Anatomy of this Outfit: Shirt – Abercrombie and Fitch | Faux leather jacket – H&M | Shorts – Anonymous Copenhagen

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Not all who wander are lost. I have mentioned on LFB before that I was once accused of becoming an “eternal tourist.”

Now semantics of tourist and traveller aside (we all know how I feel about the word tourist), I don’t really view this as a bad thing at all. To be fair, this accusation came from a teenager on the other side of the US in a live journal community (yes, guilty. I was an avid live journal user back in the day – blogging has always been in my blood, but back then it was more the angsty teenage kind of blogging, consisting of all the feelz.) Still, this statement has stuck with me. Not because I still care about what some kid said to me over 10 years ago – although it definitely stung at the time, as I felt it was some kind of deficiency of mine, seeing as it was said with the purpose of stinging – but because I am amazed that in a way it was quite the prophecy.

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At the time, I had studied abroad in England but aside from learning about cream tea and the many uses of the phrase “cheers,” I wasn’t really all that travelled and never in my wildest dreams thought that I would end up halfway across the world in another time zone speaking German and carving out a life for myself smack dab in the middle of Berlin.

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like for present-day me to time travel to that person I used to be. Bill & Ted it. (Yes I just referenced a film I actually have never seen) Present-day Rae would be all, “One day you are going to leave this country and start a whole new life in another country. It’s going to be tough but awesome.” I really don’t think even 21 year old me who was packing her bags for a 4 month move to Berlin with every intention of returning to home to the boyfriend that was waiting for her would have thought that her existence here would end up becoming something much more permanent.

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There’s this thing that happens when you move away. You start to see how small everything was. It’s harder to converse with friends back home without sounding like that asshole who always begins sentences with, “In Germany…” I still do it, not because I am trying to be some jerk who throws in random French words to sound more intelligent, but because the cultural differences never cease to amaze me – even after all this time. I am so happy to still have some amazing friends back in Virginia, and when I go home we all get together, have lots of laughs and have an amazing time. But I can’t help but think how different I myself would have been if I had never left and how different from them I have become. To be clear, I do not feel like they are better than me for staying or I am better than them for leaving. It’s just… different.

Still, I can’t imagine how it would have been to not have even known that my views before living abroad were so insular and so tied to the vision of what my culture told me life was like. Republicans and Democrats may fight over issues they view as polarizing – and they are. But there still is this general American identity that locks you into a specific way of thinking. Every culture has a specific lens in which they view the world through, regardless of how differing the political or social views may be within that culture. But when you are exposed to an entirely new place with different ways of thinking, only then can you compare and contrast all that you knew and held for truth. I see it when I try to talk about global issues with family. And now that my world has expanded, I can never go back to being that small town girl I never really realized I was until now.

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But there’s this other thing that happens to you when you pick up and move to a new country. You start to kind of loose your own. And I guess that’s how it all goes back to being that eternal tourist. Because it’s not that I am just traveling the world with no real roots. Even if I were to return home one day, I would only be a tourist in my own country. And that’s such a strange realization. Last time I was home in America, I was struck by so many things that I never even noticed growing up. Driving through Florida on a family holiday, I was struck at how expansive everything in America is. Our “bigger is better” cowboy mentality is so rooted in the actual landscape of that big land. Big cars, southern accents and American flags. Football games, strip malls and fast food restaurants. All of it, pieces making up the larger picture of this fantastically confusing and contradictory land that is not quite home anymore. But I find it to be a beautiful kind of cliché that I want to be part of but no longer entirely fit anymore.

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It’s not that America is a parody of itself or one-dimensional. It’s simply that when you move away and then come back home you will always view the place you grew up in with slightly different eyes. You know that any culture is a complex mixture of so many things but you also see how homogeneous and simple a single culture is in the grand scheme of things as well. And yet as much as home now feels a bit like a foreign land to me, Germany is still this complex and confusing country that I love but drives me crazy sometimes. Simple things like roadsigns or the smell of butter from actual bakeries in the subway stations will always remind me that I am in a foreign land. So yes, I guess it’s safe to say that I will always and forever be an eternal tourist. But you know what? It’s not at all such a bad thing to be.

Photography: Sandro Mosco
Editing: Rae Tashman

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Stay conscious, Rae


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Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.


  • Michèle

    what a damn cool outfit, babe!

  • Absolutely love this post and your thoughts on it :) -Maireem

    My Fair Autumn | Instagram

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Maireem!

