03 Nov Staying Healthy While Traveling

[caption id="attachment_2168" align="alignright" width="300"] If you'll be living somewhere for a while, maybe think about buying a bike![/caption] Changing altitude, people from all over the globe, different climate--OH MY! How on earth is a traveler supposed to stay healthy while roaming? Here are a few quick and very easy tips on how to keep your immune system in tip top shape while you are adventuring: 1. Drink so much water! Of all the tips we will talk about today, this is truly the most important one! Staying hydrated will help keep your body in balance, despite your new and changing surroundings. 2. Go for a walk, a run, a stretch, etc. -- Especially after sitting on a plane or train for who knows how many hours, make sure to stretch it out. Even while en route, walking the aisle of the plane or train is great for your circulation, especially on trips longer than a handful of hours. Your legs will thank you later! 3. Pack snacks...

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05 Oct How traveling taught me to listen: {stop. look. listen.}

[caption id="attachment_2175" align="aligncenter" width="200"] Appreciate quite moments in unfamiliar places.[/caption] So you’re sitting in a busy coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon, chatting with a friend who is just across the table from you. Although there are at least 20 other people in this small space all having their own conversations, it is no problem for you to tune out the other conversations around you and engage in your own. Think of all the words, sayings, inflections, laughs, exclamations, et cetera that are happening in this little shop, and yet your brain has no problem focusing on only the words involved in your conversation. When broken down like this, it may seem like some sort of feat that we all do this everyday when really it is like a second nature now. That all changes when you’re tossed into an entirely new culture and language, however… I remember my first few moments in Prague: it was like all of my senses were heightened and sharpened. I could hear everything, smell everything, and see everything so clearly—talk about overwhelming ( in the best way! ). I especially remember my ears being entirely alert because of the new language surrounding me. New sounds, new words, new accents—and although I couldn’t understand any of it yet, I was entirely intrigued and loved listening. Listening: something I came back from Europe much better at. Of course it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, always. It’s especially...

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01 Sep Writing and the Brain: Making the most of your travel journal

[caption id="attachment_2186" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Travel journals are such a great tool! Especially when you get a chance to go look back on them.[/caption] What is it about writing—the physical act of pen to paper—that seems to have this eternal, romanticized life? With technology perpetually on the rise, this seemingly old-fashioned event has yet to decline. Maybe it’s because studies show that physically writing helps with memory by bringing the information you’re working with to the literal forefront of the brain which helps you pay closer attention to what you’re writing. On top of that, listening combined with writing assists the brain in filtering out less relevant information and as you continue to add neurologically stimulating layers (ie. creative writing, storytelling, etc) and interactive ploys, your brain catches on even faster and naturally remembers the “important” stuff. Studies also show that writing, as far as our brains are concerned, might as well be doing—by writing, we can easily trick our brains into “rehearsing” or even experiencing...

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02 Jul Ditch the “hostel”-ity: Pros and cons of hostels

[caption id="attachment_2236" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Hostel living.[/caption] Alright, so let’s address this topic once and for all: Hostels are not sketchy. No, they are not like the movie Hostel. No, they do not all have bed bugs. No, they’re not all sex, drugs, rock and roll. Yes, there are plenty of safe hostels. Yes, hostels are a great way to meet new people. Yes, they are very cheap and you should take advantage of them! Hostel Pros: Hostels can be very cheap! Ranging from $12 to $40 a night, hostels are a great way to travel if you are trying to save money. Sure, you won’t be living in the lap of luxury but you probably won’t be spending much time at the actual hostel anyway. Hostels are an awesome way to meet people! Generally, the average hostel goer is 18-26 years old. So, if you fall in that category as well, you will most likely be meeting many people your own age, from all over the world! Some hostels are considered “youth hostels”—these generally have lower rates and age restrictions (another safety bonus, if that is what you’re worried about). Often times, hostels will have a “community room”—a space with all the plugs to charge your phone and other electronics. This makes it even easier to meet people and maybe even make some plans! Of course, use your own judgment and common sense when interacting with strangers. Breakfast, shower, lockers, oh my! Some hostels include...

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16 Jun Famous Landmarks that almost didn’t survive WWII

 When discussing World War II and its lasting impact on international populations and politics the focus is, rightly, on the human cost of the conflict. Six years of war claimed the lives of over 72,000,000 soldiers and civilians worldwide, and some regions have never regained the prosperity they enjoyed before the battles. Every aspect of society was altered by the massive conflict, which saw the birth America as a superpower, the fall of several empires, the rise of the Soviet Union, and the introduction of some of the most destructive weapons the world has ever seen. During the chaotic war years when the preservation of human life took precedence over all else, innumerable works of art and architecture fell victim to the astounding destruction. Mystery continues to surround the fate of some treasures, including Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael, and the infamous lost Amber Room of the Czars. Though teams of historians and experts have devoted years to finding stolen works, repairing damaged décor, and protecting sites against future damage, it is an imperfect science. As ISIS’ recent destruction of irreplaceable historic sites across Iraq and Syria has taught us, sometimes the survival of iconic buildings and structures is left entirely to the whim of occupying forces. Though it may be easy to despair for the art and history of the Mideast during the current conflicts, it is important to remember that less than 100 years ago the treasures of...

