“Do NOT get in line. I will LET YOU KNOW when the train is pulling into the station and I’m NOT gonna let anybody miss it.” She says this as if it were obvious. But it’s 10:24. Our train should leave in six minutes and still there’s no hint as to whether it’s here or […]
Summer in Chicago & Reflections on a Whirlwind Year
It’s almost Labor Day weekend, which in the US culturally marks the end of summer. But my mind is still on August 15, known as Ferragosto, which marks the middle of the Italian summer vacation season – not the end. Yet it was right around Ferragosto that Chicagoans started reminding me to enjoy the very […]
What is Italy’s “Ferragosto” and WHY Am I Not On Vacation?
…And why does Europe shut down for a month in August? Two years ago, I wrote a post called August in Milan about the Italian holiday period of Ferragosto, and how the city heats up and empties out. I spent much of that August sitting on the stone floor of my un-airconditioned apartment (the only […]
What Pink French Toilet Paper Taught Me About Globalization
Being an expat lets you discover the little things about different cultures that don’t change with globalization. Being an expat in France, one of those things is pink toilet paper.
Starbucks in Milan… Is This the End of Italian Coffee Culture?
All about the new Starbucks that just opened in Milan – the first one in Italy. Plus, cultural background about Italy and espresso, coffee history, and my own longtime feud with Starbucks. I’ve been meaning to write about Starbucks in Milan ever since I moved to this city – exactly two years ago. That’s also […]
Life in Milan: We Got Married!
I have news! Sort of old news, but most of you don’t know it, so it still counts I think. I got married! Yes, it’s true. I married the Italian man who I met in Shanghai, and traveled a dozen countries with, and moved to Milan for. Actually, Emanuele and I just had our seven-month […]
August in Milan: Surviving the Heat & Enjoying the Quiet
This is about life in the city of Milan, which I now call home, how its culture differs from the rest of Italy, and how it changes in August. For more about the Italian holiday period of Ferragosto, I wrote another post all about it. I am writing this sitting on the floor of my […]
Writer’s Block, Too Much Free Time & Living Abroad
As I’m getting back to writing, I’ve been contemplating the blogging business, writer’s block, living abroad (most recently in Italy), and the elusiveness of ever feeling like I’ve got it all together. The more I learn about the industry, the more I believe the most important factor in blogging – and maybe in any writing […]
“Apocalypto:” The 2016 US Election as Seen from Europe
As an expat in Milan, I saw European reactions to Trump’s election first-hand. People were angry and shocked, but not always for the reasons I expected. (I also happened to be traveling in Bulgaria at the time, which gave me a strange double-perspective.) These are my notes from the field, after experiencing this shocking, historic […]
We Live in a Van Down by the River! [New Zealand Photos & Vanlife Tips]
In this post you’ll find lots of landscape photos from longterm van travel in New Zealand, and my personal experience of New Zealand culture and lifestyle, tips for choosing whether to rent or buy a van, and the reality of living in one. After two months wandering around New Zealand in a van, I think […]
Letter From an Expat: China, This is Why I’m Leaving You
After living in China as an expat for more than a year, in two different cities (Jinan and Suzhou), these are the reasons I’m leaving. This fall, the second Chinese city I’ve called home was Suzhou – Portland, Oregon’s sister city. Suzhou is an ancient, once beautiful city. Even though they’re sisters, the only thing […]
“Singles’ Day” in China: NO MINGLING, I’m Online Shopping.
Living in China as an expat, I got a surprising education from my college students about Singles’ Day, which is sort of like China’s version of Black Friday. On November 10th last year, I began an English class at the Chinese university where I was teaching with an American culture lesson. “Who knows which American […]