Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Sicily (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

June 6, 2022


Traveling Around: Sicily

Can you relate?

  • entering a local deli shop by chance and being in awe of all the delicious food!
  • getting an Airbnb right in a small harbor where the locals are doing their daily fishing.
  • planning this trip with some international school teacher friends that you met at a conference many years ago.
  • learning about the history of the island when you run into some ancient ruins.
  • resisting the urge to buy things from the local market when you see that your partner is purchasing a number of things.
  • Imagining what life would be like living in Sicily as you walk down cute and quaint narrow streets.
  • running into huge packs of high school aged children all over the city and not understanding why they aren’t in school!
  • succumbing to the urge and getting at least one delicious gelato a day.
  • taking a detour two times during the trip and stopping at some remote, local beaches to just lay down and relax (some of us taking a dip as well).
  • walking around the beautiful nature and being curious about all of the local wildflowers.
  • going all the way up to Mount Etna and being amazed at the fact you are standing so close to an erupting volcano!
  • ringing a doorbell of a closed store that sells honey only for the bell to be answered by the owner who then lets you in (the honey was delicious!)!
  • loving the city life as you people-watch in downtown Catania.
  • stopping the car to get out and buy four peaches from a local produce seller selling produce out of their truck.
  • driving around and being scared because of the way the locals drive. It was like the driving rules there were merely suggestions.
  • visiting a touristy town but realizing how amazing it was, especially the views of the sea.
  • eating at a different restaurant every night and totally enjoying every meal and experience.
  • running into a local wedding that was just ending and watching firsthand all of the traditions of their culture.

Currently, we have 39 international schools listed in Italy on International School Community. 21 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

The Bilingual School of Monza29 Comments
International School Florence34 Comments
American Overseas School of Rome40 Comments
Bilingual European School of Milan79 Comments
St. Stephens School Rome29 Comments
Westminster International School29 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing, and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Småland, Sweden (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

March 6, 2022


Traveling Around: Småland, Sweden

Can you relate?

  • getting a private tour of a crazy Swedish man’s small moose park. The moose were so big and cute!
  • staying at two different Swedish hotels (here’s one in Kalmar) that offered not only breakfast but also dinner as included in the price of the room.
  • taking the trains to get around from city to city, and splurging by buying the First Class ticket for some more comfort.
  • going to a local restaurant and being the only guests in it. It is hard to do, but you can be surprised by some tasty food!
  • finding a unique Italian restaurant run by actual Italians (in a Swedish city of around 50000 people) and being treated to such a wonderfully authentic Italian meal.
  • stepping into a small butcher’s shop and buying unique locally-made products like jams and crackers.
  • driving around to find a castle that is also a hotel and realizing we should’ve stayed there instead!
  • traveling to a water tower that also doubled as an echo chamber. I wouldn’t have believed it until we got there. It was super amazing!
  • driving by a huge outlet area and agreeing to stop and check it out. We bought some discounted clothes!
  • driving off the beaten path a number of times on very dirt, bumpy roads. Super exciting and fun!
  • taking in the view of the beautiful nature. Even though it was winter and very cold, the sunny days still made the views so wonderful.
  • getting a bit of a snowstorm one night and waking up to everything covered in snow.
  • stopping by the local mall for some shopping. We bought a pot of a Swedish knockoff of le Creuset.
  • having the easiest pick up of a rental car….EVER!
  • wondering why we went traveling for a week in small-town Sweden only to realize that it was super relaxed and cozy…just want needed.
  • taking the free pass from the hotel to the local “spa/pool” and then seeing that it was overrun by small children!
  • stopping by the IKEA museum and learning about the amazing history of this iconic store.

Currently, we have 14 international schools listed in Sweden on International School Community. 7 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Bladins International School of Malmo33 Comments
International School of Almhult141 Comments
International School of Helsingborg28 Comments
International School of the Gothenburg Region6 Comments
Stockholm International School11 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Discussion Topics

Traveling to get Vaccinated in your Home Country

April 18, 2021


Let’s be honest. Not all countries are equally successful with their COVID19 vaccination roll-out.

