Monday, November 16, 2015

Guest Post: Jana (she's the best :) (also DAY 12: collaborate)


Jana from Jana's Faith has kindly agreed to post on here. You should really check out her blog because her pictures are awesome and her writing is thoughtful and she's really just AN AMAZING PERSON.

(also she designed this blog. she is the fairy godmother of blog design, seriously.)

But yes: she's here. Give her a warm welcome! (that means lots of applauding and smiley faces and comments.) :D

hello peoples!  thank you to my longtime and fantastic buddy, sami jean, for letting me put my words on your blog, talk about trust!

anyway, when i was contemplating what i should write about and my thoughts ranged from gushing about books, blabbering about beautiful music *ahem, ed sheeran*, or providing a six page essay on why everyone really should love coffee and chocolate as much as i do, sami gave me a great idea.  so i'm gonna go with it and talk about traveling because i love it ever so much.  and i've had a post rolling around in my head about if for a while…

one). make your own soundtrack to life.  

seriously though, you know how there's always that thing floating around on pinterest that says "i wish my life had a soundtrack"?  well i totally agree, especially when you're traveling.

because now France sounds like owl city (especially this song and this song) and random french rap songs (don't ask me why, it's just what was on the radio).
and london is a weird mash-up of anthem lights covers and adele.
above: the coolest rhino statue i've ever seen (never mind that it's the only one) in front of museé d'orsay, paris

two). write people profiles. 

i've just started doing this but i wish i would have done it as i traveled.  because sometimes there are those people sitting across from you on the subway that is so cramped you have someone else's bag in your lap, and that person is just casually doing a crossword puzzle.
or there's that lady who, in the middle of a blank lot in London, has set up an easel and is painting a crazy complex modern art thing.  and i'm sitting/standing there with a billion different lives for these people.  and i've come up with some pretty convincing ones… like the one about the girl in the floppy sunhat and a killer sunburn, she just picked up and left one day to go travel around europe… oh, and she lives with her grandma.

so write them down, even if it's just for yourself so when you're old and moldy you can tell your grandkids about when the old italian guy randomly walked up and started demanding that you take a picture of him with your dad.
pic: artist lady in the middle of london, i couldn't tell you where we were as we were semi-lost when i took it. 

three).  journal, journal, journal.  write, write, write. 

tips for yourself or others in the future.
where and what you ate and if it was bad or good.
what you actually wore that you packed and what stuff you disgustedly shoved in the bottom of the suitcase, because it just didn't work.
all of the amazing things you saw, felt, heard and did.  and smelled, don't forget to add in those smells.
pic: the harbor in marseille, france.  

four).  always look at everything as an adventure.

… even when you've been walking for, i don't know, hours and your converse that were really cute + comfy at the beginning of the day have turned into instruments of torture.
and then later, when you find out that you basically just did the most extensive walking tour of Paris in the history of man, hey, at least it made a good story and awesome blisters.
pic: pier at omaha beach, normandy 

five). eat the food. 

i'm really hoping that this goes without saying, but i'm afraid it might not: eat the dang pastry.  i don't care if you're on a diet or you've already eaten dessert twice that day, you must eat the food.  end of story, the end.  

because crepes will never again taste as good as they do when you buy them from the old man in the little hole in the wall across from notre dame. 

and those mysterious weird, apple dumplings that have ricotta cheese in them, and taste like heaven, will never confuse you as to how they are made as much as the do when you're there. 

and when you're in a pub, in london, and people around you are talking like in call the midwife, eat the fish and chips.  embrace the grease.  refuse the napkin. 
pic: somewhere in a back alley in europe that had an amazing ice cream place

six). get lost + out of the city. 

forget the map and just start walking.  or buy a ticket to some kind of motorized contraption and hop on, then get off when you wanna.
*disclaimer: i would suggest a little bit of research, just so you know that you're not getting off in the bad part of town (not that i've ever done that) or so you don't get back on said vehicle during rush hour.  because that last one might end up with you have full body contact to complete strangers… on all four sides of you. not that i've ever experienced that.* 
oh, and leave your personal space bubble at home, because it's just gonna get broken.  like stepped on, run over and then backed over again.  

