New York City’s Top Ten Traveler

 

An image of Moshe, the Top Ten Travel Writer

Who is the Top Ten Traveler?

“I’m a 37-year-old guy named Moshe Huberman. Originally from Israel, I’ve lived in New York City for the last four-and-a-half years and have been happily married to my wonderful husband for almost five. He is the best partner I could have ever asked for in everything we do, including traveling. We have a beautiful seven-year-old mixed-Labrador Retriever, and we live a vegan lifestyle together.”

When did you begin traveling?  

“The first time I got on a plane was at the age of ten with my parents. We were on our way to Paris, France. We landed late at night, and everything was closed — even in the airport! The streets were incredibly dark and far too quiet, so my first impression was a bit traumatic. The next morning, when we woke up to our first day in Paris, however, I felt astounded and extremely charmed by everything. I still remember it so vividly. I learned the metro lines by heart after one day and I led all the conversations in English (not my native language). To boot, I even learned a few words in French from the people at the hotel’s front desk. I developed traveler skills at a wonderfully young age.

An image of New York City from a pier, provided by the Top Ten Travel writer

After that, I traveled a few more times in Europe and in the US with my family. When I finished my service in the IDF at the age of 21, I packed my bag and flew to Australia, then New Zealand, for three months. That trip was my first big trip as an independent traveler.”

What started your travel bug?

“I guess it was the first trip to Paris with my parents. Ever since I was a young kid I was a big fan of the world’s countries and cultures. I memorized the world’s capitals and flags. Plus, I read all the volumes of the Geographical Encyclopedia. My older siblings’ Atlas was my favorite book. I always felt excited to watch the Olympics’ opening ceremony just for the Parade of Nations. I had, and still have, the world’s map on my bedroom wall.

An image of New York City from the River, provided by the Top Ten Travel writer

So, the moment I could leave my country for the first time to start seeing and experiencing the things I had only been reading about, was mind-blowing. From there, I just had to see more.”

Why do you like traveling?

“I always felt fascinated by diversity. I grew up in Israel. It’s a small country, but it has an amazing mixture of cultures. The Jews in Israel came from all over the world, bringing their unique traditions, stories, and foods. Even my family’s roots are from both Syria and Poland, which I always liked to explore with my grandparents — where did they come from? What was their childhood like? Etc. For me, traveling is the ability to take this exploration one step further and get to know the diversity of the entire world. I want to know and see how other people live, what their history is, what language they speak, what religion they practice, and, of course, what food they eat.”

Why are you The Top Ten Traveler?

“After I graduated from university and started my first real job, I realized that I could not travel three to four months out of a year anymore. My trips now must align with the vacation days I receive and with my work responsibilities. It changed my perception:  more short trips in a year, rather than one exceptionally long. Now, when taking shorter trips, your time is limited. You need to know well in advance what you want to see and do. This is where the top ten come in. Ten is a magical number; if there are not ten things to see or do in a place, it’s not worth going. If there are more, I really tried to focus on the top ten things I could not miss.

When I started The Top Ten Traveler, I did it for two main reasons. First, to share my experiences and to re-experience them through writing. Secondly, to give people an easy summary of the main ten things to see and do in each destination. I think listing the top ten things is easier to read, easier to remember, and easier to execute when you travel.”

What is the best trip you have taken in the last five years and why?

“I would say my trip to Playa del Carmen and Cancun, Mexico. On one hand, it was the first trip in which I have learned how to relax on the beach for a few hours without becoming bored. On the other hand, we traveled and learned about the interesting history of the Mayan culture in sites like Chichen Itza and the ruins of Tulum. Plus, the Mexican food was amazing. It was the perfect combination of exploration, relaxation, shopping, and partying.”

An image of Moshe, the Top Ten Travel writer, at a Mayan ruin.

If you had one place to recommend to someone who has never traveled before what would it be?

“That is an easy one:  Argentina. It is an amazing country for travelers (but not for living, unfortunately). It is huge and has everything to offer from glaciers to deserts, from mountains to beaches, from awesome cities to a beautiful countryside. The people are some of the nicest and warmest in the world. It is one of the safest countries in South America (though you always need to keep your eyes open when you travel, all over the world) and it is relatively cheap, so you can get more with your foreign currency. Therefore, for a first-time traveler, this is the ideal place.”

Which place do you want to visit the most but haven’t had the chance yet?

“There are so many places in the world that I want to visit, each for its own unique reasons. However, if I need to choose only one, it would be Syria. Although not the country you would think about for traveling, I feel really intrigued to see where my family came from. More than that, I follow other people who traveled in Syria and they always fall in love with this country. The food is said to be one of the best in the world (which I grew up on, so I can definitely relate to that). They also have many historical and archaeological sites, like Palmyra, which dates back to over 3,000 years ago, and the old city of Aleppo, which has now been partially destroyed after the war.”

You live in New York City — Is this by choice or for work?

“My workplace relocated me from Israel to New York City at the end of 2015. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live abroad, so we jumped on it. After all, exploration is at the heart of the Top Ten Traveler. I didn’t know how the move would affect my husband and I as a young couple, but after experiencing the New York City way of life, we liked it and decided to stay. New York City is amazing and it never ceases to surprise me. I still don’t think I know all of its hidden gems.”

An image of a New York City bridge, provided by the Top Ten Travel Writer

What would you recommend to do if someone only had a day to visit New York City?

“Explore the city by foot. The streets and avenues of the city are amazing and different. Fifth Avenue is nothing like Ninth Avenue and is nothing like the streets of Soho, Financial District, or other neighborhoods. So strolling between them, you can catch all the important landmarks of the city while also enjoying the unique charm of each area or neighborhood. I once had a 12-hour layover in the city on my way from Israel to Argentina. To kill some time, I walked from Central Park to Battery Park, just to see the statue of Liberty. It was so much fun, and on the second flight, I slept like a baby. For a lunch or dinner break, I’d recommend trying one of my favorite vegan restaurants in the city, as described in my Top 10 Vegan Restaurants in New York City post.”

What would you recommend a frequent traveler to do in New York City?

“Many people come to New York City to watch a show on Broadway. I have watched a few and I really love the theater, but there are crazier and more special theatrical experiences than Broadway. One that comes to mind is Sleep No More. It’s an interactive show performed in a five-story building designed to look like an old hotel. You can follow the actors and move from one scene to another whenever you want. Two tips: come in your sneakers and walk alone.”

by Moshe Huberman

Visit Moshe’s website, The Top Ten Traveler, to find the top ten best sites to visit on your next travel destination! 