Many of us are in countries in which there seems to be no hope to get vaccinated before the summer (or even the foreseeable future). The international school community hasn’t been able to see their families in almost two years, so they are eagerly hoping to do so this summer.

Although vaccination is not a mandatory prerequisite for travel, being vaccinated would definitely give them some peace of mind while visiting their loved ones.

Different regions of the world are having different dynamics in rolling out their vaccination programs. Europe is currently lagging behind the countries such as UK, Israel, Chile, Serbia, the USA, etc. But most developing countries are lagging behind Europe.

Because of the time crunch, a number of international school teachers are choosing to go to their home countries anyway and looking at maybe also getting vaccinated there.

As plane tickets are being bought (hopefully with a flexible rescheduling policy), we are currently seeing new waves of infections in many countries around the world (and maybe even your home country). This puts all of us in a moral doubt of whether we should take a risk and travel to see our friends and family or should be more patient and wait until more certain times.

After looking at some flights from Europe to the USA, the prices look very attractive compared to previous years. So buying one of these flights is hard to resist.

However, it is hard to know what the world will look like come June. We don’t know yet which requirements you’ll have to meet to even fly to your home country. As of today, most countries just require proof of a negative PCR test for citizens of that country (and their spouse/family).

What are your plans for this coming summer? Will you take the chance and fly home?

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Melbourne, Australia (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

December 26, 2019


Traveling Around: Melbourne, Australia

Can you relate?

  • learning a bunch a new words that are just abbreviations of words you already know in English.
  • eating out at restaurants and finding that there are all cuisines on offer in the city, so diverse!
  • taking a day trip to Phillip Island to find those fairy penguins, but also enjoy the lovely summer day full of sunshine.
  • having an encounter with a mob of 15 wild kangaroos by yourself with no one else around.
  • being amazed by all the different kinds of animals in the wild that many countries don’t have.
  • being shocked by how much the temperature can change from day to day, sometimes with a 20+C difference!
  • thinking that the prices for food at restaurants look expensive, but after converting the price into my host country current, realizing it is kind cheap here.
  • wanting to catch up with a local (a person I worked with at one of my past international schools) but finding out it wasn’t going to work out do to that person being too busy during the holiday season.
  • meeting up with a friend who just moved there and finding out all the details about the pros and cons of living and working there.
  • renting a car and finding it not that stressful to drive on the other side of the road.
  • going to a restaurant of your partner’s home country cuisine and talking to the servers and owner who were also from that country.
  • checking out places that you didn’t visit the first time that you were in Melbourne (Luna Park, the bathing houses, Flinders Station, etc.)
  • walking into the National Library and being amazed by the architecture of the place.
  • not buying one souvenir, but taking lots of pictures of all the unique buildings, both old and new.
  • being disappointed when arriving at a favorited restaurant to realize it was closed for the holiday season, then checking ahead of time if the next restaurants were open for future meals.
  • seeing a near crash between car and tram, ‘trams can’t swerve’ said the sign!
  • loving that the trams in the CBD are free to use for everyone, every day!

Currently, we have 31 international schools listed in Oceania on International School Community. 8 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Kwajalein Senior High School24 Comments
Woodford International School12 Comments
International School Nadi9 Comments
Majuro Cooperative School8 Comments
Port Moresby International School8 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Highlighted Articles

Traveling the world and getting to know more than 30,000 people through pancakes

July 14, 2018


For the past 9 years I have met more than 30,000 people. How? By traveling the world and handing out Dutch pancakes for free wherever I go!

