Tag Archives: travel

The reason.


As I sit in my office with the door shut, shaking (probably from the 36 oz of iced latte, but possibly from the fear of life moving forward) I did what I do every morning when I get to work. I go through my news feed. I check through emails, I read about the happenings from the day before, I search for news worthy of posting to social media, because that’s my job. Not so frequently, I will also read a few blogs. I did so this morning.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Hannah Brencher. She’s the creator of moreloveletters.com and if you’re not familiar with her or her writing or her TED talk, you should be. She is my soul. Recently, Hannah moved to Atlanta. I can’t help but think this makes her even more part my friend- even though we’ve had one correspondence in our lives, because ATL was for a short time, my own home. It was my place. Where Souper Jenny’s fed me and CASIE educated me and 12 Stone Church poured into my heart. Atlanta is special and I hope it becomes a safe place for love and growth for Hannah too.

So, this morning, I opened up my WordPress, and I read her recent blogpost, this was never a hopeless place. She spoke about her time leaving, saying goodbye to her friends before her move to Hotlanta. This, of course, made me cry. After all, I’m preparing for a journey over 4,000 miles away from where I sit right now in just a few short weeks. I look back at the last two years of my life pondering what would have happened had I gone to Rennes, had I gone to Bath instead, who I wouldn’t know today, who I wouldn’t love today- where my life and where my heart would be.

This was a preparation by God.

I sit in Cedar Falls humbled, knowing I am being prepared for 4,000 miles. I’m being prepared for the goodbye. I’m being prepared for the hardest year of my life.

Last weekend I had my goodbye party. Like Hannah, I don’t like goodbyes. That’s why I had the party a month before I actually leave. So I can make excuses and blame lack of timing for not saying real goodbyes. Not to mention I fear others not making the time to say farewell either. It happens too often. I love people more than they love me. Don’t pity me for that last sentence, it’s just true. I love people so much. I have like 100 best friends. My real best friend, of course, but then my best friend from growing up, my best friend from the west coast, my best friend from Greece, etc. etc. I get made fun of for it. All. The. Time. But to be honest, I’m scared, because never have I been filled with so much love and hope for myself and the world around me.

In the last two years I met my CASIE family in Atlanta, I met my Central family in Pella, I met my new PLC family in Cedar Falls and I will continue to take them with me where I go. I have the unique capability to love people from a great distance. I’m a freak of nature when it comes to this- perhaps it’s because I love travel too much and feel that long-distance is necessary, but I truly believe that closeness has nothing to do with distance. If you’re part of my life and you value my friendship, I will carry you with me. I will carry you through my life. I will love you through life. I may not verbalize it, I may not show it often- but my words to you will be there. My heart for you will not waiver. Show up for me and I’ll show up for you. The people I surround myself with are my heart. They are the glue, the sanity, the rib cage protecting me.

Last weekend I got two extremely special cards, from two friends I love dearly. Both praised me for conquering my dreams and chasing what I love in life. I have to say to the two of you- and to the rest of my friends and family, any of you I’ve ever had a long conversation with, a coffee or a beer with, any of you who I’ve shared a cab with home or lived with…you are the reason I can go after what I want. You are the reason I’m moving to London. Every day you inspire me. I sit and listen to you speak, I hear about your hopes and dreams and you give me courage and motivation to never settle. I read your blogs, I listen to your voice mails, I watch your videos, I laugh at your silly posts, I cheer you on because you’ve shown up in big and little ways that will make all the difference.

I am terrified. I’ve never wanted to flee from something so badly in my life. But you, you my special friend, are my reason. The reason I press on. You look at me with hope-filled eyes, proud. You hug me tight and say, “watch me do it too.” You are the reason I don’t run the other way.

Thank you, for showing up. It’s all I ask in the continuity of life. That when I show you love, you hold it and protect it, and give it back to the world. Nothing could make me more proud. You are my reason.

“I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart. I am never without it anywhere I go, you go my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling. I fear no fate, for you are my fate, my sweet. I want no world, for beautiful, you are my world, my true and it’s you whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you. Here is the deepest secret nobody knows, here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or the mind can hide and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart. I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.”  -EE Cummings


this man is…



This man is special. Significant. Determined. Positive. Handsome. Strong. Hilarious. Genuine… and I could go on.

We go through our trials, everyone does. He has gone through more in his near 25 years than I probably ever will. That happens to be another one of his amazing qualities. To be able to stand up against adversity and say, “I’m better and stronger than that.”

I have known him just 37 days and yet feel as though we’ve been around one another for decades. And to say decades is intense considering he and I are both just getting into the early years of our third decade. He has the capability to take my day from a 2 to a 10 in one phone call.

I’ve been paranoid in the past. I love love too much, and I get hurt jumping from one ‘relationship’ to another in order to feel the love I want to give others so much. This is why I always need a dog in my life; another living thing to smother with my love and affection. But a fluffy critter will only go so far to say, “I love you, too”.  Granted, I have no qualms in being long-term single, but I thrive in a relationship. Ask any of my exes- minus the one you read about in my last post- and they’ll rave about me. I’m a great girl and a total catch. I know how to be in love.