 

What It’s Like Teaching English in Cambodia

by Edmond Gagnon

Michael CarterIn the first part of Michael Carter’s interview, he told us how and why he chose Cambodia as his new home. He targeted Southeast Asia but did not have a particular country when he first decided to come. Then, he visited a friend he’d made from Germany who was living in Cambodia. Seeing Cambodia’s gorgeous atmosphere and rich culture, he immediately applied for a job there and the rest is history. 

Here is the second part of his interview teaching English in Cambodia.

What is a typical day at your school like? 

“A typical teaching day for me begins at 7:40 a.m. and finishes at 4:10 p.m. Many schools run early evening classes as well, but not where I currently work. There is a long gap between morning and afternoon classes, between 10:30 a.m. and 1:20 p.m.). This is mainly to coincide with typical hours of Khmer schools. Most students study for a half-day at Khmer school. Students from wealthy families who can afford English schools spend the other half of their day there.”

How many people do you work with? How many classes do you teach?

The place I work employs a lot of people for various duties. There are probably about fifty to sixty teachers on staff. The day is divided into six classes — three before and three after midday. I teach anywhere from four to six classes a day, which adds up to twenty-four teaching hours per week. Most schools here use a twenty to thirty hour teaching week as a base. Notably, the afternoon classes do not have the same students as the morning.”

Are you forming working relationships with coworkers?

Teaching English in Cambodia“I tend to work independently most of the time. This is partly because I am the only one teaching the courses I do teach (i.e. sociology and psychology). But for other subjects, there are typically three teachers teaching the same thing and they often share ideas and materials. We also have a computer database where teachers can store and access lesson plans or worksheets that have been shared.”

What is your favorite part of the day? Why?

 “Quitting time — 4:10 p.m. Reasons are obvious I would think.”

How is the material being taught to students? Is there a specific method being used?

“I think most schools are looking for similar teaching styles, but I certainly would say it’s student-centered. We are meant to keep the TTT (Teacher Talking Time) to an absolute minimum. Group work and pair work are preferable to independent studying. Encourage learner interaction and incorporate critical thinking into the activities whenever possible. I create a lot of supplementary material and often look for short video segments on YouTube which may add another dimension to the lesson.”

How do you prepare your lessons for each class? If you don’t plan lessons, how do you prepare for class?

One of many city temples“You can’t always stick to a lesson plan to the last detail, but you should have something planned anyway. Sometimes the timing can be tricky, but you don’t want to have flat or inactive moments.”

I always plan some type of warmer (five to ten minutes) to bring the learners on board. This doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the material in the lesson. It could simply be a short competition of some kind. The purpose is to grab the attention of your ‘audience’. Think of watching a film at the cinema — or reading a story. The first few minutes of a film are crucial to catch the interest of the viewer, just as a writer needs a ‘hook’ to make the reader want to continue. Teaching isn’t any different. Get their attention, wind them up, and then let them go.

After the warmer, give brief but clear instructions for the class activities. This is your time to teach any new material… but don’t ramble on for too long.

The rest, and longest part of the class must allow students to interact/practice etc. Depending on what you have taught, give a short (five minute) recap/review of the lesson’s key points at the end and assign extra practice (homework) from time-to-time.”

Do you work at a bilingual school? Is English being taught as a subject or throughout all classes at the school? Describe the ways English is being implemented. 

“Our school is strictly English only. We don’t simply teach English, we teach subjects in English. Of course, they learn their basics of the language there as well. However, they study social sciences, history, geography, computer, sports, etc. — all in English.

There are other schools which do just teach English language as a class, though. These places usually have early evening classes that cater to young adults after work.

Our school operates a Khmer language school as well and some students study half a day at each.”

What are the standards classroom teachers use to measure the performance of their students?

“Testing mainly. I personally think students are tested too often but this is what the Cambodian parents want and expect. We also make a part of their score based on speaking from day-to-day class activities. Once a month they are given a project or assignment connected to what they’ve been studying. A mark is given for this as well.

At the beginner levels, we stress fluency. Once they’ve attained that, the higher levels base their scores on both fluency and accuracy.”

Does your school have a set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help their students succeed?

Stone Masons at work

I’ve probably touched upon these already, but in a nutshell:
  • Critical thinking skills. Students need to be able to both think and express their ideas and opinions. It isn’t about simply remembering a lot of facts and formulas.
  • Social skills. Cambodians tend to have tightly-knit families. Unlike in most western countries, teenagers do not go out or just hang out with friends. They almost always go out as a family unit. Group work at school affords them an opportunity to interact with non-family members. Social media is perhaps changing things a bit, but not necessarily in a positive way.
  • Confidence. Unlike some schools, we do not automatically pass everybody in order to continue collecting their money. Pushing a student to a higher level when they are not ready is wrong. Students will soon realize their skills are inferior to others and this will kill their desire to participate. Getting good grades is something wonderful for younger learners to show their parents. Giving some verbal praise from time-to-time can do wonders, especially for older, less confident students.

Looking back at the first Teach Abroad interview, what have you learned most about yourself since first being in the classroom this year?

“I have been teaching for around twenty years and for about the first fifteen of those years, I didn’t teach anyone younger than the age of about seventeen or eighteen. It was almost exclusively young adults under thirty. This was both in Indonesia and Cambodia. I now teach kids as young as eleven and twelve and up to the age of seventeen or eighteen. One thing I’ve had to adjust to was having patience dealing with young, wandering attention spans. My partner is Cambodian and we have three young children together so I have become used to this fairly naturally.

Something I’ve known all along but continue to practice is changing up the way I conduct my lessons. Yes, I could replay what I’ve done in the past, though I would find that boring. Keeping things fresh is a key to retaining job interest. Nobody likes a mundane job.”

What It’s Like Teaching English in Cambodia

As you are reading this, Michael is seeking shelter from the 37°C temperatures that don’t normally come until at least a month from now. If you have any questions about teaching English in Cambodia, or the country itself, please don’t hesitate to ask.

How I Traveled to Cambodia and Stayed to Teach

Harold Michael Carter(Harold) Michael Carter was born and raised in Stratford, Ontario. He studied journalism and discovered at an early age his affliction of wanderlust. Michael furthered his education in life by backpacking his way through Europe. The most important thing he learned from traveling was that he needed to do more of it. 

