Joensuu

Hello, all!

Joensuu airport

Flying out of Finland

Now seems like a good time to write this post. I have left Finland, headed South to places that are both familiar and foreign to me.

I lived in this city for 4.5 months, and I’ve called it “home”.

My first views of Joensuu

My first views of Joensuu — Art Museum is on the right

It’s funny– Joensuu is a city I had never heard of before I started applying to study abroad. I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. I doubt many people have heard of it, even inside of Finland. Or, if they have, it’s the sort of small town that you wouldn’t go out of your way to visit unless you had friends or family here or if you happened to go to university here.

As you may have gathered, Joensuu isn’t the most exciting place to live. It’s somewhat a university town, and while there are plenty of student events going on, it’s not a bustling metropolitan area.

Joensuu is beautiful, though. The river that cuts through the city is lazy and lined with trees; there are bike paths along it and barbecue spots perfect for spending an afternoon. The lake the river feeds into is gorgeous. It’s huge. I’ve only been to a few small areas of it, swimming at the polar bear sauna or snowshoeing by a peninsula. A beach or two, grassy-sandy areas where a few afternoons were happily wasted by the lake in beautiful sunny weather with my friends. And once, venturing onto the lake itself, canoeing but mostly just drifting along with the wind and current.

The river in winter

The lake in winter — frozen over

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Canoeing on the lake

I honestly haven’t explored Joensuu enough. There are hidden corners of it where you forget you’re in a city at all, where you’re surrounded by woods.  

Sunset on the river

Despite not being the biggest city or the most exciting place, Joensuu quickly felt like home. There are reasons for this that go far beyond the city itself, but it’s a special place. Joensuu is Finland for the Finns– the everyday sort of place where you start to recognize the cashiers in the market you go to every week, the bankers, the bus drivers, the people in the sauna… they might  not speak to you, but you recognize them and they might even acknowledge you with a smile. It’s the sort of city where you’ll be sitting in the mall, and an elderly Finn might sit next to you and start speaking to you in Finnish. You can easily find help when you ask, and people aren’t offended by your silence or awkwardness or lack of understanding of their language.

Snowshoeing on the lake

Joensuu is the sort of town where you don’t really get lost. Once you’re familiar with some main roads and trails, you’re bound to find your way where you want to go– signs help when you aren’t sure. The city center is easy to navigate, and there are rarely crowds– at least, there weren’t when it was cold. When the sun comes out, the city bustles. Unless it’s a Sunday.

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It’s the sort of place where the stores close early but the bars are open surprisingly late, where you know what to expect but might still be surprised. The kind of place where you find a favorite coffee shop and restaurant and become something of a regular.

It’s the sort of place that you might not even notice holds beauty. The Art Museum, the church, the peninsula, the lake… the Town Hall which (much to my surprise) was actually designed by a famous architect (Eliel Saarinen). It’s a place of those sort of hidden gems, places you could ride by hundreds of times as I did and not even realize were there, or what they even were. 

The Town Hall

Center square on Vappu

The Wolf statue, something of a local landmark

This little city let me get away with not learning Finnish. It taught me that I can be tough– those long bike rides across bridges to city center and university were daunting. It provided amusement and new experiences and a place to think. A place to see Finland as something besides a winter wonderland.

Joensuu, however unlikely a place it is, will always be extraordinary to me for being exactly what it is. For being the place where I met some amazing people and forged friendships that I truly believe will last beyond our departure; for being the place of life lessons, memorable events and stories, long winter days and joy at every moment of sunshine.

IMG_4115 IMG_4110– Aly

* This post was inspired by this prompt on the Daily Post.

 

 

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The First Two Weeks

Hello, all!

Little did I know, a little over two weeks ago when I first said that I was heading into another whirlwind, how accurate that description would be!

I can’t believe that January is almost over. My time here seems to be flying by! The days are so short but they feel so long. The first week in particular felt like it was so much longer.

