Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hygge at Home

On my last day in San Diego, a good friend returned home after working in Europe with a study abroad program for the summer. Most of her time was spent in the Netherlands but she was also able to go back to Denmark, where she had studied abroad several years ago. When I picked her up from the airport, not only was I the beneficiary of some great tales (falling off bikes, strange roommates, and watching the American Olympic basketball team in Spain), but also of two handmade candle holders from the Danish harbor.

In her note that accompanied, she explained their significance.

In Denmark they use a lot of little candles in the homes, esp. in the cold dark winters months. When I was studying there, I really treasured coming home, sitting around with all the lights & talking the night away with my host family. This cozy atmosphere is called “hygge” in Danish.

Hygge is a word that really doesn’t translate in English. But in addition to my friend’s explanation, I did find some Danes’ interpretations of hygge.

As I sit in our cookie-cutter apartment with rented furniture and dishes, I am ever so thankful for these two little candles. They remind me of San Diego and all the good friends and wonderful conversations I had there. They also give me hope that soon OKC will feel that way too.  Thanks, KE, for sending a little hygge with me.

Whether you are at home or abroad, I hope all of you, dear readers, find a little hygge in your day.


One Lovely Blog

A big thanks to Brilliant London for nominating Global from Home for the One Lovely Blog Award. Now that we are moved and I’m feeling slightly settled in OKC, I am ready to bestow the honors to others. So here are the rules:

1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you (thank you, Brilliant London!)

2. Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere.

3. Tell us 7 facts about yourself

  1. When my Hubby is out of town, my meal of choice is cheese and crackers.
  2. My favorite trip was to El Calafate, Argentina with my best friend. She threw up on me after eating bad sushi but it only made the trip more memorable.
  3. If I could go any where in the world right now, it would be a toss up between Cambodia and Egypt.
  4. My mom always taught us, “Where there is a will, there is way.” The older I get, the more I agree with her.
  5. I have pictures of me with two celebrities: Jimmy Carter and Oscar the Grouch.
  6. Currently I am applying for a PhD program in higher education and hope to start classes in January.
  7. I have read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at least 6 times.

4. Nominate 15 other blogs you like for this award (this is the fun part)

  1. William Penn University Study Abroad Blog – it is so much more than just a study abroad blog. Karolyn amazes me daily with her creativity.
  2. Turkish Musings – Haley is headed to Istanbul in just a few weeks
  3. Mary in Haifa – Mary is a study abroad professional heading back to school…in Israel
  4. Parallel Life – one of my favorites blogs of a couple traveling the world together…I think they’ve been nominated for this a bunch but I don’t care…so good
  5. French Paintings – an expat artist in the South of France learning and painting the landscape
  6. Postcards Wall – this simple blog shares one of my passions: postcards and stamps from around the world.
  7. You Bloody Tourist – a British student ramblings and adventures in Australia and beyond
  8. Salaam Y’all – a new Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia
  9. Will Travel with Kids – with her two young daughters by her side, this blogger explores the world around her
  10. Freedom Abroad – Katie is spending a year abroad and exploring all she can do for free
  11. World Lit Up – reading a book from each of the 194 UN recognized countries
  12. News from a Broad – Benne’ is an art therapist who has moved her life to Merida, Mexico
  13. College Forever – a great blog for anyone considering a career in higher education
  14. Travel.Culture.Food – a fantastic blog to help plan your travels. She even takes requests!
  15. Partners for Peace – another one of my favorites, Mari and Paul are Peace Corps volunteers in Ecuador

5. Post a comment on each of your nominees’ blogs telling them about the nomination

I promise to have this done in the next 24 hours

Hometown Tourist: Oklahoma City National Monument

You may have seen my post earlier this week on 100 Ideas to be Global from Home. Included in the list are many ideas that I haven’t tried yet myself. For example, I’ve never had an international potluck, never learned an international card game, and I definitely do not know the names of all 194 UN-recognized countries. I do hope to remedy these, but I want to tackle some earlier than others, like #33: explore your own city like it was a foreign destination.

When I travel, I tend to visit the well-known stops but it is often the little things that I get the most excited about. In Rome, while I enjoy the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Capitoline, I much prefer the quiet and less visited Roman Rose Garden, Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, and Palazzo Colonna. But when I’m at home, I never even think about going to a museum or reading the placards in parks or taking pictures of a monument unless I have out-of-town guests. Well, new city, new me. I hope to explore OKC just like it were Berlin, Bangkok, or Bogota, visiting the famous landmarks as well as the hidden treasures my new city has to offer.