I met Michael through extended family, when we visited Stratford, home of the Shakespeare Theatre. When he wasn’t working as a manager or bartender in town, he shared photographs and stories of his travels abroad. We bonded over beer, wine, good food and tales of far away places.  

He left Canada for Cambodia in January, 2000, using Phnom Penh as a base from which he could explore Southeast Asia. In 2005 he left for Indonesia, where there was plenty of work back then. He managed to travel and visit home in 2006 and then returned to Cambodia in 2007. He still resides, teaches, and travels from Cambodia today. 

I interviewed Michael Carter to offer an insight into how traveling and teaching abroad can turn into a life lived abroad. 

 

Why did you choose to teach in Cambodia?

“I didn’t choose this country in particular, but I did target Southeast Asia. The main reason was that I wanted a base for traveling in this part of the world. I had previously visited Thailand and initially considered moving there. However, I came to Cambodia to visit a German friend who was living here at the time. I applied for a job just for the hell of it and the rest is history.”

Have you ever taught before? If not, what were you doing before you decided to move abroad?

“This was my first teaching job abroad. After roaming the globe for many years, I decided I wanted to base myself some place other than Canada. I was inspired by a writer from Montréal whom I met in the Czech Republic. He was writing and teaching in Prague. I thought to myself, “This is exactly what I want to do — write and travel and be able to financially support this lifestyle.” I had recently severed a relationship and no longer felt ‘tied down.’ I returned to Canada to work for a few months and by the end of the year I was Asia-bound.”

What did you think teaching would be like? Where are you teaching now?

“I thought teaching would be an ideal venue to interact with local people. It was a new venture and was somewhat exciting in the early days. I probably followed the script in the beginning but soon developed my own style. I am currently teaching in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I reside with my family.”

Carter Family

How did you prepare for your teaching job? What steps did you take?

“I knew I would need some sort of certification and so I bunked with a friend in Toronto and took an evening and weekend TESOL course. If giving advice on the matter, today I would suggest taking a month-long CELTA course. TEFL is accepted in Cambodia but the best schools are now looking for CELTA certification.”  

What are your perceptions of Cambodia during your time there?

“Cambodia is an interesting country as it is evolving so rapidly. While many things have improved, many aspects of the country endeared me more when I first set foot here twenty years ago. To be honest, if I just arrived for the first time today, I doubt I would choose to live here. I now have established a family here and so now I will always have one foot here at least. Where would I choose instead of Cambodia? I suppose if I were single and starting over with Southeast Asia in mind, I would choose Vietnam.”

Angkor Wat Cambodia

What are your goals while you are abroad?

“Life long goals continually change. Travel opportunities would have been my initial answer to this. I now have a Cambodian partner and we have three children together. My goal now is to establish a reasonably secure base for them before I retire. At that time, I hope to pick up with my travels again. (With Cambodia as my base — health permitting). I have taught here and in Indonesia and was a whisker away from taking a job in Azerbaijan. However, I no longer have the desire to take a job in another country.”

What has been your most difficult time there?

“Tough question. I really haven’t experienced too many difficulties. I suppose becoming a financial prisoner is the main issue. Teaching pays well in some countries (such as South Korea & Japan), but the cost of living can be high in those countries. The cost of living is relatively low in Cambodia but the average rate of pay for teachers coincides with that. Most teachers can live here comfortably so long as they don’t expect to have any money left over to move on. It’s sort of like collecting a welfare cheque — it pays the bills with not much leftover. The other issue that could become a difficulty is health care. Cambodia is lagging behind other countries in the region in this department. This is not the place to be if one has health problems.”

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh Cambodia

What has been your best experience?

“Although I might not have thought so at the time, I suppose it was when I took on the task of being an adviser to a Cambodian senator who was overseeing the ASEAN conference his country was hosting. That is my best memory from a professional point of view.

From a personal point of view, I would have to say that collectively I have met a lot of interesting people here. This experience has shaped and reshaped my ideas over the years.”

How do you feel about the culture there? Do you feel you have immersed yourself into the culture?

“Cultural differences and cultural sensitivity will always be an interesting, yet sometimes challenging part of the relocation. I lived in Indonesia for a little more than a year and seemed to fit right in. In Cambodia, I found it more perplexing in the beginning. I suppose I will never fully be immersed in this culture because differences always come up with child-rearing strategies for example. My partner and I are often at odds as to how to raise our children. Essentially we have the best interest of the kids in mind but we have very opposing tactics as to how to achieve this. Cambodia is predominantly a Buddhist nation and Buddhism allows for tolerance. It is pretty much live and let live here — even though my ways may seem curious to others and vice-versa.”

Mekong River Phnom Penh

What advice would you give to other participants about their first year? What are some of the things they must do, and things they absolutely must not do?

Bousra Waterfall Cambodia

“My advice may differ from some you might hear, but here goes. Try to find out information about the schools first and then try for a job at the BEST possible school. (Not necessarily best paying, but one with a good reputation and proven record of longevity). Some people might suggest going for any job and making rookie mistakes at a lesser institute and using that as a stepping stone. Bull to that. All you will do is acquire bad habits. Work with the best or don’t work at all.

Arrive with enough money to sustain yourself for at least two to three months. Schools usually pay once or twice a month. Even if you land a job immediately, you won’t see money for at least a month and you will have initial expenses to deal with.

Finding a School

Most reputable schools are not interested in fly-by-nights. Get a place to live as soon as possible — not just a guesthouse address. Many new arrivals have the attitude they will stay in a cheap guesthouse until they find work. My advice is to look like you are serious about staying and provide an address for your potential employer. If you are only looking for a six-month stop-over to collect some travel cash then you could do better looking at a lesser operation with a guesthouse address. But if you seriously want to spend some time in the country, then present yourself as someone who might stick around. No reputable place of employment wants a high turnover rate of employees.

I’ve taught in two countries in Southeast Asia – Indonesia and Cambodia. In both countries, local transportation is relatively cheap but distances between potential employers are often far and quite spread out and transportation costs while job searching will add up quickly. If you have money, consider getting a small motorbike. If not (as was my case), pick up a cheap, used bicycle. You can get one in Phnom Penh for around $35 US. If you’re old school like me, sling a briefcase over your shoulder with your CVs and go from place to place.”

