Beijing; photo dump

Okay, so my first week in Beijing is almost complete. I have a million thoughts going around my head, so we are going to start with a bit of a word vomit and move into a photo dump.

We arrived super late at night and went straight to the hostel. We are staying at The Red Lantern House, which is not only flipping adorable, but also in a great location. We are staying in a room with just the two of us, and for three nights it is 700 RMB which translates to about 104 USD. That is expensive for a hostel, BUT we are staying in like a private room. The other dorm rooms are a lot cheaper and just as nice.

Here is the hostel:

The next day, we ate a ton of great food, and also did some boring stuff. Let’s talk food first. So it’s true that in Asian cultures you get like a big plate of food and everyone shares it’s like (INSERT AMERICAN RESTAURANT THAT HAS SHARING PORTIONS HERE). In one breakfast, we had: dumplings, red bean oatmeal, noodles, cucumbers, and soy milk. Then for lunch we had this plate of chicken, some spinach, peanuts, a pepper dish, and a soup.

By the way, I’m not leaving these names out because I want to. I have no idea what this is called. But man it was SO GOOD. Then for dinner we had some other chicken thing, another soup, and more cucumbers. I am living my best food life. It actually just occurred to me yesterday that I have no idea when I last used a fork?


This second day we did mainly boring things like phones stuff and bank stuff. Which took foreverrrrrr, but it’s kind of like if I worked at a bank and someone with a Chinese name, address, passport, etc needed a bank account, I would have no clue how to do that, or put that into the English system we use! So it was a lot of patience on both ends. See above photo for some snacks we bought for our three hour stint at the bank.

The day after that we went on a few tours of the big places and they kind of speak for themselves. Like, these places are older than America. It’s pretty amazing learning about Chinese culture/history by being right next to it. So we went to The Forbidden City, the old Summer Palace, Beihai Park. For the Forbidden City we had a tour guide, and I really was happy to have him. If you don’t have a guide of some sort it’s kind of hard to understand WHY each detail is so important.

The thing we have done the most of while being here is walk. We have walked so dang much. There is no question about it. My calves, my feet, my thighs, they feel it. That’s probably why I’m googling baiduing massage places right now.

Some non-typical things we have done are go to a local brewery, eat jiānbǐng, take the metro confidently, go to a few coffee shops, and stroll through Gulou street. I’m really excited to experience the art district eventually, but that is near where we will be staying next, so we didn’t want to trek all the way over there to see something we will live by.

I’m going to include a vlog of our travel later and the first week here because I feel like that might help you guys see things better? I don’t know how to explain how interesting China is, and sometimes videos do more than photos, so that’s basically it. Let me know if you like the vlog, pleaseeee. I have no idea how to do one and this week was a really weird one so I tried to make it the best it could be!


Coming to China? Just Traveling in general? Book an Airbnb! Use this link to get 40 dollars off! CLICK ME. 

Am I moving to China?

Yes, yes I am.

I took a TEFL class while working this past winter, which is the main reason why my blog went silent. Writing lesson plans, picking a country, working on visa’s and getting a job abroad all while working the holiday rush at Starbucks left me a little tired. One thing that I really was searching for while all this was going on was an easy to read blog with too many photos and grammar errors to reassure me that I was on the right path. I could find that information in the shape of Facebook groups or feed back from my student advisors, but I wanted a genuine feeling blog.

So I wanted to write it down and make it happen even if it meant I was writing in early December, and publishing it in February March. I want to remember for me and for you. So here we go.

(From January) I am taking classes at International Tefl Academy (ITA), which I do really enjoy. There are definitely easier ones, harder ones, ones on location of where you want to teach, and ones like mine, which are online. My course is 170 hours online with an additional 20 hours of practicum. I suggest you really call around and talk to the different programs. I ALSO suggest you check out ITA because it was great.

So after completing the courses I started look for jobs. I found tons, I mean so many I could afford to be picky. I applied to quite a few found on Dave’s ESL Cafe, made sure to browse Reddit to see if there are any blacklisted schools that are known scams, and also checked in with the ITA contract review. I landed on a great kindergarten in Beijing.