  • This! SO much. I feel like an alien now that I’m back on home soil. And I can definitely empathise with you on feeling like the asshole that opens every sentence and anecdote with ‘In Hong Kong…’ it’s that odd balance of having seen and lived in a new culture, which is arguably worlds apart from holidaying in a country, and trying to share that new view without coming across as sounding oddly superior. For me, it’s strange because I’ve been raised in a fairly traditional Chinese background, in England, yet when I’m in Hong Kong, I always feel like I don’t quite belong, but now I’m back in England, I feel like there’s a step between me and the real world? Loved this post Rae, and your adorable shoes and socks combo! xx

    • rae

      Luckily, none of my friend have ever commented on it before, but I still cringe everytime I hear myself start sentences like that! I totally understand that feeling of not quite belonging too – which actually is on another level as well. I was not raised by traditionally Korean parents as I am adopted, but still am Korean at the end of the day. In many ways I feel like I don’t quite fit either community. To be honest though, I think there are more and more people who have stories like ours and although we may not fee like we fit in exactly, we sort of belong to this larger ex-pat or cross-cultural community.

  • That shirt!
    The second I saw it I decided that I needed it in my life (you’re looking fabulous as usual my love).
    I wish I could travel more, and try living in other countries like so many others, I do believe it’d be so good for me and my soul, but due to my mental health diagnosis and a caution on my criminal history, visa are hard to get for the meantime. ANYWAY. One day, one day I will visit everywhere.
    I do very often though, feel like a tourist in London, I only live 60 miles away, which to those in bigger countries see as such a short difference, but the mindset is just so different to that I am used to. There is so much more money in London. I did move away from Hastings for university and ended up in a place that had polarised views to those I am used to. I never saw Hastings as progressive until I then.
    I miss Prague, I visited for my 21st Birthday for ten days and it just seemed so beautiful and where I wanted to be, and maybe one day I’ll make it back there.


    • rae

      Aww thanks Erin! Unfortunately, I bought the shirt a few years back, but it is pretty fabulous isn’t it? I really hope you do get to travel more but I completely understand the reasons why it has been hard for you to do so. And criminal history? Pretty curious about this one, but only if you are willing to share it! I do think there is something to be said for even feeling like a tourist in a neighbouring area, especially if you live right outside of a big city which is very different. Hope you can make it back to Prague on day too!

  • Rosanna Briguglio

    Great pictures, I loved the post and agree with you. I would like to travel more and I’m so impressed with how easily you can adapt, I think it would take me a long time to work up the courage to move somewhere else!!
    Have a lovely weekend:)
    Rosanna x

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Rosanna and I really hope you get to do more traveling too! If it makes you a bit nervous to move somewhere else, start with small trips to different places first!

  • You look amazing ! I love your hair up in a bun like that

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

    • rae

      Thanks, Candice!

  • Elizabeth Hisle

    “It’s simply that when you move away and then come back home you will always view the place you grew up in with slightly different eyes. ”

    This is true no matter where you go. Whenever I return to my hometown, I feel… awkward. Like I’m just passing through. It definitely does not feel like home, but I don’t think I really find any place that is “home” anymore. I haven’t moved a lot, but I did a fair share of international travels in HS/College and it’s something that people don’t really understand until they do it. Which brings me to my next point…

    “But there still is this general American identity that locks you into a specific way of thinking. Every culture has a specific lens in which they view the world through, regardless of how differing the political or social views may be within that culture. But when you are exposed to an entirely new place with different ways of thinking, only then can you compare and contrast all that you knew and held for truth. I see it when I try to talk about global issues with family. And now that my world has expanded, I can never go back to being that small town girl I never really realized I was until now.”

    THIS IS SO TRUE!!! I never realized it till I interned in Argentina one summer, but something in you just understands differences better once you’ve had to deal with differences for a while. Not bashing on my folks, but travel really did change the way I look at things and sometimes I wish they would get out and see the world too. Maybe most of American problems lately stem from a lack of understanding or willingness to learn cultural differences. In fact, I guarantee they are. Anyway, I’m not trying to get political – just trying to point out how much I nodded my head while reading your post today.

    • rae

      So glad that you were able to connect to this post so much, Elizabeth! And of course, it isn’t bashing on the folks back home whatsoever, it just really is different once you have lived someplace else. I think that it is easy to get trapped in the US and never venture outside because our land is so vast that even traveling to another city takes so much time. And to be fair, different states definitely do have their own micro-cultures as well. However, traveling to other countries, even for a short time, really enriches your outlook on the world.

  • Soo cute. Love this look, girly :)

    Enclothed Cognition

    • rae

      Thanks, Keri!

  • I really, really love your style! You look really pretty and confident in your clothes too. And it´s really important, I think. Lovely background! ♥

    Have a nice Christmas! | Gabrielle
    ♡ Bio and natural cosmetics ♡
    ♡ christmas giveaway | Realash – lash enhancer ♡

    • rae

      Thanks so much Gabrielle!

