Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Traveler’s Guide to Homesickness: Music is the cure

Everyone goes through it. The feeling where you either want to be left alone or doing what makes you feel comfortable. Last night was one of those nights for me. I didn’t want to drink but I knew I wanted to get out and enjoy something different than a pub. Unfortunately, things did not work out in my favor and I could feel my homesickness kicking in. With a little help from my roomies and a doner kebab I decided to suck it up and see where the night took me.

The night took us to Temple Bar and my initial thought was “Been there, done that” But once we got to the front of the stage waiting for the next band, I tried to stay optimistic. Little did I know that once the band walked up on the stage, I would be on my feet the entire night singing classic songs to a Guinness World Record breaking guitarist.

Dave Browne was the guest guitarist of the night, coming into Temple after playing for 114 hours on guitar (World Record!) I couldn’t believe how insanely fast his fingers were going on an acoustic guitar, I couldn’t stop staring, wishing my hands could move that fast. I could feel my homesickness start to change when the band played “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac and then transcending to “Eye of the Tiger”. I couldn’t tell you how many greats they played, all I can tell you that my mood went from crappy to hyperactive.

The record breaker himself! Dave Browne
I forgot how much music helps my mood and how I feel when I hear a song I love. I guess you forget those essentials when you travel and want to be free from what’s comfortable. My words of wisdom: only you yourself can cure homesickness. It’s something that everyone goes through and it’s always tough to admit you have it, but when it’s gone you have broken a barrier that doesn’t come back until you get homesick over your host country (which also happens) so what started as a contagious illness, ended with ears ringing and a smile on my face. 

Thank you Temple Bar and Dave Browne for that

Monday, June 27, 2011

Am I a Dubliner Yet??

After two years of planning, freak-out sessions, and endless fundraising I have made it to Ireland! I didn’t think it would hit me until I walked the streets of the Temple Bar District or grab a pint of Guinness, but I catch myself thinking it may have started as soon as I entered the Chicago O’hare International Airport.
When I boarded the plane to Ireland, I was greeted by our pilot who gave me the first exciting moment to be hearing an accent! He kept making jokes about how my friend and I were not going to be actually interning this summer and probably would be out every night (can’t it be both?)

The Spire aka my sense of direction...

Getting into Dublin, I did my best to blend in and not look immediately like a tourist. For some reason I thought I would be able to blend in easily, but I was insanely wrong. Even though English is the common language in Dublin, I am still struggling to speak like I am afraid they won’t understand me (which in some cases they didn’t). Me and the majority of my classmates packed for this trip like is was summer but to our surprise, summer here is a high of 60 degrees! Needless to say, even if you have travelled before, a new country is a whole new experience.

the EUSA gang :)

I have been in Ireland for two weeks and my transition into a local may have just begun. I am beginning to recognize street names and force myself to use Irish jargon like “Cheers” and “Thank a Mil!” (both are forms of thank you).  Just the other day I got so giddy when I got off the bus and said “cheers” to the bus driver.  It was that moment when I thought my transition to a Dubliner had begun. 
For now I am going to not rush this whole “feeling like a local” thing, because in the end I am a tourists and I love doing touristy things. I am just going to live like a tourist until I feel like a Dubliner!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Notes from an (un)prepared traveler

My plans for Ireland this summer are arranged. I have my flight, my plans, my program and the list goes on. I have told myself from the beginning I wanted to read up on Ireland and all of its history, but for the most part I have been procrastinating. I even had a movie to-do list typed up before I knew for sure I was going, and yet I haven’t watched a single one. It’s not that I am not excited for Ireland; I am counting down the days until I leave (26 days!). I am just struggling with a travel argument that probably has no right answer: How much should you know about a country before visiting?

...additions to my Ireland to-do list 

When I traveled through Spain two summers ago, I knew everything there was to know about the country. My entire 4th year in Spanish was dedicated to Spain’s history and culture which is why I chose Spain as my first country to travel abroad to. Although I knew a lot about Spain, there were things I still learned from there that couldn’t be taught in a textbook or even a travel blog. That is why I struggle to even look at a movie about Ireland or catch up on my Irish culture books. Not because I don’t care but because maybe I am supposed to do it different this time around. A part of me is curious as to how my experience this summer will go if I don’t know a lot about Irish culture as I did with Spain and I like the challenge. Another part of me is still thinking I should at least know some things so I don’t look like a complete tourists.

So I pose this question to you. How much should you know about a country before visiting it?


Sunday, March 27, 2011

No Place Like Home??

Home (n.) the place in which one's domestic affections are centered.
“So are you going home, or are you going home home?” Surprisingly I get that question a lot. I have a hard time calling just one place home because there are other places that I am attached to and like the definition above, my affections are centered. Some places are only home because of the people in them, and others because of how I feel when I am there. I decided to compile a list of places I like to call home and try to explain why I abuse the word so much.

Topeka, Ks
I was born there. I guess that’s my only explanation. I lived there for 8 years of my life and my father and family still live there. Although this isn’t one of my most exciting homes, I can’t forget my place of birth and childhood.

Lansing, Ks
I moved to Lansing from Topeka and from here is where I graduated. The stories I have here and the people I have encountered (even the crazies) is why this place is my home. When people ask me my hometown, I say Lansing because: 1.) its confusing trying to explain constant moving around and 2.) No matter what, I loved it there. The people I met there are still my closest friends and I love that no matter what we always remember that. I had some of the best memories in that town which makes me thankful for my mom moving there.