(FromFebruary) SO YEAH. Beijing. That is where I am headed. Right now all my furniture is in my boyfriend’s family basement and I have a giant suitcase, a little suitcase, a gym bag, and a backpack to lug around before I leave for the next step in the journey, which is to go to NYC and get my visa! It’s possible to use a visa service to take your passport and get the Chinese visa for you, but since my dad lives right by the City, I figured I could skip the 300 dollar express fee and get it done myself.

I hope you as excited, and I hope you will excuse my absence. I look forward to writing about all the new experiences!

Thanks for waiting for me (:

A very non-detailed packing list for Beijing

Okay so there are a million of these for every location. I want to write about what I brought that might be a little unique to the situation of MOVING here, not just a two week trip or something.

Bedroom Stuff

I brought my duvet, duvet cover, queen size sheets and pillow cases. All I knew when I was coming here is that there was an ikea, but that fitted sheets were not common. I took matters into my own hands and decided to bring my duvet and cover, which I love, and I bought a cheap set of white sheets. I still made it under the fifty pounds rule, even though it was difficult. Just so you know, depending on when you are moving the heat might not be on. Beijing has a heating season, meaning if it gets cold outside of heating season or before it starts, you are going to be COLD. Some places have more heaters than others, but it’s not common.

I didn’t bring pillows though. I needed one desperately when I headed to the super market with Johnny. There was only one pillow available, so I shoved my sweaters into my pillow case and slept that way. We ended up buying another pillow from IKEA.

Bathroom Stuff

I brought face wash from soap and glory, two sets of liquid shampoo and conditioner from OGX, and TON of solid soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and face washes from LUSH. I have seen American brands around, like Pantene and OGX but they are about double or triple the price. I also recommend SOLID ones because they can go in your carry on so when you head out on small trips you don’t need a liquids bag! Also protect the environment ya’ll.

Once I was here I pretty much only needed to buy a towel, and I was told they only sell normal sized towels in MINISO. NOT TRUE. They have them other places like Ikea and Carrefore. I didn’t bring a hair dryer or any other electrical hair item. I have a good amount of hair so I did buy a hair dyer eventually and it was 30 USD but it works well.

Shoe choices

I brought five pairs of shoes. Two walking sneakers, fancy summer shoes, fancy winder shoes, and running shoes. One I got here, I bought inside shoes for my job, inside shoes for my bathroom, and slippers for my house. I STILL feel like I am missing quick slip on shoes for going outside. If you are going to be in Beijing in the summer, I think you should get a nice pair of comfortable walking shoes that you can slip on. Like birkenstocks. I honestly never thought they were dorky, I have always wanted a pair. Live since seventh grade. And I’m twenty four. (guys I finally bought myself some!)

Living Room Things

I didn’t bring anything for this. I just brought pictures for my walls and washi tape. Since being here I have bought six plants (one is currently dying I think, we don’t have a lot of sunlight in our place), two oil diffusers and one candle. I haven’t lit the candle.

Technical stuff

You need a vpn, and you need to pay for it. ExpressVPN is the best one in my opinion. Johnny bought Vyper VPN but it has proven itself not worth being slightly cheaper. We also have two saunorch travel adaptors that we take with us everywhere. I would recommend you get one or two so you can have them in different areas. I also suggest you get a SMALL portable charger. I am going to stress the small one because some airlines do not allow lithium batteries of a certain size on their planes. I have experienced it while traveling around a few places here, even when they are small they take them out of your bags an inspect them.

What else do you consider an essential when moving to a a new country? I would love to hear your thoughts. Also would you want a detailed version of my packing list? Let me know!

Cities on my radar

I’m thinking of making this a new series, just letting you guys know about what cities I’m currently feeling. When I get a little bug to travel, I try to have a few cities that are either drivable or cheap flight-able.

Vermont in general is on my radar. Who knows why, I just want to explore New England. Specifically Burlington. This city seems very cool, and I’m saying this based off the fact that they have a bike rental service and microbreweries. And honestly, sometimes that just does it for me. I think the ideal time to go here would be early fall when it’s not super cold yet and the colors would be fantastic.