  • Hahah, I think most of us have been there with angsty teenage blogging about boys and complaining about our mom. Even though I haven’t had the chance to live in another country and I haven’t traveled to many places, I can somewhat understand what you mean. Even traveling to different states, the cultures there are so different from what it is in New York. I’m only really familiar with the bay area in California and Waterloo in Canada. I go to these two places often because my boyfriend lives and goes to school in Canada, but works near San Francisco. I’m guilty of opening sentences with “In Canada/San Francisco…” – but I don’t see it as a bad thing, I like sharing these things and comparing places!

    Cute outfit too, as always! I need to do that shorts/tights/socks combo more often.

    becky ♡ star violet

    • rae

      I think so many of us originated from live journal! And I agree entirely. Even within a single country, just moving to a different city or state can really expose how different mico-cultures exist within single countries. What kind of differences have you experienced between Canada and the US? I would be really curious to hear about them!

  • Haha! I’ve been one of those angsty teen in Live Journal as well. I think most people in our generation were. Anyway, I haven’t tried moving in another country before, but I plan too. But what I experience many times is moving in different cities. For almost 23 years of my existence I lived in 4 different cities. But my experience wasn’t like yours, probably because it’s just the same country. But I don’t see anything wrong in comparing. I think the people who only get annoyed by it are people who don’t like changes or something new. Because I have friends who lived in other countries and when they get back they cannot avoid comparing but it’s always a nice discussion in our group.


    • rae

      LOL glad to know I was not the only LJer-turned-blogger out there! Yes, it seriously was such a staple in our generation along with myspace days as well. I think your comparisons are completely valid. Different cities within the same country still have their own cultures that vary in big ways. And glad that you guys can have interesting conversations spurred by the different places you have visited and lived!

  • Alona Bronstein

    This post is written so beautifully. I can relate to so much.

    I love this outfit :) The photos are stunning!

    x Alona

    • rae

      Thanks, Alona!

  • This is really a way I have never thought about it, I’ve always wanted to travel a lot, I want to live in multiple places and countries and meet many new people, I’ve never thought about the meaning that you will sort of become a mixture of everything you see and then not fit into your hometown.. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all, I actually think that I would just feel trapped by just being in my hometown, and I do want to evolve beyond it!

    Filippa ⎮ Always a Dot

    • rae

      No, I do not think it is a bad thing either! Instead, you kind of become a member of the ex-pat club, which is it’s own community in many ways. Although ex-pats originate from different countries and end up in different places too, we all have the same understanding of what it is like to be uprooted from your home culture and thrusted into a new one.

  • sileas

    Such an interesting read and wonderful autumn-ish photos! Noticing and actually experiencing differences in culture is exciting and fun, and most importantly, such an enrichment for an intellectual mind (no doubt, it can be challenging too!) Your German btw is perfect ;)

    • rae

      Thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed the read! And yes it is definitely fun and thank you! I speak a lot better than I write so that is so nice to hear!

  • Your outfit is so pretty and rad. I love the leather and how you topped it off with a cute bun. Perfect autumn glow!

    Stephanie |

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Stephy!

  • Wow, first of all your outfit is beyond cool and badass, not everyone could pull this off in the natural way you show in these photos, so bravo!
    As for your post, it is beautifully written and it sounds like you had amazing and unique experiences living in different parts of the world. Travelling will always provide you from widsom. :)

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Deborah! And yes travel really does always provide us with widsom! Travel to me is priceless.

  • idu

    Amazing how we are able to adapt to where ever we find ourselves. You look beautful.

    • rae

      Thanks so much, idu!

  • I seriously just adore you!

    Happy Holidays!
    Sabrina |

    • rae

      Thanks, Sabrina! happy holidays to you too.

  • Cindy

    Love this thought provoking post! Although I was born in the U.S., I spent my early childhood in Japan and came back to the U.S. I can relate with you in that I too wonder how different life would have been, had we stayed in the U.S. the entire time OR if my family ended up staying in Japan.

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Cindy! So glad you enjoyed it and yes I can entirely relate to what it is like to think how different life would have been like in that sense too. I was adopted from Korea so I sometimes wonder what it would have been like, had I actually grown up in Korea. Does your family go back to Japan to visit ever?

      • Cindy

        We used to visit Japan more frequently (annual basis) when my sisters and I were younger, but sadly it’s probably been over ten years since the last time I’ve visited.

  • sweetsimpleday

    Such a cute and chic style u have!! Loving everything from head to toe! Awesome.

    • rae

      Thanks so much!

  • life is a shoe

    you look great! loving your photos too


  • Outfit looks gorgeous! <3 And I love your perspective about going to new places and coming back with eyes that see your home differently, which like you said and I completely agree, isn't a bad thing. It gives you a whole new perspective and with that, a new angle from which you appreciate your home. :)


    • rae

      Thanks so much!

