One Very Hard Decision

Yesterday I made the conscious decision to leave the Peace Corps.

It was truly one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

I know what most of you are thinking....but you just started! I know this but I came to the realization rather quickly once I was there. It just wasn't for me. Not at this time in my life.

From the beginning I had not been truly excited about moving to China to teach English to university students. I hoped that once I reached staging and pre-service training that the excitement would kick in. 
It never did. I feel as though I let myself get swept up and never actually sat and thought, "Is this really what I want to do?" My heart just wasn't in it. 

My true passion is teaching elementary school, not university students. The more and more I learned about the job the less excited I was. I knew that this lack of enthusiasm was not fair to my furutre students or community. I've had less than enthusiastic teachers, it was not fun.

I also came to the realization that I would be 25 when I finished and would still have to finish my masters. I don't want to wait that long to start my career. 

What excites me and makes me happy right now is the thought of finishing my degree and either teaching at an elementary school or finding a job with an international aid organization in NYC, DC, or London. So that is exactly what I am going to do!

In the end I had to do what was right for me. I have to do what makes me happy.
Life is too short to just "get through it".

I treasure the short time I had in the Peace Corps. It truly is a great organization.

I also treasure the friends I made during that short time. They supported me through the process of making the decision and continue to support me, despite the fact that they are on the other side of the world. They truly are great people!


I made it!

Well.....I finally made it!

I'm in China!

After two days (ish) in Chicago, all 83 (ish) volunteers boarded our 13 hour flight to Beijing. After some confusion and some rushing through the airport, we made it on to our flight to Chengdu, just barely.

At the moment we are in a pretty nice hotel in Chengdu. We go to sessions from 9a-3p everyday, including an hour and a half of Mandarin lessons. My Chinese name is Wàng Lèlè (pronounced W-ah-ng Luh-luh), meaning joyful and optimistic. I'm not so sure this fits but maybe I can grow into it.

So far I haven't had any food I didn't like. I am super relieved by this as I tend to be very picky about the food I eat. Mom, you would be proud to know that I have at least tried everything that has been put in front of me. Even tofu, which after eating it, was reminded of why I'm not a fan.

Tomorrow we will get our training site assignments. This is where we will be for the next two months while we continue to learn Mandarin and live with a host family. We move there the next day, Tuesday. Nothing like jumping in feet first! Living with a host family is what I am most nervous about. 

So....hopefully I'll have a chance to update tomorrow with some info. about my home for the next two months. Until next time, zài jiàn, or goodbye!


My bags are packed.....

And I'm ready to go.

It's finally that time! 

In the morning I'm headed to Chicago for two days and then on to CHINA!!!

I don't know what my internet situation will be over the next few months so we will see how the blog does. 

Wish me goes nothing!


As Far As The Eye Can See

We saw the absolutely most amazing views while in Ireland! 
They were gorgeous and every one of them looked like a postcard!

View from the top of The Rock of Cashel

 Found along the Ring of Kerry

 Ladies' View - on the Ring of Kerry

 Also along the Ring of Kerry

 The Cliffs of Moher......the most breathtaking of them all!

 Along the Sky Road in The Connemara

I found some of the best views of any place I have ever traveled, in Ireland. They definitely have a monopoly on scenic views!


You scream, I scream, We all scream for ruins!

Ruins are everywhere in Ireland!
Every city has at least one and they dot the countryside everywhere you go. We saw them along the country roads, along the motorway, and in farmers' fields. Most of the time they were just hanging out in a pasture surrounded by sheep and cows. 

I find them so fascinating! 

These are some of the best!

Hore Abbey

Just gorgeous! 

 The Rock of Cashel.....just up the hill from Hore Abbey

 Absolutely stunning!

 The view was amazing!

 Most of the ruins had cemeteries attached. There were gravestone in this one from the 1600's....amazing!

 Found this along the Ring of Kerry

 Aughnanure Castle

Clanmacnoise Monastery 

 The cathedral.....beautiful!

The thing that I loved the most about Ireland was that history was all around you! 
For me the ruins were one of the best parts of the trip!

Come back tomorrow for the beautiful views we found along our travels!


The Emerald Isle

I'm blogging from here this week!

Well not exactly from that exact spot. I doubt there was a wi-fi signal at the Cliffs of Moher. 
As we speak (type? read?) I am relaxing in our B&B just outside of Galway.

Full recap when I'm back from Ireland!

Gosh I love typing that....back from IRELAND! 


No Sleep Till Ireland

On Monday I will be getting on a plane and heading to the wonderful country of Ireland for the week!

My parents and I will be renting a car in Dublin and immediately heading out on our 7 day road trip! 

When my mom asked where I wanted to go on our last family vacation before China she was expecting me to say Disney World or Universal or maybe a cruise. She was not expecting Ireland!

Ever since I spent a semester in London during undergrad I've wanted to go back! And as soon as possible! Well it's only taken me 4 years but it's finally happening!

When my mom gave me a budget to stay within she didn't realize she was giving me a challenge. I was determined to prove that we could spend a week in Ireland on the budget she gave me. I have spent hours planning, researching, and pricing flights, B&Bs, and hotels. I made an excel spreadsheet and even went as far as including the projected gas costs for the week plus 25% to account for rising gas prices. 
Yeah, I'm just a little OCD!

We are planning on going to Kilkenny, Killarney, Galway, and ending in Dublin. Of course we are going to see all the sites: Rock of Cashel, pubs, Cliffs of Moher, pubs, Guinness Storehouse, pubs, etc. You get the picture.....maybe a little less pubs....maybe :)

So, if any of you out there have any suggestions or things we absolutely cannot miss I want to hear it!

Now I just have to get through the last few days of work and move out of my house in Tallahassee and I'll be on my way!


Tough Decision

In one corner the Nook Color.....

And in the other, the Kindle.

I have succumbed to the e-reader trend.
As much as I love real books I have decided that I need an e-reader for China. Packing two years worth of books is not plausible and after reading some blogs it looks like English books are pretty hard to come by in the PRC. 

So....I need your help internets!
Which one would you choose?
Which one do you have?


J'adore Montreal

I got back from Montreal last week but immediately jumped back into work and started a summer class so I am just now getting around to posting some pics to the 'ol blog.

There were seven of us that traveled together so in order to save money we rented an apartment for the week. Think Real World: Montreal....what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real!

The apartment was amazing! It was in the middle of the city, gorgeous inside, and had a full kitchen complete with everything you would need to cook each night (another cost saving tactic)! I have rented an apartment on vacation before in NYC so I thought I'd try it again. It worked out great and I am now convinced that renting an apartment is the only way to go when traveling!

To top it off there was a beautiful church right outside our door!

We saw all the sites and had some great food!

First dinner in Montreal....authentic Chinese food just three blocks from our apartment!

Old Montreal

Home made beer at The Three Brasseurs in Old Montreal

Pub food!

Poutine....a Montreal staple
French fries, gravy, and cheese curds

We found a cute little cupcake shop next to Notre Dame Basilica

An awesome panorama of Montreal

The Sailor's Chapel

Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal

Olympic Park

Lunch before the market.....authentic Italian food...yum!

Jean-Talon Market

The fruit and vegetable arrangements were great!

Even though it was cold and rainy for almost the whole week we had a great time! Montreal is a great city and definitely worth a second visit!