JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Near and Far from Home

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When you live in countries very far away from home, you live an interesting mixture of blended cultures and multiple identities.  Back home you’re just another person on the street.  In some countries you fit right in and look like a local, while in others you’re suddenly the exotic one.  You simultaneously fit yourself into a life surrounded by all things foreign, while still trying to find daily little ways to connect to the familiar.

 

For example, on my first few visits to Vienna, I didn’t dare step foot into a Starbucks.  I had to have the Wiener Schnitzel, eat the Sachertorte, have my tea in an historic coffee house. But after living there for quite some time, Starbucks was a regular part of my weekly schedule.  (A girl’s gotta have her chai tea lattes!)  I had already had lots of Wiener Schnitzel, had my Sachertorte, drank the teas in the fancy coffee houses.  (I don’t like coffee, so I stick to tea drinks.)  The point is, I was no longer a tourist, I was just living my daily life in my new “home.”  As my surroundings became more ‘normal’, I found my own way of blending my American self into the culture of a different country.

 

During the times when we’re living in Croatia, the culinary landscape where Milos is from is primarily Mediterranean cuisine blended with Eastern European.  I truly love the olive oils, truffles, and prosciutto that is so prevalent here, but every once in awhile, I just needed some Chinese food, darn it!  Something different!  I also am slowly learning the incredibly difficult language that is Croatian.  (It’s really hard!)  But there’s nothing more alienating than not speaking the language where you live.  (At least I speak enough German to live and function in the German-speaking countries, which makes Austria a little bit easier to function in.)

 

Now that I’m working on the ship with Milos, I find that I really enjoy speaking with the passengers, as they are primarily Americans.  I’ve met a good number of folks from Pennsylvania too – and they know where my hometown is!  Some of them even live near there!  As far as I know, I am the only American crew member in the entire company’s fleet, so it feels really nice to connect with folks from back home.  Some of my fellow crew members have really good English skills, but they just don’t understand every cultural reference, joke, or most slang terms.  Even though I’m surrounded by some of the nicest people, there’s always a slight sense of being an outsider.

 

But despite this oddly misplaced Bohemian-like life-style we’re currently living, where the concept of ‘home’ feels a bit disconnected, there is ONE true home that I always have to hold on to: the warm place I get to go every night at the end of each long day.  A hand to hold.  Someone to really talk to.  The one who gives me the extra long hug when we both need it.  His name is Milos.  🙂

 

 

Somewhere along the Main-Danube Canal

Somewhere along the Main-Danube Canal

 

 

(And I make sure to hit up Starbucks in every town that has it along the way!)

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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