Los Altos Hills resident Corey Breier, 22, chronicled his year abroad in Barcelona on his blog, Spain WhatUp. An international studies major at UC San Diego who returned home in June, Breier used couchsurfing.org to make his way across Europe and Northern Africa. His tales of his travels and his anecdotes about adjusting to continental customs drew attention from Matador Network, an online travel magazine. Following is Breier’s account of the benefits of blogging his travel experiences.
At first I started Spain WhatUp as an easy way to keep mom updated about what I was doing, but this thing took on a life of its own. Here’s a noncomprehensive list of things this blog has done:
• Gotten me hired as a paid writer! My blog is linked to in my Twitter bio, and I think Matador Network was led to it through that window when I carelessly tweeted some such nonsense at them back in December. They liked what they saw, and now I am a regular contributor, in case you were not aware. And they pay me! (not much). You never know what will happen when you put a bit of yourself on the Internet.
• Helped Spanish speakers practice English. I know more than a few young “hispanohablantes” (Spanish speakers) who took enough of an interest in my affairs to read this blog, and it was a fantastic opportunity for them to get some real unadulterated “American.” I play fast and loose with phrases and slang they may never have encountered before, so besides normal grammar practice, it’s a street education, so to speak. Heck, I learned Spanish vocabulary reading my own words through Google Translate, so it goes both ways.
• Provided travel tips and advice to many friends. If I know someone is headed to a city I have been to, all I have to do is send them a link to the week when I was visiting there, and it usually offers a rough guide for them to get started on. I’m no expert, but I know if an attraction is good or not, which sometimes is better than the reviews from strangers on TripAdvisor. I love hearing stories from friends who went somewhere based off advice from me and the blog.
• Inspired more than one other personal travel blog. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least two blogs that were directly inspired by SpainWhatup: my friend Sarina’s in Seville, and Melissa’s in Alicante. Their work has taken on a life of its own, and it’s great to think I had a part in that.
• Served as the catalyst for helpful tips. I complained about Barcelona being all party, all the time in one post way back when, and one of my friends messaged me out of the blue afterwards to give me a stellar list of resources that helped point me to more intellectual pursuits, like TED talks and startup space in the city. I’m eternally thankful to her for that, and for a few others who gave me more attractions to see when they found my semester one Barcelona guide lacking.
• Improved my writing ability. You can see this just by reading my older posts – ouch. The more you write, the better you write, no matter what you’re writing about, that is for sure.
• Amassed 30-odd random Tumblr followers. Yes, I see you all – looks like mostly young girls who have probably found my blog from the geographical tags I put at the bottom of whichever post I wrote about their country or city. Your Tumblrs are, well, typical Tumblrs – primarily composed of wistful quotes, Pinterest-style pictures and soft erotica that is so oddly common in this corner of the Internet. I’m not sure if this is what you were expecting when you clicked on that tag, but I hope you enjoyed the ride.
Not bad for what was basically a weekly email to mom! I’d highly encourage you to start your own blog, whether or not you are traveling. And don’t just rebblog cat photos, like I did with my first Tumblr – create something of your own, even if you think your life is boring. Somebody finds it interesting. If you are traveling, you definitely should – this will be a powerful and unfailing reminder of my time in Spain forevermore. I have every single week right here, written fresh off of my mind right after it happened. Far better than my finicky memory – I’ve already found things from my September posts that I had forgotten about. So do it!
May your roads be long and meandering.
To read Breier’s blog, visit spainwhatup.tumblr.com or matadornetwork.com/author/coreybreier.