  • Olivia Muller

    I love your top knot bun!!

    Miss Olivia Says

    • rae

      Thanks, Olivia!

  • wow, I’m so obsessed with these photos, and how adorable you and your outfit are! Just perfect babe! <3

    -Lily from With Love Lily Rose

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Lily!

  • Kim

    I remember when I returned to the States after spending about 8 years in Korea and thinking how wide everything felt! Even the sky felt wider as most places in Korea are jam packed with tall buildings. I love your hair in this look! Both the color and the perfect bun! x

    • rae

      Oh wow, for some reason, I thought you were a Korea native and had grown up there and lived there all your life. Do you miss it a lot?

  • I hadn’t realised you studied in England, I’m always learning stuff about you.

    Buckets & Spades

    • rae

      Yup, I did a semester abroad in Bath through a program called Advanced Studies in England. The professors from neighboring colleges came to our main house and taught classes there. We also had the opportunity to take a tutorial at one of the Oxford Unis as well. I went to University College at Oxford and took a tutorial on 18th Century British History. Haha.

      • I feel like I know you a whole lot better now.

  • Love this – I like how you shared a bit of your life with us too :) I didn’t even know you were from the States so always assumed you were a mysterious and elusive artist living in Berlin haha! I feel you on a lot of things as well, I’ve also lived/travelled in different countries for the last ten years and it’s definitely weird for me to return home and see all the things I grew up with and yet I love moving from place to place and seeing new things all the time. But as you say, it’s never a bad thing I hope. Fingers crossed.

    Cherie x
    say hi at sinonym

    • rae

      No worries, Cherie! Yeah, I am from the US! But really I have been here for more than 6 years so most of my adult life has been here – to be honest, I feel quite disconnected from a lot of America at this point – not in the sense that it still isn’t home in some ways, but I have no idea what it is like to be a young adult in the US as I never was! Crazy right? And wow sounds like you have been doing a lot of traveling as well. What different places have you lived in?

      • Hahah no worries, I feel that too! I grew up in Malaysia, moved to Australia for high school aka teen years so I totally understand the whole young adult concept… and then London for the past five years. It’s been a great experience though, and my friends are all over the world!

  • Your outfits look soo stunning. I love it!! Perfect for christmas. And i love your hair, the bun looks great!!
    would you like to follow each other on Google Friend connect and google +?
    let me know if you follow me and i will follow you back.

    • rae

      Thanks so much! Sure we an follow each other! I only have google+ so I will follow you there, lady!

  • I definitely see where you’re coming from with this and I agree. I haven’t moved to another country just yet but I am planning to – after college and some internships. I can see myself feeling the same things later on. I sometimes even feel the same way even though I’ve only moved an hour away from home to a bigger city. I’d personally love moving from place to place to see new stuff every time. It’s not a bad thing.

    Hannie Arden from Missing Wanderer.

    • rae

      Hey Hannie, thanks so much for your comment – do you know where you are planning on or would like to move to? And yes that makes sense too – even moving an hour away can make such a difference!

      • Well at the moment I’m majoring in Tourism Management in Dresden and I’m planning on start working in hotels until I’m secure enough to move to England. & definitely! It’s only an hour away but I feel like I’m living such a different life. x

  • I know exactly what you mean. I’ve never fully moved away and lived in a different place but even going to another westernized place like Australia for half a year opened my eyes so much. Now, having a partner from the middle east, I’m constantly being asked to think about the things that I do, say etc. He’ll always ask what something means, why people do something this way, how come something happens like this etc. It makes me think about my culture more instead of just mindlessly living it. It also makes me understand that there are some things that I’ve just been doing because that’s “how it is” instead of doing it because I really want to or believe in doing it.


  • Love the outfit, Rae! I totally get where you’re coming from! For Xmas, I went to my grandparents (who live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a load of trees and a coffee shop is a trek away..) and I found it so weird, but after a week I felt so accustomed to it. Moving back to the city now is SO weird and I’m taking in even the smallest of details and comparing them to the country lifestyle!

    Pop over to my blog!


  • Nancy Wilde

    ” It’s not at all such a bad thing to be.” -I totally agree with you. After 1 year in Dublin, I sometimes feel like it’s all worth it (the humidity, the cold, the expensive alcohol) when on my way to work I realize that I still stare at those Georgian era buildings on the waterfront, I still contemplate the bridges over the Liffey and I still inhale the greasy fry up fragrance coming from the nearby pub. It’s good to find myself still exhilarated by a place you picked to be your new home.

  • iluminacjekonwersacje.blogspot

    Nice ♡ Beautiful photos :)