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09 Jun Oh Say Can You Sing?

The Best National Anthems You Haven't Heard Though you may not agree with the politics behind the flag, it’s generally accepted that the United States of America has an excellent national anthem. Originally written by Francis Scott Key as a poem expressing his feelings during the War of 1812, the poignant words were later paired with the music of “Anacreon in Heaven”, a gentleman’s club song from London. The most common places to hear the tune are sports matches, the Olympics, and memorial services, and it’s safe to say that even if you don’t know all the words you can hum a few stanzas. Britain’s “God Save the Queen” and Canada’s “Oh, Canada” are similarly recognizable, and the Francophiles amongst us will certainly know France’s “La Marseillaise”. However, there are 196 countries in the world, all with songs to honor their land. In addition, if we work off the definition of nation as “a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory”, there are even more anthems to consider. It can all get a bit overwhelming, but never fear! Here are 5 of the best national anthems you’ve probably never heard. Qatar – “Peace Be to the Emir” [embed]https://youtu.be/_Ub4frgwRTw[/embed] “Al-Salam Al-Amiri” is a baby as far as national anthems go, only instated in 1996 when the current Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani ascended to the seat of power. The song opens with a great thrill of strings...

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02 Jun 5 Classes to Take in Your Second Language

Studying abroad is a hugely enriching experience, which deepens your understanding of your host country and yourself. Before you leave home you’ll picture yourself on your new campus: Making new friends, settling into new accommodations, trying new foods, and gaining fluency in a language previously foreign to you. All of these things will happen. You’ll make more friends than you can count, the food and housing will initially frustrate and then enchant you, and little by little that language that was always confined to the pages of your textbooks will come alive. It’s a crazy, humbling experience and you’ll never, ever regret it. However, there will be aspects to your overseas program that you might not be able to anticipate so accurately. For example, most of your friends will probably be other exchange students. Odds are you will be housed with other international learners, you’ll all be in the same language classes, and during the evenings and weekends you’ll form an amazing group of adventurers. They will be some of the best friends you ever make, but they will also be in the same boat as you. They will also be “other” in this adopted country and therefore not much closer to linguistic fluency OR local savvy than you. This can be frustrating if your ultimate goal is to acclimate to your surroundings. So what should you do? It’s always a good idea to become involved with your local community, whether through volunteering...

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26 May All Aboard!

The popular idiom of “planes, trains, and automobiles” is often first on our minds when we plan transportation for a trip abroad. What airport will I fly to? Is there a shuttle service? Should I buy a subway pass? These are all good questions to ask, but too often travelers forget the fourth option: boats. Rewind history 100 years and boats were still the top choice for traveling, domestically and internationally, to say nothing of transporting cargo in the days before semi-trucks. Though no longer nearly as popular as their heyday, ships, cruises, ferries, and barges still operate all over the world and can elevate your vacation from “great” to “ridiculously awesome.” Here are 5 suggestions to get you started. Prince Edward Island – Canada Located off the east coast of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI) is an idyllic getaway not too far from the mainland. With activities as varied as whale watching and golf, there is something for everyone! The Northumberland Ferry Ltd takes 75 minutes one way and is open to shuttle cars as well. The ferry’s path takes it past the beautiful Caribou coastline, so be sure to get a window seat. Small Cyclades – Greece When visiting Greece there are so many islands to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start! We suggest taking a tour of the Small Cyclades a group of 8 islands which includes Santorini and Ios. The Express Scopelitis service runs daily and provides...

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20 May Drink It All In

We’re often told not to judge a book by its cover, but I have absolutely done so. I also generally choose wine based on the label design, purses by their designer, and household cleaners by their mascots. The irresistible power of marketing confronts us at every corner and I can’t say it bothers me. With that in mind, I recently went through a long, LONG list of international soft drinks and chose the ones I would most like to try based solely on their names. Keep in mind that I have no idea what these drinks taste like, so don’t take this as a suggestion. It’s merely a silly exercise in “Well, if I could, why not?” Manzanita Deliciosa – Mexico How can anyone resist a drink named “deliciosa”? This is a traditional apple-flavored soda which apparently makes an excellent pairing with Mexican food. Midnight Taco Bell run anyone? Chubby – Trinidad and Tobago Luckily this name refers to the cute little bottles and NOT the after-effects it has on your body. Apparently the main target is children between the ages of 4 and 9, but they got me hook, line, and sinker. Schwip Schwap – Germany Just try saying this drink name with a German accent, isn't it amazing? I would order this just to have the chance to say it aloud. This orange-flavored cola is a strong seller and is actually produced by Pepsi! Splashe Back O’ Bourke Cola – Australia The unnecessary “e” at the end...

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