Spain Trumps America

One thing I realized while in Spain is that nobody is in any rush to go anywhere. That song “Despacito” might be about getting it on, but that word is the way they live. Slowly.

Here in the States, we all work constantly and don’t stop until… well, until never. But over there, yes they work hard and want to live a good life, but those ambitions that drive Americans to the point of workaholism don’t stop the Spanish from living life beyond the scope of working. And I freaking love it. Students hosting kids from another country? Homework waived for the week. Lunch is at 3PM with the family? Finish the work day by 2:30PM. The funny thing is that they think their lives are already strenuous as stated by my host dad. But then again he also said that “if [he] were to live in America, [he thinks he’d] die.”

“Latina Time” was the slang dubbed by my teacher to describe this style of living. It’s pretty much defined as their lack of urgency and lengthy grace periods. While on the trip, there was not a single instant we left or began on time. Meet up at 7AM? Be there at 7:30. Or later. It got to be so bad that once we returned to the States, nuestra profesora had to clearly state that 7AM meant 7AM. We weren’t in Spain anymore.

There is one thing, though, that is rushed and urgent over there: showers. Take too long and you’ll use up all of the family’s hot water for the day.

Paz y Amor,

Caroline Cheng

P.S. the original “Despacito” without Justin Bieber is the way to go

 

Spanish Crash Course:

“Estado Unidenses” – American (“United Statesian”)

“Nuestra profesora” – Our teacher

“Paz y Amor” – Peace and Love

I Suck More Than Meghan (yikes)

Before I start I’d just like to say sorry I suck even more than Meghan at running this blog. Life hits you sometimes and when it rains, it pours. I’ve barely had time to scramble through school work but I’m back and have some new stories under my belt.

Like Meghan said in our last post, I went to Spain over Spring Break and lived the hell out of that week. We went through Sevilla and then settled down in Guadix to live with students our age over there. They then hopped over the Atlantic to good old Chicago and when they left, I cried real, vulnerable tears. I’ll put out some more specific posts about the entire experience soon, but for now let me just say this:

If you have the chance to go live abroad with locals (Meghan can attest to this as well as she was living in Spain over Winter Break), do it. Book a cheap flight and find yourself a nice family to stay with, easier said than done, I know; but you’ll not only make your travel expenses lower since room and board are pretty much free, but you’ll leave wherever you are with a new family. Living with locals also gives you something being just a hotel tourist can’t: a taste of real life. You are forced to immerse yourself because you are sleeping, eating, showering, and shitting in a space with people whose lives are probably starkly different than yours, and that forced encounter makes you not only appreciate the place, but the people and their values. I’ll stop myself now because I can feel a rant coming on, but please take this advice.

It will change your life.

Peace and Love,

Caroline Cheng

Choosing A Temporary Spouse

At this point in my life, I have not been on a trip where I was able to choose person for person who I was with, where we were going, and what we were doing. But, I have insane aspirations to go on trips and adventures of my choice with friends (prime example being Meghan DeJong) and my sister (just the two of us). Picking someone to travel with is a big deal. You’re going to be spending a lot of time, energy, and money with this person, so it’s best to have some criteria.

 

Criteria One:

Be able to come to a consensus as to where you want to go.

For example, with my sister, we both want to fly from Chicago to Iceland, stay there for a few days, and then go to Europe to just hang out and see what there is. With Meghan on the other hand, we’ve decided that Southeast Asia is more our vibe.

Criteria Two:

Be able to get along with that person. No matter what.

If you find yourself getting on edge near that person, don’t travel with them. If they make you stressed, don’t travel with them. If you can’t see yourself spending nearly every waking moment with that person for at least a couple weeks, don’t travel with them. It’s like picking a short-term spouse, except without the wedding.

 

That’s it. Those are my two criteria as to who I would travel with. It’s short, yes. But it gets to where is matters. These two rules will mean your buddy is passionate and excited about your travels, as well as being someone that looks forward to experiencing everything life has to offer with you by their side.

Choose well.

Peace and Love,

Caroline Cheng

The Price of Beer

This past winter break, I visited Switzerland and France with my parents and sister. We flew into Zurich, Switzerland; took a train to Paris, France; and then caught another plane back to good old Chicago, USA. Both Zurich and Paris are stunning cities, so why did I enjoy the Swiss segment of my winter break better than my Parisian segment? I have no idea. And I’m not saying that I don’t love Paris. I definitely do. Paris is a beautiful city full of experiences unlike anything else in the world. The cafes, architecture, and culture are incredibly unique and I completely understand why the city became romanticized by the entire world. But at the same time, I didn’t yearn for the Champs Elysees the way my family did once we returned to Chicago. What I did miss though, was the colorful buildings, the sound of a German accent, and the way the Swiss Alps was one of the most beautiful views I think I will ever see. I missed the calming vibe of Switzerland as a whole and the fact that it was minimally saturated with tourism.

I fell utterly in love with Zurich, but if I were to return to one of these two cities and settle in for a while, I would pick Paris. What? Didn’t I just spend this entire damn blog post gushing over Zurich? Yes. I did. But I think that one of the waiters we met working in our hotel, Erik, said it best. Erik is from Berlin, Germany and moved to Zurich a few months back. When asked how he liked Zurich and what he thought of it in comparison to Berlin, he said that Zurich was beautiful and good at the start, but after a short while it got boring, as there is minimal to no high energy excitement. And, here’s where money comes in, Switzerland is expensive as hell. In Erik terms: one beer in Zurich costs roughly what three or even four beers could potentially cost in Berlin, depending on where you went. In formal terms: Zurich has high salaries, but also high living costs.

Paris and Zurich are both lovely and I would readily return to either, but the moral of this post is this: If you ever have the chance to go to Zurich, do it. Eat chocolate, pastries, and sausage. Learn how to correctly say “Danke Schön.” Take a day trip, or plan a trip within a trip, and see the Alps. They honestly look the way I could imagine heaven looking. But, at least in my opinion, it is probably not the best place to go for the long haul. Paris on the other hand, has the perfect mix of tranquility and “big city” vibes. If for some reason you’re contemplating both Zurich and Paris, here’s my advice:

“Vacation in Zurich. Live in Paris.”

Peace and Love,

Caroline Cheng

Hi. I’m Caroline.

Hey, everybody! My name is Caroline, although I’m more likely to be called Cheng or smol or one of the other fifty nicknames I somehow managed to acquire through the years. I’m the one often behind the camera making grunting noises while lifting my legs (I’ve been dancing all my life and it somehow feels weirdly natural to kick them up).

What else is there to say?

I’m the easily excited, small boobed, never salty (but often internally salty) girl pictured doing an awkward squat on the side of a Chicago River bridge in the image above. I like cats (especially naked ones) and befriending the Oberweis night staff. I’d like to say I’m decently smart and reliable. But don’t get me wrong, I can be the biggest idiot in the world sometimes.

I’ve glued my sister’s eyelid shut putting on false lashes (she’s totally fine. I promise) and gotten a concussion but not gone to the doctor for it. I’ve shit myself in Coronado, CA and accidentally melted a giant piece of chocolate to my butt and legs on a plane ride back from Italy. I’m a real struggle but I hope you’ll find my derpy awkwardness amusing and entertaining.

Peace and Love,

Caroline Cheng

if you want to get in contact (or befriend me) you can find me here:

instagram (ronda 1): @car.cheng

instagram (ronda 2): @heresalife

twitter: @car_cheng

email: carolinecheng0323@gmail.com