Gracie Carlson is a freelance writer living in the Pacific Northwest with big dreams of world travel. She hopes you'll join her on her future adventures. When she's not writing she enjoys reading, crocheting, baking, and photography.
A while back, I wrote a blog post on the various ways U.S. citizens can live and teach English legally in Spain. One of the programs I mentioned was Meddeas, an organization that works to place individuals in schools to work as Language Assistants. I was later contacted by Maria, who works in the Communication department at Meddeas, and I was asked if I would be interested in posting something on my blog about the application and selection process for Meddeas. What follows is a post that gives a detailed explanation of how the application and selection process works when applying to Meddeas, and includes tips on navigating the application and interview process. It originally appeared on the Meddeas blog and has been copied below upon request with permission. It was written by two current Meddeas participants, Rebecca Morton, a second year Language Assistant, and Natalie Dold, another current Meddeas participant.
If you have any interest in teaching English in Spain and are interested in the Meddeas program, I highly recommend giving this post a read. You can also view the official Meddeas website here, and the original post on the Meddeas blog, here.
Now that I’ve recommitted to posting on this blog more regularly (I mean it this time, I swear!)(Is what I say every time), I thought I would start doing what I intended to do months ago, and do wrap-up posts at the end of the month.
January has felt really busy, and I can’t believe that it is already almost over. Christmas feels like it was just last week and also several months ago at the same time.
This post was originally published on Medium and was featured in the publication The Hustle is Female.
When I traveled to Spain last year, I went alone. And because I’m also an introvert, I didn’t make much of an effort to meet people while I was there. This meant that I dd just about everything — you guessed it — alone.
For the most part, I didn’t mind doing things alone. I mean, I didn’t go to Spain by myself because I wanted constant companionship.
I started reading the books when I was about nine, right when the first movie came out. Since then, I’ve read every book and seen every movie multiple times, stood in line at midnight on more than one occasion to get a book or see a film the moment it was released, purchased multiple items of Harry Potter memorabilia, and have added a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park to my list of places I absolutely must visit.
So when I heard that someone in Seattle had created a replica of Diagon Alley in their driveway, I knew I had to see it.
The replica was designed by Jonathon Chambers, who, according to the project’s website, was inspired to build it after talking to his two daughters about what they should do for Halloween. Proceeds go to fund Pancreatic cancer research, and once the structure is removed it is going to be donated to Camp Korey in Mount Vernon, Washington, which is a camp for children dealing with medical issues as well as their families.
Last week, my boyfriend and I braved the cold to see the Diagon Alley Project for ourselves.
After getting thoroughly lost (turns out the address Google lists automatically isn’t correct—you have to use the one found on the official website) we finally found the Ballard driveway where this project lives. The streets running through Ballard’s neighborhoods are narrow and usually filled with parked cars, but since it was the middle of a weekday we managed to find a parking spot not too far from the project. And with only a little bit of stress on my part.
Even though it was the middle of the week, we weren’t the only ones there. The Diagon Alley Project has been extremely popular, with thousands of people lining up to see it since October. It wasn’t hard to see why.
When you arrive, you walk through a replica of a brick wall that appears to be opening for you. As I entered (Imagining that I was a witch and about to go get my school supplies, naturally.) I was immediately struck by all of the details, and the way it felt as if you were actually walking into the world of Harry Potter.
Chambers’s driveway has been utterly transformed into a smaller version of Diagon Alley. From the hand-drawn images in the windows, to the shop signs, to the posters and small items placed around the display, to the dragon perched on top of “Gringotts,” the attention to detail is amazing.
My boyfriend and I geeked out like the nerds we are, and of course I had to get an action shot of me stepping through the wall. Finally, all of my dreams of being a wizard were coming true!
One of the many things that I love about Harry Potter is that it really can be appreciated by people of a variety of ages and backgrounds. While we were there, a young couple with their son, who was maybe five, was also visiting. It looked to me like the parents were fans, and now they were getting to share this experience with their son. It was a nice reminder of how the true magic of Harry Potter is the way it lives on, bringing people together, crossing generations, and creating good in the world.
If you get a chance, definitely stop by the Diagon Alley Project in Seattle before its last day on January 19th. You can also follow the project on the official website and Facebook. According to Facebook, this may not be the last Harry Potter-themed creation from Chambers, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what he builds next.
Have you been to the Diagon Alley Project of any other Harry Potter-themed events? Let me know in the comments!
Now that 2018 is officially here, I think it’s time to start looking ahead and figuring out where I want to travel this year. While I don’t have any concrete plans as of right now, there are some things I would like to do and a couple trips I am working on.
I wouldn’t call this a list of resolutions or goals, really. It’s more like a wish list. A travel wish list of places I want to go to this year, and where I would go if time and work weren’t pesky little things that had to be dealt with. (I’m still waiting for some unknown wealthy relative to leave me a massive inheritance or something. Any day now, I’m sure.)
Some of these trips are more likely than others, and some are almost definitely going to happen. Some I know I probably won’t get to do this year, but I like to dream anyway.
As we hurtle toward 2018, a lot of people are taking the opportunity to reflect on the year we are leaving. I’m not gonna lie, for a lot of people 2017 was a rough year. Is it just me, or does it seem like there is something new and terrible happening every day, so quickly that we can hardly keep up or catch our breaths?