Stay tuned for Edmond Gagnon’s second interview with Michael Carter on how he traveled to teach in Cambodia. They will be sharing more great adventures with his experiences at his school. To find out more about Edmond Gagnon, visit his website.

by Edmond Gagnon

Iceland Travels: A Land of Nonchalant Spectacularity 

I know that I say this a lot, but I really liked insert name of place here and would definitely visit again and/or live there. But, seriously, no joke. Iceland will make you want to give it all up and go become a sheep farmer. At least, that’s the effect it had on me.

iceland travels mountain ridges

Taking into account that I went during the summer, which was still very chilly and sometimes downright cold, my Iceland travels really were the most breathtaking that I have ever done. The thing that really struck me as unique about Iceland was that almost anywhere the eye settled, there was almost always something interesting or impressive to see. This could be anything from the moss-covered rocks in the lava fields, the shadow-laden mountains, or the fjords that frequently decorated the landscape. If I had stopped to take pictures every time I wanted to, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.

I spent only about six days in Iceland and therefore, only saw a fraction of what I would have liked to make time for. I’ve chosen to think of it as more of a reconnaissance mission for a future trip. What follows next are a few pointers that I can give you through my trial and error method of traveling in addition to describing the extra-intriguing things that I saw during my — you guessed it — Iceland travels.

waterfall

Getting Started in Iceland

My Iceland travels were such extraordinary experiences for me not just because of the destination but because of the method of traveling. In an effort to save money, I opted to rent a Jeep with a camper on top instead of paying for hostels or Airbnbs. This also had the added benefit of flexibility since camping sites were significantly cheaper and were never full. All of the camping sites I visited had hot showers, covered areas where we could cook in cases of bad weather, and were usually very scenic.

My friend and I arrived to Iceland at about 1:00 a.m. The car rental place, Northern Lights Car Rental (through a third party platform called Northbound), let us sleep in their parking lot until we were rested enough to move on. Also, they threw in an extra sleeping bag at no extra cost. We thought we could cut corners by using only one. This was a bad idea as Iceland was much colder than the Internet led me to believe. I’m never believing the Internet about climate averages ever again. I’m looking at you, Internet people, who said Malta had the best climate in the world!

Heading Out for Iceland Travels

traveling in Iceland

The first thing that I noticed after setting out on that first morning west from Keflavik was the expansive lava fields. I saw what I thought was a white and black volcanic rock as far as the eye could see. Moss actually covered the white rock. The moss became very green by the end of the trip when we returned the Jeep. It rains in Iceland. A lot.

Iceland rocks and westfords

The next day we headed north to the Westfjords. It really started to sink in just how special Iceland is. We drove along the coast and I couldn’t believe how green it all was. Landforms like plateaus and mountains shone in the water and half-wild, half-domesticated shaggy sheep dotted the countryside. Houses were picturesque and belonged in paintings, not in real life. Waterfalls were plentiful as well and there was a glacier, Snæfellsjökull, that could be seen from the ocean shore.

Iceland Travels to the Westfjords

Westfjords sheep

Going into the Westfjords was important to me. I found while researching that the fjords present some of the most incredible views of Iceland. Nonetheless, people don’t visit often. During winter, many fjords can’t be accessed because the roads are completely closed. In the summer it’s not so much of an issue. Nonetheless, let me just warn you now… if you plan on going into the fjords, you need to mentally fortify yourself. Besides this, rent a vehicle with 4×4 capabilities!

Terror on the Cliffs

We went during the summer when the roads were fairly decent. Nonetheless, we drove for many miles on end at extremely high altitudes. We were right along intensely steep cliffs. There were no guardrails to protect you from rolling down into the rocky coast below. Just when I thought that I was getting accustomed to driving under those unnerving conditions, I happened to look over and down to my left to see an upside down car all the way at the bottom which had crashed only minutes before. We stopped and got out to help. Miraculously enough, the two locals who had crashed survived with only a few bloody cuts. Talk about a shitty reality check.

car crash off ridge
(Upside down crashed car. Was wayyyy more of a drop off than it looks like in this photo)

 

I realized while in the Westfjords that one could spend their entire trip just exploring that section of Iceland. It is expansive and mysterious and wild. There are few roads and even fewer places to get supplies. Some of my favorite things that we saw while there were puffins. I also saw a gigantic waterfall named Dynjandi. Plus, I was able to experience a hot spring carved into solid rock located right on the beach. Talk about some serious Iceland travels!

puffins

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is probably the most touristy thing that you can do in Iceland. The name itself tends to imply that there are amazing sights to see frequently. Don’t get me wrong. Iceland is so incredibly amazing at all times (and I’m not even being hyperbolic here). It’s pretty easy to become difficult to impress after a short amount of time (like maybe a day of driving).

There were definitely a few majorly impressive things to see on the Golden Circle path. We saw a waterfall comparable to Niagara Falls as well as a geyser park similar to Old Faithful. We saw a gorgeous crater lake. Although we chose to skip it, the Blue Lagoon gets an honorable mention. The entire Circle takes hours and hours of driving just to see a few things. Their national maximum speed limit is 90 kph (55 mph) on paved roads. On dirt roads, it’s 80 kpm (49 mph). You won’t be traveling as rapidly as you might imagine. It was when we finished with the Golden Circle that we really came upon a true hidden treasure: the town of Hveragerði.

Golden Circle lake

 

lake and cave in Hveragerði.

town of hveragerði iceland

Hveragerði South Iceland

The day that we got done with the Golden Circle, my friend and I were tired, hungry, and soaked to the bone. Even so, we passed up a camping site that was extremely close. It had no covered cooking area so we decided on a much nicer one about an hour away. Fortunately, this one did have a covered cooking area, along with free wifi, cell phone charging centers, great reviews, and hot showers.

About a few minutes away on foot, there was a place where you could get in geothermal hot tubs and relax on the cheap. There was also a small geyser park a little further up the road. There, they sold delicious bread made with geothermal water. Plus, there were even hiking trails where you could see even more geysers in their natural habitat (not in the same place as the geyser park). However, none of that could compare to the most amazing experience of my life so far.

Hveragerði foggy ridge

At the end of a deceptively long, steep hike up a mountain shrouded mist and mystery was a hot, geothermal river. Yes, a terraced, hot and steamy river. Talk about crossing something off on your bucket list that you never knew was listed! I had always imagined getting to plop into a natural hot spring in the mountains. However, that vision had never included anything bigger than a large tub.

