Hola from our new home!

IMG_5023.JPGWe’ve officially lived in the Dominican Republic for just over a week and so far, we are adjusting great. The culture shock here isn’t as bad as it was in China. I don’t know if it’s because we knew what to expect this time around, or if it’s because the time change and life changes aren’t as extreme.IMG_5086IMG_5087.JPG

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IMG_5099.JPGI don’t think it’s hit me yet that we are here for 3 and a half months, but I know from past experience that it will eventually. I’ll get home sick, I’ll get my separation anxiety from Harvey, I will miss certain things and certain people, but right now I am just taking it all in and enjoying this beautiful chapter that Derek and I are lucky to experience together with 30 strangers.IMG_5101

A few things that are different here than back home:

The humidity! On Monday, it was 90 degrees with 60% humidity. We don’t have AC in our house or schools, so we are all constantly covered in sweat, and we’ve just accepted it. I am glad we are all here to stick together through it all (literally and figuratively). My hair and nails are thriving though.

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Our water and electricity situation. Without fail, one of them is always off every other day for a couple of hours. The area our house is in doesn’t have city water and power, so our house runs off of a back up system. (Batteries and cisterns) It feels like we are all camping, but in a very nice house.IMG_5077.JPGIMG_5078.JPG

In addition to not having water sometimes, we never have hot water or good water pressure. With that being said, showering is a whole new experience. Since we are constantly hot and sweaty, cold showers haven’t been that bad. But I know I’ll probably cry happy tears when I get my hard water pressure back (in 90 days) 😉IMG_5079

We also can’t drink the tap water here, which is a habit that Derek and I got used to in China, but I do miss having the luxury of constant access to water. Especially here, where we are always thirsty from the heat.IMG_5083.JPG

Our house situation is similar to what it was like in China. Our “home” is like a larger hotel room with our own bathroom, but we share a kitchen and laundry room with the other 30 volunteers. Since we are the head teachers this time around, we have our own “hotel room” but the other rooms in our house are filled with 6-9 volunteers who all share a bathroom together. (props to them!)IMG_4917.JPGIMG_4928.JPGThe good news is, we can walk 20 minutes from our house and be in the ocean, which makes all of the “bad” and different things worth it. I’ve also learned that most of the dogs and cats that we see on the street are people’s pets, and not strays, and that has eased my emotions and culture shock a little bit.

IMG_5102IMG_5100.JPGIMG_5091Unlike our first living abroad experience, the language barrier here isn’t too bad for us. I love being able to read the Spanish words in the restaurants and grocery stores which I was never able to do with Chinese characters, and Derek loves practicing the Spanish he knows with our personal taxi driver/ neighbor, Papi.

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IMG_5084.JPGWe also have pretty skies, good food, a comfortable bed, and regular toilets which were all things we struggled with our first week when we lived in China. If you want to read the post that I wrote back then, here is the link: https://thestellarstories.com/2017/09/09/ni-hao-from-our-new-home/

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IMG_5089.JPGIn the last 9 days, we’ve adjusted to our new living situation, we’ve made some new friends, we’ve organized all of our groups’ teaching schedules, and we’ve started teaching the kids. Being greeted with a million hugs and hearing “teacha Wren and Teacha D” again as we arrive at the schools almost makes me tear up.IMG_5090.JPGIMG_5092.JPGIMG_5093

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We’ve also explored our city center (with the best architecture), ate the yummiest food,  spent some time at a beautiful country club, and have been to the beach three times, which makes me the happiest little soul. I am so excited to see what accomplishments, experiences, and adventures we have in the next 13 weeks.

IMG_5021Like I’ve said before, with adventure comes change, and with change comes growth. And I am so ready for all of it.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

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Onto The Next Adventure

IMG_3731If you know me personally at all, you know that I live my life in a way that when someone asks me “what’s new?” I have a whole list of things. Unlike most people, I thrive off constant change, getting out of my comfort zone, and taking the opportunities and adventures that come my way.  It’s one of my favorite things about myself. 