Most of my time in Finland thus far has been dedicated to settling in, meeting new people, and figuring out how I’m going to survive here for the next few months. I have just now started taking pictures of all the things that have been going on, but here’s the not-so-brief story about my time here so far!

WEEK ONE

After the insane travel day through Helsinki (during which I wrote this blog post), I made it to Joensuu  (pronounced with a ‘Y’ sound instead of a ‘J’) where my tutor picked me up from the SMALLEST AIRPORT I have ever seen. It was pretty much the size of a mobile home with a conveyor belt for luggage and some seats. It was dark out by then– around 5:30 in the evening, it was just as dark as it would be at 8 o’clock at night in North Carolina!

My tutor, Jouni, gave me a brief tour of the campus and town as he drove me to my hotel, where we dropped off my luggage, including my suddenly-useless rolling suitcase, which does not work at all when the ground is covered in pebbles! After showing me around the center and arranging to meet up the next day, he left me to my own devices. While my hotel had free wifi, I had to brave the cold and foreign land outside to get food, with the knowledge that I lacked a microwave and for the next two days– Sunday and a national holiday– my ability to find food would be limited.

Ready to head out into Joensuu alone!

So I did what any college kid on a budget would– and got a pizza big enough to last a couple of days! Luckily the random pizza place (which appeared to be the only thing open at that hour) had a menu in English, a student discount, and the workers were patient enough with my inability to comprehend what they were saying that I made it out alright, if feeling a bit awkward and embarrassed!

Dinner for the next couple days…

That first night seemed to last forever. Physically and emotionally exhausted, that first night was rough. I kind of expected that based on my experiences in France.

The first night in a foreign country alone can be hard, and that night was no exception. My exhaustion combined with my disappointing dinner and computer issues lead to a not-so-fantastic first night in Finland.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but for the sake of full disclosure– and because it’s hard to talk about the parts of travel that suck– I spent most of my first night crying, before falling into a restless sleep. I didn’t expect it to be so difficult or awkward to be in a country where I don’t speak the language, could barely understand the accent, and where everything felt so unfamiliar. It was isolating, being in a hotel room alone, feeling as though I had been shoved ceremoniously into this freezing and foreign place. The kinds of questions that you must inevitably face while studying abroad sprang to mind, and it felt like I was being beaten over the head with what-if questions and doubts.

When I woke up the next morning, not terribly well rested, I opened the curtains and looked out at the city. A gloomy, cold day– but there was something a bit relaxing about seeing the city in the few hours of daytime, even if there was not much light. The light dusting of snow and the stillness of a gloomy Sunday morning were something of a comfort.

The view from my hotel room

It’s much easier to motivate yourself to explore a new place in the light of day. It doesn’t seem as scary then.

After all, if there’s one thing about waking up in a new city, it’s that the desire to explore will be present. I was still wary of it, and convincing myself to get dressed and wander for a while in the cold was no easy task. Spending all day in my hotel room– or at least, spending the whole morning until I met up with my tutor– would accomplish nothing but make me homesick.

Unfortunately, Sunday mornings in European cities are not bustling affairs. Most shops are closed, and Joensuu seemed pretty deserted. But in the morning light I was able to locate the grocery store– and more important to me– the H&M, the oh-so-familiar European brand of generally cheap fashion, with its signs proclaiming SALE! SALE! SALE!, not ALE! ALE! ALE! (the Finnish version). A strange comfort to me, recalling my time studying abroad in France. One of the first places I went to in Paris was the H&M to buy a pair of skinny jeans– a new, and now essential, part of my wardrobe. (And, of course, a crucial place for pre-Finland preparation, once again buying skinny jeans. I’m noticing a trend here…)

ANYWAY, my tutor picked me and my inconvenient rolling suitcase up and promptly took me to the wrong apartments! We figured it out and made it to my apartment, which was cold and empty. I dropped off the suitcase and he drove me back to the center of town. He gave me a bit more information about the study abroad orientation that would start on Tuesday and told me to meet him two hours beforehand with the tutee group.