After that, not much could compare. We visited a couple of museums in order to kill time before my friend’s flight. I even tried a bit of Minke whale before mine. It was delicious by the way — but please don’t be too mad at me even though I know I probably deserve it.

Experiencing Iceland Travels

breakfast in icelandIceland was probably the most expensive place I have visited or ever will visit but I have to say that every penny, or well, krona, was worth it. It was extremely safe and I never felt in danger. Despite us being two women out in the wilds, I never felt creeped out. I could have gone by myself and been completely fine. Actually, on several occasions when we saw hitchhikers, many were also ladies.

I learned a lot of interesting facts from reading magazines at our campsites. I learned that the Icelandic minimum wage is about 2,400 euros a month. That sounds out of this world until you learn that it is taxed at a rate of 51 percent. Woowee! All in all, I look forward to going back and exploring the Southern and Eastern sides of Iceland. If the West and North paralyzed me with wonder for six days, I can only imagine how much more there is for me to see and experience in the other directions.

P.S. Don’t walk on the moss!

by Amanda Whitten

Traveling to Paju-Si: Beyond Seoul

 

Traveling to Paju Si Beyond Seoul Zoe EzechielsWhen South Korea pops into your head, there are a few directions that your mind could wander in. In some cases, it goes to the popular phone brand Samsung (a tech giant based out of Seoul, South Korea). On the rise in younger generations is K-pop, Korean pop music, which is, again, based out of Seoul, South Korea. Maybe you think of the Korean staple food, kimchi. Or perhaps you think of the K-BBQ place that you and your friends went to recently.

Whatever you think about, you probably don’t consider the beautiful scenery, rich history, or the wide array of people who call South Korea their home. Though about 48.2% of the Korean population live in or around Seoul, more than half the population still inhabit other parts of the country. When I studied abroad from Fall 2017 to Summer 2018, my home-base was Seoul. Many different factors influenced my decision to study at Sookmyung Women’s University, but one of them was my desire to travel throughout the country of South Korea.

I’ll be honest, I was getting all of my info about Korea from K-dramas, reality TV shows, and programs about Korean idols. The only thing in my head was Seoul, Seoul, Seoul. But I knew there was so much more. That’s what sent me to Paju: my desire to learn more about the beautiful country I was calling home.

Traveling to Paju Near the Border

I got the opportunity of traveling to Paju through my roommate. She was a Korean language student from France. Both of us were on exchanges, but she focused solely on Korean, while I combined learning Korean with learning Korean copyright laws and mass media communication. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about those copyright laws. But the memory of traveling to Paju is burned into my mind.

One afternoon, while I was studying for my dreaded copyright class presentation and my roommate was going through her Korean flashcards for the thousandth time, she brought up Paju. It was a cultural field trip that her class was going on and she was able to bring a guest. I jumped at the opportunity right away (even though I had no idea what Paju even was). The field trip would be on Saturday, early in the morning. This conversation happened on Friday afternoon. There was no going back after that initial agreement since Saturday we would be traveling to Paju.

paju hill side

Finding Friends While Traveling to Paju

On the bus ride, I met two students from England (one born in England and one who had moved there from Lithuania). I sat next to the native English girl and we quickly bonded over our love of the famous Korean boy group SHINee, Taemin in particular. After conversations died down and we were well on our way to traveling to Paju, the tour guide began to give us facts about the city.

The one that stuck out to me the most was how close it was to North Korea. During the bus ride, we saw North Korea from our window. Paju is located mere miles away from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas. For a fee, you can even stay overnight in the soldiers’ barracks and get the “military” experience. Because of the proximity, I expected Paju to be a somber and serious city. Fortunately, as the bus pulled through the city, the impression was quite the opposite. Colorful neon signs, heavy traffic, and screaming children all meshed together to create a joyful and alive city. It was as if there wasn’t a war zone a couple of miles away.

Centuries of Tradition Stay Strong

We went deeper and deeper into the city until eventually we reached the outskirts. Thickly clustered apartments, businesses, and public spaces gave way to rolling hills and lush greenery. We weren’t headed into the city after all, but rather to the Jaun Seowon Confucian Academy. The academy was located far outside the main city in the suburbs, but the driver took the scenic route through the main part of Paju so that we could marvel at it.

Jaun Seowon having a parade and festival

When we finally pulled up, a beautiful mesh of traditional Korean architecture and nature met us. Plus, we were just in time for the parade. Jaun Seowon was having a parade and festival to celebrate the culture behind the academy and we were going to be part of it. The staff was friendly yet efficient as they led us to get changed into the traditional scholar gyobok. The gyobok was what the scholars wore during the Joseon period. While in the academy, they learned about Confucian teachings, how to run the government, and other skills fit for wealthy adolescent men to learn.

Parade, Traditional Art of Tea, and Cookie Making

The parade involved all the students walking after the musicians. The locals snapped a lot of photos and laughed as we waved at them and stumbled over the long uniform pants. Unfortunately, at that time, my Korean wasn’t good enough to ask them to send me some of the photos they took.

Koran Cookie Making

After the parade, it was time to learn the traditional art of tea and cookie making. We all sat in the building that used to be the primary classroom. First, the staff demonstrated tea and cookie making to us. Then, we got to try it ourselves. Needless to say, my cookies turned out pretty amazing. The tea was delicious too.

Finally, we got to write our wishes for the New Year using special Korean rice paper and ink. I was one of the only students that didn’t get any ink on their sleeves. Although, that might have been because I took Chinese in highschool and we practiced calligraphy (shh don’t tell anyone). Even though I had previously practiced, I still ended up smudging ink all over my parchment and my characters looked like they were written by a child. But, I was proud of my New Years wish, which was to continue to live happily and healthily for as long as I could.

From the Classroom to the Field

Our time at Jaun Seowon Confucian Academy ended with lunch (I had a delicious veggie kimbap roll procured by the staff after they realized that they didn’t have anything vegan for me) and then free time. My friends and I played traditional Korean games, failed miserably, and took plenty of photos.

Traveling to a Farm Near the DMZ

soybean field traveling to paju-si

It was now early afternoon and our trip wasn’t over yet. We were going to see how they made tofu. Yeah, you heard me, we were going to a tofu-ery (if that’s what it’s called). The bus driver pulled away from the academy and took us deeper into the rural suburbs of Paju, except we were driving close to the Paju DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone) again.

I couldn’t help being a little nervous as we pulled into a small village less than a mile away from the border. Sprawling land surrounded a few homes. We were in farmer county. Specifically, soybean farmers, our tour guide informed us. The families that farmed here had been at it for generations.

