Sunday, February 20, 2011


I got back in town Tuesday night. My flight was delayed in D.C. because of a computer issue on the Boeing 757's, so all the flights were grounded. Luckily, the crew flying to Orlando acted quickly and got a spare 767 and was able to make the flight safely and without too bad of a delay. I am so thankful I didn't have to spend the night in D.C., not that I would mind being there (on the contrary) but after being gone so long I just wanted to see my family and get home. Both United flights, the Rome - D.C. leg and the D.C-Orlando leg were very comfortable and pleasant. I am glad they are going to be merging with Continental and looking forward to joining their combined frequent flier program!

Since being back I have been so full of energy. That energy stems from this consistent feeling of happiness. Everyone keeps saying how 'refreshed' and 'happy' I look and its totally true, this trip made me feel so amazing. I am happier than I've ever been, truly happy all the time for no one external reason. I just graduated UCF, made Dean's List the last 4 semesters, already got the GRE out of the way, just got back from the most incredible place in the world, South Africa, and fulfilled my need to go to Italy. There are so many things to be thankful for, and I am going to make every effort to make sure I am as gracious as possible. Being away from my typical lifestyle here has given me a new appreciation for this life. There are so many little things, things we  consider "necessities," but that so many people do without. It just makes me cautious to ever complain, because small, stupid problems are now so trivial. I just do not care to complain or lament any less than ideal circumstance anymore, and what point is there anyway?

All I can see is forward. I am so excited about the places I'm applying for graduate school. One of the schools is Cape Town University because I want to go back to South Africa as soon as possible. I'm so excited to go to Chicago this summer and hopefully visit some of my other volunteer friends in Phili and Canada. I'm also trying to coordinate some sort of Caribbean or Mexico/Central Am. getaway this summer. Mexico calls to my heart but anywhere in "Latin America" will do. Now that I'm out of school I'm going to start really focusing on my Spanish, currently I'm looking into a tutor or a weekly class to go to. I'm looking for a place to volunteer one or two days a week, hopefully working in the filed of education with under-privileged students.

Everyday since I've gotten back I wake up with a smile on my face. And its completely genuine. I feel confident, beaming with happiness and positivity, and a strong desire to help other people. Africa for Life! lol.


*last post until my next trip...dates are all up in the air at the moment, but thank you for reading, everyone! :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Getting Inspirational

I love this trip. So here are some inspring, positive life thoughts I have gathered recently.

"There is more to life than what it is at any given time. There is more than what you planned, more than what you are comfortable doing, more than what is expected of you.  You can do it all. Anything you want can be possible. There is truely possibility in everything, every oppotunity has the potential to open new doors for you. All you on an individual level have to do is live and change. I would argue that constant change is to be alive. I am so inspired by these travels over the past month or so. I have met people from all over the world. I have been impressed by those bi, tri and multi lingual people, those who made me realise just how much I have to learn before I can really understand their cultures. I have been inspired to take a total departure from what I thought was my next natural step. I have been fearless and gone with the flow. I have felt completely happy in many moments without outside influence. I have been optimistic the entire time because no matter what happened, I was in some of the most spectacular places of my life."

"My life is mine, anything that can happen in the future is my responibility.I have the power to change my life in any way I dream. I need to take chances and continue to evolve."

"Being in South Africa has made me notice some changes about myself as a result of my time here. One is being generally more relaxed, less stressed and less rushed. We have truely been running on Africa Time here, meaning it will happen when it will happen, if it will happen. I am also more comfortable with myself in general. Any self-consciousness I had before is really almost gone entirely. I feel more at ease with myself, do not foster any superficial insecurities. People in South Africa just are here and they love one another regardless, so that has made it easy for me to do the same with myself."

I do not feel sad or regretful to come home at all. I actually quite look forward to it because I am so excited to put into action all of the new things I have learned and wanted to do. I also really miss my dog omg.There are some very cool things coming up and I am just so excited for the rest of 2011.



