Discover The Sweet and Sour Side of Traveling with Jess
Jess is a British born chinese with a passion for new cultures and a particular way of sharing them. She writes the blog sweetandsouradventures.com, where she talks about her experiences delivering not only the sweet, as the majority of people do, but also the sour side of traveling. Although she considers herself an amateur traveller, her way to integrate herself in different cultures and to transmit it in a fun and personal way is very impressive. She also has a youtube channel, which is really worth watching especially for those who are preparing for a year abroad.
Stay tune to know more about Sweetandsouradventures.com!
1. – When and how did you think about starting Sweet & Sour?
I came up with the idea of starting my travel blog towards the end of my year abroad experience. By the end of the year I had learnt a lot through my living experience in Spain as well as via my travel experiences to various parts of the world. I then set up the blog with the idea that I wanted to share advice and tips for future year abroad students and travelers to inform them on matters I learnt along the way,that I wish I knew beforehand.
2. – Why did you choose Valencia as a destination for your Erasmus? What did you like the most and the least from the city?
Valencia is Spain’s third city and I was initially attracted to it as I had never been there before. I knew I wanted to go to a big city to do my Erasmus but had already been to Madrid and Barcelona before. I was hoping that because Valencia is less well known, that there’d be less internationals compared to Madrid for example and more opportunities to engage with local Spanish people.
The best thing about Valencia would have to be how lively it is as a city, with lots of events going on at places like Radio City and in my local neighbourhood Benimaclet, there would local events everyday ranging from Improvisation Comedy to Jazz Band performances in local cafes.
In terms of what I least liked about the city, it would have to be the lack of multiculturalism and diversity compared to England. At times there’d be a lack of options when eating out – I’d have a craving for Vietnamese or African food but would end up just going to a Spanish tapas bar instead.
3. – What type of accommodation did you choose while studying abroad? How was your experience?
I stayed in private accommodation during the whole year in Spain, however I did change flats after living in the first flat for only a month. With the first flat, I felt that the Spanish people were quite cliquey and weren’t as open as other Erasmus students but rather kept themselves to themselves. They were also 3 years younger than me so I felt in terms of maturity we were incompatible too. Initially I was worried and reluctant to move flats but all turned out for the better as one of the flatmates in the second flat is now my long term boyfriend.
4. –What are the biggest challenges you have faced while living abroad?
The biggest challenge would be trying to integrate with the local people. Whilst I did make Spanish friends, I wouldn’t say I established long term friendships with them. It was always easier to connect with other Erasmus students as we were sharing the same experiences and going through the same thing, plus they’d speak English. I did try to connect with Spanish people more but a lot of my Spanish friends were busy with their master degrees and part time jobs the majority of the time; unlike Erasmus students like myself who had a lot more free time and were more willing to hang out and go out together.
5. – What advice will you give to someone who is about to move abroad for first time?
Living abroad is a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, so embrace it and get out there. I know some British people that only hung out with other British people during their time abroad but if you are in another country, why not soak up a new culture, learn a new language and meet interesting people along the way? If you’re finding it hard to meet locals, I’d recommend going to language exchanges or just by simply going to local events in the area. Just remember to go with an open mind, not to be afraid to put yourself out there and immerse yourself into a foreign environment!
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