09 Apr Why I Applied for Dual Citizenship

Let me be the first to say that I am a proud American. I have lived here for 32 years and been though the prosperity of the Clinton administration and the subsequent disaster of the Bush administration (financially speaking). I take a rather poignant been there, done that attitude when it comes to travel and landmarks within the States. I have lived in San Francisco (twice), Washington, DC, and Tampa, FL; and I am about to relocate to the Netherlands as part of Panrimo’s plan to open a European office and continue to provide the best programs in Europe. [caption id="attachment_1704" align="alignnone" width="960"] Canal in my town of Utrecht[/caption] Before I introduce the benefits of being a dual EU/US citizen, allow me to share how I obtained my Italian citizenship (Disclaimer: This is meant for educational purposes only and not as an official authority on how to obtain citizenship. The fact that I even have to state that gives you an idea of why I am heading to Europe). Step 1: Do I qualify for Italian Citizenship? Yes. My grandfather was naturalized in the US after my father was born. Step 2: Obtain Grandfather’s Birth records from Italian Comune This was located in his birth town of Terrasini, Sicilia. Step 3: Search for Index Number of my Grandfather’s upon arrival into the USA The USCIS website allows you to look up the index number Step 4: Order Grandfather’s US Naturalization forms (certified) from USCIS Not too...

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06 Apr Path Less Traveled

Avoiding the Beaten Path in Prague Prague is best described as an eclectic mix of old and new, where history can be seen and felt no matter where you are. Whether you are dancing the night away in a modern club housed in a two hundred year old building or eating traditional Czech food in a centuries-old restaurant along a winding, cobbled street, you will feel the past merging fluidly with the present. In the last few years people have begun to recognize Prague as a melting pot of culture, entertainment and beauty, which has increased the tourist traffic dramatically. For those of us who want to experience all that Prague has to offer while avoiding the crowds of people flocking to the most well-known venues, here 4 alternative experiences that can only be found in Prague.   Vyšehrad (High Castle) Though much less well-known than the Prague Castle, Vyšehrad is a favorite spot for locals because of the amazing view of the city, the popular beer garden located on the grounds, and the castle cemetery which is full of famous Czech people. At Vyšehrad you can drink like a local while looking at the graves of the more permanent locals.   Františkánská zahrada (Franciscan Garden)   Experience a peaceful oasis just off the famous (and famously busy) Wenceslas Square. The Františkánská zahrada is a small garden that was established in 1348 and which offers an ideal escape from the crowds without being completely removed from the energy of...

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23 Mar When travel goes wrong, because sometimes it does

Let's face it, traveling doesn't always go as we expect, despite our best efforts to think ahead and plan our itinerary down to to the minute. Most of us can recall a situation when a train was late, we missed a flight (or in my case, didn't really have a flight and lived in the airport for three days - more on this later), or we just ended up in the wrong place, and these are only the most common of travel inconveniences. The best thing about travel misadventures? They're learning experiences, and they're part of the adventure itself, often making for great stories you'll find yourself telling over and over years later. Read about our very own travel-gone-wrong experiences from the Panrimo staff and how we survived to tell about them! Ellen Knuth - University Relations Manager, Kyoto, Japan   What was supposed to happen: I was supposed to have a nice night out with friends, which I did, but with a slight hiccup. What actually happened:  I was working in a rural area in Japan, but on a long weekend, traveled to the cultural capital of Kyoto to meet-up with some college buddies. After a very long, very late evening of revelry, everyone hugged goodbye and went back to their hotels. Everyone except me, of course. Because I hadn’t booked a hotel. Resolution: With another friend who had also neglected basic travel prep, I got a room. Not in a hostel or business hotel, but in a 24/7...

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07 Jan Raise a Glass

Think Italy, think wine. Or should that be think Italy, drink wine? The country is home to some of the world’s oldest wine regions - Etruscans and Greeks were making wine here even before the famously hedonistic Romans got into large-scale wine production in 200 BC. Today Italy is the world’s largest wine producer after France. Grapes are grown in almost every Italian region of the country and around one in fifty Italians take part in the annual grape harvest. To truly appreciate Italy’s winemaking traditions, you really need to tour of one of the countries many vineyards. There are more than a million vineyards, so lucky for you, we’ve narrowed it down to three of the best. Remember to call ahead to book a tour.   Ceretto Aziende Vitivinicole, Alba, Piedmont The Ceretto family have been making wine for over three generations. With a vineyard that spans 140 hectares across four villages of the Piedmont’s Langhe, the family have made a name for themselves for their unique mix of wine cultivation and contemporary art. As well as the grapevines, the property features historic chapels and statues restored by notable artists and architects. Villa Vignamaggio, Greve in Chianti, Tuscany This 14th century villa was first built by the Gherardini family in the late Middle Ages. Brimming with luscious cypress trees, the villa features views of the Tuscan countryside e worthy of a coming-of-age love story. Sample the exquisite variety of Sangiovese wine, and stay overnight in some very luxurious, old-world accommodation. Planeta’s Cantina dell’Ulmo,...

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13 Apr Wandering through Wales, Part 2

[caption id="attachment_2352" align="alignnone" width="660"] Time to revisit the magic of Wales.[/caption] Ready to resume the trip through Wales? Having regained the energy lost exploring castles and the Caerleon Amphitheatre, it’s time to hit the road and explore the wilderness, both above and below ground. You’re off to Brecon Beacon National Park, the Big Pit National Coal Museum (located inside the mines themselves), and finally, Tintern Abbey, a gorgeous palate cleanser after the claustrophobic tunnels below the earth. Known for its rolling plains and scattered collections of waterfalls, Brecon Beacon National Park will have you mesmerized as you blaze along the trail. Appropriately, Brecon Beacons takes it’s name from the fires formerly lit atop the mountain range's peaks to warn villages and cities of invading enemies. This scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King visualizes the process perfectly. Driving through the National Park, you’ll find flocks of mountain sheep dotting the plains, as well as a few mountain ponies; proof that these lands are still as wild as in the past, preserved from industrialization. The Black Forest (Fforest Fawr in Welsh) sprawls across the path you’ll follow, and Black Mountain looms to the West. After braving the forest, you’ll briefly get a comforting view of the fields and pastures once again. Relish these plains because soon, you’ll be deep within them. It’s time to hit the mines. Upon arriving at Big Pit National Coal Museum, you’ll receive some training in proper...

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19 Jan Passing through Social Faux Pas in London

[caption id="attachment_2343" align="alignnone" width="660"] Tip #1: Don't wear these masks.[/caption] While England and the US share a de facto official language (English, although legally the US has no official language), it’s clear that cultures and customs remain distinct, and occasionally incompatible. Navigating social situations can become tricky, particularly when addressing international politics (Ireland anyone?). Keeping that in mind, I present a few guidelines when speaking with London locals, superiors, or even (if blind chance intercedes) the Queen. First, be aware of small talk. Britons are more reserved than Americans. Idle discussion with a new coworker can prove uncomfortable. Don’t take it personally if they shrug you off and bury their face in a newspaper or computer. Likely, your positive demeanor and openness for discussion took the individual off-guard. Throw in a couple self-deprecating statements about yourself and you might just open them up as well. Recognizing the function of humor, sarcasm and wit in British discourse will be your most important tool. And don’t get unnerved if your statements elicits sarcasm; this is a defense mechanism employed when conversation has struck a tender spot for the individual. Don’t take sarcasm or irony personally; offer a bit of your own (without making a fool of yourself) and this impasse may be crossed. If you’ve struck up a light conversation, it’s best to stick to open questions as opposed to loaded ones (“what do you think about the Queen?”) or personal assertions. Comment on the weather and...

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03 Jan How to survive a 17-hour flight

[caption id="attachment_2339" align="alignnone" width="660"] Only 16 hours to go![/caption] Yesterday a college friend called and asked me to attend his wedding. It takes place in less than two months. It wasn’t the short notice that surprised me. It was where the wedding is to be: a ceremony in Kyoto, Japan, with a party of sorts a week later in Tokyo. And then selfish thinking entered, and that constant biting of the travel bug began. “Well, I have always wanted to order sushi from its original source,” I mused to myself. “And at the first location I could act as ‘dignitary attaché’ and sign the environmental Kyoto Protocol the U.S. refuses to.” The trip was quickly turning into a productive one even before I decided whether or not to go. And then I remembered the flight. The time on a plane from the east coast of the United States to Japan is nothing short of 17 hours. One-way. Next to a crying baby in the lap of a mother who seems to have neglected it since birth, the child’s face red and full of runny snot. This thought led me to wonder what to do on a plane for so many hours. Initial reaction, like many seasoned flyers, is to drink as many miniature Absolute vodka bottles, and as quickly as possible. Then pass out, hoping to reawake when rubber hits tarmac upon landing. You then smile at the sleeping baby who only minutes before passed...

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07 Dec Wasteland Turns to Wonderland: Discover Buenos Aires’ Green Side

[caption id="attachment_2336" align="alignnone" width="660"] Bird's eye view of Rio de la Plata.[/caption] It’s encouraging when governments deem areas of land as national parks and ecological reserves. Clearly, there’s credence in the science behind their establishment. This holds especially true for ecological reserves, where human impacts on ecology are (or were, rather) becoming tangible. Developmental sprawl intrudes the habitats of species endemic to specific areas, threatening their existence. Furthermore, the impacts of expansion on ecology are unpredictable, as an impact on one species may affect another without obviously appearing so, and recognized only after irreparable damage is done. The preventative aspect of ecological reserves remains particularly appealing. While it’s easy to discuss ecology metaphorically, Buenos Aires, Argentina took action. The city's government established the Buenos Aires Ecologica Reserva, also known as Costanera Sur. The area had previously been a promenade, with coffee shops and bars lining the banks of the Rio de la Plata in the 20s and 30s. However, river contamination drove consumers away, leading to the deterioration and eventual destruction of these establishments. As the river grew it began to overtake some of the promenade, and trash dumping was normal. This incited the proposal to reclaim the land. Eventually these plans were abandoned and the site was left alone. In the absence of human interaction, a massively diverse explosion of fauna began. In 1986, the diversity of species and their ecological interactions were recognized and began being protected as a natural park...

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07 Dec Christmas in China

[caption id="attachment_2333" align="alignnone" width="576"] Maybe it's time to rethink the Christmas tree.[/caption] China has been red, politically, since 1949. And over the past decade in December urban centers in China literally become red. Walk down a busy Beijing street in December and it’s like you’re in the US: wreaths adorn storefronts, tinsel hangs from doorways, and red ribbons perch atop oversized present displays, promising holiday cheer. In shops, buyers purchase Holy Apples for their children and paper lanterns to decorate the home. With the Communist party in power, China has no official state religion and the majority of Chinese people are atheist. Christmas isn’t recognized as a “government” or “religious” holiday, and only in a few places is it technically a “public holiday.” As a result, Christmas celebrations in China have been stripped of their religious underpinnings. This directly opposes the sentiment behind Christmas, which Christians celebrate as “the day [that the] Christ was born.” In Hong Kong, a former colony of Western powers, Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday despite the general public not being Christian. It seems historical development plays a role. But on the whole, China’s political history defies this idea. After the Communist party took control, China’s government attempted to shelter the country from foreign influence. For decades, Christians in China (~2%) weren’t permitted to openly celebrate Christmas for fear of government intervention. Especially during the 20th century, Christmas began representing a very capitalist, Christian holiday – wholly non-Chinese,...

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07 Dec Wandering Through Wales, Part 1

[caption id="attachment_2330" align="alignnone" width="660"] Fancy a hike?[/caption] For a country represented by a red dragon, Wales is decidedly green. With rolling hills dotted with lochs stretching hundreds of acres, you’d think the dragon would be easily seen. Of course, while the myth of the red dragon may be an inspirational allegory for the Britons victory over the Saxons, the symbol may take its origin from the Romans. It may seem unlikely, but evidence of Roman activity is evident in Britain. Travel the land of the red dragon for a weekend, stopping at Caerleon Amphitheater. You’ll see where Romans congregated for entertainment, as well as a few bathhouse ruins (Romans took pride in their skin). The Caerleon ruins are integral to Arthurian legend: it’s allegedly the place of Camelot. Furthermore, the “round table” featured prominently in the myths may have been inspired by the shape of the Amphitheatre. So you’ll get a taste of medieval history in addition to the Romans. Next stop, Caerphilly Castle, the second largest castle in Britain (after Windsor), and the first to both use water as a defense (think enormous moat) and be built using concentric design. While it may seem insignificant, this concentric design made it easier to access all parts of the castle, in addition to rendering siege machinery useless. What’s more impressive is the architecture: the last remodeling took place in 1322-6, and even then, it was only to make the dining halls grander. As a result, Caerphilly...

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