*Same thing with the spelling and grammer, I don't even know where I messed up because according to Italian spell check, I messed up everything! haha

Update Too Late

I've terribly neglected my blog for the past week beucase its been so hard to find an internet cafe, and typing on the ipod touch is really hard. I have'nt been doing much of anything really, just walking around some more and recently some shopping. I bought a classic lightweight khaki coat which tightens at the waist for shape definition and some other fun stuff ;) Anyway, I think I said this before, Rome is totally liveable for me. After being here for only 9 days I feel that I can comfortably and safely find my way to any point in town. 

So yesterday, I took a day trip to the lovely island of Capri! It was via a pre-arranged tour so there were about 15 other people as well. I don't care if it's cheesy to do that, I doubt I would have figured out the logistics of actually getting there on my own. I had to get up early, as its a three hour drive to Naples and then a 45 minute boat ride to Capri from the port. I made friends with a girl from Japan who was there with her mom and a girl from Argentina who was by herself, and she was only 16! They were both really nice and excited to practice their English with a native speaker as they put it, I once again felt ignorant that my Spanish is so elementary and that I only speak English. I spent most of the day with the Argentinean girl because she was alone and I expressed my love for her country. She told me I have to come to Mar del Plata, where she is from. So whenever I get a chance to make my South American dreams come true, I will go there! Back to Capri! We had a group lunch which was very tasty and then our guide gave us a brief tour of the town. After that the sun miraculously came out and we checked out the gardens which hosted abosoultely breathtaking views of the island and the water. It was so so beautiful, another one of those moments that I could'nt actually believe I was expierencing. After some souvineer shopping we had a chance to taste the local Limoncello (a strong, sweet lemon liquor) and local chocolates. The day seemed to be way too short as we boarded the boat back to Naples and then the bus back to Roma.

The day before yesterday, aka Saturday.
Not a whole lot to say but I have to share my expierence at a nearby museum on Via Nazionale. I keep walking by and seeing the posters and large statues advertising the massive Teotihuacan exhibit they are showing. I finally made the time to see it and I am so glad I did! Having just taken a Mexican history class last semester, the lessons were still fresh in my mind. It was so exciting to see all of the artifacts, most of them from between 400ad-800ad if I recall correctly. The civilizations of ancient Latin America are grossly underappreciated in the modern historical conversation, so to see such a major homage to the Teotihucan civilzation was awesome.

Alright, on to the next posting. Ciao!

*If almost everything is spelled wrong Im just going to blame it on Italian spell check and a foreign keyboard. Sorry!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Roman Holiday

Hello! Just a quick update from Roma.

Everything here has been lovely to say the least. It's kind of funny, I can't help feelin like I've been here before for some reason. Rome really reminds me of Paris and I'm starting to wonder if a lot of the larger European capitol cities are quite similar. It's like Ive been here before, maybe because of movies or so mich time spent wishing I was in Italy, now that I'm here it's so familiar.

Anyway, I think that I am a terrible tourist. I spend a lot of my time sleeping and wake up without any real agenda. Ive also been walking enormous amounts for fear of the adverse effects of too much tasty food. I've had pizza for lunch everyday so far because it's easy, cheap and totally delicious.

Today I went to the colosseum and to the Roman Forum. Both were incredible though I think the forum Romano is my favorite spot in all of Rome. Yesterday I met up with a friend of one of my Africa friends who is living here for a few months. We went to a renaissance art museum at Palace Barberini and ate lunch on the Spanish Steps.
That's it for now! It's hard to update significanty on an itouch but I tried.



Monday, February 7, 2011

Ciao Roma

First, I am so sad to have left South Africa! Leaving the kids was horrible and so was leaving all the new friends I've made there. We all plan on visiting each other over the next year and possibly something very very exciting next year but lets not discuss that one right now! Anyway I also must say that I am so surprised by how close you can get to people in "only three weeks." Saying goodbye to all of the host families was so sad! I have to go back to South Africa soon, and really, so should everyone else. Its just a magical, incredible place. Volunteering in S.Af was up there with "best life decisions ever." 