Montreal. I guess I was bit by the Canada bug?? I was there for only a night and there were so many events going on. I would love to go back with just a little bit more time spent planning. If any of you guys are planning on heading to Montreal, be sure to check out this blog:

Reykjavik or just a nice road trip through Iceland. I have a friend there currently, and I’m just waiting to hear about the incredible views. I am not sure when I would be able to go, but I would definitely want it to be a three day or more trip.

Brooklyn. I have been to NYC a few times, but they have always been day trips where I’m with family or a friend who really wants to get that NYC FEEL. I wrote a post earlier about how I just don’t get it. I didn’t fall in love there, I just had a nice time. I would like to give it another chance because I mean its HUGE, I can definitely find a place there that I love.

San Francisco, wait after typing that out… I have to ask does San Cisco’s name have to do with that city? Whether or not it does, when I was in Quebec City my friend mentioned that it reminded her of San Fran. That sealed the deal. I was/still am set on a west coast trip. I would definitely want to go when it’s not incredibly summer, or whatever the off season is. You know me, I try to stay away from that tourist scene as much as possible.

Booking an Airbnb? Use this link to get 40 dollars off! CLICK ME. 

The to-do list a barista in Quebec City wrote me

Who knows a city better than the people who live there? Really no one.

When Corynne and I asked the barista at Cantook what he recommends for us to fill our weekend with, he sat down with us and wrote a list:

La Buvette Scott This is the restaurant he suggested we visit. It has a menu that changes weekly and many of the reviews online are wonderful. If a local includes only one restaurant on his list of recommendations, you better go. Calling ahead is your best bet if you want to guarantee yourself a table, the restaurant is pretty small on the inside. Please send me pictures of all the delicious food when you go? I’m in need of a good charcuterie plate.

Le Cercle This is definitely something that I was excited to learn about. Its a bar, and eatery, and has live shows every night. I believe it even has an art gallery here too? The barista told us the weekend we were there had some awesome shows lined up, but if you want to see who is playing for your trip you can check out their site here. Looking at their website is so inspiring, it just makes me want to create- I love places like that!

Ferry rides Obviously, Quebec City in on a river. So there is the incredible option to have a relaxing ferry ride. I would say it probably seems like a great place for a picnic? Or if you have a morning to fill before heading out and about in the city. It sounds like the most relaxing way to appreciate the city while also saving your poor feet from walking all over!

Plains d’Abraham This a beautiful and massive park, located on the site of the famous battle between France and England in 1759. This area is full of flowers, walking paths and vistas. I highly recommend getting a coffee and some pastries to go and setting up breakfast in this park. The gorgeous morning air will wake you up just as much as the amazing coffee.

3rd Avenue, Limoilou Now you’ve heard me rave about Saint Roch, but Limoilou is another one of Quebec City’s incredible neighborhoods. We were told to check out 3rd avenue, which has some super flippin adorable shops and restaurants available. The 1st avenue is going to get you some nice historic views and the 2nd features the incredibly adorable spiral staircases.

Rue Cartier Corynne and I managed this one by accident while looking for an ATM. Suddenly there were massive lampshades everywhere? And really cute shops and restaurants? This street, close to Mont Calm, is a great area to explore for a few hours and have a few great photo ops.



Ile d’Orleans, slow downnnnnnnnn

I’m currently debating whether or not I want to write this post. When I was planning my trip I felt like I kept reading about this little island trying to prepare things to do. That’s not really how it works. This island really made me feel free, I didn’t have reservations nor did I have to ask anyone to move so I could get the perfect shot. Corynne and I just drove and looked and listened.

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We went to the island twice. It’s a lot bigger than I expected, so it takes about two hours to go around the island without stopping. There are hand painted signs telling you that countless people are selling chocolates, wine, berries and jam. We drove around half one day and then half the next day, which is hard to describe since it’s just one road. The second day we came back at a sunset-y time, which was beautiful. we drove around and stopped once, we tried to find like the best one spot to stop, but I almost feel like it was so much better seeing it all roll past me while an amazing album played.

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We stopped at a gas station and then suddenly, Corynne said she wanted to stop at this beautiful statue of a man playing a guitar. As we parked and stopped, it was a moment that I felt was so impactful. The trip was definitely impactful outside of this moment, it was the first trip Corynne and I had taken as adults. We grew up together and it just felt very much like a movie-ending moment. The sky was beautiful, we had cameras and laughs and the air smelled so fresh.