I sometimes wonder if there is ever a time in my life that I won’t want this, and eventually “get comfortable or settle down,” but for now, I am just enjoying this crazy, constantly changing, growth period time of my life. And having my other half by my side through it all has made it that much better.gopr0509.jpgWith that being said, what crazy, life changing thing are we up to next?!

No, we’re not selling our home and moving into a tiny house to travel the states. No, we’re not moving to a farm, or adopting 2 more dogs, a pig, and some chickens. No, we’re not opening our own business, or selling our home to build our dream home. And no, we’re not having babies or starting our family….yet.

Believe it or not, these are all conversations that have came up in the last couple of years, and maybe one day we will accomplish those fantasies that we have, or they will stay fantasies, but for now…

We are moving to the Caribbean for the summer to become beach bums!12509477_940303516022738_7543440047604848957_nI know I have a lot of dreams, (see above)  but living near the ocean is near the very top of my list, so when this opportunity was handed to us a couple months ago, I told Derek we HAD to take it.

Who, what, when, where, why?? You may be asking.

I already answered the why, and I hope you’re smart enough to figure out the who. 😉10.JPGThe What: We are teaching English again with the same program that we went to China with. However, this time will be a little different. We are the head teachers, which means we are “in charge” and the go to help for the other volunteer teachers who are going for their first time. We are also working as humanitarian volunteers this time which means we will be teaching, as well as doing humanitarian work for the kids and their families, who are underprivileged.EGLO4168.JPGThe When: We leave around May 10th and come home around August 10th, just in time for Derek to get right back to school and me to jump right into fall wedding season.

The Where: the most exciting part. We will be living, teaching, and of course- exploring in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. One of the most beautiful islands to exist, and right in the middle of my favorite place (that I’ve visited) in the world.11986431_916439311742492_5780921689488802445_nAs you can imagine, we are so excited for this adventure. We learned so much about ourselves and each other while living abroad in China. It was the best thing we’ve ever done together, and we are so happy that the opportunity has come for us to do it again.

A few things that I am really looking forward to:

  • Immersing myself in another new culture
  • Practicing my Spanish (which I think will be much easier than Chinese. 😉 )
  • Being next to the ocean EVERY DAY – I think happy tears will happen just about every morning.
  • Spending every single minute of every day with my Derek, because to be honest we work best that way.
  • And of course, being called “Teacher Wren”.
  • IMG_E4061Onto the next adventure, Wren

Sunny days in San Francisco

IMG_E1499Maybe you know me in person, or maybe you feel like you know me because you’ve been following this blog for so long. But no matter how you know me, you know that traveling is the one thing that I thrive for. I usually try to leave town at least once every few weeks, even if it’s just for a couple days, or in the next town over.IMG_1678These last couple of months have been crazy busy for us. Between wedding season, school, work, and handling personal matters, we haven’t had any time to leave town. When Derek and I started getting into our rut, our routine, our busy schedules, I knew I needed to go somewhere and I needed to do it soon. Back in August, I looked at the next possible weekend for both of us to leave town and it wasn’t until the first weekend in November. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel! (okay that’s dramatic, but that’s how traveling feels to me. 😉 )IMG_1806I instantly thought of San Francisco. We had been to San Francisco once before, but we only had 24 hours in that beautiful city. It was over 2 years ago, but if you want to read about our interesting/ crazy adventure there, here is the link: https://thestellarstories.com/2016/08/08/less-than-24-hours-in-san-francisco/IMG_1803Our experience was so much different this time for so many different reasons. Since Kenzie and Joe had moved there in the time that we were there last, we had a comfortable place to stay. And spending time with them was the highlight of our trip! It was so fun visiting their favorite restaurants and seeing how happy they are with their temporary lives in that charming city. Since Joe is in the coast guard, they are only there for another year- and i am already thinking of planning another trip back.IMG_1656IMG_1788IMG_1789We arrived to to Alameda (where Kenzie and Joe live) on Thursday and started our weekend of eating like kings and queens with Italian. Derek and I remember the food being delicious from our first visit, and this time it did not disappoint! We ate way too good all weekend long. -and probably gained 20 pounds.