It just so happens that I came to this conclusion yesterday morning after dropping Hubby off for a 7am meeting. I was to meet the realtor at 8am and with time to kill, I went downtown, parked and began walking the streets with camera phone in hand. It wasn’t long before I realized where I was – at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the monument in honor of the 168 who died in the OKC bombing in 1995, as well as for the survivors and rescuers. As the sun came up in Oklahoma, I believe this was the best place to start my journey of exploring my city.

To Whom Do You Owe The Credit?

Do you ever really think about what or who inspired your desire to travel?  For part of my job, I read and critique scholarship applications for study abroad students.  Frequently the essay question is “Why do you want to study abroad?”  It is generally answered with one or all of the following cliches: “I want to immerse myself in culture,” or “I want to travel the world,” or the worst, “I want to broaden my horizons.”  If I’ve heard these responses once, I’ve heard them a thousand times.  I always want to grab the student’s shoulders, shake them and say “Why do you REALLY want to do this?”

Of course advising others has made me REALLY think about my own honest answer to what inspired my desire to travel. When I think back to what sparked my own interest, I believe I have these people to thank:

  • My next door neighbors – I grew up on a street in Minneapolis that was inhabited by mostly retirees.  Walt and Phyllis lived next door and frequently babysat me when my mom went back to school.  They were avid travelers and would regularly take me with them to the travel agency where I was allowed to take out all the catalogs and look through the pictures.  They also always brought be back a trinket and coins from every place they went. It took me a long time to realize what an influence they had on me from such an early age.
  • Hun Win, my childhood best friend – She lived across the street and her family immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan.  I will never forget the smell of Asian cooking that constantly permeated their home, how Hun Win would alterate between Mandarin and English so swiftly, and just how disciplined her and her brother were with finishing home and practicing the piano. It was my first experience with another culture and I was drawn to how different her home was to mine.
  • Sra. Strauss, my high school Spanish teacher – I remember speaking jibberish as a kid pretending it was another language; I loved the idea of knowing a language other than my own.  Sra. Strauss helped turn my jibberish into something useable. She exposed me to language and culture with patience, humor, and love.  While I was never very good at Spanish, I have to say that what she taught me in high school has actually gotten me by quite a few times.

 I’m curious, what or who inspired you to travel?

To the Berglunds, Hun Win, and Sra. Strauss, I am indebted to each of you for sharing the world with me. Many thanks!

Abroad Blog of the Week: Brilliant London

Just because the Olympics are over, doesn’t mean there isn’t more fun to be had in London. This Abroad Blog of the Week proves that is a fact. Ally of Brilliant London is an American expat who has made it her goal to discover London one photo and one day at a time. Her daily posts are easy reads and include pictures, history, and fun facts about various landmarks and events throughout the city. Some of my personal favorite posts were of the Diamond Jubilee. But what I like most about Brilliant London is the variety. You can find the famous tourist spots on her blog, but there is even more of the unknown, less-frequently visited diamonds in the rough. If you’re planning a trip to London, this is definitely a blog to reference. I was fortunate to virtually chat with Ally and get some further tips on exploring London. (Thanks, Ally!)

What made you decide to start Brilliant London?

As American expats, our time in London is limited, and knowing that we will be returning to the States within the next few years, I found myself determined not to miss anything. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity, and I don’t want to return home knowing that I didn’t take advantage of all that London has to offer. I decided that making a commitment to writing about one location a day would be a good goal, and after more than 150 posts, I have just begun to scratch the surface! I am learning so much, and all of my research has provided me with some excellent trivia and party conversation…’did you know that London actually averages less rainfall per year than New York City?’ or ‘did you know that The Queen has owned more than 30 Corgis during her reign?’ See? Isn’t that useful table talk?!

 London has been a busy place this summer. What has been your favorite event of the summer?

 I have to confess that I have been blogging from the States this summer as we like to come back and see our friends and family while school is out, however, London has been a busy place all year! What excellent timing we have had for our adventure! I was among the crowds lined up along the streets to watch Kate and William’s Royal Wedding Procession, and I was again up at the crack of dawn to wave to The Queen as she passed-by for her Diamond Jubilee Procession. Everything has been so festive in London from the hundreds of union flags strung-up along Oxford Street to the giant Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge. I think my favorite event, though, would have to be attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace. I will never forget it!

