Lakeside Sunday

Rancho Santa Margarita Lake

After a long work week and flipping through movies after another, Netflix finally got the best of me. I knew I had stayed home far too long as I was starting to feel a bit crazy. I had to get out of the house so, I drove to Rancho Santa Margarita Lake for a dose of sunshine and nature.

Rancho Santa Margarita Lake is probably one of the best lakes around in Orange County. It has an easy 1.1 mile loop trail with outdoor fitness stations, free parking, benches, a recreation center with a pool and is within walking distance to restaurants (yes, they have Starbucks too!). My favorite part of the lake is the backdrop view of the Santiago Peak or Saddleback Mountain while strolling through the paved pathways.

After my 2nd loop of the lake I sat down in one of the benches and watched the birds and turtles swim in the water. It was a much needed break from the daily routine.

Christmas Lightings in Orange County.

From Christmas decorations to lighting displays, it feels to me like the holiday spirit is in full effect around here. Last night, I decided to see a few Christmas lightings near my neighborhood. It was something that I’ve never done before and I thought the one in Dana Point was done quite nicely.

If you’re interested in viewing a few neighborhoods that have lighting decorations up you can see a list on this map. Pls. keep in mind that I haven’t seen every single one on this map to vouch for how they look and all. Although, I can confirm for the Dana Point Harbor location. Happy Lighting Hunting!

Biden Won. Now What?

After a few days of a cliff hanging presidential election, America finally decided on Joe Biden as our next President. People celebrated around the world and it felt, for a brief moment, as if we had risen from a deep depression. At some point we will but, for now current issues needs to be addressed and fixed before we can get back to a “normal” way of life. Here are a few things that we may see changing in the travel industry once Biden takes over in Jan. 20, 2021.

A Solid Health Guidelines Protocols
To wear or not to wear a mask. There’s always been inconsistencies in enforcement since the beginning of the pandemic and it is likely that there will be protocols across the board.

“as the focus goes back to helping airlines get back on their feet, getting the virus under control, and putting in place national policies to allow people to travel safely, both internationally and domestically.”

~ Jesse Neugarten, CEO and founder of Dollar Flight Club

Visiting Colorado
for the First Time

These are the times
of a New Normal

Stimulus Plan Extension
This is one thing that both Biden & Trump agreed on. We all know that the travel industry has been hit the hardest from the Coronavirus crisis. Both agreed to extend the Stimulus Plan to help bail out the airline industry and recover.

Increase Test Sites
Before people can become confident about traveling they need to feel safe and part of that initiative is to increase test sites. A few airports have already implemented these facilities.

Brett Snyder, founder and author of the airline industry blog Cranky Flier, agrees. “The travel industry needs two things. First, it needs the Covid crisis to be controlled better, and then it needs borders to open. Those go hand in hand. So I think the prospects of borders reopening sooner are likely to be better with a President Biden,” he said.

CNN


The “Rail Revolution”
Biden’s infrastructure plans includes improving the rail system. This is one that I am excited about as it will make it much easier to get around domestically as another option other than taking an airplane.

No one knows what the future holds but, we can be sure changes are upon us. I am excited to see how the travel industry will shape after we tackle on the coronavirus once and for all.

Stay tuned.

Celebrating My Birthday.

Cake

Thus far, June had its ups and downs. With the re-opening of the economy I’m in no hurry to get back to the “new normal” life. California supposedly had an increase in COVID19 cases due to more tests being done but, I don’t know what’s true these days. I’ve continued to stay home, keep my distance and limit the amount of people I socialize with (if, at all). In addition, my work has allowed me to continue working remotely from home and that’s been working out pretty well for all of us.

Besides the on-going Corona crisis, I turned a year older a few days ago. It was a sad moment waking up in the morning and being reminded of how I am older and in no way close to where I want to be at the age I am now. Honestly, if I had a forward button I’d probably would’ve done it. Anyway, I turned my sorrow instead to focusing on work followed by challenging myself to bake a vegan cake. My bf and I took turns figuring out the ingredients of the cake and even though baking this cake took forever it definitely lifted my mood. The cake was a success and given the situation of celebrating my birthday during COVID19 era, not being able to travel and turning older, I’d say it was a productive day.

Vegan Cake

May Update: Entering Phase 3

It’s been a stressful month. Since my last update a lot has happened in the last 2 weeks and I mean LOTS!

Like most businesses these days, the company I worked for also felt the ripple effect from the COVID-19 situation. A week ago, I started my day business as usual when I received a message from my manager saying she’s been laid-off. I was shocked as much as she was. Then a few minutes later, my other co-worker was also let go. ****, it sounded like they were cleaning the house. You can imagine the panic I went through within those few minutes. I remembered that day how my hands were shaking, I couldn’t breathe and I was freaking the F out waiting for my turn. I probably reached out to every person I knew or anyone who was willing to listen over my panic while I waited and waited for my call. I never received a call that day.