Transit: Spent the last day in Cape Town for a few hours, had lunch and went to the market one last time for shopping. Left for the airport and my flight was delayed. It ended up being fine because that just meant a quick layover in Dubai, and I wanted to spend as little time there as possible because the airport is so hectic. I flew with Emirates and it was hands down the best flight I've ever flown on. That sounds really extreme but it's true! It was a 9 hour flight from Cape Town to Dubai and a 6 hour flight from Dubai to Rome and it really felt like no time at all. The whole expierence was so comfortable and felt very lux. The staff took great care of everyone and the in flight entertainment system was awesome, plus I liked that everything was in English and Arabic. Fly with Emirates if you get a chance!

Rome: I arrived here Sunday, 6 February around 2p.m. My hotel is located in a good part of town, right around the busy areas but on a quiet side street. It seems quite new and has an amazing queen size bed with plush pillows. I was so tired from all of the travel and time changes so I didn't do much yesterday aside from walking around a bit and picking up some groceries. I slept from 7:30 pm until 9:30am. So about Rome. I finally got out of bed today and did a large amount of walking, just to get aquainted with the neighbourhoods. It's a beautiful, energetic, buzzing city. And its exactly how you'd imagine it to be. I'm trying to walk as much as possible for exercise and to get to know the area. Everyone I've encountered speaks English, but I feel so stupid whenever they do! Language deficiency is what I would call it, bottom line is I need to expand my language knowledge.



Friday, February 4, 2011

Last Week in South Africa

I can't believe its my last week here! I'm so sad to leave the kids in my class because I've come to love them all so much.

Sunday: Hilda was out of town enjoying herself with some of her family. Christian (her son) and Zaria (her daughter) came over and we had a Braai, which is basically a South African BBQ. Its a very popular thing to do in the summertime here. It was so nice to be apart of something so cultural and feel so welcomed. They cooked me veggie burgers on the grill :). That afternoon we went to something called a "Bush Pub," which is almost exactly as it sounds: a bar located on a field. Sunday is all day happy hour there and one of the other host family's and all of their friends and family invited us. We had such a great time chatting on the patio and enjoying a few drinks, just joking around and getting to know the family better. There were actual goats and geese just walking around the yard coming right onto the bar deck. It was hilarious and definitely a great way to spend a Sunday. 

Tuesday: Some of the other volunteers and I went to Ms. Verna's house, that's the teacher of my class, and chatted for about three house about everything from education systems in South Africa to relationships to the indiviudla kids in the class.  She's an awesome woman who really cares about each student and her colleagues.  I've arranged with her to keep in touch via letters and email. I'm going to send the class a mix CD with some dances we taught them, including Firework and The Climb. They love Waka Waka by Shakira too, so I'll make sure to add that to the CD! Michelle (my roommate) and I volunteered to cook dinner for Hilda (our host mom) since she's been so hospitable and is always extremely busy. We made a delicious macoroni and cheese with a salad. It was 96 degrees and felt very hot because of no air conditioning or fans whatsoever.

One of the girls in my class decided to start calling me her mommy, and so the other girls at that table caught on. So now it's like "you're my mommy," "no, you're my mommy!" whenever I go check on their table. I want to take them home with me so badly! The one girl, Catelyn, who started the mommy thing is so nice and always admires the things I wear, like bracelets and necklaces.

I think one of the best parts about this whole experience is truly getting to know the other volunteers and the locals as well. If I had just come to Cape Town on holiday and stayed in a generic city hotel I'd never have met people such as Howie, Jay, Adnaan, Hilda, Verna, Nolan, Meranda and all the other locals I have come to know and trust. Even still, there is still so much more I'd like to see and do in South Africa. This country never ceases to amaze me and I've only gotten to know the Western Cape! I have strong faith that I will be back again, hopefully some day soon, since I'd love to go to grad school here or work here in the future.

There's more to update but that's all I have prepared for now!

I leave South Africa tomorrow night and I'm really sad about that. I am totally looking forward to Italy though, I can't believe I'm actually going. It was such a random thing and I haven't researched it too much, just planning on sleeping in (we wake up at 7:15 everyday here) and exploring the city by foot.