(I am drooling.)

IMG_1800This was also the first time in a VERY long time that Derek and I traveled together alone. We’ve traveled all year, but every time we’ve left town it has been with our friends or our families. It was so fun to spend quality time together outside of our regular routines.img_1807.jpgOn Friday, we spent 15 hours alone together. We rode the ferry into the city, walked through China town and got really nostalgic. The little part in our Chinese hearts absolutely loved listening to the language, smelling the food, and walking through all of the stores that became so dear to our hearts just a year ago.IMG_1804.JPG

We even found our favorite desserts from China! (Drooling again)

IMG_E1591We also rented bikes, and rode 8 miles across the bridge and down the coast to a little beach town called Sausalito. Biking across the golden gate has always been on my bucket list, and crossing things off that list with Derek by my side is my most favorite thing in the world.IMG_1596.JPGIMG_1595.JPGIMG_1794

IMG_1808.JPGWe ended the day by going to a fancy Mexican place in Sausilito for dinner and drinks. I think that day was one of my favorite days that Derek and I have ever had together. It was perfect.

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(I told you we gained 20 pounds!)

IMG_1793To make the day even better, the weather was AMAZING. Last time we went to San Francisco, it was in July and it was windy, foggy, and freezing. This time in November, the skies were completely clear and it was sunny and warm the whole time we were there. We definitely packed too warm, but I am not complaining. I mean look at that bridge!! IMG_1672IMG_1802On Saturday, we went back into the city. This time with Kenzie and Joe, since they didn’t have to work. We walked around the shops at Fisherman’s Wharf, vistied Ghiradelli Square, and ate lunch at a yummy cafe.IMG_1791 We also witnessed one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen. Between living in the desert, and visiting Hawaii, I have seen a lot of pretty sunsets, but I was so breath taken by this one. Maybe it’s because it was the last thing I expected in the city that is known for cloudy nights and foggy days. We were all amazed, so of course I had to capture it!IMG_1782IMG_1784IMG_1783IMG_1781We ate dinner at a burger joint, walked the streets and admired the architecture, and then ended the night with a scary movie at Kenzie and Joe’s. On a quick flight and a 2 hour drive, we made our way home the next day.IMG_1786IMG_1676IMG_1677

 

IMG_1679IMG_1785This sunny weekend away from home was such a nice little break. It was exactly what Derek and I needed, personally, and as a couple. I am constantly in awe of this world, but I am even more in awe that I get to see it with him.IMG_1799IMG_1738Video coming soon- once I find enough free time. 😉

 

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

 

Road trippin’ to Yellowstone-Video

I wasn’t planning on making a video from our road trip to Yellowstone, but as I was going through my footage from this summer,  I realized I had a lot more videos from this trip than I thought I did. And I couldn’t help but want to relive it all. I mean, look at those beautiful views! (The best in laws in the whole world are jut a plus.)

We had so much fun on this trip enjoying each other’s company and making memories. I love this world, I love this country, and I love my Durstelers.

Thanks for watching!

ps- Summer video coming soon!!

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Huntington Beach Circa 2018-Video

Well, I am finally finding time to go through all of my video footage from this summer, and let me just say…WOW. I am blown away by the last few months I’ve been living. The things I’ve experienced, the places I’ve been, the people who have been my side…I am blown away by it all.

Creating these videos just remind me how beautiful this life of mine is. They let me relive the special little moments and hold onto the good memories. And our Huntington Beach trip was filled with little moments and memories that I want to remember forever. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I am constantly in awe of this little life I’m living, and I am so glad that I put in the time and effort to capture it all.

More videos coming soon. As always, thanks for watching!