Stressed? Overwhelmed?
Here are resources to help you.

My mind wandered all night, trying to figure out what’s next for me. On one hand, I could take the “no call” as a good sign OR potentially receive the bad news from my temp agency the next day who I am working with as a contractor for this company. In any case, I never got any sleep that night. The next day, I finally did hear from my main boss who explained the entire situation. Luckily, I was spared from this layoff for now. However, it was clear that there may or may not be another one coming (hopefully not).

Since the layoffs, I’ve come to be at peace in my mind that a layoff is out of my control and stressing over it is a waste of time. Obviously, I don’t want to be laid off but, stressing over situations I can’t control is mentally exhausting. So, I calmed the F down by staying positive and doing day to day things that I enjoy such as going outside to take a walk or run everyday (with my mask on of course). That weekend, I spent a day at the beach in San Clemente. I spent time walking through the pier and the downtown area since most things are now open to the public. There’s definitely something about being near the water that makes me feel calm.

Today, work announced that all of our employees will be returning to work in the office starting next month. I’m still unsure about going in the office but, it’s clear to me that our economy will open no matter what. Anyway, I’ve decided to take major mental recuperation and preparation for Phase 3 over Memorial Day weekend by staying offline. Whether I like it or not, we’re entering Phase 3 sooner than I expected.

Mid-April Update

Me in Orange County

It’s been over a month now since we’ve been hit with the “Stay at home” order in California. I’ve lost my patience in the negativity over the news for COVID-19 and thus, have decreased my daily checking.

California stands on a soft re-opening and have opened a few beaches in my area and as far as I know, critical surgeries have resumed (not cosmetic related surgeries per se). As for activities, well, most of the hiking routes or trails I usually go on have stayed open this whole time and that has not changed at all. We’re still maintaining social distancing, the “Stay at home” order is still in effect until told otherwise and wearing masks is still mandatory in most stores. However, I have started seeing a lax in wearing masks lately in compare to the beginning of this month.

The latest update regarding COVID19 in California are strikes that’s happening in a few cities. People are getting antsy in re-opening early and start work again. It is a very tough situation we are all in because on one hand you have people dying and on the other, you have people needing work to live. I can sympathize on both ends and I’m not posting this to start a political debate whether we should re-open early or not. I am hopeful that we will return to a “new normal” soon, until then, stay positive.

Welcome April

Hello folks! How is everyone doing? I hope you’re all staying positive during these times.

As a quick update, we are now on our 3rd week of our “stay at home” order in California. My work has extended (as of yesterday) to work from home until May and our grocery stores are still having a hard time keeping up with the demand of toilet papers, hand sanitizers, hand wipes and face masks. I still wonder why people are hoarding toilet papers, however, I managed to stock up on these ‘basic essentials’ today by waking up very early in the morning and standing in line at Target before they opened. That was not fun. Let’s hope it will be the first and last time I’d have to that.

On another note, there’s been a debate unfolding regarding making it mandatory to wear face masks for all of us in the US. I’ve also started noticing a lot of people wearing them now outdoors and it got me worried. Where would I find one if it becomes mandatory? As soon as I arrived home this morning, I went online to search for the face masks. Luckily, I found a few on Etsy and bought one based on ratings. Even though I know it may take a while for it to be delivered to me, I’d assume it’ll be here (I hope) by the time the government decides it becomes mandatory.

On a lighter note, I’ve managed to update my blog since I have time to spare these days. The blog has a new design in hopes of bringing more visibility to the content (check out the updated video page). Also, I brought back the resources page and added (or moved around sections) freebies, How-To posts, information relating to COVID19, and previous popular posts (i.e. moving to Milan) that I hope will help you. These will continually be updated therefore, stay posted for new information and/or let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see.

Keep smiling and stay strong.

xo,
A Stint Abroad

Image

Orange County Moving Guide.

Castaway Park

If you’re reading this then I can assume you’re thinking about moving to Orange County for whatever reason it may be. In any case, Orange County a.k.a “OC”, is a great place to be. We have direct access to the beach, the mountains and everything else in between. I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life and every time I move away I always seem to come back. It could be the fact that my family lives here and that the weather is great most of the time but, one thing I’m sure is that O.C. is home.

My goal for this post is to provide help in some way for anyone moving to O.C.