This trip has opened up so many more doors and encouraged me to dream bigger than I had before, thanks to all of the people I've met who inspire me so much.

More updates tomorrow probably!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

This is Week Two

Hello from South Africa!

By this point in time, everyone is aware of all the fun, exciting adventures I am having, so here is a little bit more about the school before I recap the week.

The school I teach in is called Mamre Pre-Primary. My students are 5 years old and most come from very poor backgrounds (these are the kids living in the townships for the most part). They all wear uniforms to school though so its hard to distinguish their individual backgrounds. Their teacher is Miss Verna, and she is very strict with them, but she has to be. I work with 2 other volunteers in the class, my friends Mike and Lindsay. The classroom has a very religious focus, for example, they pray in the morning, before lunch and before dismissal, as well as sing songs about religion. Its a bit odd coming from the States which practices a clearly defined separation of faith and education, but I honestly think it is good for the kids and does no harm. Our job as volunteers is to help Miss Verna and give each kid individual attention. The class has 32 students, so you can probably imagine they do not get much one on one time with the teacher. We help encourage them, teach them songs and dances, play with them, discipline and facilitate. Out of 32, only 4 speak some English. So doing all of the previously mentioned tasks is quite difficult, considering I do not speak Africaans. This is a challenge that will no doubt help improve my over all communication and cross-cultural skills though.

If you know me, you will probably know I am not the biggest fan of children in the world. I have to say though, these kids are wonderful. There are a few that I would prefer to not work with, but for the most part, they have all really inspired me and touched me. I have my "favorites," which include a little girl named Taylo, who is wise beyond her years and has a very soulful voice. She knows some English and helps me translate what the other kids are trying to say. She just seems to "over it" when the other kids are going crazy, I wish she was my little sister! There is a little boy named Ritley who is a huge flirt and blows Lindsay and I kisses constantly. He's adorable and always sets a good example of behavior for the other students. Zoey is just about the sweetest little thing, I want to adopt her. She is very shy and quite, and smiles all the time.

After school, we are very lucky to have a great deal of down time. Monday we went to Blouberg Beach and sunbathed and watched the windsurfers, (which looks so much fun, I think we are going to try next time we go). Tuesday we just hung out around Mamre, did some hiking and walking but mostly just spent time as a group talking. Wednesday we went to Camps Bay, but the weather was a bit too chilly, so eventually we left the beach and just walked around and had dinner. We ate at this incredible Italian place and shared wine and food together. Today (Thursday, 27 January) we are in Cape Town to say goodbye to Mike, he's leaving very early Friday morning. The rest of us are going back to Mamre either Saturday or Sunday.

It's Lindsay, Vanessa and I's last weekend in Cape Town which makes me realise just how fast time has gone by! I can't believe I only have a week left with the kids and with all the other volunteers. After this, its on to Italy where I will have a chance to reflect and plan the next stages of this life in an incredible city, Rome.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Funday

Last night we went out dancing until 4 am at a Reggae club and at a gay club. It was the most fun I've had in so long! I feel like I've known these friends forever, yet we've all only known each other a week.

Today (Sunday, 23 January), was one of the most aweinspring days of my life. We went to the Cape of Good Hope at the Southernmost Point in Africa and got to play with penguins in the wild on Boulder's Beach.

Won't be updating for about a week or so.

Loving every minute of life.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Development Idea

I am not the most emotional person in the world.

When we passed by some of the largest, most dangerous townships in South Africa, I didn't feel "sad" or sympathetic, I was instead wondering "how can we make this better?" and so this is what I came up with:

Townships: millions living in literal shacks, shanti town like situations with scarce electricity and no running water.

With the strengthening rand and growing development here in South Africa (and as it emergence as a one of the developing democracies to watch in addition to Brasil, India, China and Russia) I have to wonder, what is the delay with a national housing fund for these people living in Townships?