On all your adventures through London do you prefer to go with friends/family or solo?

 We do a lot of exploring as a family, and I like to meet up with my friends for a good museum exhibit or theatre production, but I tend to head out on my own during the week to explore the city and take photos for Brilliant London. I map out a specific area, mark a few landmarks, and see where my camera takes me. I love when I find a hidden street or alley that just looks like the London we all picture from Charles Dickens or Sherlock Holmes, and I have taken thousands of photos since I started this project.

 Where do you get the best fish and chips?

 We love fish and chips! My favorite spot is fish! Kitchen in Borough Market. It is a traditional takeaway counter, and the atmosphere is fantastic! The kids like to watch them batter the fish behind the counter while we wait, and then we can wander around the market afterwards. A great day out!

 What advice would you give someone who is moving abroad to London?

 First of all, if it is your first time living abroad, cut yourself a break because the details of moving are huge and stressful! Once you get settled-in, though, it can be one of the best experiences of your life. Our family moved from the American suburbs, and we made some important decisions that we don’t regret. We live in the city, near an underground station, and we don’t have a car. London is a very easy city to get around without a car, and our children have become incredibly independent while living in the city. Our lifestyle has changed in the following ways: I grocery shop at the neighborhood market everyday, as our refrigerator is tiny; I do laundry everyday, as our washing machine is tiny; and we spend a lot of time out exploring the city as our house is tiny….are you beginning to get the picture? Other than the lack of space, it has been very easy to adjust from America. For me, London is all about the history, live theatre, museums, international foods, the parks, and the Royal Ceremonies. If you have the opportunity to live abroad in London, go for it, and explore, explore, explore! London is Brilliant!

100 Ideas to be Global from Home

Now that I’m 100 posts in, I’ve discovered being Global from Home isn’t as difficult as I thought. If you are looking for ways to explore the world from your front door, here are 100 ways to get started!

  1. Volunteer with the local refugee community
  2. Read a book that takes place in your favorite global destination
  3. Try a new ethnic restaurant and ask the waiter for the most authentic dish
  4. Send postcards from home
  5. Donate to a scholarship fund to help students study abroad
  6. Get a pen pal
  7. Make a plan to practice your foreign language and keep it up!
  8. Go see a foreign film with a good friend
  9. Become a local guide for your city
  10. Find a language partner
  11. Host an international potluck
  12. Make a reading list that transverses the globe
  13. Live vicariously through other bloggers who are abroad
  14. Shop at an Asian market
  15. Take a walk down memory lane looking at old travel photos
  16. Pin past and future travel spots on Pinterest
  17. Buy internationally-themed holiday gifts
  18. Talk to strangers
  19. Try different coffees from around the world
  20. Go to the opera
  21. Join Postcrossing
  22. See a Shakespeare play
  23. Take a sushi class
  24. Buy a molcajete and make some real Mexican dishes
  25. Include your global experiences on your resume
  26. Practice how you could answer interview questions with what you learned abroad
  27. Consider a career in international education
  28. Find a place of worship with an international focus
  29. Eat with your hands at an Ethiopian restaurant
  30. Have a cup of coffee with international visitors in your city
  31. Visit cultural districts in your town like Little Italy, China Town, or the Asian District
  32. Live out of a suitcase for a week…from home
  33. Explore your own city like it was a foreign destination
  34. Make origami
  35. Check out Meet Up for internationally themed events
  36. Watch international sporting events
  37. Buy country-specific children’s books for your kids or for gifts
  38. Decorate your home with pictures and art from your travels
  39. Make a recipe each week from a different country
  40. Learn a card game played abroad
  41. Do a little international house hunting for fun
  42. Make your own hometown cards
  43. Turn your pictures into jewelry
  44. Take a siesta
  45. Celebrate your birthday with traditions from around the world
  46. Research and make your travel bucket list
  47. Nominate an Abroad Blog of the Week
  48. Borrow an ethnic cookbook from the local library
  49. Join internationally-themed groups on Facebook
  50. Do a little pottering
  51. Share your favorite spots and itineraries with friends planning travel
  52. Get a subscription to National Geographic
  53. Start an international book club
  54. Go to cultural festivals
  55. Shop at online fair trade stores
  56. Start planning your next trip whether it will happen or not
  57. Collect international stamps or coins
  58. Host a 20×20 party
  59. Search You Tube for videos to help your language skills
  60. Watch a documentary about a culture you know nothing about
  61. Go to a flea market
  62. Swap travel books with a friend
  63. Do a presentation on your travels for a local elementary school
  64. Listen to a lecture on TED from scholars around the globe
  65. Reread old travel journals
  66. Learn to make Belgian crepes
  67. Donate to an international organization that is doing a project you really believe in
  68. Make a list of what you learned abroad
  69. Get certified to teach English as a second language
  70. Celebrate a new holiday popular in your favorite abroad location
  71. Invite international friends over to your house for the holidays
  72. Fundraise for a good cause by hosting country-specific dinners
  73. Keep a vocabulary journal
  74. Read fairy tales from different cultures
  75. Be global on vacation, no matter where you are
  76. Make a love lock
  77. Sponsor a child abroad
  78. Host a foreign film night
  79. Take afternoon tea
  80. Retell a funny story from abroad
  81. Learn the names of all 194 countries
  82. Follow the elections of your previous host country
  83. Laugh at your travel blunders
  84. Share your own culture
  85. Take a course with a global focus at your local community college
  86. Rate hotels, restaurants, and attractions from your travels on Trip Advisor
  87. Download popular songs from your previous host country and sing along
  88. Laugh at all the things you said your first time abroad
  89. Play bocce ball
  90. Host an exchange student
  91. Download music sang in a language you don’t know
  92. Follow international fashion trends
  93. Empower kids to see the world
  94. Visit your local zoo and find out where all the animals are from
  95. Hang a map with all your past and future travels
  96. Use an online language tool
  97. Skype with friends who are still abroad
  98. Find your favorite adinkra symbol
  99. Read online newspapers from your previous host country
  100. Follow Global from Home