 

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Happiest Place with my Happy People

IMG_0199IMG_0201Our friend Garrett attends the US surf open every year since it always falls on the same weekend as his birthday. Due to poor planning, Derek and I haven’t been able to join his birthday celebrations the last 5 years of our friendship with him. So, when we got invited this year, we were stoked!IMG_0293IMG_0114We went down with a group of our best friends, met up with our friend Dallin, who recently moved down there, and had one of the most unforgettable weekends together. It was filled with sunny 80 degree days, sun burnt skin and salty hair, so many laughs and inside jokes, and like always, many many dance parties.IMG_E0212IMG_0427IMG_E0406IMG_E0202We stayed in an AirBNB and out of all the places I’ve stayed away from home, this one was one of my absolute favorites. It was the perfect amount of space for 10 of us, it was decorated the same way my “dream beach house” would be, and it even had a pool to keep us all entertained! It was perfect.IMG_0422IMG_0426IMG_0425

IMG_E0424Like I’ve mentioned before, Orange county, and especially Huntington Beach is one of my all time favorite places. It’s where my family took all of our vacations growing up, it’s the first place I ever stepped foot in an ocean, and it holds a lot of my favorite memories. -Even more now.img_0414-e1534723569288.jpgIMG_0420

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IMG_0417We even ran into our friend Sommer, that we met in China!IMG_0107

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39736386_1769834993069582_550780657509335040_nIMG_0402IMG_0421IMG_E0416I can’t wait to look back on these photos one day and think back to how crazy we once all were- running, skating, dancing down the streets of Huntington Beach, staying up way too late, laughing about how old we’re all getting, making fools of ourselves dancing in the clubs, creating the best memories together, and realizing that we’re truly living in the good ol’ days.IMG_E0415

IMG_E0198IMG_0403IMG_0423IMG_0194Visiting my happy place with my favorite people was the best ending to this perfect summer. I love each of these people with my whole heart, all for completely different reasons, and our weekend to Huntington Beach reminded me just how lucky I am to have them. We’re like one big dysfunctional, extremely happy family, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Over a decade of Paramore, and my undying love for them

IMG_9757When I found out that Paramore was touring their 5th album this summer with Foster the People, I immediately signed up for the ticket list. I knew I was going to that concert before I even knew where I was attending it, or what date I as going on. MTTD5418URRC1554IMG_0316IMG_0317Luckily, the concert ended up being on the Monday that we were supposed to be returning home from Yellowstone. So, instead of driving all the way home from Idaho, we spent the night in Salt Lake City. We met up with Auston for lunch in Logan on our way, and caught up with Jess over coffee before the concert. Seeing them both made the day just THAT much better.IMG_9692IMG_9691This was my third time seeing Paramore, and like always, they did not disappoint. This concert made my happy, it made me nostalgic, it made me cry, and it made me dance. Like most concerts I attend, I was a little bit of an emotional wreck in a good way. Live music just does that to me, but I had my best friends by my side, who loved it (almost) as much as I did.

IMG_9758IMG_9756Paramore has been my number 1 band for as long as I can remember. Every single song, every single album, and every single concert I’ve attended means much more to me than music does to most people. Their music helped me through my middle school depression, I walked down the aisle to it on my wedding day, and it’s made me realize that it’s okay to not be happy all the time, but to smile anyways and get through whatever I’m going through.NHAG4435IMG_0318My love for Paramore, and especially Hayley Williams,  is to the point where they could make the crappiest music, or do the stupidest things, but I would still love it and support them. Her whole outlook on life inspires me on a daily basis, and it has for the last decade. I mean, look at her. She is an angel.IMG_0319AWUO4866Here’s to 11 years of loving the same band, here’s to best friends, here’s to screaming at the top of our lungs to live music that makes us both happy and sad. Here’s to the great times, the hard times, and all the times in between.

“Cry Hard, Dance Harder.”- Hayley Williams

 

Onto the next adventure, Wren