The Intentional Expat

Living Your Best Life Abroad


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Walking the Walk: Why Was It So Life Changing?

For the past six weeks, each Thursday (in honor of #TBT, “Throw Back Thursday),  I’ve been sharing blog posts that I wrote back in 2013 regarding everything I learned on my week long trip along Spain’s El Camino de Santiago during Spring Break (Semana Santa) 2013.

 In Part 1 of the series, I hinted on the fact that it had been a life changing experience. Today I’d like to explain just why that was. I wrote those posts when I was going through a particularly difficult time in life and in order to get through it I did what I’ve always done during moments of emotional turmoil: I turned to writing to help me to make sense of things. By reflecting on my experience on “El Camino” through my writing, I was able to recall some of the important lessons I learned along that weeklong journey and this ultimately helped me to continue on through the darkness until I arrived at the end of that particular emotional journey:     Continue reading

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Walking the Walk: Almost There

In honor of “Throw Back Thursday” (#tbt), I’m posting a series of entries regarding my experience of doing Spain’s “El Camino de Santiago” in the Spring of 2013. The experience taught me a great deal about myself and life in general. Read on to see how our second to last day went, and to hear the story that brought us to tears and made the extra 10km we’d walked absolutely worth it.   Continue reading


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TEDxMadrid: Reflections on the Creative Process and How I Got Myself Into this Mess

In March 2005, I embarked on my very first trip outside of North America. Along with 29 other students from my university, I boarded a flight to Europe to embrace twelve weeks of travel throughout Spain, France, Austria, Germany, and Italy. I’ve often been asked what inspired me to sign up for this trip and the truth is that I have no clue. My family never traveled abroad, my experiences outside the states up to this point had been limited to a couple trips up to Vancouver, B.C. and I didn’t have any desire to learn a foreign language. But I knew without a doubt that I wanted to go abroad during college. The only possible explanation is that Continue reading


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Even the Adventurous Have Their Doubts

Another issue of #tbt blogger style. As I write this, I´m sitting at SeaTac airport, waiting to board my flight back to Madrid . I’ve had the great luck of spending the entire month at home in Seattle, which is something I’ve done every year since I moved to  Madrid back in September 2009, While I love getting to spend quality time with my family and friends, time I probably would never cherish as much if I could see them whenever I wanted, it’s always hard to transition from one home to the other. Tears are inevitible whichever side of the world I´m saying goodbye to. Here’s a glimpse at some of the doubts I felt when I embarked on another adventure back in March 2008.  I had taken a leave of absence from my job at a children’s psychiatric hospital to attend a three-month intensive language course in Alicante and Madrid, Spain and despite months of planning, I suddenly found myself wondering if I hadn’t made a mistake. Continue reading


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Introducing “The Intentional Expat Hits the Streets” Interview Series

Thanks to my 30/30 Birthday Challenge, which has been opening me up to trying new things and meeting new people, I decided last week that I’d be launching a new series on this blog called “The Intentional Expat Hits the Streets.”  I’ll be interviewing people I meet during my travels, day-to-day life and other expats I come into contact with.

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My first interview is with Skyler Johnstone, a 23 year old currently living in Seattle, WA (USA) and the founder of Be the Change Clothing co. I ran into him while walking on Seattle’s Alki beach last week and I did a double take because he was sitting on a bench across from the beach…typing on a typewriter. That’s right, not a cell phone, or a tablet, or even a journal, but a typewriter. I couldn’t resist approaching him and introducing myself. And he graciously agreed to be part of the interview series, here’s what he had to say:   Continue reading


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Are You Ready to Go Abroad?

In my recent blog post, “Living a Story Worth Telling,” I encouraged you to remember that you only have one life to live and to consider “what do I want to include in my own life story?” I ended the post with two exercises that are helpful for identifying specific things you want to experience during your lifetime. But imagine that you’ve written a letter to your closest friend five years from now and to your surprise, you’ve told him/her that you’re living somewhere different than you are now. What if, you’re living in your home country now, but you’ve realized that in the future you want to live abroad and/or travel extensively? Continue reading


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Living a Story Worth Telling

One of the coolest things about therapy is that it offers the chance for us mental health professionals to help clients rewrite their own stories. Sometimes this is done by looking back at their past and reframing the way in which they view a big life event. Or transforming a current crisis into the turning point in their life story. Instead of a victim they’re suddenly the author of their very own journey. By viewing tragedy, pain,  and disappointment as moments in the stories of our lives, we realize that just as in any good story, these experiences are not going to endure until the end of the book. What more, since we ourselves are the AUTHORS of these stories, we get to determine which direction the story will go when we bump into the unexpected twists and turns. What sort of ending do we want to arrive at when we close the book?

In yesterday’s blog post, I touched on how fragile life is and how tragic deaths can shake us up, doubting everything we once believed and causing us to question the very foundations of who we are. I don’t have any answers as to why life is full of tragedy, but the fact that it is, is undeniable. However, we do have the chance to choose how we respond in the face of the inevitable curve balls that life throws our way. And when this surprising and shocking news is that of someone’s passing, I think we can use it as a chance to ask ourselves, “how do I want to LIVE?”

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