We made our way down a dirt road, passing rows and rows of beans. A stray cat flitted through the crops, hunting a bug. When I tried to call out to it, the cat stared at me. I tried again and the cat blinked slowly before continuing its chase. It didn’t occur to me until later that the cat had probably never heard English before. But that’s a thought for another day.

Making Tofu

Eventually, we made it down to a shed. It was big enough to house a tractor but the only equipment there was for tofu. The two women running the tofu house were extremely polite but spoke no English. Thus, our tour guide translated for us whenever they explained things.

handmade tofu making

First, the soybeans go through a special wash. This cleans them of all the toxins they could have picked up from being transported on the farmers truck. It also softens them to allow them to be ground into a paste. The women showed us how the soybeans sit in the wash for days before they are ready. Turns out, they had a batch that was just finished soaking in the water. Hauling a big bucket between them and with wide grins on their faces, the ladies invited us to grind soybeans with them.

Try Everything

A traditional Korean grinder is made from two huge stone blocks with a small pathway for the beans to go through. They end up between the two stones and are smashed into a paste that pours out the sides into a bowl. You spin the stone on top with a huge wooden handle in order to create that paste.

My friends and I only tried it for a couple of minutes, but those women did it day in and day out. That was their livelihood. To this day, I consider them extremely powerful and badass. After everyone had tried their hand at making the paste, we were given samples of their soondubu (soft tofu). This is tofu that hasn’t hardened and is still in a soybean broth. They had us add soy sauce and green peppers. It was delicious (honestly the best tofu I’ve had). Before we left, we also got to take home chunks of their handmade tofu, directly from the source. My vegan heart was soaring.

What I Learned from Traveling to Paju

I never would have had the chance of traveling to Paju if my roommate was a different person. I never would have heard of the place unless I was open to the opportunity. Because I trusted my gut and said yes, I made lifelong friends, learned a lot more about the place I hope to call my future home, and got to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences. So, in short, I learned that Korea is a lot more than Seoul and it’s worth it to explore every single inch.

traveling to paju si kakao talk

A Quick Skip Up the Swiss Alps

In my last article, I talked about our visit to the Black Forest, the House of 1000 Clocks, and a scenic detour to Rhine Falls.

We finally arrived at our hotel, only to be faced with an unexpected dilemma: Switzerland used Francs instead of Euros! Luckily, after settling in, Nikos, our guide, bought everyone dinner at a nearby restaurant. It was incredibly pricey, and a bottle of water was nearly six francs! This was one place we did not want to splurge.

switzerland view

Nikos gave us a tour of the small town we were staying in, and we watched the sun set beneath the rooftops from a large overlook. Afterwards, we decided to head back to prepare for the next morning to the Swiss Alps, and to enjoy the hotel. It was certainly the nicest place we stayed. After everyone had showered, we all met up in someone’s room to drink wine and hang out (which turned into quite the adventure without a wine opener).

sunset

Up Mt. Pilatus

We woke up early the next morning to head into Lucerne before we left to the Swiss Alps. We arrived early enough that we could walk around the town a bit before getting onto the ferry. One of my favorite memorials we saw was the Lion Monument, which represented the Swiss Guard that had been massacred by the French in the 1700s. Additionally, I saw real swans for the first time off the Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, a beautiful wooden bridge that snaked across the River Reuss. After stopping in the ferry’s gift shop (and picking up a few francs), we boarded the ferry to watch mountain tops glaze by the crystal blue water.

lucerne Switzerland

After we got off the boat in Alpnachstad (and after a fun conversation about American politics with Nikos and some group members), we loaded up into what seemed like a trolley. It was in fact the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. Nikos passed out Mt. Pilatus baseball caps to everyone as we went up, which quickly became my go-to headwear. We filed into a large, modern building that had a buffet-type restaurant. I believe it may have also functioned as a hotel. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you too much about it. I immediately ran to the nearest door to get a look at the view. 

steepest cogwheel railway swiss alps

A Postcard View of the Swiss Alps

Mountains were everywhere. We were over 2,000 meters above sea level in the Swiss Alps. I was especially giddy. It was cold enough that I could wear the beanie I picked up at the House of 1000 Clocks and the hoodie I bought in Oxford. I ran up and down from the base to the overlook probably three times. Every picture I took looked like a postcard — they all seemed fake and not real, but I could look up from my phone and see the view was right there.

swiss mountians

After enough time to enjoy the view and grab some lunch, we headed back down the mountain in gondolas. We saw people hiking as we soared over forests and meadows. I’d never seen anything quite so idyllic. Without a doubt, no other country was as pristine as Switzerland. There were flowers, mountains, and gorgeous blue lakes everywhere. I would love to return there one day and be one of those hikers I saw from above.

group viewing mountains of the swiss alps

Interested in Travel, Go! How Traveling Changed My Life

cateCate lived and worked in Madrid, Spain for two years. Soon after returning to the US, she had the opportunity to work with the U.S. Department of State. Her first two-year post is in New Zealand. She is exploring both the north and south islands and living a life she never even could have imagined. Her new position has opened up a world of opportunities and she is enjoying her Dreams Abroad.

What have you been up to since leaving Dreams Abroad?

“While still living in Spain, I applied for a job with the State Department. I accepted my position last July after a grueling seventeen months of going through the bureaucratic paces. I am currently at my first post in Wellington, New Zealand, and will be here for another year and a half. It has been an unbelievable journey to get here. I know for certain that, had I not lived and worked abroad, I never would have gotten this amazing opportunity. Travel changed my life and it is always a fantastic investment in yourself.”

Wellington New Zealand Changed My Life

What is your best Dreams Abroad memory ?

“I could never choose. My two years living abroad completely changed my life. There were so very many moments that I’ll never forget. I think that my most potent take-away from the whole thing is the pride I have in myself for walking right over my fears and getting on that plane.”

get away with a friend

What are your plans?  

“My plans are to keep this job until they force me to retire and thereby get paid to live and work all over the world!”

What would you say to someone interested in traveling abroad (to teach, work, study, or just to travel)?  

“Do it, do it, do it. I visited Europe for the first time in my fifties. I felt absolutely terrified and, frankly, that’s why I did it. Before visiting, I felt so frustrated with myself for letting fear get the better of me. If you feel interested in travel, go! If you aren’t interested in travel, you really need to go! There is no education, no way to better broaden your mind and open your heart, than travel.”

travel away

by Leesa Truesdell

Adventure Traveling in Peru: Biking, Hiking, and More

Adventure Traveling in Peru part three of a four-part series. Click here for part one and here for part two.

Day 4 – Get Your Bags Ready

My adventure traveling Peru is going amazing. The long-anticipated excursion was finally upon me! After packing three days’ worth of clothes into a tiny backpack and leaving the rest in the hostel’s storage room, I patiently waited outside on a cold, dark morning for my guide from Lorenzo’s Expeditions to pick me up. Lorenzo did offer a duffle bag (at a small fee) to put your belongings in so you didn’t have to carry your life on your back while you trek countless miles a day. I, unfortunately, was too stubborn and cheap to go with this option and consequently wound up looking like Quasimodo at the end of each day. What did I say in part one again? Oh, yeah, you live and learn. Don’t be like me.

The Beginning

After a short wait, my guide, Wilbert, scooped me up. Upon entering our van, I was met by the rest of my group. Although we were all a bit tired and quiet at first, once the sun rose and we could see the beautiful landscape, we all warmed up to each other. Accompanying me was a Belgian couple, a Portuguese couple, and two Argentinian women; all of whom were extremely amicable. Our van ascended and ascended as we climbed through the mountains. Soon, some of us (not me) began to feel the effects of the altitude even more (okay it was me). Thanks to Wilbert, this was where I learned the proper way to chew coca leaves (fifteen leaves, chew for five minutes, rest for ten to fifteen minutes). This came in handy throughout my adventure traveling Peru.

abra málaga biking traveling dreams abroad

Abra Málaga: Ripping Down the Mountains

After two hours of driving, we finally stopped at Abra Málaga, roughly 4,000 meters (~13,000 feet) above sea level. For the first time while in Peru, I couldn’t see any tall mountains in the distance because, well, we were actually at the peak of those mountains. Not to mention the fact that we were placed delicately above the clouds. One of the coolest things to see was a little cotton ball of a cloud slowly drifting past us while we changed into our mountain biking gear.

We began our 34-mile descent with Wilbert leading the way and me following closely behind. It didn’t take long for Wilbert to notice that I was itching to go faster. We ended up ripping down the mountain Tour de Peru style, periodically stopping to enjoy the views and wait for the rest of the group to catch up. Along the way, we passed through clouds, small villages, and alongside thick jungle. After three hours, we finally ended our ride in a town called Huamanmarca. As I was getting off my bike, I noticed that I’d had a huge grin the entire time, which had made my cheeks so sore. Worth it.

Vilcanota River

We piled back in our van, passing village after village until we finally reached our bed and breakfast. We dropped our bags off and were served a nice lunch by the owner and his family before heading down to the Vilcanota River that the bed and breakfast overlooked. There, we met another group and some river guides and started preparing for our rafting activity. It turned out I was the only one with rafting experience. Unfortunately, everyone unwisely put their trust in me to keep them alive. I would normally say that our river guide helped us out, but he almost flipped us on some rocks and let us smash into a rock wall. Needless to say, we all got a little banged up. Once again, worth it.

abroad peru tyler black hiking biking mountains

Day 5

The next morning we set off on our hike. I wore pants and a sweatshirt to start off the day because it was a bit chilly with the sun still hidden behind the mountains. I had my sunscreen and bug spray ready since I knew I’d be shedding layers as the sun came up and the bugs woke up. Wilbert explained that diseases such as malaria and yellow fever aren’t prevalent in this part of Peru, but to make sure to apply bug spray often. I did not get any vaccinations before coming, but I highly recommend you do. Better to be safe than sorry, especially so you can make the most of your adventure traveling Peru.

Coffee & Coca Leaves

adventure traveling peru inka trail hikingPassing through the jungle, Wilbert occasionally stopped to show us coffee plant fields. He picked off the beans for us to see what they looked like unroasted. He also explained how the local economies rely on these plants, as well as coca leaves. The first half of the day was spent walking uphill. Nonstop. Eventually, the sun poked its head out and relentlessly made us question why we thought we were capable of handling this. Luckily, Wilbert continued to stop along the trail to let us take a break and get ourselves together.

After seven hours, countless jaw-dropping views, and a delicious lunch, we ended our hike at some hot springs in Cocalmayo. We all enjoyed a nice drink and rested our achy feet in the relaxing water. Once we felt rested enough, we piled back in our van for a short trip to the town of Santa Teresa. We would be staying there for the night in a gorgeous hotel. I hopped into the shower for fear of setting off any alarms with my sweaty scent. I later joined the group for dinner across the street before crashing into my bed for the night.

Day 6

When I woke up the next day, I knew we were going zip lining. But I really didn’t know what that entailed, to be honest. We were shuttled up into the mountains outside of Santa Teresa where we put on our gear. The next thing I knew, I was flying over giant valleys! On one of the lines, they even made me go upside down! Just when I thought my adventure traveling Peru couldn’t get more exciting, we traversed a very wobbly bridge with a 500+ foot drop that turned my legs to Jell-O. The adrenaline rush was unreal. We ended the activity after climbing up a giant cliff and zipping close to a kilometer back to the starting point.

Hiking Towards Machu Picchu

peru machu picchu traveling peru

Right after such an adrenaline rush, it was now time to start hiking again. This time we hiked on a giant dirt trail filled with many other explorers on their own adventure traveling Peru. At one point, Wilbert took a small detour and allowed us to see something he had discovered many years ago. Hidden in the jungle, we happened upon a stone structure which was believed to host sacrifices by the Inca. It gets crazier, though. Each point on this rectangular slab perfectly aligned with a cardinal direction!

But wait, it gets even more crazy! Amongst surrounding trees, there was one clearing which looked high into the mountains. Wilbert took my phone, zoomed into the mountains, and took a picture. What did we see? A building from Machu Picchu perfectly facing us. That’s right: we were at the base of Machu Picchu! Unfortunately, we had to walk all the way around it to Aguas Calientes.

Shower, Food, and Sleep

And so, after another whole day of hiking, we arrived at the cute little town of Aguas Calientes. It was packed with people from all around the world. Just like the night before, I ran for the hotel shower before grubbing with the group and heading to sleep. It was hard to fall asleep this time, though, because I couldn’t stop thinking about what awaited me tomorrow.

