Meet Kirstie Jeffries – teacher, travel blogger, and digital marketer. Originally from Pasadena, California, she is currently living the expat life in Sydney, Australia.
Prior to this she taught English as an auxiliar de conversación through the Spanish Ministry of Education‘s North American Language and Culture Assistants Program. She caught the travel bug in 2006 when she spent a month studying in Granada, Spain, and visited Madrid, Sevilla, Córdoba, and Nerja as part of a high school program.
You served as a teaching assistant in Spain. What are the options available to those aspiring for a similar path?
I taught through a program called the North American Language and Culture Assistants (http://bit.ly/NdmLxL), but other programs such as BEDA, CIEE, The Franklin Program, Medea’s, and UCETAM offer similar opportunities to work as a teaching assistant in Spain, usually with no certification necessary. If you’re an EU citizen, you can also apply directly for academies or look for private lessons.
Image Source: Blogger’s own
Five Spanish traditions that you learnt during your time in Spain.
- Semana Santa (Holy Week) is huge in some parts of Spain, especially Sevilla, where I lived for a year. The week leading up to Easter is filled with religious processions involving hooded brotherhoods and representations of the Virgin Mary.
- Andalucia (Spain’s southern region) really comes alive in spring. One of the biggest spring festivals is Feria de Abril in Sevilla, where for the entire week there is eating, dancing, drinking, and much fun all around.
- The Reyes Magos (Three Kings) – not Santa Claus – are the popular figures at Christmas. Spaniards celebrate El Dia de los Reyes Magos on January 6th.
- Carnival is celebrated in Spain before the start of Lent (similar to Mardi gras). Revelers dress in humourous costumes and party all night long, with two of the biggest celebrations being in Cadiz, Andalucia and Tenerife, Canary Islands.
- The siesta is still alive and well in Spanish culture! While many don’t actually use the afternoon siesta hours for napping, most will return home from work/school for lunch and relaxation, and many shops remain closed during those hours.
Tell us about some of the unusual things on your bucket list. How many have you accomplished and how many still left?
I’m lucky to have traveled to about 45 countries so far, but I have just as many (if not more) that I still want to see! In the next year, I’d love to do a Hobbiton tour in New Zealand, go night swimming in Thailand’s warm waters, revisit my favorite country in the world, Spain, and catch a few 2016 UEFA Euro matches.
Three blog monetization tips that you would like to share with our readers.
- Only collaborate with relevant brands that you legitimately respect. If you’re offered a ton of money for a sponsored story with a brand that just doesn’t sit right with you, it’s hard to say no to income, but you’ll be glad you passed it up.
- Join as many affiliate/collaboration programs and directories as you can. You never know which brands will find through which sites.
- Befriend fellow bloggers! Don’t view them as competition – they can provide significant support and advice. Plus, they’ll often introduce you to brands you’ll be able to work with.
List a few blogs that you draw inspiration from.
Two that have recently been inspiring me are The Trusted Traveller and Girl Tweets World. I’ve spent time with the girls who run these two blogs, at networking events in Sydney. They are both super sweet, hardworking and are doing some great things with their blogs!
You’ve travelled Europe extensively. Pick a post from your travels in Europe and share the story behind it.
One of my favourite memories from Europe was attending a small festival called the Romeria de Montemayor in Moguer, Huelva, which is in southern Spain (http://bit.ly/1oQZi8I). One of the teachers I worked with, invited me to join her family there. Huts made of eucalyptus branches and leaves were set up in the remote countryside, and festival-goers spent days and nights eating, drinking, and dancing Sevillanas with them. It was the most unique and authentic experience I enjoyed in all of my time in Europe.
A mistake that female travellers should avoid when travelling solo.
Be cautious, but don’t be overly fearful! I think a lot of females worry about travelling solo, and it’s true that everyone should be alert when travelling, but don’t let the prospect of being female or travelling alone prevent you from visiting the places you want to see.
Italian cuisine is your favourite. Share a meal memory from your travel to Italy.
I’ve travelled to Italy four times, and my favourite meal in all those trips was in Sorrento. My mom and I ate at a picturesque restaurant called Inn Bufalito that specializes in buffalo mozzarella. We ate mozzarella to our hearts’ content and then followed it up with gelato. No night in Italy should go without gelato!
The most valuable/memorable souvenir that you’ve bought on your travels.
My photos! I usually refrain from buying too many souvenirs while travelling so I can save suitcase space, but there’s nothing that can take me back to my happiest travel memories like my own photos.
Three destinations in Australia that are a must visit.
- Byron Bay – Fun, quirky and laid-back with beautiful beaches.
- Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs coastal walks – it’s amazing how much natural beauty can be found so close to Sydney!
- New South Wales’ South Coast – surprisingly quiet and free from tourists, but some of the nicest beaches and hikes I’ve seen in Australia.
Image Source: Blogger’s own
A heart in the mouth moment and where?
Paragliding in Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps. Pretty scary to take that leap off the mountain, but it was well worth the views and adrenaline!
Where are you headed next?
I will soon be kicking off a massive, extended trip, with details to be determined, but I’ll start out in New Zealand, then head out to Southeast Asia, then Europe, and then hopefully to Central and South America. Can’t wait!
Kirstie Jeffries spoke to Travel Secrets writer Tanya Anand. Kirstie’s blog link: http://www.vengavalevamos.com/