Prom 2008..oh the memories

Mom’s house (Kansas City) 
My mom has had the wind chimes for forever! haha
My mom has moved around a bit, but I know its home when I open the door to see her. My dog/sister is always waiting for me at the door, ready to tackle me with her 125 lb. body. I walk in to a home-cooked meal of marinated chicken and green beans and the laughter of my mom from my goofy antics and stories. Home is where the heart is, and my heart definitely belongs to my mom.
Demona! my not-so puppy

Lawrence, Ks
Words cannot express how much Lawrence feels like home to me after all of these years. I remember coming to this town as a little girl, not really thinking I would ever be a part of the Jayhawk Nation, but then again, here I am. From Oliver Hall to my crappy apartment, I consider Lawrence to be my main home. It may be because it is my home and my college experience. Whatever the reason may be, there’s no place like Lawrence.

Barcelona, Spain
I only lived in Barcelona for about 5 weeks, but the way I feel about this place is why it was my home. I still feel that if I went back I would know exactly where everything is and how to get there. I would know what metro to jump on and could tell anyone what floor level to find food at the Cortes Ingles. Knowing major streets and places isn’t the only reason why I call this place home. I grew up so much after Barcelona and found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I know that when I do go back, I will feel the exact same way I felt when I left. Inspired.

I'm pretty sure I abuse this picture, but it is my favorite

As I wait for friends to get back from their epic spring breaks; whether they just went back to their hometown or to another country, I hope they realize that there is no problem with having more than one home.

Rock Chalk

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Super Bowl: A Soon To Be National Holiday

"I'm sorry, but we are out of little smokies." That Wal-mart associate had no idea that he broke my heart yesterday with those exact words. I have never experienced a Super Bowl Sunday without my delicious little smokies and seven layer dip. I looked around frustrated at all the alternatives that I could eat before the game and nothing sounded good. "Maybe I shouldn't have procrastinated on grocery shopping for the game," I thought to myself. I walked around Wal-mart with my friend Brittany as she scrambled around trying to find alternatives for a seven-layer dip recipe she already had in mind, but all the recipes were gone. I didn't understand the extreme limits that a Super Bowl Sunday could go to until that Sunday. I felt like it was the day before Thanksgiving, and I was the person looking for a turkey that was nowhere to be found.

The Super Bowl Delicacy: Seven Layer Dip

People celebrate Super Bowl Sunday in multiple ways. Some, like me, enjoy the commercials and entertainment while others may actually enjoy the game. No matter how you watch it, The Super Bowl has become a major tradition that American culture can not miss. I wonder if international travelers look at a traveling guide and under festivals to see, "Super Bowl Sunday" is listed. I think it would say something like:

        "This February celebration houses great fans of football and social gatherings. If you attend a Super Bowl party you must come prepared for bite-size meals and arguments from opposing football teams. Not only does this celebration have sports, but it also contains entertainment that can be talked about for weeks. Don't miss out on this American tradition!"

This is what I am picturing for the future: The Super Bowl will become a national holiday where cities close down just to watch the game. Advertisements will be the main attraction of the game, and the Half-time show will be the time where the audience can criticize the performers. Calendars will already have the day printed on the month of February and Hallmark will create cards to send to fans of the chosen teams. Pretty much everything we do now, just to an extreme level will happen in the future.

My Super Bowl Sunday turned out to be a good one. Good friends, seven-layer dip success, and even a few good commercials. That is how I hope to celebrate every Super Bowl Sunday from here on out!

Happy Holiday Everyone!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Quest for the Golden Ticket: My journey to find the cheapest airfare

I hate airfare. I think that pretty much sums up the whole blog post. In all honesty, I wish there was some sort of way that I could count on one time being perfect to buy plane tickets. I have planned to buy my ticket for Ireland early to avoid increasing prices, but in truth, I have no clue if I am avoiding them. Frustration is at an all time high this month with a lot of push back about my trip from my family, and to add to that frustration pie is my search for cheap airfare...

When I went to Spain, I literally waited until the last minute to buy plane tickets and I vowed never to do that again. Now, all I am hearing are myths about when airfare drops or when to buy my tickets. Here are a few of them:
1. Buy your ticket at 1pm on a Wednesday.... (Is that a troll-under-a-bridge question?)
2. Buy your ticket 4 months in advance, unless they are for the summer, than just play by ear.
3. Fly in on a weekday...Leave on a weekday
4. Buy only "flexible date" tickets

Oh the prices...Why do they continue to rise?!?

Finding cheap airfare sucks even more because every single website is different. You can find the same flight for $30 dollars cheaper at the same freaking time! Its like people enjoy to watch travelers suffer. As I continue this wild goose chase I will give my own words of wisdom:
1. If at all possible, sign up for airfare tracking. They send you alerts if the prices increase or decrease. (my flight went down $5 today!)
2. Make sure you check every airfare website known to man. Do not underestimate any of them because you could find the perfect price ( I call it "Good Fare Hunting")
3. Always Always plan ahead..but not too far ahead. I have been told that airfare is at its highest when the seats are first announced, so give it a couple months to watch the prices fall.

Well there is my rant about arifare pricing. Here's to finding the best deals!