Still, in my personal life 2017 was a pretty good year. I traveled, started dating my boyfriend, and moved out of my parents’ place. There were some tough times too, though. My grandfather passed away in March, which hit me hard. I also suffered from an extreme lack of motivation this year—things that I usually like to do (reading and writing, mostly) became a lot harder, and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling aimless and unsure about what I want to do next in life.
Truth be told, right now I am still feeling a little aimless. I’m at a bit of a crossroads, career-wise, and I’m having a little trouble finding my focus. But this is a travel reflection post, not a therapy session. So in the spirit of year-end reflection, here are my top travel highlight of 2017
May is officially here! Anyone else feel like April lasted for a long time? Or just me?
Now that April is over, I thought I’d do a little wrap-up of what I’ve been up to this past month, as well as what’s coming up in the future. I’m going to try and do this at the end of every month, but we’ll see how it goes.
Where I went
Near the start of April I returned from Spain. As of this posting it will be exactly a month since I got back. How is this possible?? It somehow feels like it’s been both a really long time and not that long at all.
This was my first solo trip (!!!) and I was there for about three weeks. I went to Madrid, Segovia, Granada, Nerja, Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera, Sevilla, and Córdoba.
I loved Spain. I mean, maybe you can’t tell from my previous posts, but I really did. I’ve already talked about it a bit on here, like in this post about the amazing food tour I took and this one about some important lessons that I learned along the way.
I’ve also been posting pictures of my trip here, as well as on my Instagram and my Tumblr, if you’d like to see more. I have SO MANY photos so I’m sure I will be posting more in the future.
What I did
Besides recovering from my trip, I’ve been working a lot. I’m a freelancer and I have been looking for more clients, which has taken up a good portion of my time. I’ve also been trying to stick to a posting schedule for this blog, since I’m a notorious procrastinator. So far, so good! (I think)
On a more personal note, I got to see one of my best friends who I don’t get to see very often as she lives out of state. She’s actually about to have a baby and I probably won’t see her again until after the birth so it was nice to spend some time with her.
I also started a women’s self-defense class this month. I decided to take it so I would feel more confident in general and also while traveling alone. It’s been really fun and empowering and I’m learning a lot. If you’ve ever thought about taking a self-defense class, it’s definitely something I’d recommend!
What I read
I’ve said before that I love to read. But for some reason so far this year I’ve been finding it really hard to get into any books. But I FINALLY managed to finish a book this month: How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh.
This is the first book I’ve finished since December, and I really liked it!
I’ve been watching Lilly’s (aka Superwoman) YouTube videos for a while and I think she is so funny and talented. Her book is full of tons of no-nonsense advice and life lessons from the years of hard work she’s put in to become the success that she is now. Her passion for her work as well as for helping others comes across brilliantly on the page, and I really appreciate how genuine she is.
How to Be a Bawse is a book I would definitely recommend to people who are fans of Lilly’s videos, and even to those who have never heard of her. Her advice is still practical whether or not you are a fan of her YouTube channel (but seriously, if you have never watched her videos, you really need to fix that now). If you’ve been looking for a kick-in-the-pants to get started on some goals you’ve been putting off, How to Be a Bawse will definitely do the trick.
Right now, I don’t have any specific big trips planned, though I’m working on figuring that out. I will probably take a road trip to Idaho in July to visit my friend after she has her baby, which I am really excited about. My family is also planning a short trip to Ocean Shores, Washington this summer, probably in June.
I’m also wanting to explore more of Washington. Even though I’ve lived here my whole life, there is still so much I haven’t seen and that’s a shame, really, because it’s a beautiful state. Since I don’t have the time/money to jet off on another three-week adventure, I thought I would focus on doing some day trips here and there to explore places in Washington that I haven’t been to yet.
That’s about it for April! As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, tumblr, and Pinterest. If you are interested in working with me, you can view my business information here.
What did you get up to in April? Go on any amazing trips? Read a book you want to recommend? Let me know in the comments!
Before leaving for Spain I didn’t know quite what to expect. What would a big solo trip like this actually be like? Would it be an absolute disaster and turn me off of the idea of traveling forever? Would it be a life-changing experience that I could one day turn into a best-selling memoir?
I assumed, and I was right, that my actual experience would lie somewhere in the middle. It didn’t turn me off traveling (exactly the opposite), and I don’t think I came back a completely new person. Still, I did learn some important lessons while traveling by myself, so I thought I’d share them today.
The five lessons I learned while traveling solo for the first time
Spain is full of amazing scenery and views. It felt like every day I would come across something that would leave me going wow wow wow and I don’t ever have to leave, right?
I have SO MANY pictures from Spain but I feel like they barely do the place justice! Still, I wanted to share some of my favorite scenery from my trip. Hopefully these photos inspire you to add some of these places to your travel wish list!
The view overlooking Segovia
Segovia is a delightful town about an hour northwest of Madrid. As you walk along the main street leading from the Aqueduct to Plaza Mayor, there’s this little area where you can look out over the tops of all the buildings and see the mountains and hills off in the distance.
What I liked about this was that I wasn’t even looking for a scenic place to take a picture. I just rounded a bend in the road and there it was.
Unfortunately, I got sick while I was in Segovia and spent a lot of time in bed. I’m hoping that I will be able to go back there someday so I can really explore the town more and see all that it has to offer.