I’m Erica, and welcome to Erica Explores. In 2017 I sold most of my belongings, quit my job, and moved about 6,000 miles from San Francisco to Berlin, Germany. It’s the best decision I have ever made, and I’m loving every minute.
Erica Explores is an unconventional travel and lifestyle blog, where I share my adventures living abroad, living with T1D, and talk about offbeat travel topics ranging from the very nerdy (like larping!) to the downright macabre (such as dark tourism).
Why did you move to Europe?
Why I moved to Europe is a complicated combination of things, and eventually I’ll write a thorough blog post about it. I was born and raised in the Bronx (that part of New York City that tourists don’t visit unless they’re going to a Yankees game) but after college I moved across the United States to San Francisco to start my career in tech as a designer and developer. I lived in San Francisco from 2010-2017, and over that time it became so widly expensive (literally more expensive than NYC) that I was living paycheck-to-paycheck on a six-figure salary (which is crazy!). Plus I did not enjoy the techbro monoculture that was eating into the city, so it was really time for a change.
It sounds like it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but it wasn’t. I’ve always wanted to live in Europe since I first visited in 2003, so I researched where would be the best place for me to go. I looked for a centrally-located city (for good flight connections) with good public transit (I don’t drive), job opportunities in tech (so I could find work, obviously), and good healthcare (that would cover T1D and still be affordable). The best place for all of those things turned out to be Berlin, Germany.
I spent two years saving and one year planning my move before actually going, and it was all worth it.
You keep mentioning T1D, what is that?
I was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes (shortened to T1D) in October 1999, just 4 days before my 12th birthday (great birthday present from the universe, really, right along with my first period 2 months prior). There is more than one type of diabetes, but Type-1 is an autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system kills off the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. There is no cure, only management via the manual injection or infusion of insulin.
I have lived with this invisible, chronic, and difficult-to-manage condition for over 20 years now, and while I would not say T1D is a fundamental part of my identity, my experience with it has definitely helped shape who I am. I’m not afraid to be proud of that.
I manage my T1D with the help of some pretty awesome diabetes technology that I wear 24/7: my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor. I am currently using an Omnipod for my pump and a Dexcom G6 for my CGM, so I like to call myself a “Wireless Cyborg.” #CyborgLife
Also, what the hell is larping?
Larping is an acronym-turned-word that stands for “live action role-playing.” It is a niche, nerdy hobby that is a unique combination of part-game, part-theater, and part-immersive experience. The shortest way I can think of to describe it is it’s kind-of like Dungeons-and-Dragons in costuming, but without the tabletop and the dice. Instead of describing what your character does, you act it out! It’s super fun.
I first started larping in 2006, and I would say it’s one of my main hobbies besides travel. Often the two go hand-in-hand since larps take place all over the world! There’s so many different styles of larp and different larp subcultures, so chances are high that there’s going to be a game out there that you’d enjoy.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
These somewhat random tidbits might be interesting to you:
- I have two cats, Calluna and Gigi, and am very much a cat lady. I just really love cats.
- I have a boyfriend whom I date long-distance, we see each other about once a month. He is why I am often visiting Northern Ireland.
- I love reading and read mostly fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction books. I try to read at least one book a month, and am currently focused on reading authors in under-represented demographics (mainly non-cismale and/or non-white).
- I love writing too, and actually studied creative writing in college. Though most of the writing I do these days is for this blog, journaling (I keep a bullet journal), or letters to pen pals.
- You’ve probably noticed this by now, but I really love bullet points and parenthetical statements. My favorite punctuation mark is the interrobang (‽).
- My favorite kind of music is progressive rock, and I listen primarily to rock, metal, and folk music. My favorite band is Rush, and I have some lyrics from one of their songs tattooed on my arm.
- I also 10 piercings. 3 in my left ear, 6 in my right ear, and 1 nose ring.
- My favorite colors are black and purple.
- My life-long goal is to visit over 100 countries. So far, I’m over a fourth of the way there.