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We stopped. We needed to get food and gas and to pack the car. But we stopped and we looked at the world and it was a beautiful experience.

Quebec City Coffee Guide

Another city, another coffee tour!

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Maelstrøm: As I walked in here, I felt very cool, which seems kind of weird to say. I just wanted to take my laptop out and hang out while editing something. It has that kind of vibe. I ordered a cold brew and tonic, which i was a bit wary of since I don’t love tonic water. I really enjoyed it though, and I did leave so I could keep walking about the city, I would come back for the great atmosphere. This place also has a really incredible bar that they break out after all the edgy customers stop editing and start unwinding. I love a coffee shop that has so many options. This is definitely a great one. This baby is tucked away in Saint-Roch, not on the main street but on a quiet side street.

181, rue Saint-Vallier Est • Québec City, Québec • G1K 3P2 • 418.523.0700
Open Mon to Sat: 7:00 am to 1:00 am, Sun: 7:00 am to 12:00 am

(photos of coffee with cantook bag)

Cantook: I had such an incredible time at this location. I really just popped in because I had read that it had amazing coffee and I wanted to buy some beans. It is definitely artisanal, lots of wood and stone with covers of a several cool coffee mags all over the walls. The barista recognized my bad french accent and asked how our trip was. We asked for a recommendation, and he told us if we waited just a bit he would write us a list! When the line died down and he didnt have to make amazing drinks for customers, he came over and told us if we finished the first list, we can come back for a second.

575 Rue Saint-Jean, Québec, QC G1K 3C8
Open: Mon – Wed 7:30am to 8pm, Thurs – Fri 7:30am to 9pm, Sat – Sun 8:30am to 5pm

Cafe Nektar: This location is perfect for when you’re popping in and out of all the great stores on Rue Saint-Joseph, and you just need a quick bite. offers iced chai, right in the center of saint roch, I accidentally ordered two ice lattes? Oops. The baristas were nice ever though it was busy. There is seating inside but I opted to venture onto the many available seats on Rue Saint-Joseph. Pro tip: people watch here.

235 Rue Saint-Joseph Est, Québec, QC G1K 3C8
Open: Mon – Wed 7am to 8pm, Thurs – Fri 7am to 9pm, Sat – Sun 8am to 7pm

Cafe Saint-Henri: Also located in the Saint-Roch neighborhood (oh no!), this cafe started in Montreal and has made it’s way to Quebec city. I found it as I was looking for donuts, as one does on a sunday, and I found that many reviews said this had no doubt the best donut in quebec city. So, best donuts, great coffee, and free wifi? I’m sorry, why did I not try and rent this place out as my airbnb? I ate my donut faster than I expected, so feel free to look at their delicious instagrams.

849 Rue Saint-Joseph Est, Québec, QC G1K 3C8
Open: Mon – Wed 7am to 9pm, Thurs – Fri 7am to 10pm, Sat – Sun 8am to 9pm

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Le bruloir: This one is actually located in Montreal, but I felt like I could sneak it in here and you guys wouldn’t mind!


Quebec City Weekend Itinerary

A few months ago I mentioned going to Canada, and I actually did not think it would happen. Until my friend Corynne texted me with some dates, I asked off work, and now I’m sitting in an amazing airbnb, packing from a very wonderful weekend. While Corynne and I were planning the trip, we had general ideas of what we wanted to see in this city. Instead of having a strict itinerary, we just floated around knowing we had three full days to experience this.

We arrived late Thursday night after driving 18 hours from Northern Kentucky to Quebec City. Our airbnb was incredibly welcoming and allowed us to rest up so we could walk around for hours the next day.

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The delicious breakfast from the oddly Lord of the Rings themed cafe

Friday Morning: We walked toward Brugels, both of us are serious breakfast lovers so trying somewhere that offered Montreal style bagels was a must. We sat and talked about our life goals and growing up, while also really enjoying the amazing homemade jam and bagels. Guys, they really are different that the United States! This is located in Montcalm, a lifestyle and art focused neighborhood.