Looking to the post-war plan in Great Britain, (which was introduced dramatically in the late 1940's and slowly phased out by the turn of the century), and taking inspiration from post-WWI Germany, in which modern, communal apartment housing was built by the government: A communal housing apartment plan, subsidized by the South African government should be issued. We could relocated the people by giving them a place to live at a very affordable rate and employ them with jobs working towards national development. Abandoned townships would not be destroyed with respect to the atrocities of the apartheid era, but rather gated off and converted into national landmarks, bringing historical significance to them. A source of revenue could be generated through tours of these townships so no South African would forget their heritage of this tumultuous part of their nation's history.

I still have a great deal to learn about this subject, but I have to say the problem at hand is incredible. The most fascinating part of the whole thing is that the solutions are even more incredible. This is a massive nation with so much room for progression and I just hope that I can learn to be a useful part of the problem-solving and development.

EDIT: I've overused the words "incredible" and "amazing" lately. Sorry! Will try to find some more words.


Sharks and Then Some

Today, Saturday 22 January, 2011 (I'm beginning to loose all sense of time, running on "Africa Time.") 

Shark diving has been the thing I was most looking forward to doing here in South Africa. I have an odd fascination with marine life, in particularly the sharks, and what better to see than the Great Whites! I somehow met a group of friends here who were just as into this idea as I was, so off we went! The bus picked us up at our hostel in Cape Town, (we left Mamre for the weekend so we could make the most of our down time from the schools), and took us on the two hour drive to Gansbaai, South Africa where "Shark Ally" is. We had to be ready at 445am to leave which was rough, but honestly I had so much excitement I didn't even need to sleep on the bus ride there. We got on the boat around 8 and got outfitted in wet suits. I had a ton of trouble with mine because they gave me the wrong size. I had about 4 of the crew guys helping me pull up my suit and when it was all said and done I realised I could not breathe at all. The suit cut off at the top of my neck and I was done. They got me another suit but by that point I was suffocating like and started to feel sea sick. So I finally got into the proper suit and by this point at least 10 of the 12 of us started to feel sick. Needless to say, choppy Atlantic waters led to all of us vomiting off the sides for hours. Once it was finally our turn to go into the cage and see some sharks, all of the nausea went away. It was totally worth it to be eye to eye with a Great White! We saw some get quite close and one even thrashed its tail against the cage which threw us all to one side. The water was absolutely freezing, we had a bit of a "Titanic" moment with the shaking hands and quivering lips, but seeing those animals was just an unreal experience. 

The boat ride back was still choppy but this time we were also freezing cold. Some of the girls and I just cuddled as close as we could and covered ourselves up in whatever towels we could find. The crew were so nice, they saw us so chilly and offered their personal sweaters and jackets to keep warm with. The had a fireplace and hot soup at the office for us when we got back which was very comforting.

The bus ride back was another incredible experience. Our driver and tour guide (essentially) was so accommodating to us and took the longer route which drives up and down the coast. We saw some of the most beautiful, majestic scenery I've ever seen. (Okay, it was the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen). We stopped at this beach to take a few pictures and just took our time driving back. 

Tonight is a nice dinner downtown and some drinks, (by the way, drinks are super affordable here. A glass of wine is maybe 2 or 3 dollars USD and a cocktail is about the same) Tomorrow we have hired the same driver as today to drive us to the Cape of Good Hope and see the Southernmost Point in Africa, as well as check out the penguins and hopefully take a dip in the Indian and Atlantic Ocean.



Friday, January 21, 2011

Alright, Still!

So I was going to post day by day but that would most likely prove boring to the readers.
Let's just say this:

South Africa is hands down the most incredible experience of my life. I love the friends I've met here, its amazing how instantly we've all clicked and connected. The people of South Africa are warm, lively and inviting. I have yet to feel "unsafe" or scared of anything. The children at the school I'm teaching at are gorgeous and most are very sweet. I want to help them, make sure they have a nice day at school because I know they go home to very sad conditions. It feels like more than a week here so far. I love it here, I'm totally happy. I do miss three people (one is a dog) hahah, but that's about it!

Oh, and all 12 of us are going on a legitimate shark dive tomorrow. What the hell. I LOVE THIS.

If it is of any interests to people I post day by day replays of what happened, direct from my journal. I'll just wait till I get back in the states to do so.


<3 ac

First day of volunteering?

Bonjour from Africa!
So I'm kind of lying, it's friday and I've been here for much longer but there is no such thing as wifi in Mamre. ANYWAY.

Soooo. This is what happened Monday, the 18th of January:

We woke up early and ate breakfast with friends and ran a few errands around Sea Point (the neighbourhood in Cape Town where the volunteer house is). Taxis picked us up from the volunteer house at noon and we had orientation with the organization and found out I'd be living in Marme, South Africa. 11 others are staying in that same town so it's very lucky. Some are in different towns so we are separated. booo. The town is super small, I think population 6000. I'd actually say less than that. It reminds me of the town in "To Kill A Mockingbird," or some small town in Georgia or Alabama. Everyone knows everyone, quite a poor town but not the poorest. We have electricity and water. It makes you really appreciate things such as air conditioning.  Anyway, it's quite a basic accommodation, I am rooming with Michelle, a friend I met the first day in Cape Town. Hilda is our host mom, she is a petite lady who is a busybody. She's involved with so much in the town of Mamre. She is the supervisor of the Mamre accommodation so we can talk to her if there are any problems. Mamre is a community of colored people (the term they use, not my term). It's meaning is mixed of black, Malaysian and white blood, I'm pretty sure. We visited with Hilda and her friend Morgan before bed.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Waka Waka

Second day:
Wonderful! I finally got some sleep...(it had been 2 days since sleeping in an actual bed...) Anyway a group of 6 of us decided to take a typical tourist trip of the city via the "Red Bus" tours that you see in almost every major city. It seemed a bit corny but it was so much fun. It helped us all get better acclimated with the city layout and see parts of it we might not have otherwise. It was nice because it allowed for getting on and off as you please, so we stopped at the waterfront area, which was similar to the Pier in San Francisco but less cheesy, though still super touristy. Then we stopped off at a lookout point on the way to Table Mountain, though no one was dressed to hike up it, we will do that later. The bus went on a scenic drive to Camps Bay which is a ritzy beach area. This place looks just like Miami Beach, except more beautiful and exotic. We dined al fresco at an Italian restaurant and walked by the beach (the water is freezing but such a rush to jump in for a moment). Then we headed back and walked along the beach boardwalk to our house. 

All the people here are very nice, I like that we are all here with similar interests of travelling, and pursuing the more global goals that we all seem to share. Tomorrow we go to the homestay and I probably won't have internet for another week or so. 

In conclusion,
I love Cape Town. It's so incredibly diverse, you really feel a strong culturally pull wherever you are. So many different ethnicities, lifestyles and contrasts are abound. It feels modern, and very safe. Sure you have the few dodge looking people here and there, but it is no where near as bad as anyone made it seem. I've realised the "warnings" and fear people try to instill in you are from people who have never been or had first hand experience, so what they know is from what "they heard somewhere," which is not a great source to base opinion on. Everyone should come to Cape Town!



Saturday, January 15, 2011

First Day

This day has been so surreal. From being totally uncomfortable, tired and restless on the flight from Frankfurt, to actually landing in Cape Town and getting to the volunteer house, to meeting new people and exploring the town.

First: Cape Town is so beautiful. I've hardly seen the best of it and I'm so taken aback by how amazing this city is. Very beachy, with Atlantic waves crashing on shore, to Table Mountain in the background of every view.

I've met some great people here so far, from all over. We went walking around the beach and to lunch today with my roommates, and tonight a group of us went to the center of nightlife for dinner and drinks at an African restaurant. Our house is about 1000 feet from the ocean, which is amazing.  I love this city. Not sure if that came across before. ;)

Anyway, Monday we fight out more details about the actual location of our volunteer projects, meet the family we are homestaying with and figure out the other logistics. I'm definitely going to keep in touch with the people I've met at the volunteer house so we can do day trips and weekend excursions together. So far, we are talking about swimming with penguins, wine tasting, sky diving, safari and *fingers crossed* Great White Shark diving. ALSO: The dollar to rand exchange rate is incredible.

Tomorrow the plan is to get some of the touristy "must see" stuff done, and hiking up Table Mountain. I've heard the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular so I'm very excited to do that.

Everything here is a new experience, I am enjoying it all.


Friday, January 14, 2011


This will not be my most interesting or insightful post.

Anyway-I landed in Frankfurt at 1030, I leave for Cape Town at 2250. As in ten hours later... I was all set to go explore the city but I got sick on the plane (yuck) and didn't sleep at all. So I determined I am too much of a zombie to wander Germany alone. Thank goodness they have sugar free redbull and plenty of outlets to charge my iPod on here.

There are these kids (guys around my age) playing some trancy electronic music on their MacBook behind me which is very good listening. I am currently watching planes go bye out the window... Only 6.5 hours left. Ug. I can't wait to get to South Africa. I still can't actually believe I'm going.

I need to learn other languages. I feel like such a moran whenever I go abroad because of this. It's my number one insecurity traveling.

Okay this was almost totally pointless but like I said, I'm totally dying of bordom at the moment.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


So tomorrow I will be leaving, flying from Orlando to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Cape Town. I'm flying with Lufthansa, which I've read only positive things about so I am hoping to enjoy a comfortable, pleasant flight. My only slight bit of hesitation about this entire thing is the 10 hour layover in the Frankfurt, GR airport. I don't know a word of German other than "thank you" and am probably going to be tired and confused while I'm waiting for my next flight.

I'm almost entirely packed, bringing only a small carry-on suitcase and a tote bag. I've condensed my luggage by a tenfold since initially packing, so I'm quite proud that I've got a carry-on only for 36 days of travel.

I am so excited to go to South Africa. I can't wait to meet the other volunteers, get to know the teachers, talk with the family I'll be homestaying with and explore the city of Cape Town.

It's hard for me to stop planning and looking ahead, for instance, I'm also working on teaching in Spain next October and planning my graduate school applications, but I have to remember to take these few weeks to really savor the moments of my trip.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Travel?

So why bother travelling?
Earlier in my life it was to "escape" a life I "couldn't stand" and other dramatic reasonings of a teenager.
Then, it was to "explore" and assimilate into another culture, if only for a brief amount of time, and to inevitably return to my home craving more.

Now, this second reason still holds true somewhat, exploration of other cultures is one of the most rewarding reasons to travel. My focus now, after spending the past 3.5 years reading and learning about the world around me, is to understand by example. Through the intensive study of European and Latin American History, as well as European and Latin American politics, in addition to general political theory and Global Comparative Politics, I have built a basic framework for how I understand things in the world to be. I have studied influential political documents, books and manifestos. I have pieced together global connections and started to grasp the un-fleeting importance of globalization in this 21st century. I have personally researched extensively on the subjects of the development of nationalism in France and Latin America, also, the state of education in South Africa.

I am ready now, to see the world through new eyes, through an educated mind which will not rest. I will not stop asking questions, challenging things we so often accept as fact. I will not lament systems of old without dreaming up a solution of new. I will be proactive, not just observing anything, but doing, immersing myself, and helping to be apart of the change I want to see in the world.

This trip to South Africa, to teach, is not merely an "escape" or a chance to "see" life elsewhere. It is a chance to change, to develop and to progress. With the things I learn in Cape Town, I will start to make work in developing democracies a priority, while taking inspiration in order to help change the one I am a citizen of.

Take a moment to consider something previously unconsidered by you. That is what I am doing, and I will continue to say "yes" when I previously might have said "no." Continuous growth, continuous progression. Don't look back, only forward. Only consider what is to come.


Saturday, January 8, 2011


In regards to the shooting spree in Arizona today:

This act of violence is a reminder of how completely failed the US political culture is. The line between "partisan" and "life and death" is blurred more than ever today. Calling for an extraordinary renovation of the entire political system in this country which breeds hate and extremes. Politics are about policy, not extremity, though that is hard to tell given the sheer divide of this "two-party system."