How it all started

My story started 9 years ago, when I was studying in Hong Kong for a university exchange program. My friends there cooked Asian food for me and in return I decided to serve them Dutch pancakes. This was a big success and people liked the pancakes and the atmosphere a lot. Back then I already thought that if this event was such a success in Hong Kong, why not anywhere else in the world?!

traveling

When back in the Netherlands I started hosting people at my apartment­­ on Saturday nights, first for 10 or 20 people, but when encouraging my friends to invite more people, it soon grew out towards 100+ people every week. A few months into this, my landlord decided that he wanted to sell my apartment. At that moment I had to make a decision whether to rent a new apartment or to invest my salary in flight tickets and to travel the world in my free time. I decided on the second one and have since then been a nomad for the past 5+ years.

Initially I just approached my own friends who lived all over Europe and asked them whether they fancied to host an edition in their apartments. This worked, but the pace was low (only 1-2 editions per month). At one point I decided to approach strangers on Facebook, Couchsurfing, etc with the question whether they would know of suitable locations or to host the event in their own apartments. Luckily I was always able to find a location this way. However, nowadays the event has outgrown the capacity of regular apartments, so I decided to switch to bars, hostels and more professional venues.

Very different places

Over the course of these 9 years I have organized the pancake events for around 460 times, in 78 countries and in around 200 different cities, literally all over the world, from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro and from Dar es Salaam to Boston. During these events we prepared more than 50,000 Dutch pancakes!

traveling

All the places I have visited are of course very different from each other, but the atmosphere at the events is surprisingly similar: people are generally very enthusiastic, easy-going and open to meet many more people. They are also often very willing to help and support, for example by finding locations for the events, helping with groceries, bringing along cooking material, preparing pancakes, or help with cleaning. Occasionally the location even looks cleaner than before the event!

How did the pancake event grow so big?

I have always wondered what drove the success of these events. I think the following factors made the difference:

  1. Pancakes: people all over the world love pancakes and most people have tried them since they are young. In many countries the pancakes even have their own method of preparation and flavor.
  2. Diverse crowd: the events typically attract a very diverse and international crowd, from many different cultures and professional backgrounds.
  3. Personal approach: I try to write everyone who indicates to be interested, either by liking, clicking to attend, joining a group chat etc. Welcoming and encouraging them to bring more people, drives conversion.
  4. Pop-up event: I generally organize these events only one time in a city, so people have no other chance to try the event out in that city.
  5. Free food: there are not too many events around the world with unlimited free food. It is therefore not surprising that potential attendants of the events are often suspicious and think that there must be a way I earn money with these events (which is not the case).

traveling

What are my plans for the future?

Even though I have organized these pancake events for 9 years already, I never looked further than 3 months. There were many moments that I thought about stopping, for example if I experienced disappointments or setbacks or if I did not feel like putting in the effort required to organize more editions. However, there were always many more moments that I felt so happy having completed editions successfully and getting a lot of positive feedback from participants. That has always kept me going!

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As for the Dutch pancake nights, I keep on searching for ways to make the experiences for the participants more unique, for example by making them larger (I now think of creating an XXL edition for more than 1000 people), at more unique locations (in an embassy, on a yacht, etc), by creating social impact (e.g. community building, charity), or otherwise.

How can you join?

In case you are also curious to join a Dutch Pancake edition, feel free to visit the event in Hong Kong on Saturday 21 July: https://www.facebook.com/events/201543413811969/

If you cannot make it to the edition in Hong Kong, then here you can find the calendar with other editions: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Dutch-Pancake-events-1127435713963068/events

Here you can find two related videos about the Dutch Pancake Night:

– My TEDx speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPa7V5shQAs&t=250s

– An impression of the event: https://vimeo.com/256783761

Next to that, I do hope that people will be inspired by this journey, connecting people through 3 different ingredients: milk, flour and eggs. And I do hope that people will also start using their own ingredients to shape their own unconventional lifestyle!

traveling

Bio

Robin Vogelaar has a background in finance (at MIT Sloan School of Management) and management consulting (at The Boston Consulting Group and ING Bank in Amsterdam) and currently travels the world bringing people together through Dutch pancakes and supporting NGOs and social enterprises with volunteer consulting on any strategic topic.

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