Guest Post: Best US Cities for Europeans

Moving from Europe to the US usually feels like moving to a different planet. People who grew up in Europe have a specific lifestyle, and there are some things that will suit them in America, and some things that will not. Finding the perfect place across the ocean for people from the old continent is a real challenge. An ideal city would have to be just enough American to intrigue you, with a pinch of Europe so that it feels like home. We have done a research and tried to figure out which would be the best US cities for Europeans.

Before you hit the road

You should be really excited about this amazing new chapter of your life. Although culture shock will be big, moving to the US is an experience that will teach you so much. Not to mention a job market that is much wider than the one in Europe and really gives you an opportunity to build a carrier and make an impact. Before you hit the road, make sure that you have all the technical issues under control. You need dependable long distance movers to take care of your documents, regulations and safe transfer of your belongings. But try to travel light. You will certainly do a lot of shopping in your new city, so there is no need to bring your entire household. Try to find storage units in your area before you move so you can bring only the necessary things with you. This way, your relocation will be cheaper and you will have more space for the new things you will buy.

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The city of Pella in Iowa gives you the feeling you are in the Netherlands.

Kansas City – Spain in the middle of the US

Kansas City has that amazing Spanish ambiance. Along with a great number of amenities and job opportunities, Europeans can find a better life here without feeling homesick. Its residential neighborhood and shopping district were architecturally designed to mimic the city of Seville. You will enjoy its vivid architecture. The towers, ornate tile roofs, and sprawling courtyards give you the feeling that you are in Spain while having all the benefits Americans have. In your spare time, you can go for a romantic gondola ride on Brush Creek or take a horse and carriage ride, which feels a little like New York as well, so everyone will find something for themselves. Walking through Kansas City, you will see street performers and hear the music that will lend further authenticity to the place.

It’s a small town, but has a lot to offer. There is a wide variety of places where you can eat, drink, have fun and, of course, work. And don’t forget to go shopping and enjoy local January sales. You can actually order tapas plates basically everywhere you go. And when you are really hungry, remember you are in BBQ country.

Pella, Iowa, or maybe the Netherlands?

This beautiful city in Marion County, Iowa was founded by immigrants from the Netherlands, which explains its scenery. It sits forty miles southeast of Des Moines and it is the home of Central College, as well as several manufacturing companies, such as Pella Corporation and Vermeer Manufacturing Company. Not many people know about this hidden gem – one of the best US cities for Europeans. Its Dutch-style architecture lines the streets giving the impression you are in the middle of Amsterdam. The famous windmill called Vermeer Mill is located next to Central Park, and it’s the largest structure of its style in the United States. You can spend a night in the Royal Amsterdam Hotel, preferably in May, when their Tulip Time festival takes place. During this festival, the streets are flooded with traditional Dutch attire, food, dancing, parades, and, of course, dozens of tulips. Don’t miss to stop by the Vander Ploeg for a cream horn and some Dutch apple bread.

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Ride the famous San Francisco cable car.

San Francisco, the city Europeans will love

‘’If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’’ says the song. Do you know why? It’s because San Francisco is where the hippie movement started back in the 1960’s. In many neighborhoods, such as Haight Ashbury, you can still feel that hippie atmosphere. And this is just one of the faces this city has. Its residents like to say that it has something for everybody. In some of the huge skyscrapers of its business downtown, called the Financial district, you can find some job opportunities for yourself. Silicon Valley is famous for its thriving tech industry and enormous companies that are growing and hiring more and more people every year. Do you like to walk or jog? You can do that for hours along the famous Embarcadero Street and enjoy the ocean view. And if you are a real outdoor enthusiast, you will be glad to hear that you can spend an entire day in Golden Gate Park, and still not see all of it.

