It’s Tuesday! Which means that I’m featuring an interview with a blogger who has a love for travel and life outside of the U.S. borders. A native of Maine, Sagan now lives in Madrid, Spain where she follows her passion of exploring new places, eating amazing food and sharing good wine with friends. Sagan expresses herself best through writing and photography and along with her ukulele and travel backpack, you’ll find her exploring the ins and outs of the world and documenting it all on her website: Native of the North.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Sagan (say-gan) and I’m originally from Florida, but raised in Maine and educated in Canada. I currently live in Madrid, Spain and I currently work as the Project + Marketing Director for two companies, as well as freelance write and teach English. In my free time I love to cook, sip vermouth, good wines, beers, and coffee and find my peace on the yoga mat. I also love to read and play my ukulele.
What motivated you to move abroad?
I first moved out of the USA when I was 18 years old to pursue my education in Halifax, NS Canada. Since then, I’ve always looked outside the US borders for a place to call home.
Where all have you lived abroad? What place was your favorite and why?
- Halifax, NS Canada
- Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain
- Madrid, Spain
Each place has a special place in my heart and I wouldn’t trade out any experiences I’ve had in any of those places. I’ve met wonderful people from around the world in all of those cities, but if I’d have to pick – it’d be Madrid. I love the city life, the Spanish culture, and the easy access to other European cities!
What’s the most difficult part about living abroad? What’s the best part?
The most difficult part is living far away from my family. My family includes not just my brother and parents, but my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, too. I was lucky to have grown up around such a loving, supportive and crazy family — so at times it’s quite hard being across the Atlantic.
But, Skype and WhatsApp make the distance not seem so far.
The best part is that I live in another culture and I’m able to make it my own. I also have the chance at meeting so many different people from around the world. That’s not something you see in small town New England.
What is your secret to keeping a positive attitude while living abroad?
Yoga. And keeping myself active – whether it’s activities with friends and my boyfriend or my own projects at home.
Can you share one experience abroad that´s been truly ¨blogworthy?¨¨
There are a few stories that come to mind, but one in particular that I think will always stick with me happened while I was travelling for three months alone. I was about a month and a half into my travels when I first went into Italy. I had taken an overnight train from Innsbruck, Austria to Rome and among many other stories — one including a spark flying between me and an Italian actor who shared the same train car with me, exchanging numbers and kissing me before he got off at his stop — is one about an older gentleman in his 80s who made me laugh as tears ran down my cheeks.
I had made it to Rome and caught a smaller train to go visit a friend in Ancona. I had my EuroRail pass and I’d used it a few times before this day. I had simply handed the pass to previous conductors on other trains, they’d mark it and hand it back to me, so this time I didn’t do anything different. The woman on the Rome-Ancona train started speaking at me firmly in Italian. I didn’t understand and asked her if she knew English.
She spat back in broken English while shaking my EuroRail ticket at me, “Not valid. No date. Fine 50euro.”
I was in shock. I said I’d write the date on it and give it back to her. She said no, and repeated what she had said before.
I told her I didn’t have 50euro, so she told me it’d be a fine of 100euro at the station when I arrived.
An older man sitting across from me starting yelling at the woman in Italian and the heads from the rest of the train started turning in our direction. I have no idea what they were saying to each other, but I started crying out of frustration.
After several minutes of yelling, the man tried handing the woman 50euro. She said she wouldn’t accept it because it wasn’t from me. So he handed me the 50euro and I tried to refuse it, but he put it in my hand and moved it towards to lady.
She took it from me and gave me back my pass.
But as soon as she left, the older man reached over to me and said in broken English, “Don’t cry, smile! No man has ever touched that woman in her life. That’s why she’s so angry.” And we both started to laugh.
We tried to speak a little more, but it was hard when I didn’t know any Italian and his English was very limited. But we smiled at each other and then before I had the chance to pay him back (I had no euros on me!) he got up, grabbed his bag, said goodbye and got off the train.
He has made such a lasting impression on me. His kindness to help somebody – a complete stranger – really showed me how good of a person he was. As all the others stared back at us and did nothing, he offered over his hard earned money. If I could thank him today, I’d give him twice of what he gave to me that day on the train.
What advice do you have for people who are considering moving abroad, but are feeling doubtful?
If it’s something you REALLY want to do, make it happen. You’re the only one getting in your way. There are many creative ways to make money while abroad such as teaching English, bar tending, or working on a cruise ship to freelance marketing jobs. If you get creative enough, you can do it.
How can others follow your adventures?
I go back and forth from maintaining my personal blog actively to posts every other month. You can read about specific travel tips to personal moments that have changed my life: www.nativeofthenorth.me
Thanks so much Sagan for being a part of the Tuesday interview series on Intentional Expat. If you want to connect with Sagan on social media, you’ll find her here:
Instagram: @alexandrasaganpope + @healthyisthenewskinnyspain
Twitter: @NativeOfNorth || https://twitter.com/NativeofNorth
Pinterest: Alexandra Sagan Pope || https://www.pinterest.com/alexandrasagan/
FB: Healthy Is the New Skinny Spain – España || https://www.facebook.com/healthyisthenewskinnyspain?ref=hl
If you´re living abroad or are an avid traveler and want to be featured as part of a future Tuesday interview don’t hesitate to get in touch!