Monthly Archives: April 2012

Five Legitimate Excuses to Live Abroad

While I’m by no means an expert or even experienced, I have conducted my own informal research Imageproject on working opportunities abroad.  Scouring for ways to travel long-term and still generate an income has been my favorite procrastination method.  It hasn’t all been in vain.  I do plan to pursue teaching English abroad. But in order to put my hours clicking through possibilities to good use (and procrastinate in studying for finals), I will share my findings.  Perhaps another irresponsible student with a case of wanderlust will be inspired.

Teach English – Teaching English abroad is a popular way to get overseas, and for good reason.  A high demand for native English speakers to TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) means new positions are opening all the time.  TEFL teachers don’t need a degree in education.  A Bachelor’s degree in some discipline is usually necessary and most (but not all) language schools require a TEFL/TESOL certificate. Certification can be obtained online or in a classroom setting through a variety of programs, some of which occur abroad.  Pay varies widely depending on region.  While you can make enough to break even in Europe or South America, teachers can save as much as $1,000 a month in Eastern Asia, where demand is highest.  Africa and Central Asia also offer opportunities, but usually on a volunteer basis.

 WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) – As funny as the acronym sounds, WWOOFing provides serious hands-on experience on organic farms around the world. The volunteer technically aren’t paid, but WWOOF farmers provide food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.  WWOOF farms in the U.S. provide opportunities for those who wish to stay closer to home.  However, there are also farms in over 30 countries with diverse environments.  Volunteers can find farmers in need searching help in places as diverse as Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Argentina and Bangladesh.  Volunteers will mix cultural immersion with sustainable development so both parties benefit.

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US Rail Travel is Still Worthwhile, If You Get a Window Seat

The California Zephyr travels through scenic Colorado

Until visiting my uncle in Germany in high school, my only railroad experience entailed a battery-powered engine that repeatedly looped on a 15-foot track in my basement. America lacks the convenient, dependable and popular railroad system that serves as the backbone of European transport.  But this does not mean there aren’t trips worth taking simply to enjoy the ride.  Lonely Planet recently featured five of the best scenic train routes in the US, with The California Zephyr from Denver to San Francisco topping the list.

“There’s no better way to experience the sheer grandeur of the North American continent than by rail. Considerably more relaxing than driving or flying, many trains in the United States offer a leisurely, nostalgic sightseeing experience, often passing through pristine landscapes inaccessible by other means.”

 – Lonely Plant’s “Top scenic USA train routes”

 I completely subscribe to the idea that the journey is as important, if not more, than the destination.  These train rides may not be the most efficient way to get from point A to point B. However, they are the most relaxing way to experience the American scenery through giant picture windows. I hope to experience some of these routes myself. If I can sit still long enough.

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Campervans: The Ultimate Road Trip Solution

 “I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation – a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from Here… Nearly every American hungers to move.” -John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley

A campervan travels through the Redwood Forest

The Great American Road Trip.   I have yet to take one, but I feel that with a country as expansive and diverse as the United States, one full traverse is necessary to truly understand what the familiar outline of the 48 states on a map represents.

For any others who feel the road calling their name, a rising trend makes executing a cross-country excursion easier. Campervans, generally popular in Europe and increasingly so in Oceania, are becoming more common in the United States.

Campervans, which act as compact recreational vehicles, provide both transport and accommodation for those on the move.  With seating and sleeping space for four, a propane-powered cooker, a refrigerator and a sink, campervans possess the convenience of a traditional RV (minus the bathroom) in an environmentally friendlier, and much cooler package.

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5 Fun Races That Will Set You Off Running

It happens every year.  The consistent four, five and six-mile runs I work up to during the summer dwindle to short bursts on the treadmill.  By February and March even those are replaced with a half-hour here and there on the elliptical.

Now, as the weather warms and the days grow longer, my depleted endurance forces me to half walk, half jog outdoor routes I ran with ease in August.  Usually this is when my new spring motivation kicks in to work back up to my potential, but with graduation just a few weeks away, senioritis-induced laziness has crept beyond academics and into my exercise regime.

Every day seems to have a new excuse to skip my run, and to make matters worse, most include beverages that (on top of too many liquid calories) make it even harder to get going the next day.

Luckily for me, and anyone else looking to lace up their running shoes again, some races add enough fun into running to motivate me to start up again. Here are five of the coolest, yet short and manageable runs that will be traveling the country this summer.

1. The Color Run – This fun loving, untimed 5k run is a fitness-friendly version of a Dayglow concert. Runners and walkerare instructed to begin with white shirts, which serve as blank canvases for the different shades of “magical color dust” blasted during each kilometer. Upon reaching the finish line, after being doused in five different colors, runners race through a celebratory multi-colored bombardment, followed by an after party with food, bands, and of course, more color.  Runners can stop at stations to blow off the excess powder before heading home for those who don’t want to remain a walking work of art. Registration fees for this race, which will stop in 28 cities in 2012, begin at $40 for individual entrants and $35 per person for teams of four.

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Snippets of Griffis Sculpture Park

I’ve driven past the sign for Griffis Sculpture Park hundreds of time on my way to Buffalo. The aging wooden advertisement accompanied by a primary colored structure along US Route 219 in Ashford, NY always mildly interested me.  However time never allowed me to actually venture off-course and view these alleged sculptures.  But this week, when I finally made the turn off the main route, I found the sculpture park, which holds the distinction of being one of the largest and oldest in the country, to be an otherworldly experience.

The two park locations act as an outdoor art museum.  Larger-than-life sculptures loom in open fields and others peek from between the trees besides paths in the woods.  Such unique structures in such an unsuspected location can leave visitors feeling as though they stumbled upon something almost extraterrestrial. Art set against the backdrop of the natural environment is rarely seen at such a large scale and is most definitely worth the detour to Griffis Sculpture Park.

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