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A house from a neighborhood near the Plain d’Abraham

After breakfast, we headed to the Plains d’Abraham. This a super beautiful garden thats peppered with museums, beautiful vistas and a lot of history. While enter this area Corynne and I kept exchanging looks like, “Oh yeah. This is why people love this city.”

This expansive park can lead you straight down to Rue Saint- Jean. It’s kind of like where you really notice Vieux Quebec is starting. This area is full of artists on the street, historic buildings and churches, horses with carriages, and occasionally many tourists.

Still following the flow of both the streets and the people walking along them, you can find yourself near the charming streets of Petit Champion. It was incredibly quaint. When we weren’t taking pictures of the village-esqe houses, we were stopping on terraces for tea and coffee so we could people watch.  If I had forgotten that we were in a french city, this area would have reminded me.

Friday Afternoon: After seeing all the classic charm that Vieux Quebec could offer us, we steered toward Saint-Roch. Guys, this neighborhood!! It has this wonderful grungy, but also very fresh vibe to it. We ate lunch at Le Projet, it was a beautiful bar full of natural light and reaaaally good beer. I asked the waitress for a beer recommendation and she brought me one of their twenty four beers.

After lunch we walked along Rue Saint-Jean, which is the main street of the Saint-Roch area. This street has everything you could want, including a clothing boutique/taco bar. We spent some more time here later this weekend.

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I cannot talk enough about our amazing Airbnb- I’m definitely staying there again!

Friday Night: Since Corynne and I had such an incredible airbnb, we decided to cook dinner and sit in our temporary home. The Canadian grocery store that I went to was not nearly as complicated as some of the french grocery stores I have experienced.

Saturday Morning: Today we headed out early to go to the Chutes des Montmoncy. We drove to the big waterfall, I would recommend going and seeing it but definitely in the morning. Then you’ll skip the massive crowds and get better majestic photos. Another place close by is the National Park, they have a ton of trails online ranked by difficulty so you can plan accordingly. We stuck with just the waterfall though. After the waterfall, we headed to the Ile d’orleans, a beautiful island full of fruit stands, friendly restaurants, and vistas for dayssss. We actually returned here later this weekend.

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Saturday Night: Since we knew someone in Montreal, we decided to head there for the evening. Man oh man, I had done research. I had plans, but nothing could have prepared me to how much bigger of a city Montreal is! In the one night that we were there: the metro was free for an event, there were fireworks competitions, a $40 tattoo and $3 succulent sale (yes, that was one event), the Just For Laughs comedy festival, and we also saw a few art installations across the city. IN ONE NIGHT. I will tell you about this night in a later post, but that is just a taste of the city.

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Sunday Morning: Quebec City has a heavily Catholic background and it’s filled with many beautiful churches. Corynne headed off to mass this morning, while I went off to Saint Roch. I honestly didn’t know what to expect on a Sunday. In Switzerland, this usually meant the hours were very different. In Quebec it seemed that everyone was still out and bustling. I stopped by Maelstrom, a cool coffee bar, then strolled while looking at all the incredible buildings. I cannot stress enough how much you guys need to schedule time for strolling. It’s so important!!

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This city had green every where you look, so many building had vines and plants all over them!

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In Saint-Roch I felt perfectly content to just walk and look at all the amazing things

I also picked up lunch and a sweater at Deux 22, a taco bar and boutique. The clothes here were super adorable, but I did have to stick to the sales rack when picking out a sweater. It was a pretty penny, but worth it to say “oh I got this at a taco/bar/clothing boutique in Canada!”

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The island has so many places that we wanted to get out and stop. I made a mental note make sure I go back in the fall one day!

Sunday Night: When it was getting closer to sunset, Corynne and I headed to Ile d’Orleans again. We had dinner while looking out at the water, imagining what it would be like to live here permanently and if the beauty would wear off. Before we drove off the island, we stopped one last time to get out and take photos. It was the perfect lighting, the perfect weather, and the perfect end to a wonderful trip.

Guys, I cannot wait to head back to this city! Next week we have a Quebec Coffee guide coming, ya know I love my coffee. Have you been in Quebec City? Let me know what you loved about it!