And then I was on my own again. 

I wandered around for a bit longer, stopped by the grocery store to pick up some food that would keep in my mini-fridge for a couple days, before heading back to my hotel. I finally heard from my friend Carmen and invited her to come stay with me so that we could catch up (she had been in Joensuu for a few days at that point!) and hang out. So the second night in Finland was not so lonely– we watched Kill Bill volume 1.

The next day– Monday– we met up with her tutor and their tutee group and got a tour of the city and the campus! The day passed quickly and happily, meeting new people from the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Slovakia, and Spain, and finally seeing more of the town. 

At the end of the day, Carmen, our new German friend, and I hiked out to our apartments– I say “hiked” because we live a whole 5 kilometers away from the center! It was cold and dark and I carried my second piece of luggage so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it the next day when we had orientation. It was a long walk– we didn’t talk much and for the most part, we had no idea where we were going. We made it there alright, and Carmen and I promptly turned around and walked back to the hotel. At this point, my apartment was bare– my room had furniture and curtains, but no linens or anything!

After a sad dinner of mysterious grocery store food, we watched Kill Bill volume 2 and went to bed.

Random grocery store foods

The next few days were insane, with orientation seeming to last forever and not providing much new or interesting information. The list of tasks that we had to complete within that first week was overwhelming, and it seemed as though we would never finish anything in time— particularly since everyone else there had to do all the same things! Signing leases on our apartments, registering with the school, beginning registration for classes, paying fees, renting survival kits from the Student Union, renting bikes, buying anything that we didn’t have, opening bank accounts, setting up internet in the apartments, buying a phone… the list seemed to go on forever!

I managed to do everything I needed to do in that first week— though my apartment was FREEZING and my first night there was horrible! I didn’t have internet or a phone for most of the first week, so I had no way to communicate with anyone, and I became very thankful for the fact that I had a few nights in a hotel room. I can’t imagine how horrible my first few nights in Finland would have been without internet or a phone, in a freezing-cold room without sheets or blankets or even a pillow.

Luckily, the first week was not all stressful things! We met and befriended more people and the ESN Joensuu hosted a “get to know each other” party at a club downtown for free. So one evening was spent talking to people from all over the world, dancing, and singing Karaoke. That was one of the most amazing evenings ever. I never thought I would be singing along and dancing to American oldies in a club in Finland, making up ridiculous dances to incomprehensible Finnish songs, or belting out “Don’t Stop Believing” on stage with new friends from Russia, Germany, and Latvia. 

It seems everyone in the world knows all the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. As “Bohemian Rhapsody” started, my German and Latvian friends were whooping and cheering, proclaiming that it is the best song ever written. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, I agree. I’ve been singing along to that song with friends for years in the US, and that experience is just as magical, if not more so, in a club surrounded by strangers from all over the world, singing it with new friends.

That evening alone made me feel entirely at home here. Everyone seems to love the Beatles, Queen, and watching different groups of near-strangers get up to sing to songs that I grew up listening to and realizing that everyone knows the words– even if they can’t pronounce things perfectly– filled me with joy. 

And that was not the only adventure for the week!

The view from the bridge on the way to Kerubi, Saturday night

The view out the window from the upstairs of Kerubi

The upstairs lounge

Saturday night found Carmen, her flatmate Tuula, a friend of her flatmate, and I at a club called Kerubi to see a rock festival! We only really went to see a band called Santa Cruz, one of her flatmate’s favorite bands, but we ended up watching a couple other shows.

Carmen, myself, and Tuula

Santa Cruz was great. It was fun to watch– these Scandinavian guys with long hair, head-banging and singing songs that were very reminiscent of the 1980s, while everyone danced and sang along! There was no crowding or pushing like at shows in the US and it was not deafeningly loud– you could stand comfortably near the stage and not feel as though you would go deaf or be knocked over by the sound or the crowd!