Note to my Non-American Readers: If any of these are from your local culture, replace it with some American Southern cooking, play a game of American football, or read one of my favorite American novels: Wench, The Secret Life of Bees, or Rules of Civility.

In the end, my advice is to just start. You’ll find you enjoy home so much more when you add global to it. {Photo courtesy Of the Fountain}


DIY Adinkra Coasters

Living in corporate housing definitely lacks character. Everything is brown and bland so I decided I needed to spice things up a bit and turn the corporate coasters into cultural art.

Adinkra symbols come from West Africa and as far as we know, date back to the early 1800s to the Akan of Ghana. The symbols convey traditional wisdom and life and are frequently used to decorate fabrics, pottery, and architecture. They are beautiful yet easy to replicate.

Here are few symbols and more can be found at the Adinkra Symbol Index

Coaster Directions

1. Chose your symbol

I chose the commitment & perseverance symbol. Which is also called “I shall marry you.”

2. Gather your materials: a paper bag, a sheet of foam, scissors, packing tape, stamping ink, a small piece of cardboard, and your cardboard coasters.

Here is all you need!

3. Draw out your pattern on the foam sheet.

I used a variety of household items to draw my shape.

4. Cut out your shape and stick it to a piece of card board about the same size.

I had the self-adhesive foam which made it super easy.

5. Dip your homemade stamp in ink and place it on the piece of the cut-up paper bag.

I cut the paper bag to be about the size of the coaster.

6. Trace the coaster to the paper bag and cover enter front with packing tape to make a waterproof surface. And shazam! I’ve got coasters that I don’t loath.

These are so much better!

Dear London Olympics

Dear London Olympics,

You have met all my expectations, entertaining and amazing me every night. I have been utterly addicted watching swimming, basketball, trampoline, soccer/football, gymnastics, water polo, handball, diving, archery, rhythmic gymnastics, wrestling, synchronized swimming, fencing, and track and field. Thank you for hosting a incredible competition of endurance, perseverance, speed, strength, and passion.

You have welcomed the world with proper manners, many cups of tea, and fairly formidable weather.  Personally, I think you did a jam-up job and I’m going to miss you on Monday morning. But like Dr. Seuss and Michael Phelps said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Here are all your moments that made me smile.

Cheers to you and long live the Queen!

Global from Home

The Canadian team were told not to wear these swim caps but they decided to do it anyways. I LOVED them. Their routine was one of the most fun I’ve ever seen.

Olympic style nails were all the fashion this year. These are sported by Columbia’s swimmer, Carolina Colorad Henao.

This picture just makes me happy. These children are Congolese refugees in a center in Rwanda.

