Jen Ciesielski Exploring the Towns in Alsace France

About Me

Hi, I’m Jen!

I started traveling in 2012 when I left to work abroad and live in Switzerland. This was my first overseas experience, and since then, I have traveled to over 50 countries and lived in four (France, UK, Switzerland, the USA).

I am here to share my personal stories, adventures, and useful tips and tricks. My inspiration and motivation come from my love to dive into the unknown, learn new things, and live life to the fullest. I value experiences over material possessions, and I find traveling to be exceptionally rewarding.

Hopefully, my stories and guides will inspire you to plan your next adventure.

Jen Ciesielski Exploring the Towns in Alsace France
Exploring the Towns in Alsace!

My Expat Story

I spent my childhood in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Growing up, I dreamed of traveling. I played games like “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,” and I would learn as much as I could about faraway places. In high school, I traveled to neighboring states for sports, but somehow that was not enough.

During my Ph.D., I began watching travel documentaries, particularly stories about climbing Everest. I think this is when I knew I had to start traveling. I guess my postponement was a question of money. Traveling seemed so expensive and out of reach.

After my Ph.D., a job in Switzerland popped up. I applied and somehow I got the job. I have to admit, I was scared. I had never left the United States, much less lived in another country. Let’s just say that all the things you should consider before moving abroad did not even enter my mind.

I, actually, showed up at the Swiss Embassy, without an appointment, and said, “I need my visa please.”

Needless to say, I didn’t do that again.

While living in Switzerland, I began to explore Europe and really learn about traveling. After a year, I moved to Paris.

Living in France was a lot harder than living in Switzerland. The language barrier was more challenging and the bureaucracy was nothing shy of a nightmare. There was even a brief period where I would constantly mutter, “I hate France.

But, as I learned more about the culture, my opinion began to change. Then, I started speaking French and this is when I saw the biggest difference in myself.

If you need help learning French, I recommend iTalki! It’s private tutoring without the cost. And, of all the things I tried (apps and classes), it was the only way I was able to learn French.

Soon my negative attitude vanished and I was able to say, “I love France!”

As my confidence grew, I knew it was time to venture outside of Europe. And I took my first big trip – a month in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It was at this moment that I realized that travel can be affordable, and I could see the world without emptying my wallet.

I use and recommend Skyscanner to save on flights!

Sadly, after 2.5 years, my time in France had come to an end. My researcher visa was expiring and jobs in my field were few and far between. So, I found a job in the UK and began my next adventure.

I lived in the UK for 3.5 years and worked for a big pharmaceutical company.

Of the places I’ve lived, the UK was not my favorite. I struggled with my identity as an expat and I never really seemed to fit in. And I really missed France. So, after a series of long discussions with my then-boyfriend, I decided to move back to France.

But, before moving, we got married and I entered France with a spouse of French citizen visa.

A Career Break

Jen Ciesielski on an ATV adventure in Peru
I Love Adventure

At the end of 2019, after I got married and moved back to France, I took a career break. I had been working in research for more than 10 years, and I wanted a change. I also thought it would be a good time to travel for a few months. So, I decided to go backpacking in South America for four months. I started in Argentina and made my way up to Colombia.

During that time, I trekked to Colombia’s Lost City, spent three days in Salento, explored Sucre, climbed Chachani – a 6000-meter (19685-foot) mountain, gained confidence in my Spanish, and had a ton of fun.

This experience helped me grow personally, and discover the world in a way I never thought possible.

I learned Spanish using iTalki! It’s private tutoring without the cost. And, of all the things I tried (apps and classes), it was the only way I was able to learn Spanish.

The Start of Dabbling in Jet Lag

I came back from South America and started living in Strasbourg. It was at this time that I realized I needed a flexible job, so I took a position as a project manager. I also started this blog, as a hobby. I wanted to share my travels and my experiences as an expat, and highlight off-beat destinations that are often overlooked, like the towns in Alsace.

But blogging as a hobby wasn’t enough, I wanted to do it full-time. So, I studied web design and travel writing. I also worked on improving my photography skills and filling my camera bag.

Where Am I Now? (2023)

I’m currently living in Strasbourg, France and working as a blogger full-time. I decided to follow my happiness and dive in. I opened my shop, where I sell prints and presets. I’m also working on a few guide books, mostly focused on traveling in France.

I have a few trips for this year planned and I’ll reveal those on social media, so be sure to connect with me there!

Why I Blog

This list is endless and I could go on for hours, but the main reasons I blog are listed below:

  • To show you that you don’t have to wait for the “perfect” moment to live your dreams.
  • To prove to you that living an expat life is possible, even if you have no idea how to get started.
  • To show you that you are not alone in your uncertainties. We all have moments of doubt and make mistakes, and this blog is here to help you learn from mine!
  • To help you move abroad and start exploring today!
  • To inspire 10-year-old Jen and everyone like her. The standard “American dream” with a huge house and 2.5 kids, isn’t the only version of happiness.
Jen Ciesielski hiking to the Maragua Crater in Bolivia
Hiking in Bolivia

Any Questions?

Do you have questions about moving or living abroad or traveling? Feel free to send me an email at jen(at)dabblinginjetlag(dot)com or comment on a blog post.

I can answer any of your travel and moving abroad questions!

Join the Adventure!

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