Everybody’s favorite city

There are so many different neighborhoods that offer so much diversity that you get the impression they are small towns. China and Japan town, Castro district and Central Market, Marina, Fisherman’s Warf and North Beach are just some of San Francisco neighborhoods. And when you want to grab a bite, you can find anything from vegan sushi to burgers, from Indian to Italian food, and everything else you can imagine. I think you are starting to get why San Francisco is one of the best cities for Europeans. Most importantly, its diversity will make you feel at home in the blink of an eye.

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When in NYC, you can accomplish anything.

New York, one of the best US cities for Europeans

The main reason for moving to another city, country or continent is usually the desire to improve the quality of life. Therefore, when Europeans move to NYC, they are mostly looking for a better life. New York is a unique combination of the economic strength of the USA and the biggest ethnic diversity in the world. And here are some reasons that make NYC one of the best US cities for Europeans.

  • A huge job market – the best companies worldwide have their offices in NYC.
  • The most diverse cultural, sports and art scene.
  • Neighborhoods for all tastes – from peaceful to urban, with houses or condos.
  • An exceptional transportation system.
  • Lots of free ways to have fun.

But probably the most important reason why people come to NYC is the feeling that you can accomplish anything. And where everything is possible, dreams are coming true! Maybe the Big Apple is not just one of the best US cities for Europeans, maybe it’s the best for everybody.

 
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Aaaaannnnddd….We’re Off!

Guess where we’re going! We’ve got a holiday planned in the States and we’re so excited about going! We thought that for our 1st wedding anniversary, we should take a trip to where it all began. We had such a wonderful time in the USA last year and would love to see/do some of the things we missed when we were there. (You know, its difficult to see the sights when you’re planning a wedding). So we’re off!

Prepare yourselves for some …OK, ALOT of vacation pics! 😀

I wil be checking in with reviews and taking the opportunity to send my version of a picture postcard.

So excited! Talk again soon!

-Mliae

*Photo sourced via Pixabay

The Time is Now! We are Decorating for the Wedding! :)

Here we are! It’s almost tiiiiimmmmeeee! 😀

We have been preparing for this day for almost 1 year! We opted for a version of a destination wedding. Basically, taking ourselves somewhere we thought was absolutely gorgeous and inviting those closest to us to join us. It will be small, but it will be ours! As you can see from the feature photo, it’s about time for this girl to waltz down the aisle! Not quite today – this is all laid out for the rehearsal. But this is the spot and exactly what it will look like! We fell in love with this waterfall. Trying to plan a wedding internationally is an ENORMOUS challenge, so we were fortunate to find an incredible local wedding planner who made sure everything we needed was taken care of. YES!

The waterfall is actually much taller than it appears in the pictures. For some reason, I have taken like 100 photos of this and I guess my camera is kind of smashing it down or something. Oh well, its awesome. You’ll be seeing more of this!

We have 2 reception spots: 1 outdoors & 1 indoors. We are decorating, decorating, decorating! Here’s what we’ve got for the outdoor spot:

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And here’s our indoor spot which is yet to be decorated and needs LOTS of TLC. You’ll have to forgive me for not waiting until all is said and done. I was just dyyyyyiiinng to send you an update!

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Now, like I said: It needs a lot of help. But I’m confident that if we can make outdoors that party-worthy, this is a possibility. Welcome yourself to my view for the rest of the day. We have tons of hangy-things to put in here, plus the same amount of tables that are outdoors. Dance floor in the middle and some tables that display our travels so far on the way here.

We’re so excited! It’s been a great journey and I’m looking forward to sharing all about everything upon our return to reality. But for now, this chic is signing off one last time as a Miss.

IT’S REALLY HAPPENING!

-Miss Mliae 😉

 

All work and no play makes Mliae a dull girl…

Sometimes, after a super long day, a girl just needs to unwind.

I found myself sitting alone, on the upper restaurant deck of the commuter train. The late evening sunset was gorgeous, and I could finally sink back into my leather seat and take a long deep breathe.

The day had consisted of meetings, marketing plans and a bums rush to the finish line. Maybe a teensy stop off for a fashion fix.

As I sat, I reflected. Then i just let the day slide off me and enjoyed the view.

