Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: What blogging steals from travel

March 16, 2012

After checking out the article on the Matador website, it made me wonder a bit about traveling and our traveling routines (and habits).

Are we traveling just to take pictures, the “best pictures ever”? One friend told me one time, “I don’t take pictures when I travel. I would rather enjoy the moment instead.”

Are we traveling just to take a “cool” photo that I am going to post on Facebook to “show-off” all my friends?

And like the author of the Matador article, is he just traveling to write a blog entry?

What are the rules of traveling then?  What are the things you “must do” and what are the things you are doing that are not on that list and that possibly take away from the things on that list?

Some people say that one “must do” on the list is to eat the local food.  Others say that you “must” interact with the locals as much as you can (see the video highlight of Rick Steves on our blog).  I have friends who are over 40 and still make it a point to stay at hostels so that they can “rough” it and thus being more “in tune” to the host country more and being able to interact with the other travelers there that also want to be more “in tune.”  That is a “must do” for them.

Some people just travel to see and be on the beach.  Relaxing every day at the hotel possibly at an all inclusive resort.  Are those people getting out of traveling like they “should” or are their separate trips abroad that are just for relaxing and “getting away”?

And then there is the Amazing Race show.  Who doesn’t like the Amazing Race show?  It is like all our dreams coming true (with regards to traveling and exploring the world).  But time and time again I meet people who say that sure these teams are traveling the world, but they aren’t really interacting with the host country people and culture at all.  The teams are not in the cities long enough to really see what the culture is all about.  They are not able to be “present” to fully take in where they are and what they are experiencing.  I am not for sure I agree.  I really feel like there is definitely something the teams are getting out of their traveling.  It may not be the same experience as if you are traveling somewhere for 3 weeks and having a home stay at a local family’s house, but sure it is another form a traveling that could possibly be just as rewarding.

“I went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower. I wasn’t too impressed.”  If you are working at an international school in Europe, you might have said to your other international school teacher friends, “After traveling to many cities in Europe, they are all starting to look the same.”  Some times traveling naturally gets to this point.  Not that you stay at this point and never go back, but I think when you travel as much as international school teachers do, it is bound to happen at some point.  Because when you travel too much, sometimes the “routines” that you experience when traveling have a similar feeling to each other.  Check into the hotel.  Go into the famous church there.  Look at the Eiffel Tower.  Eat out at restaurants every night.  Go to the Starbucks!  It just might just start all appearing to be the same trip.

I used to have a blog.  It was about all my trips.  I started it originally about my experiences living abroad after moving to my first international school, but my interest in it soon waned as I found myself being less and less “excited” about my day to day experiences living in the host country.  The blog turned into a travel blog basically as I ended up posting entries about my travels. I remember thinking…well I have to edit all my photos.  And then after editing, I have to write insightful things about those photos and publish them (the best ones) on my blog.  My friends and family actually really liked my blog.  They loved reading my entries and looking at my photos.  My aunt even printed out all the blog entries that were on the blog and put them into an album.  She gave the album of my blog entries to my mother as a present!

BUT….I had to stop.  I really started to dread it.  Did I take it out on my traveling and stop enjoying my trips to the fullest?  Probably not that much, but it might have affected my travels.  I can’t image actually writing the blog every day of your trip (like how the Matador author might be doing) and then having the pressure to write insightful entries and publish an entry each day for a blog.  For sure that might take away a bit from his traveling experience and being “present” on his trip.

I think that every one travels for their own reasons.  Somebody’s reasons for traveling might not be exactly the same as the next person’s reasons.  Most people in the “real world” aren’t actually able to travel as much as we do (international school educators) and surely we shouldn’t take that fact for granted.  Maybe a good idea is to make one or two traveling goals before you embark on your trip.  “I’m going to try and interact more with the host country people.”  “I am going to travel more of the local cuisine when I choose which restaurants that I eat at.”

continue reading

Discussion Topics

“The Amazing Race” of International School Teaching

May 15, 2011

“If only my life could be like The Amazing Race!” I say that to myself all the time.

I can’t stop watching this show as it is like all my dreams coming true.  How cool would it be to travel around the world (for free), do amazing challenges with your teammate and interact in a very interesting and meaningful way with a variety of different cultures?

Many of my international teacher friends watch this show religiously. Why? Because I think we are attempting to do “The Amazing Race” in our lives abroad every time we book a flight for our next trip.  The international educator’s life is one step closer to the life of an Amazing Race contestant.  Luckily, we have more money and more vacation time to go on more trips.  Living in the United States, I was lucky to travel internationally once a year (and it was more like every 2-3 years).  Because of that fact, it will be some day when I decide to go back to live there.

Here are the countries that The Amazing Race has been to so far:

Who cries during the finale, when the winning team is running towards the final pit stop mat?  Actually, I get emotional at the end of any of the episodes; when the last team explains what traveling around the world with their teammate has meant to them.  I do like traveling by myself, but there is something quite special experiencing another language and culture in a foreign country with a good friend or your life partner.  I personally have some great memories about many of my trips that I have taken with friends.

The unfortunate thing is that the vast majority of us will never get to be on the Race itself while living abroad.  You need to be currently living in the U.S.  Also, you need to be able to leave your job for 2-3 months, and that is just not possible for most of us working at international schools.

How cool to meet someone though who has actually been on The Amazing Race?  I actually have met somebody (who is currently an international school teacher) who was on the Race!  It was the The Amazing Race though in Belgium.  She got in 2nd place!


continue reading