Stay tuned for the finale of the trek of adventure traveling Peru!

aguas calientes adventure traveling peru

 

Pre-Departure From Kuwait to the United States

As a soon-to-be student, there were a few things I had to do prior to my departure date. I had to get my papers documented from the Kuwait Culture Office (Kuwait Embassy) and I had to do some research. Before I left, I wanted to learn more about the place where I’d be spending the upcoming few years of my life in: Tampa, FL. I felt it was a good idea to familiarize myself with Tampa Bay’s surroundings.

Beginning Steps

Before I came to the United States, I looked for an apartment online, ahead of time. I wanted to make sure that I found one that fit my needs (before the good ones were filled and booked by my fellow students). Also, I began to look for car dealerships online in order to compare the prices. I knew that I would have to have a car to get around. Since I was going to be in Tampa for a long time, I decided to get a car.

Closer to the Trip

Kuwait moving study abroad looking apartment

I booked the airline ticket that would get me to the United States and, of course, the domestic airline ticket. The first flight would land in New York, and the second, domestic flight would take me to Florida. There were a few days between my flights and move-in day at my new apartment, so I booked a hotel room to spend the first few nights in.

Packing to Leave Kuwait

When it came to packing, I avoided making the mistake of packing a lot of things. I took only the essentials that would be hard to find in the United States (head scarfs, for example). When it comes to bathroom essentials that we Muslims use, there is good news! The handheld version for the toilet is found in Home Depot (in-store or online). There is no need to buy different types of bidet sprayers to bring with you from Kuwait (like I did) in order to see which one fits your apartment’s toilet. In short, relax; the one sold in the United States fits all bidets!

Bring Reminders of Home

One last thought; since I was about to embark on a new journey that would last up to 5 years, I wanted to collect personal souvenirs and mementoes from all of my family members and friends. I bought blank, white cards and different colors of Sharpies so I could collect their thoughts. They wrote words of inspiration and motivational quotes to help get me through the next few years. Then, I put all of the cards in sealed envelopes. I am to read one every time I feel homesick or sad. If you try it, it will surely give you a sense of warmth! You can also personalize a wall in your apartment with beautiful writings from your loved ones!

quotes from friends study abroad kuwait

by Dalal Boland

Immigration Around the World

by Amanda Whitten

In writing this, I can’t pretend that I’m totally unbiased to immigration – but who is? To the best of my ability, I can only give you the facts that I’ve accumulated and pass on the observations that I’ve made. The topic of immigration is a funny one. Not that it’s altogether humorous, really, but it is one of those topics that can really get people riled up on all sides.

Economic Underdogs

immigrant money world travel economic abroad immigrantsIn Oklahoma (where I’m from), a lot of people see immigrants as one of the main causes of any of today’s societal problems. Sometimes, I can even empathize with their frustration. Why would a customer pay a higher rate for a service when they could pay less? For example, a one-man lawn mowing/landscaping service takes twice as much time for more than double the cost compared to hiring several people willing to work for less time at a much lower price? It’s difficult for small business owners to compete with the ultra-hard working competition. Especially when they don’t take breaks and work for very little pay.

What’s interesting is that this same point-of-view is found in other countries, too. When I was in Buenos Aires in 2012, people there complained about the Peruvians that had immigrated, searching for a better life. They said that in sending money out of the country to their family, they (the immigrants) were weakening an already damaged economy.

Everybody Has it Bad

Recently, in Italy and Germany, people express the same concerns about immigrants from Syria. Here in Spain, immigrants are viewed with similar skepticism as you find in other parts of the world. The concerns are the same: they’re taking all the jobs and they’re working for less money, thus undermining citizens, etc. The funny thing is (there’s that word again!), the other day I heard somebody from England complaining about Spaniards! Spain’s economy has had its challenges. Therefore, it’s pretty common for Spaniards to move elsewhere (such as England) after earning their degree at home. They accept work in England for less money, which causes resentment from skilled English citizens.

immigrant walking world travel economic abroad immigrants

Just so we’re clear, I am 100% pro-immigration. People in the United States seem to think that everybody from everywhere wants to live in the US.  This is obviously a very US-centric point-of-view which is certainly incorrect per the examples just mentioned. I’ve found, though, that many who’ve immigrated just go to the closest neighbor with a big economy. They work harder for fewer benefits. They pay taxes into systems that don’t necessarily provide the same benefits to them.

When I first met Esteban, my boyfriend, I asked him what his take on immigration was.  He simply said, “I believe in a free world.” That is something that I can get behind for sure.

Immigration is a Complicated Situation

immigrant tattoo world travel economic abroad immigrants

Now, this brings me to why I wanted to write this piece: the immigration situation in the US. I’ve noticed many people say, “I don’t have a problem with immigrants as long as they just come here legally.”

Like most enduring challenges we face in the US and across the world, the problem is usually much more complex than such a simple solution. It is often a very lengthy process to receive permission to live and work in the US. Often, many immigrants face significant financial hardships or threats to their safety. Therefore, they’re reasonably willing to take the chance to come to the US illegally. 

How do we, as a global society (whether it be Argentina, Europe or the US), show compassion to others in light of the drastic challenges they face? What are some ways we can help people in a place like Syria reach safety while balancing safety for our citizens? How do we best create vibrant economies in order for citizens and immigrants alike to provide for their families and reach their potential as people? Obviously, we, as Americans, Europeans, and South Americans, are falling short of achieving this goal.

Looking Forward at Immigration

I think it would make more sense if it were easier for people to legally immigrate. Refugees don’t actually want to live their lives constantly on the lam. However, refugees from poor economies and dangerous war zones will do what it takes to give themselves and their children a better life. Nearly every single person on the planet would. Unfortunately, sorting through the myriad of challenges is truly daunting.

Regardless, the benefits of immigration have certainly bestowed incredible prosperity to a number of places around the world – London, San Francisco, Miami, Dubai, and Singapore, just to name a few. My life has been made all the richer by loving and forming relationships with immigrants. It’s benefitted me so much so that I’ve become one myself! Learning Spanish and embracing a different way of life has helped open my eyes. It has transformed me. It’s saved me from being the type of person who says, “Just come here legally!”

Going forward, my only wish is to spread the knowledge that I have gained. I hope that I can help others see that this is a much more complex issue than “just coming here legally.” Our processes are slow and time-consuming. These are processes that not everyone can wait for. I just hope that we can be more understanding of the perilous situations that our global citizens could be in.

forward immigration world travel economic abroad immigrants