Monthly Archives: May 2012

First Postcard through Postcrossing

A few weeks ago a student introduced me to www.postcrossing.com after I told her about my love for postcards.  (I shamelessly try to bribe students to send me postcards from abroad.)  Postcrossing is a postcard swap, unlike regular pen pals. There is no reciprocation between members (unless desired). It allows you to mail your postcards all over the world and receive postcards from all over the world.  In the past two weeks, I’ve sent postcards to the Netherlands, Russia, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, and Canada.  But yesterday, I received my first one from New Zealand.  If you are a stamp collector, love to give/get mail, or just interested in an international exchange, this is a great way to do it.  Check out a few of my postcards that I’ve sent and my first arrival!

 

This is the one I just got!

 

Start sending your own postcards by signing up for an account at www.postcrossing.com

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Abroad Blog of the Week: Fluent in 3 Months

I came across Fluent in 3 Months this past week when a friend posted on his Facebook 29 Life Lesson in Traveling the World 8 Years Straight. The blogger, Benny, has been traversing the globe for (you guessed it!) 8 years and learning new languages along the way.  His blog is funny, insightful, and he brings in a variety of guest bloggers to spice it up.  I thoroughly enjoyed this Life Lessons list and think there is a lot to be appreciated from his experiences.  All 29 are pretty good but these were the ones that resonated with me the most:

1. Everyone everywhere basically wants the same thing

100% true

5. Seek out people with different beliefs and views of the world to yours and get to know their side of the story

It was actually at Emory University as a college student that I learned the value of this principle.  Having grown up in a sheltered suburb of Atlanta with little diversity, I started college incredibly closed-minded.  Surrounded and forced to interact with students who were of various faiths, sexual preferences, socio-economic statuses, and ethnicities, I finally was able to realized how really we are so similar and my role is to love, not judge.

15. Modern foreign culture does not have to satisfy your stereotypes

This one and number 5 go so hand-in-hand. I find it is so easy to stereotype other cultures and try to fit a whole county into a nice little box. Not only have I succumb to this abroad, but I’ve also been guilty here in the U.S. Think about the common stereotypes we have in the U.S.: people of certain ethnicities can’t drive; people from a certain country are here illegally; or this certain people group is lazy. If I take the time to get to know people, the likelihood that I will try to fit them into a box severely decreases. 

20. Wear sunscreen

Of course I have to agree with this one…my hubby is a dermatologist

23. Making new friends is easy and so is appreciating your current ones

This one reminded me of a recent experience.  I was at a wedding a few weeks ago by myself and the woman next to me befriended me.  We had little in common – I knew the bride, she knew the groom; we were probably 20 years apart in age; she’s a nurse, I’m a study abroad advisor; the list goes on.  But despite our differences, she saw a young woman on her own and decided to pull me in her circle. I cannot express how thankful I was. It made me really think about how I act when I am in the position of comfort.  Do I invite outsiders in, especially those of different cultures? I’m not as consistent as I would like…but I do hope to improve.

That is Very Pinteresting

Have you gone pinsane with Pinterest?  They finally have created a social media tool that I LOVE and I have gone a bit wild with pinning over the past few months!  Pinterest has given me inspiration for internationally themed parties, recipes, and destinations.  Click the pictures below to check out some of my favorite travel-themed Pinterest sites for vacation ideas, books to read, and incredible global photography.  Don’t have Pinterest?  Post a comment and I’m happy to send you an invite!

100 Places to Visit Before I Die

  BootsnAll Indie Travel

SmarterTravel

The Purple Passport

Conde Nast Traveler

Follow me on Pinterest!

9 Ways to Creatively Display Your Photos from Abroad

If you are anything like me, you have thousands of pictures from abroad but most of them are sitting on your computer…Facebook if you’re lucky.  Check out these 9 unique photo displays and give yourself a reason to browse through those old photos again.

1. Bring your photos into your entertaining with this DIY Photo Runner by HGTV Design Happens.

2. Don’t have any more wall space? Cover your fridge with these cute DIY Mini Polaroid Magnets by Ambrosia Creative.

3. If you have lots of 4×6 photos but not enough frames, this mod podge craft from Hope Anchors the Soul may be the perfect solution.

4. Decorate your sofa with these one-of-a-kind pillows.  Find the How-To at MarthaStewart.com.

5. Combine your photos, ticket stubs, and memorabilia into one frame using Alphabet Frame from Design Aglow.

6.  For those of you that like to switch out photos regularly, these clipboards featured on Ashley Ann Photography make that an easy task.

7. Incorporate your abroad experiences into the holidays as a reminder of the great gift you’ve been given.  Find the instructions for these at Clover Lane.

8. Wear your travels on your wrist with this personalized bangle.  Order at ByMyCrap on Etsy.

9. Put your memories in order with this creative calendar journal from Design Sponge.

 

When the Moon Hits Your Eye…

Not only did we have an annular eclipse in San Diego today (stunning!), but it was also the annual Sicilian Festival in Little Italy.  Of course we couldn’t pass it up.  We scoped out the Gesso Italiano (Italian Chalk), took pictures of the human music box, devoured delicious meatballs, and eyed the cannoli with desire.  If you are interested in delving into Italian culture from home, visit the National Italian American Foundation and check out these great sites:

Netflix Recommendation – Mao’s Last Dancer

After a long work week in our household, we decided to spend Friday night in. After some delicious Cooking Light corn fritters, I began to search Netflix and came across Mao’s Last Dancer. I personally haven’t been to China, but it’s definitely on my short list so I was interested. The 2010 Bruce Beresford film depicts the “true story” of Li Cunxin, a ballet dancer who came to the U.S. on exchange from Communist China, and his struggle to remain in the U.S. With flashbacks to his childhood and training in China, the film was full of cultural incidents that really struck me. For example, Li’s parents don’t call him by his name but rather call him Sixth Son (he is the 6 of 7 boys in the family). There is also a great scene with Li and the artistic director of the Houston Ballet addressing American frivolity and excess that was excellent (part of it is in the trailer). If you are looking for an inspirational, cultural film for your Saturday night, I would highly recommend Mao’s Last Dancer.

Il Pranzo Italiano

My job is pretty quiet in the summer.  With most of the students at home for their break, I have to bribe people to come visit – otherwise I stare at a computer for 8 hours straight.  With college students, the best bribe of course is food, so I decided I would make lunch today for a few students who are working on campus this summer.  To be honest, feeding them was totally selfish – I love having visitors, I have to eat too, and it gave me something fun to write about.

With Italy on the brain after reading all those postcards, I thought some “authentic” Italian cuisine might be fun.  Our menu consisted of a caprese salad (I added mixed greens to make it more substantial), procuitto and melon, bread, roasted almonds, and watermelon granita.  These probably aren’t the dishes that most people think of when it comes to Italian food, but they are some of my favorites.  Plus, they don’t require a stove (which I don’t have in the office).

Of everything, I would definitely recommend trying the watermelon granita.  It was easy, light, and almost as good as the ones I had in Italy.