Ok, this girl needs champagne. Stat. I clacked my way down to the bar and requested a glass and a treat. So rainbow marshmallows they supplied! An unlikely pair, I’ll give you that. But it went perfectly as hands-down, the best comfort food you’re going to get on a train. Perfect.

Now, time to kick back and relax.

Thanks for reading!

-Mliae

Visiting Finland; Cultural insights and things to see.

Ah, Finland…what a wonder this country is. Located in the Arctic North and bordering Russia, this country with a population of approximately 5,5 million has many things that work in its favour as far as a travel and life destination. I have spent much time here there and everywhere in Finland, so feel confident in sharing my experiences.

Finland prides itself on having all four seasons. This true, without a doubt.

Spring

Spring is a time of celebration for many Finns. Once the snow begins to melt, the sun is shining and temps are warming, smiles on peoples’ faces become more prominent. When the flowers begin to bloom it is truly an incredible experience. And you will not see a happier woman than when the winter boots are thrown into the closet and her heels come front and centre. The May Day celebration, known as Vappu is a huge celebration in Finland. It is generally celebrated with outdoor parties, parades, and late nights. If you are there during ‘Vappu’, do not be surprised if you see a million people all wearing the same hat. These are the hats of achievement, of scholarly success and graduation. It’s a tradition.

Summer

Summer in Finland is amazing. The sun rarely sets for more than an hour or so, the days are hot, everything is growing and Finns are out en masse. Nature is prominent in Finland and the Finns love it. If you speak to a Finn about their plans during the summer, 90% of the time you will hear it said that they are visiting a cottage. With 188,000 lakes in the country, who can blame them? Most Finns have either their own or a family summer cottage where most of the free time is spent during the season. Summer cottages are not chateau’s. They are cottages on or near a lake, always containing a sauna, access to the beach, the usual amenities and everyone loves to go there. Mid-summer festival or ‘Juhannus’ is almost always celebrated at the summer cottage. Huge bonfires are lit on the lake and the party begins!

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Autumn

Autumn in finland is beautiful. The foliage is changing into gorgeous, almost surreal colors, people are out and about enjoying the ever shortening days and one can almost watch the transitions of the seasons happening in the populace mindset before your very eyes. ‘Pyhäinpäivä’, or All Saints Day is celebrated on or the day following the 31st of October. This is usually celebrated by placing burning candles at the grave sites of loved ones. Halloween is also celebrated in Finland, but mostly in the larger cities and on a much smaller scale than in North America or Ireland. Also popular in late November is ‘Pikku Joulu’ or little Christmas. These parties are prominent around the country. For the Americans, these parties are much like Thanksgiving. But because Christmas is usually celebrated with immediate family only, this is when the work parties and get togethers happen before the Christmas holiday.

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Winter

The winters are long and with low sub zero temperatures, one would think that people would be hiding in their homes for the duration. This is untrue. The Finns have an uncanny knack to make the most out of any weather conditions (unless perhaps it is just too hot). During the winter, Finns are quite active in sports. Any school you happen to pass by with have an outdoor skating area where you can ice skate, or practice your ice hockey skills. (Be warned, the Finnish children who play like pro’s will giggle at your utter incompetence by comparison) Skiing and Snow boarding or even snow tubing are commonplace sports, as well as long distance skiing which is usually done on one of the many nature trails once it has iced over. Ice fishing is also common but must only be done in certain temperatures. House and shop fronts are adorned with what I like to call ice art (flowers or other objects frozen into an ice mould and then placed around burning candles), candles are burning and trees are lit. The winter solstice is a good day, falling on the 21st of December this year, as the daylight will begin to show itself a few minutes more each day even though the temperature will continue to drop for some time further. Christmas is the holiday of the season. Santa Klaus or ‘Joulupukki’ is said to live in Lapland, in the far North of Finland and it is a common trip to make to rent a cabin and go to Lapland to see Santa and the reindeer.

