Tag Archives: Thoughts

Time Capsule

When I was last home I spent some time in my parents’ basement. Its large and unfinished and my brother, cousins and I have consistently used it as a storage unit. The fun part is that it’s like going through a time capsule every time I go down there. As a kid, whenever my closet got full, I would just gather up all my pictures, mementos, yearbooks, etc., put them in a bin and take them down to the basement. I’ll admit that I was kind of a pack rat back then. But years later, as I begin to go through all the things I kept, I have to say I’m glad that I had some hoarder tendencies. In those boxes, I found some great memorabilia from my childhood through my years of studying abroad. Here are just a few things that stuck out from my time capsule.

My friends and I have decided that there are two things that women who travel wear: scarves and hats. As you can see at the age of 5, I was already embracing my future as a traveler. Or I was trying to be Anne of Green Gables. One or the other. I’m the shorty on the right.

When I was a junior in high school, my family made a trip across the Atlantic for the first time to visit my big brother who was stationed in Germany. Upon getting off the airplane, this was my first picture. The airport bathrooms in Germany had the self-cleaning toilets and I was beyond amazed with German ingenuity. Now having traveled with lots of students on their first experience abroad, I’ve discovered that foreign bathrooms are a common interest. And I’m not going to lie, I know for a fact this isn’t the only toilet I’ve taken a picture of in my past 14 years.

Also buried in the basement were all my old study abroad journals. This one was from my second summer in Italy. It was written in (poor) Italian and was full of my vocabulary, sketches, and the daily challenges and triumphs. As I read through the words that I decided to look up, the questions I wrote down, and the experiences that I struggled with as a 21-year-old college student, I see how much I grew up through my time abroad.

But of all the pictures and notes, this one is beyond far my favorite. After I graduated from high school, I spent four weeks in the mountains of KwaZulu-Natal attempting to teach economics in the local high school. As I look at this photo, it is a reminder that we all need to leave our comfort zones for a while, take risks, and that often what we are most afraid of is actually quite harmless.

Have you kept journals and pictures from travels gone by? Read and look through them and share your old memories that have come back!

 

 

 

 

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Three Things You Can’t Live Without

One of my favorite questions to ask people who travel is “What three things can you not live without?” Typical answers are a camera, laptop, or cell phone, but I love when people say something that surprises me.

I’m headed back to San Diego for five days and currently sitting in the airport. Want to know three things that I like to travel with?

  1. A Book – I don’t go anywhere without one. It’s my comfort blanket. Stood up for a date? Read a book. No electronics allowed for the first 15 minutes of a flight? Read a book.
  2. Scissors – I can’t tell you how many times these little guys come in handy and I pretty much take them with me everywhere. I usually carry ribbon too just in case I need to wrap a quick gift. Always prepared!
  3. The Letter Z – Hubby and I play Scrabble on date nights usually once a month and were pretty competitive. We lost the Z a few months ago and my husband and I accused each other of hiding it. It was actually under the table but ever since then I’ve had it in my wallet. Every time I open my change purse I see it and think of him.

What three things can you not live without?

 

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!

Natural Talent

Hubby and I had an interesting conversation last night about professions and why some get paid more than others. For example a professional basketball player probably works less hours than many factory workers, but his salary is exponentially larger. In the end we decided that he can do something that the majority of the population cannot do. Because of his unique talents, we as a society compensate him financially. While hard work is certainly part of his success, part of it is also natural talent. The same goes for pop singers, actors, brilliant business people, etc.

I am a study abroad advisor. Perhaps anyone could do my job. Anyone could learn the programs and visa requirements. Anyone could encourage others to travel. I think the difference between anyone and me is that I really love college students. I light up when they come in the office and bribe them with food to come visit me. I can’t wait to hear about their planning, their challenges, and their adventures. When one called me yesterday to tell me she got a job, I felt so proud. Each of those students make me want to go to work every day. Though my profession may not be financially rewarded, I feel paid in full by the relationships I have with them. That is my natural talent.

Friday was my last day at my university. Originally I was going to write that it was my last day as a study abroad advisor, but that is not true. I think I will always be a study abroad advisor. It’s something I am truly passionate about. So whether I’m paid or not, I think in order to be truly happy, I have to be doing something in this capacity. So as Hubby and I move to Oklahoma and I continue to be global from home, I will also be seeking as many opportunities to help college students experience the world around us. In this way, I hope to use my natural talent.

What are you really good at? Are you pursuing it?