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Why We Stay Home

There was a lot of backlash over what “Nomadic Matt” wrote on HuffPo about a month ago, and a whole bunch more backlash on post by Mike Barish on Gadling.  And I can understand why–there are a lot of assumptions inherent in both pieces, and people don’t like feeling judged.  I’m not mad at Matt, I just think he got it wrong, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness with which Mike considers paths that are different from his.  When I stay home, I’m not “choosing money” (or even long hours).  I choose my parents, my boyfriend, a hometown (and city) that I love.  I choose First Communions and first steps, 80th birthday parties and free movies in the park.  Matt writes of the elation that comes from a new world around every corner.  One of the things I have noticed in myself, and one of the things I’m most proud of, is that I have more wonder and whimsy in my everyday life because of travel.  I am a little jaded to “the big reveal,” to the simple notion of being in a different country or or on a different continent, but I find joy in all the tiny wonders, beauties and mysteries around me, no matter if I’m in Boston or Benin.  I feel sorry for Matt–his home is not special to him.  For me, Boston is still a place with new neighborhoods to discover, shows to see, books to read and people to meet.  Boston is also where I learn.  I learn about me, and about other cultures and places and languages.  I think part of my love of...

Ten Things No One Tells You About Study Abroad

You will have at least one nervous breakdown. People don’t really want to hear that much about your trip.  30 seconds or less will do. Other countries are really not that scary.  The people are pretty much just like us–they just dress, talk and act different, and eat different food. Some days, it will suck. This is because it is real life, not an extended vacation.  So laugh and keep moving.  Even if you have to fake it, you probably won’t notice when you stop needing to. You will spend too much money. No matter how carefully you pack, you will have brought too much, and still manage to have left behind something you totally miss It’s harder to adjust to life back home at the end of the trip than life away from home at the beginning. Everyone gets in.  Well, pretty close to it. Everyone lies about how perfect study abroad is.  Study abroad is awesome, but not perfect.  I promise, your friends don’t post pictures, blogs or status updates about feeling overwhelmed, having trouble making friends, or being ridiculously homesick.  No one wants to admit “defeat” especially since everyone else’s time seems so perfect.  But everyone is having their rough days, too. You will, in fact, spend the same amount of time on facebook and watching movies/television as you did back home. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click...

Why I Travel: A Sense of Clarity

Reflecting on Pico Iyer’s Why I Travel, the many ensuing responses, and the current political climate in the US, I thought I would try my hand at it.  I’ve noticed that often, people try to hijack my travel experience and use it to reinforce their world view.  “Oh, you must have loved Cuba–but I bet you’re so happy you live here with all this stuff and where we’re all FREE!”  Or, “Oh wow, you must have loved Cuba, getting to see how awesome a country is even though it’s not capitalist and America’s trying to keep it DOWN!” I generally don’t feel comfortable responding in the affirmative to either statement.  The “you must really love our wealth/infrastructure/freedoms” people are right, I am happy to live in a country with pillowtop matresses, good water pressure and wings whenever I want them.  But their statement almost always contains an inherent pejorative of wherever I’ve just been, a sense that it was a lovely/educational dalliance, but now I was back in the REAL world, the good one. On the other hand, the business about seeing places so different from America, without our “rampant consumerism, corrupt politicians and danger around every turn” does ring true–a little bit.  There really are other ways of carrying on life and a country, ones that are far less selfish and just as succesful.  But these views tend to put the rose-colored glasses on for foreign countries.  And let’s be honest, if I won’t wear them for my own country, I’m certainly not going to wear them for anyone else’s. I love travel because it sorts the wheat from...

Meet, Plan Go! Boston

This was my first blogger-in-person type deal, and it was definitely interesting.  I really loved being in a room full of people who care so much about travel and value it so highly, instead of always being “the weird one” or “the one who travels.” I brought my roommate Alex with me, because she loves to travel (Egypt, Syria) and is really interested in teaching English abroad after she graduates in December.  On the whole, the place read more like an alcoholics anonymous meeting than anything, which was fine because we’re addicts, too.  I was waiting for someone to say, “Hi, my name is Adventurous Kate, and I quit my job today so I can travel.”  (In reality, someone else did this for her.)  I was waiting for the group to say, “Hi, Kate,” but instead we all just clapped for her.   Oddly enough, Kate is from my hometown and was in the Drama club with my older brother, and she was friends with a lot of my friends‘ older sisters. I was predisposed to liking Rob Verger because of his blurb on the Meet Plan Go site, but meeting him only made me like him more.  His travel philosophy of staying in one place for a while and really getting to know the culture (including language!) gels with my own views, and it’s a subject I so rarely hear travel bloggers covering.  He was also super helpful to Alex, because one of his major experiences was with Teaching Abroad. Lillie Marshall (I can’t help but think of How I Met Your Mother) showed her schoolteacher tendencies by quieting chatty bloggers...

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