Accommodation

Accommodation is likely the biggest expense you’ll have when living in Orange County specifically in areas like Irvine, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, and/or Dana Point. Renting and/or buying a home here is one of the most expensive in the nation. I’ve lived here most of my life and the standard rent costs around $1200 not including utilities. There are a few places like studio apartments that costs the same or less but, generally they are smaller in square footage and/or do not have a proper kitchen.

For “budget” accommodations, you’ll likely find it more in areas like Anaheim, Tustin, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa (certain areas), Huntington Beach (certain areas). Although, it seems that rental costs keeps going up every year in California.

For me, the key to a good accommodation for working professionals is location where there’s direct access to freeways, a proper set up (a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom & parking). Keep in mind that the closer you are to the beach the more expensive your accommodation will be.

Obviously, all of this will depend on each individual’s situation.

Read important articles here, here, about the cost of living and 15 most expensive cities in USA. Find apartments to rent on zillow and use the filter base on budget.

Door Knob

Job Market

I’d say the job market here is pretty competitive relating to the digital world. The industries in real estate, health care and tech are huge. Big companies such as Amazon and Google have offices here, therefore, there’s an immense amount of work but, they’re highly coveted too.

Places to find jobs are:

  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Craigslist
  • Recruiting Agencies: 24-Seven, Robert Half, Aquent, Onward Search

Transportation

Your own car is your best friend. Our roads are very wide and since we don’t have a proper metro or train system, a car is vital as means of transportation.

The train system that we do have has a limited route. Personally, I’ve never taken the train in Orange County (it’s in the works) but, I do know that it goes all the way to downtown L.A. and San Diego. Here’s a map of the railway system.

Other means of transportation is Uber & Lyft. It is quite popular here and reliable. I’ve never had a problem finding an Uber ride at 2am or 4am. I’ve used either one when I have to go to the airport or on weekends when I have a party to go to where drinking is involved.

Things to See or Do

There’s endless of things to see or do here in Orange County. We cater to pretty much every activity one desires from the beach to the mountains, shopping, game rooms, or parks. We have access to most things. Here are a few lists of activities:

Hikes, Parks & Trails

Beaches

  • Huntington Beach
  • Downtown Laguna Beach
  • Dana Point
  • Newport Beach main beach
  • Corona Del Mar
  • San Clemente

Read more here and about the neighborhoods in detail (or here).

Casa Romantica

Museums

See more here.

Other Activities:

Grocery Stores

  • Trader Joes
  • Whole Foods
  • Ralphs
  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Aldi
  • Sprouts
  • Costco
  • Gelsons
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Rite Aid
  • 99 Cents
  • Dollar Tree

Malls

Direct message me if you have any specific questions.

The New Normal.

Pasadena

Like any other citizen, I’ve spent most of my time these days indoors and headed outdoors only for a breath of fresh air, a brief walk or in search for household essentials. Yesterday, I literally did not move off the couch unless I was hungry, reaching for the remote, use the bathroom, sleep and then do it over again until bedtime. Today was different. I finally caught the “cabin fever”. Aching to move, I decided to drive out to Pasadena to get myself an authentic Venezuelan food.

I left early in the morning to get a head start to my day only to find myself without traffic and arriving to my destination in less than an hour. I was stunned. This was the first time I’ve ever seen the freeway traffic free, ever!

I arrived in downtown Pasadena partly hungry and uneasy. I strolled my way through several closed stores where I saw through the windows with their lights off, chairs piled on top of the tables, clothing racks untouched, books neatly placed on the shelves and the rooms dark. A few restaurants on the streets was open with “take out only” signs posted on their doors including the restaurant I ordered my lunch at. I could not ignore the eerie feeling I felt as I walked towards the restaurant.

On the upside, once I arrived to the restaurant I was greeted cheerfully by 2 employees behind the counter. I appreciated their positivity in return during this difficult times. I paid my lunch and took my meal home back to netflix for the rest of the day.

First Thing I Will Do After the COVID-19 Crisis Ends.

selfie_losangeles | astintabroad

I’m sitting here letting the title of this post marinate for a little bit. I feel that we’re far from the crisis ending anytime soon but, I am hopeful. One day, when this ends and I am sure it will, I want to be ready for the things that I missed doing or took for granted before the crisis started. These are in no way in any particular order.

  • Make Travel Plans
  • Re-start my social life and make plans to attend events
  • Dine in and have a good meal
  • Go swimming or sit in a Jacuzzi
  • Go on a long hike
  • Go to a movie theater
  • Smile at strangers
  • Smile when I see the grocery stores well stocked again
  • Buy toilet paper and hand-sanitizer (since I’m now running low)
  • Continue my blog

On to you.

Helpful article: https://medium.com/mind-cafe/5-steps-to-take-now-so-you-can-thrive-in-the-post-coronavirus-world-e2f63fedc1d6