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Welcome to the brand new edition of Blogger Spotlight On!
We are so happy and relieved that spring is finally here and that winter has finally left. Now days are longer and brighter.
To kick off the season, it is my pleasure to introduce you to world traveler and author Jessica Lipowski.
She writes at JessicaLipowski.com which is a blog where she shares insights of her travels and more.
Let’s get to know her better!
Please tell us more about you 🙂
Thank you, Karla, for the warm welcome and introduction. My name is Jessica and I am about to release my debut book titled Flavors of Life.
It is a non-fiction book detailing the life stories of 62 entrepreneurs from 41 different countries. Regardless of origin or background, one thing unites these people: all own a restaurant in Amsterdam.
I’m originally from a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, but currently reside in the Netherlands. I completed a Bachelor’s in Journalism, specializing in multimedia journalism, at Michigan State University. Upon graduation, I worked as a project manager for a technical services company. Soon thereafter, I decided to move overseas, fulfilling a long-time dream of mine. I became a key lead in the sales and marketing team at a Dutch IT company, and in my free time, covered Amsterdam as the 10Best local expert, a website now part of USA Today.
What are my hobbies? Travel and experiencing different cultures is important to me, having visited 32 countries
and 43 of the 50 United States. I also have both Polish and German heritages. Additionally, I enjoy reading, working out (love Blogilates), and spending quality time with my partner, Matthijs, my family, and my friends.
I am also an avid foodie. I love trying new tastes and being exposed to new flavors. I love surrounding myself with good food and great company.
When did you move to the Netherlands and what motivated you to do so?
It’s been a long-time dream of mine to live in Europe, but I didn’t know how and when to make it happen. After visiting England for the first time in 2000, I remember telling my mom I wanted to move there, and when we went to every other European country over the years, I repeated my determination. She always responded the same: if you want it, make it happen. In July 2010, I started applying for jobs in Amsterdam and London. When I met my Dutch boyfriend a few months later, the decision became quite clear: the Netherlands. I made the leap overseas in February 2011.
Was it easy settling in a new country where you did not know the language or culture?
In the beginning, I had my ups and downs. When I stepped outside, I realized I could not ride my bike six kilometers (almost four miles) without stopping to catch my breath and was at a loss for words, literally. I could not speak the language. I felt lost and alone, wondering how to make friends. I had no idea about meetup.com (wish I would have known about this website earlier!).
While it was an exciting time, living abroad and all, I remember wondering how I ended up here in a foreign land where I didn’t speak the language. It did help, however, that most of the people in the country speak English.
Unlike other countries like Germany and France, most of the movies here are left in English and have Dutch subtitles (except native Dutch films and children’s movies, which are dubbed in Dutch). That helped a lot. It’s not like I was in the middle of rural China, where I cannot even begin to understand the language! In that sense, it was easier, but it was still a huge adjustment.
Over time, work helped me form a routine and provide structure. I found my place in the city, immersed myself in the Dutch culture, started learning and speaking the language, and branched out socially. Now it’s the place I call home.
You’ve recently wrote a book about local restaurants, how did that come about?
The idea for Flavors of Life can be traced to one sunny afternoon in August, 2012. While exploring Amsterdam, my partner, Matthijs, and I discovered a Caribbean restaurant. It got us thinking, surfacing several unanswered questions. What makes a Caribbean restaurant, a Caribbean restaurant? What kind of food do they serve? Who is the owner? Is the owner from a country in the Caribbean or just a fan? Why did they open this restaurant in Amsterdam, of all places?
These thoughts led us to another realization, reflecting on just how international Amsterdam really is. We heard the statistics outlining how many nationalities call Amsterdam home (180); however, it wasn’t until we looked closer that we saw how diversity has impacted the restaurant scene. Furthermore, I knew why I moved to Amsterdam, but it made me curious why everyone else chose this small, yet beautiful and open-minded city. For a while, I had been tinkering with a few different book ideas (it has always been a dream of mine to publish a book), but for one reason or another they just weren’t feasible at the time. When we stumbled upon this Caribbean restaurant, it resonated with me that many others experienced similar dreams.
Additionally, we often read reviews, newspaper articles, and Blog posts about the restaurants, specifically detailing quality of the food, friendliness and promptness of the service, and cleanliness of the establishment, yet what is often forgotten is the person who created the experience: the owner. From a young age, I have been captivated by good stories. I love meeting people and hearing about their lives. Combined with my journalistic background and passion for writing human-interest pieces, not to mention my love for fabulous food, I decided to interview international restaurant owners, digging into their history – from childhood to present day – to discover exactly how they got involved in the restaurant industry, as well as how they ended up in Amsterdam.