There is no doubt winning a gold medal is an emotional experience. Yang Sun of China let it all out when we won the 1500m freestyle.

Fashion has not escaped Olympic influence as seen on this board posted by I want it all.

What a great facial expression!

The Opening Ceremonies may have received some criticism but no one can deny that this is beautiful.

I always like to know what an athlete is thinking when they cross the finish line. Usain Bolt had love on the brain as he crossed the line and his team broke the WR on the 4×100 relay.

And maybe more than anything, these Olympics proved that anyone can reach their goals as long as they put forth the effort and keep dreaming.

20×20: Tell Your Abroad Experience in 400 seconds

From what I can tell, 20x20s were first done in Japan at an event called Pecha Kucha where young designers could show their work. To keep the event at a reasonable pace, each designer could show 20 images and had 20 seconds to describe each image. Now this same format is being used in a variety of venues and it’s one of my favorite ways to talk about an experience abroad.

In my time working with study abroad students, I noticed two things that happen when I  ask a student about their experience.

  1. They have the short one sentence response, “It was great”, or
  2. They ramble on in a story that can be hard to follow.

The 20×20 is a great solution to help anyone put into words what being abroad was like, what it meant to them, and what the highlights were. We all know that slide shows can be boring, disconnected, and drag on far longer than most people’s attention spans. The 20×20 nips that in bud and instead helps make the presentation dynamic and fun. Here’s how I think it works best:

1. Think about your experience abroad and jot down 20 to 30 highlights such as your housing, host family/roommates, courses/projects, favorite restaurants or food, sights that amazed you, people you connected with, funny stories, lessons learned, etc.

2. Put your highlights in an order that you would want to tell them. Make sure to have a beginning and conclusion.

3. Go through your pictures and see if you can find a match for these highlights. Also feel free to use quotes or maps if you want. They don’t have to be perfect matches. They just need to go along with the idea.

4. Select the top 20 of the highlights/pictures to put them into a PowerPoint presentation, one picture per slide.

5. Set the PowerPoint to automatically change slides every 20 seconds.

6. After a little practice, press play and tell your audience in 20 seconds about each highlight. When the slide changes, you have to stop your story and go to the next one. This often provides for a few good laughs.

7. Open up for questions in the end (2 minutes max)

The 20×20 format can be great for a variety of events like:

  • Study abroad presentations (recruitment or pre-departure orientation)
  • Mission trip report at a place of worship
  • Fundraising events for international aid projects
  • School presentations
  • Get a group of friends together and all do a 20×20 over dinner

Friday’s Olympian to Watch: Guor Marial

When I think of Olympic athletes, I think of individuals who have given up a great deal to be extremely good at their sport. In exchange for athletic excellence, they’ve given up pop culture, time with family, and other hobbies and interests to focus on one thing. So when an athlete comes to the Olympics who has also faced great challenge in addition to the discipline of their sport, I am utterly amazed. Guor Marial, who will be running under the Olympic flag on Saturday in the Marathon, is one such athlete.

At the age of 8 years old Guor, was kidnapped during the Sudanese Civil War and thrown into a labor camp. But he was the lucky one. As the forces killed 28 members of his family, he was able to escape to Egypt and then to the US. Guor is now a permanent resident in the U.S. and was All-American at Iowa State.

However when he qualified for the Olympic Marathon, the U.S. was not able to add him to our team. Without U.S. citizenship and South Sudan (the newest country in the world) without an Olympic Committee, Guor’s only option was to run under the Sudanese flag. However, he immediately rejected their offer saying, “If I ran for Sudan, I would be betraying my people. I would be dishonoring the two million people who died for our freedom.”

After appealing to the IOC, Guor was just accepted to run under the Olympic flag on July 20th. He was unable to get the paperwork in time to participate in the Opening Ceremonies but he is now in London preparing for his race tomorrow and being swarmed by the media. Guor will probably not win tomorrow but he is thankful for the opportunity. “The most amazing part, the best part, is just that I’m here,” he says. “It feels like the entire world brought me here.” And at the very least, he hopes that his run tomorrow helps set up South Sudan for success in 2016.

Olympic Sport: Marathon

Hometown: Panrieng, South Sudan

Birthdate: April 15, 1984 (age 28)

Height: 5’11” (12 inches tall than me)

Weight: 130 lbs.

Read more about Guor Marial at these sites: