12 things only former expats will understand (and travel lovers, too)

I’ve found that former expats have a special bond because we’ve all gone through similar life experiences. Whether it’s discussing our amazing ability to pack a suitcase at the speed of lightning, expat woes that involve searching high and low for certain ingredients in foreign grocery stores (canned pumpkin around Thanksgiving time, anyone?), or getting way too excited for care packages filled with Goldfish crackers, Oreos and weirdly flavored Pop-Tarts, there are certain things only expats and former expats will understand — and here’s a list you can probably relate to.

12 things only former expats will understand

1. Your storage unit triggers violent panic attacks.
Saving everything seemed like a good idea before you moved abroad, but now that you’re back in your own country, you want to burn this mother down. All of that toothpaste, mouthwash, makeup, and medicine you forced your spouse to pack away in boxes because you didn’t want to waste a single item? Expired. You should have given it away to co-workers. But would they have really wanted your extra toothpaste and acne cream? Maybe.

2. Coins everywhere. Everywhere, dammit!
You can’t find a couple of dollars for your Starbucks grande caramel macchiatto, but you have plenty of other currencies… you know, just in case. Pounds, euros, Moroccan dirham, and Czech crown litter your vehicle and you basically feel buried in tiny worldly treasures. Why are they in your vehicle after moving back to the States, you ask? Who the hell knows; it just happens. They’re also covering your night stand which is always interesting when you blindly look for your glasses in the morning.

3. Why so big, Walgreens?
You quickly remember that everything in the United States is massive — especially Walgreens — and you feel overwhelmed. The parking lot, parking spaces, and the brightly lit aisles? You need a beer (or a shot of vodka) after a trip to the pharmacy.

4. You’re too nervous to throw away travel mementos.
Train ticket stubs from Italy, castle guide books from Scotland, and cafe receipts from Morocco clutter your suitcases, handbags, and dining room table, but every time you try and throw something away, your stomach forms that familiar little knot. If you finally rid your house of annoying pieces of paper, will you forget about good times spent abroad? Maybe you should keep them a little while longer. Yeah, that’s a good idea. (hint: you’ll most likely keep them forever)

5. People think your home decor is “eclectic”.
Long story short, you have random shit from your travels strewn all over your house and it somehow works. Or at least you hope it does.

6. Almost all of your stories start out with, “When I was living abroad…”
You’re not trying to be a pretentious jerk, but almost every conversation reminds you of a travel story. Before you’re even able to stop yourself, you utter those familiar words that cause friends and family (and strangers who already hate you) to roll their eyes: “That reminds me of when I was living abroad…” Just shut up, you jerk!

7. When other people talk about creating a “travel gallery wall” in their homes, you get excited… 
But then realize you’d probably need ten of those and your house just isn’t that big. Ya know, since you spend most of your money on travel. #worthit

8. A trip to World Market makes you absolutely giddy.
Paprika from Hungary? Those little waffles from The Netherlands?! Your favorite tea from England?!?! You’re basically in heaven. Time to gain a few lbs.

9. Your pets have passports.
Sometimes travel and pets don’t mix, so you’ve already taken care of everything that could be a headache in the future — and your pets now have passports. If for some reason you decide to take another assignment abroad, they’ll be set. And you’ll shake your head once you realize how many countries they’ve been to.

10. About once a month, you have no idea where you are.
You shoot up in bed in the early morning and think to yourself… Scotland, France, Phoenix, Arizona? Oh wait, you just moved back to Virginia. That’s right. Now go back to bed you little world traveler.

11. You can pack a suitcase in two minutes flat.
And you’ve seriously considered adding this to your resume because it’s that impressive.

12. You create friendships all over the globe — and then someone inevitably moves away.
You met wonderful ladies in an expat group abroad… and then you moved away. Your husband’s corporate rotation took you all over the United States and leaving those people sucked, too.

Even though it’s difficult to continue the vicious cycle of making new friends and then moving away from them, you wouldn’t change anything.

Are you an expat or former expat? Share your stories below!

photography concentrate’s incredibly important composition skills

I haven’t been as active with blogging these couple of weeks because we’ve been brainstorming for my photography business. Our days have been consumed with fun legal paperwork for the state of Virginia, reserving a small business mailbox, creating business cards, finding photography props, and coming up with a marketing plan. I also sent my camera to Nikon to be cleaned and fixed so I feel pretty naked without it, but it had to be done. Although all of this is a bit nerve-racking, I can’t explain in words how excited I am. Everything is finally coming together. Woo hoo! (That’s how you know I’m excited, I suppose).

In honor of this photography-filled month, I’m here to tell you about an amazing offer from Photography Concentrate, the creators of Extremely Essential Camera Skills – a wonderful way to learn all about your DSLR, and a great way to feel comfortable enough to forget about that silly “auto” option and to start shooting in manual.

Incredibly Important Composition Skills

Photography Concentrate just released their newest skills class called Incredibly Important Composition Skills and I can already tell it’s going to be extremely popular because composition takes your photography to the next level. If you’ve already invested in an expensive DSLR, you want this! Plus, it’ll make your blog photos look much more professional which is always important since we’re all visual people.

If you’re interested in improving your photography right now, you can get Incredibly Important Composition Skills for 30% off. Photography Concentrate rarely discounts their products and the sale will only continue for a few more days, so be sure to take advantage because I know I will!

Happy picture taking, friends!

are you a bed person?

Happy Easter, people. If you’re avoiding family and creeping on the Internet, your Easter is about to get a lot better because the hilarious Jillian Lorraine wants to talk about being a bed person today. I’m totally a bed person.

are you a bed person?

There are many kinds of people in this world. Introverts and extroverts. Animals lovers and those who seek therapy after touching a dog’s collar. Bed people and non-bed people.

In general, I fall into the categories of introvert, therapy, and bed people.

Also, yes, “bed people” is a term I just came up with. What are we thinking of it?

Right.

I absolutely adore my bed, so much so that while some people name their cars, my trusty old Corolla remains nameless and my bed goes by “The Marshmallow.”

Isn’t she lovely?

The Marshmallow is the first bed that was ever truly “mine.” Before she came into my life I’d had a series of beds, but none I had ever picked out, customized, and generally loved like I love The Marshmallow. I had my growing up bed. I had my college dorm beds (read: pain machines of death). I’ve also had random apartment beds (always frightening, best not to think about those too long).

But The Marshmallow was the first time in my adult life where I needed to buy a bed.

And so I went for the dream.

The marshmallow fluff, whipped topping plus 11 pillows sort of dream. It worked.

And in the process I became a bed person.

A bed person is someone who prefers to do everything in their bed. Eat, sleep, read, write, generally conquer the world—all of these things are best accomplished from the safety and comfort of The Marshmallow.

At least that’s what a bed person would tell you.

And I’m a bed person.

A few months ago, my friend eagerly forwarded me this article about how NASA was paying people $18,000 to live in their beds for 70 days and my initial thought was “DREAM JOB. SIGN ME UP. NO ONE IS MORE QUALIFIED.” Then, of course, I read about it and some of the side effects and requirements, and like most dreams, that one had to die a bitter death with tears.

But for a minute, I thought this bed person thing could really mean something here. Get my life somewhere, if you know what I mean.

About this point in the post you’re probably thinking I’m the laziest, unhealthiest person to ever live. And the truth is, maybe sometimes I can be a bit lazy, but I’m actually a fairly productive individual. I’m finishing up my MFA in Writing for Screen and Television. (So look! I can complete degrees that hold no bearing in the real world!) I have two jobs. I like to go on walks. Sometimes I even socialize like a good 20-something in LA does.

You can find Jillian here:
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