When will the book be published and how can we obtain a copy?
The book will be released this May! After two and a half years of work, I am excited and proud to introduce the book to the world. You can obtain a copy by going to my website www.jessicalipowski.com and placing your order there. You can also buy the e-book via Amazon. The book will be available on other websites in the near future, including bol.com, so please visit my website to stay up to date.
Since you are a foodie, what are the best meals or dishes you’ve eaten?
That is a tough one! How can I possibly choose?! My partner, Matthijs, and I visited St. Julians, Malta in October 2012. One evening, while strolling down a small street, we found this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Everyone told us we should order the fresh catch of the day, so that’s what we did. The preparation was simple, but absolutely divine.
Paired with a fantastic bottle of red wine from Malta, we devoured our fishy friend. The entire evening was made complete by the romantic ambiance, surrounded by sparkling, blue water as we watched the colors fade over the horizon. The presentation, the flavors, the atmosphere, being young and in love: it all came together to create a memorable meal.
Other meals worth mentioning: fresh, mouth-watering sushi from Restaurant Hosokawa, pancakes with lambada strawberries from Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs,
and steak from MR PORTER and Ruth’s Chris. In terms of my favorite cuisines, of the ones I’ve tried, probably Greek, Italian, Japanese, and Lebanese. Last but not least, my comfort foods are pierogi,
red cabbage, and fluffy American pancakes. These dishes bring me “home” wherever I am in the world.
Tell us about an important lesson you learned.
Living abroad in the Netherlands has opened my eyes to new and different perspectives, as I meet and interact with people from every corner of the world. I’ve learned to keep an open mind and think – there are at least two sides to every story.
Making the leap overseas has shown me I have the courage to achieve anything to which I set my mind, whether moving four thousand miles from my hometown, learning a new language, or writing a book. It has made me value every single moment with the ones I love and that life is truly beautiful – even the unexpected curve balls.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It has made me appreciate how fortunate and privileged I truly am for all the opportunities I’ve been presented, such as traveling (from a baby ‘til now) and the ability to follow my dreams. Most importantly, treat others the way you want to be treated. Be kind and work hard. The rest will follow.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The United Kingdom was my first overseas experience, crossing the Atlantic to visit London, watch Wimbledon, and explore the English countryside. Only 12 years old at the time, I fell in love with British culture. I remember telling my mom of this new-found desire to live in Europe, to which she replied, “If you want it, make it happen.” This mantra has stuck with me ever since.
In this manner, I believe if you want something bad enough, you can and will find a way. Everyone has different priorities in life and you just need to identify what those are. Whatever it is – if you want to travel, move overseas, write a book, try a new activity but are scared – it is all about finding a way to make it happen. Maybe it will take a bit of creativity, and probably will take a lot of hard work, but somehow you will make it happen.
Tell us about your blog and what can we find there?
My blog covers a variety of timely topics, ranging from personal history, childhood stories, and fun anecdotes to cultural observations, destination features, and everyday life as an expat. Food, literature, and travel are themes that permeate the articles.
The blog is written from my perspective, but it also features guest authors with an important, powerful, or relevant message, for instance about a new start-up or initiative that will impact my readers. It is a place not only to dig a little deeper but also to start a conversation, educate, and learn along the way.
You are also co-host of two travel chats, tell us all about it!
Yes, I host two different travel related Twitter chats: #TRLT and #CultureTrav. Each week, together with the other hosts, I brainstorm and select topics and questions, help with before and after chat promotion, and actively engage and communicate with participants. It is an honor to be a part of two inspiring communities.
#CultureTrav examines the intersection of culture and travel through a wide range of topics. Nicolette Orlemans launched the chat in November 2014, and I joined as a permanent host in February 2015. #CultureTrav chats every Thursday at 2:30 p.m. EST (8:30 p.m. CET) for 30 minutes.
#TRLT, which stands for The Road Less Travelled, focuses on often overlooked destinations and off-the-beaten path travel. We chat for one hour every Tuesday, starting at 1 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CET), together with founders Shane Dallas, also known as The Travel Camel, and Savannah Grace, author of the Sihpromatum series and world traveller, as well as host Anton Magnin, part of TazzDiscovers, a family who is traveling around the world together.
Love to travel? Join one or both of the chats, and be inspired!
Follow me on Social Media!
We can stay connected via the following accounts:
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JessicaLipowski/posts
The book is now available on Amazon:
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us Jessica!
We enjoyed learning more about you and we can’t wait to see and read your book “Flavors of Life” .
We’ll continue our lively conversations in twitterverse, follow your adventures online and hopefully meeting you in person one day…soon!
We wish you all the very best.
Until next time
Many happy travels!