Problem? I haven’t been in LOVE since 2009. Three years it’s been since I was in it. Back in the day with Kosta. That’s a long time for a hopeless romantic. Am I right? But here’s the beauty of my problem… when I do finally see love, I know what it looks like.

This man is every potential for love and happiness. He is potential for marriage. Whoa, yea, I just said that. There’s that adage of “when you know, you know”, right? Yea, I’ve never had that, but now I’m questioning if I do, in fact, know. I’ve had an instinct about this man from the get go. He solidified that instinct with our first phone call. This man is different.

There are days when my impatience wants to kill him. Days when I just want him to take the irrational side on an issue and get mad (like I do). There are times when I get let down without my call at the end of the day. Days when we both think, “how’s this ever gunna work with me leaving for 14 months?” But the doubts are always outweighed by the possibilities.

Could this man be my future? My husband, family and father of my children? I don’t know. But the odds, right now, are in his favor.



A new journey. A new man. A new me.

A few weeks ago, I was approached with an opportunity to apply for an internship in China for two months this summer. It involves working with children as somewhat of a camp counselor, working with them in STEM (science,technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts and helping them gain experience in English.

Let me preface by saying, I have been scared of going to Asia for most of my life. It’s never been on my ‘desired destinations’ list. The fear of the unknown, of being a minority, and frankly a fear of a REALLY different government, has always made me a bit cautious of the continent. But, I plan to one day be part of a study abroad office, and for me to better advise my students, it’s better that I go where they’ll go. So, I applied for the internship.

Things went quickly from there. I had an interview, which I thought went seemingly well, and I was told I would hear by the end of February. Well the end of February came and went, so I shut the door on the idea that I’d be spending my days this summer in China. I thought too fast. March 4 rolls around, and I was visiting my best friend in Des Moines when I got an email.

“Jacquelin, we’d like to extend an invitation to you to join us in Hong Kong this summer.” The words on the page started to blur as the news sunk in. I was chosen. I’ll be living in Hong Kong from the end of June through late August, then I’ll get on a plane and move straight to France from there for grad school.

This causes a whirlwind of emotions… I’ll be gone from my family and closest friends even longer than I had expected, but it also presents me with the greatest of opportunities, so naturally, I took it.

That same weekend I found out about China a met a guy named Alex. The past several weeks we’ve talked hours through phone calls and text messages about things like sports, travel, our values and our dreams. I have been surprised and challenged by him. Very surprised. I can quite confidently say that this man is special. He presents me with a bit of a paradox though because I move over 11,000 miles away in just 103 days.

I’ve known this man for 3 weeks, yet we’ve already discussed my going abroad, long distance relationships and the like.

I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. And nine times out of ten, for me, my relationships are completely hopeless. I get my heart handed back to me saying, “no I can’t support your dreams of going abroad… I can’t do the distance. That’s too hard.” You know Alex’s response when I told him? “That’s such an amazing opportunity. You have to go. It’ll be hard being away for 6-12 months, but you’re worth it.”

Um, I’m sorry, did I hear that right?  I’m worth it???  Yea, I did.

I’ve never had someone believe in what I’m doing as much as I do. I’ve never had someone support my dreams after knowing me for such a short amount of time. Before, I saw a guy who I was close with for months. The second my moving abroad was brought up, the question of a relationship went out the window, because of course, distance doesn’t work. This isn’t the case with Alex. From the beginning we’ve both known what we’re signing up for, and it may not work. But the fact that we’re both willing to take the chance makes me believe that romance isn’t dead, that chivalry isn’t gone, and that good men are still out there to be found.

I look forward to the next 103 days of my life. Those days will include my college graduation, two weddings, packing my entire world into a few suitcases and moving… but most importantly, the next 103 days are a chance for me to fall in love. And that journey, is just as exciting as the 11,000 miles I’ll travel to get to China.

the capability of a traveler


Today I had a discussion with my ex-boyfriend, who for years was also my best friend. Six years later, after a world of changes, he and I are finally parting ways amicably. What’s truly amazing is that I’ve now been gone from Greece for just under three years, and to this very day, I feel a greater connection to the world through them than the people I’ve had right around the corner for the last 22 years of my life.

You see, I may not be the most educated person, or know the most about the most things. I may not be politically correct, or have the right views. But I know one thing. I know that travel has the capabilities to unleash all of those things. To learn and grow, to understand more about more things. To understand what’s politically correct and why, and actually care about it. To learn what views are right for you. Travel has that capability.

I was 12 years old when I started my life journey in travel. I was a student ambassador for People to People, a program created by Dwight D. Eisenhower. That journey took me to Australia. I still keep in contact with some of the friends I went with, that was 10 years ago.

