Yep…you guessed it! It was me! πŸ™‚

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the night…it was definitely hard to narrow it down to just a few!

IMG_2320 IMG_2321

35 was definitely one to remember…I had a BLAST! πŸ™‚