one of my most favorite times in france was when we got on the train and didn't get off until the stops no longer had concrete and my foot hit the bare gravel when we got off.  and then there was the most beautiful french town that was home to 300 people, old caves filled with bats and cave drawings and the most amazing guesthouse in all of history.  so yeah, go see pictures of my baby faced self eating a slug and wandering through other peoples' fields here.
pic: a clearing in the woods outside of d'Arcy sur Cure

seven). go see dead things and really, really old stuff. 

i love museums, all around the world.  but european museums really have it going on because those countries have been around way longer than america has, so they have a lot more stuff from way back when.  and most of the time they have stuff from other countries from a long time ago *cough* mummies egypt what*cough* 

so go see the easter island statue (which disappointingly doesn't chew bubble gum), stare at granite statues of mesopotamian creatures that are twelve feet tall,  marvel at how humans can look at a rock + make a masterpiece out of it and try to figure out how people were able to actually read the rosetta stone to unlock the secret of languages, because it's kinda worn.  and the whole bringing ginormous, bigger-than-a-house pillars back from who-knows-where to europe in the 18th century is still mind boggling to me, howw? 
pic: some old guys portrait at the louvre in paris 

eight). take pictures.  a lot of them. 

because no matter how many you take you will always want to go back and take more.  which is why i have gladly agreed to go stumble around europe with sam for a while, at some point in life… preferably sooner than later. 
(and yes that is me, dreamily looking out to sea and feeling like a romantic poet…  although i think i was actually really trying to figure out how i could possibly move to the little uninhabited island.  i failed unfortunately) 

nine). look at the normal, everyday life of european cities.  (aka not everyone lives under the eiffel tower.) 

so, i lived in france for five months with my family when we were in language school.  and parts of it were good, great even.  the food was amazing and uber fancy cheese was really cheap.

but the amazing food was expensive, so just like in the states, not every meal was escargot and creme brûlée.

and if when you're walking down the tight, little streets with cute shops on either side, remember that 98% of the time people's whole lives are in the apartments above you.  
this is their everyday.  
they walk down a steep set of stairs and get their groceries for the day from the funny little market on the corner.  and that's just part of their day, they live normal lives with work, school, play and family all mixed in.  so be a nice american (see #ten) and respect the normal lives of others, no matter what language they speak or how cool their clothes are. 

also, economics lesson for you today: 
a lot of european countries are socialist.  which means that the government decides when the heat can be turned on in apartments and when it can be shut off.  which means that when it is in the 50's in october but the greater powers didn't think it was time yet, life indoors also requires coats, scarves and boots.  (not that i would know from personal experience… the frostbite didn't cause any long term damage anyway. )
pic: a backstreet somewhere in europe

ten). be a nice american.

i think both from living in a european + african country and living outside of my 1st culture for the past three years, my senses have been attuned to the interaction between americans and the national citizens of whatever fine country you're in.  and there have been several times when i wished my french accent and fashion sense was better so i could try to claim that i was european.  in other words, i was not proud to be an american due to the lady screaming in english about long lines… so be a nice american.  

speaking english slowly, in an a n n u n c i a t ed voice doesn't help a n y o n e.  especially not the person talking, because, well it just doesn't work.  and i can say these things because i'm an american and i have the passport and bad french accent to prove it. 

and unless you're in italy, match the volume around you.  if you're in italy you can laugh, guffaw and be loud as you please because it's exactly how it is in the movies.  but if you're in… well anywhere else, channel your inner european and speak in lowercase, because it too is just like in the movies.
pic: versaille, because it's beautiful

so there you have it, ten tips on how to travel the world like a boss… or like a homeschooled missionary kid, whatever you prefer.  

you guys have any thoughts, tips or comments?  earth shattering epiphanies or requests for me to be your personal travel guide (which is totally an option)?  just let me know in the comments.
and come see me and say hi, here or here.  


  1. I love it. I wish I had journaled during all of my travels, Jana. Question - Do you journal as part of daily life or just during your travels? It's kinda like you've been traveling for three years straight!

  2. What a great perspective you bring to travel. I especially like the adventure advise. If we will all put that into practice we will enjoy where we are at present and not always look to the next thing. Looking forward to making more memories in the exotic areas in the south of the New World :)