Today, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity of visiting, learning and exploring close to 20 countries. I’ve met people of all walks in life, befriended them, and learned from them. From an ex-heroine addict now clean for three years to the heir to a multi-million dollar company, travel has opened my eyes in new ways.

So yes, I may not be the most intelligent, most politically correct, or the most hip… but I am a traveler. The people I know and will meet in the future have a greater capability of teaching me the real lessons of the world than those around my corner.

That’s why I believe my life is in travel, in encouraging others to explore the world around them. There’s no greater way to learn than to experience it yourself.

changes stay the same


today was the beginning to what I assume will be an amazing trip. I took a walk down by the board walk all the way to the white tower where I sat with so much joy overlooking the city.

This is my city. The place I love. It was amazing to see how much it’s changed due to the economy. Had I just been another visitor I would never notice, but some favorite restaurants and stores were closed. I couldn’t believe it. Even on the boardwalk, the place with the most business has places shutting down. The metro system which was being built when I studied here in 2009, was supposed to be finished in 2011, still is not done.

But this city that’s changed has also stayed so rooted in the same things. They’re still packed into cafes throughout the day, still cat calling ‘koritsi mou’ ‘koukla mou’ after, strolling the water, sipping their frappe and smoking their cigarette. It’s comforting really.

I sat at the white tower today, taking it all in, writing and reading. As I read, there was a young couple, still in their teens probably no older than 16 or 17, sitting across from me that were so caught up in their own world I was drawn to them. It was intoxicating to watch them together. It was so clear to me that they loved each other, so clear they didn’t care who saw it. I loved it. It reminded me of Kostas. How much passion there is between us. I finally will be reunited with Kostas tonight, after over a year and a half. I can’t wait to kiss him like that young couple were at the white tower.  My love. I’m thrilled.

the day has finally come  🙂

go the distance


This is what my active life has looked like since age 12, after my first trip to Australia. I got bitten by the travel bug at a young age, and when I got the bug, I got it bad. My travels continued at age 16, 17 and again at 18, and as I left for college I continued my traveling ways. My freshman year I left again at 19 and went abroad to turn 20 in Greece. That’s where my heart stayed.

It was just a few days ago that my friend Lola posted this photo to her Facebook:

It immediately rang true with my life. Some of the most important people in my life have been furtherest away from me in life. For example, I’m adopted. Although I’d never met my birth mother, she was very close to me, although she was at a distance so far I couldn’t fathom it in my head. Another example, my very best friend growing up was named Conor. He and I met at camp when we were 10 years old and we lived in towns 2 hours away from each other, and this was before the cell phone. We still managed to keep a friendship and a closeness through that distance. And most recently, within the past nearly 3 years now, I’ve been 5000 miles distance away from Kostas, though every time I see something he writes me or see his face I feel closer to him. Every precious trip I make back to Greece brings us closer together again.

Closeness really doesn’t have anything to do with distance. It has everything to do with the sincerity and love in your heart. I don’t care how many people say that “no matter what long distance relationships do not work”, I don’t buy it. The distance has nothing to do with it. If two people want to love each other enough to be together always, they’ll love each other whether it’s under the same roof or from the other side of the planet. And I intend on doing just that. No matter what the distance.

ps- bonus- this totally just made me think of the song “I can go the distance” by Michael Bolton which is in Hercules which is totally in Greece so it fits with the theme of this blog so I’m gonna post it. Ha! enjoy!



travel vs. travail


I have been a terrible blogger as of late. Ever since booking my trip back home, I’ve been so consumed with working and getting extra cash in my pocket, by the time I get home at night, I just want to pop in a movie and pass out, and nine times out of ten, that’s what I do. However tonight, you’re lucky.

Since I’m now getting down to the wire, I only have 5 days left until my flight and I could not be more thrilled. So of course I need to start my packing process, which believe me, is a very long and tedious project. So instead of trying to go to bed, which I would normally be doing right now, I’m up waiting for my laundry to dry. Tomorrow, if I have the energy, I will begin the packing process that I so dread.

Here’s my weird thing about traveling. I love to travel. But I HATE to travail. Which ironically is where the world travel roots from. The “act” of traveling is awful. I hate going to the airport, waiting in the lines behind clueless people who can’t get their strollers to collapse, the people who wear shoes that are impossible to take off, getting on the plane to be seated behind the person that puts their seat down the second they get in their seat, recycled air, being freezing cold on a 14 hour flight, never finding a comfortable position. I hate it. I hate to travel. I absolutely love when I get to my destinations. I love down time in airports when I get to people watch, but anything else having to do with the act of transit between one place and another I really do not enjoy. Yuck.

So here’s a tally of the longest flights I’ve suffered in my lifetime:

1- Los Angeles to Sydney, 18 hours, twice

2- Chicago to Frankfurt, 15 hours, 4 times

3- Chicago to Paris, between 11 and 14 hours, more times than I can remember

4- Chicago to London, between 9 and 12 hours, more times than I can remember

5- Minneapolis to Hawaii, 10 hours, twice