As Finnish culture goes, there are a few things that any visitor should keep in mind when visiting. Finns are used to their space. A Finns personal space is much larger than say in Asia or Italy. This is due to the immense land area per populace in the country. Hugging is not done unless you are a close friend or family member, or after a long night at the pub. Finns are quiet. This is not an attempt to be rude, it is merely a culture of few words. The good thing is, when a Finn is speaking to you, you know that what they are saying is important and genuine. Finland has unique design tastes, one of the most famous and popular being Marimekko and you will see it everywhere.

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Finns love coffee. Finland is said to be one of, if not the top in coffee consumption worldwide. Finns are not ignorant. Finland has the top educational system in the world…and it shows. In business, Finland is at a strategic geographic disadvantage. This has been overcoming by the many forms of R&D, higher education specialties, and social policies in place in order to encourage productivity. It works. Finland has a very high percentage of trade and tourism with Russia, Sweden and the Baltics.

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If a Finn invites you for coffee, or to their summer cottage, or even in health and wellness places, ALWAYS remove your shoes at the door. Walking into a Finns home with your shoes on is a social faux-pas that will in all cases annoy your host(s).

Sauna

Going to the sauna is a deeply embedded tradition. Most Finnish homes have their own sauna’s, as do summer cottages, gyms, swimming halls and many restaurants and community buildings. If a flat does not contain its own, you can bet the building has one in the basement. The sauna is considered a clean place, and there are rules. For instance, Finns attend the sauna in social settings, en masse and nude. Do not stare and never ever comment on anyones’ body! Prepare to be looked at like you have 8 heads if you arrive cheerily in a bikini. You should at the very least rinse in the shower before going in, and usually have a paper or towel on which to sit. In some cases, your host(s) will have a cold alcoholic beverage awaiting your arrival. Although I have also been told that traditionally this is seen as a no-no and that you should only consume your drink once out of the sauna. I guess it is solely determined by the company you are in. Personally, a sauna beer suits me just fine. Birch whips: Some Finns are fans, many tourists are terrified. This is something that is done only on occasion (but as many tourists know, sometimes you ARE the occasion). Birch whips are made from tying a certain kind of small birch branches with the leaves in tact, together and drying. Before use in the sauna, it is soaked in the water bucket (this water is thrown on the hot rocks to make steam and it smells so good!) and then used to kind of, well, whip yourself with. Your legs, arms, shoulders and back. The birch whips can also be used a form of soap. Using the birch to scrub your skin by bundling the leafy part in your hand and scrubbing your skin is said to have cleansing and exfoliating properties. Trust me, it’s not as horrifying as it sounds. There is something in the birch which opens your pores and once you have finished the sauna and shower, your skin will be positively glowing. Not to mention the fact that your host(s) will be proud of you for not running away screaming (which they expected that you would do). Even in the winter, if you are by a lake, sauna is followed by a dip in the lake albeit quickly (Bbbbrrrr!) and a return to the heat.

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There are countless things to see and do in Finland. Many have already been mentioned. If you are strictly a city person, Helsinki is the place for you. Shopping, sightseeing, upscale cafe’s, spa’s and the harbour to name a few. Parks and nature trails abound in Finland, and history is endless. Finnish history goes back a very long time, it is still fresh in the collective memory.

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Historical towns like Porvoo with churches, old town and many opportunities to shop hand made crafts and products.

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industrial cities such as Tampere have sightseeing opportunities everywhere such as Aleksanderin kirrko in Aleksanterinpuisto.

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If castles are your thing, visit Hämeenlinna or Savonlinna. In Savo, there is an annual opera festival held during the summer months. But if you plan to attend the opera, make sure to purchase tickets far in advance.

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In Finland there are also many viewing towers with which to climb and get an amazing ariel view of the area. If you’re in good shape, go for it! And while you’re at it, check out one of the local amusement parks 🙂

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoy sharing it. I would love to hear your insights and experiences, please share! I will be posting more blogs on more travels, including Finland.

Thank you for reading!

-mliae