After their set, we wandered around the club for a while, talking to strangers, before Carmen found the band and decided that we should take pictures with them– which is just what we did.

For a while, we made our way back upstairs where Tuula and I were pulled into this roaming circle of people by some random drunk guy, a blob of strangers with their arms around each other, laughing and kicking their legs out and spinning about, breathless, drunk, and crazy but so happy and having fun. I couldn’t stop laughing as we were swung about, thinking about how this was insane and so different from the US. As the set ended and the band left, the circle dispersed and the guy who pulled us in to the group hugged us and started babbling about how this must be the next mosh pit– a “love mosh”, he called it– where everyone is friends and loves each other. I love the idea; there was something special about those few minutes of wild movement and closeness to strangers.

We wandered back downstairs, where we re-connected with Santa Cruz and hung out in a hallway talking to them for a bit; took some more pictures, and finally left.

We wandered to a popular bar in town called Jet Set (which the Finnish pronounce as “Yet Set”), a sports bar with some of the cheapest beer in town, where we sat with a group of strangers at a table. I watched a football match for a while, and Tuula left for a bit and came back leading an African man. As he stood near the table and sipped on his beer, Tuula informed me that he wanted to meet Carmen and I — and that he was a male stripper from Helsinki!

That was one of the funniest interactions ever. He introduced himself as “Bone” and told us a bit about how he was born somewhere in Africa, lived in Bulgaria for a few years, and then fell in love with a Finnish woman and moved to Helsinki, where he’s lived for the last 15 years. He and the woman broke up, and now he was travelling for a bit and had just bought a place in the downtown area of Joensuu. He wanted to hang out with us and offered to make us dinner at his place sometime! We didn’t take him up on the offer, but it still makes for quite a story… how we randomly met a male stripper from Helsinki at a bar in a random town in Joensuu! 

We left Jet Set and made our way back to Kerubi to hang out with Carmen’s tutor, Johanna, her boyfriend Antti, and their friends. It kept getting later, and if it had been up to me, I would have left at this point! Walking the 5 km back to the apartments alone sounded like a horrible idea, though, so I stayed. I’m glad I did, too– the rest of the night was just hanging out and talking to Johanna, her boyfriend, and their friends. They were all very nice and I eventually got pulled into a miniature version of the love mosh, made up of these friends, in a close circle where we bumped hips and kicked in unison, all the time spinning in a tight circle, laughing. 

“This is a very Finnish thing!” Johanna informed me when she pulled me into the group.

The “it” drink in Finland right now– Garage

Johanna and I!

The evening slowed down a bit; the club played Elvis, Of Monsters and Men, and some other great songs– many of them oldies that I never thought I would hear in a club or dance to– but there I was, dancing with strangers to songs that I love. 

Finally, we parted ways and made it back to the apartments– exhausted, but happy.

WEEK TWO

Week two was not as exciting as week one. For the most part, it included buying some things that were unexpected necessities– including ski pants– meeting up with friends, and finally attending my first class!

There was one evening of fun– bowling with all the exchange students, followed by a trip to Jet Set (of course), where we wasted a lot of time laughing, telling stories, and even tried to play some card games. As it turns out, playing Blackjack/21 at bar with a group of 9 is quite useless, particularly when most of you are bad at math anyway! It was still a fun experience, and it seemed ‘normal’ — if staying at a bar until 12:30 am on a weeknight is ‘normal’, that is. (To be fair, it doesn’t seem all that strange in Europe, and most of us didn’t have class the next day, so it was essentially a weekend?…)

At this point, I’ve started to settle into my life in Finland. While my apartment is still a bit chilly, my room has started to feel more like home despite the bare walls. I picked up a rug from the entryway to my building that seems to have been abandoned… lucky for me, since my room would look particularly colorless without it!

While week one was “warm” (with temperatures hovering around freezing), the weather started getting colder and more like a typical Finnish winter. I rode to the university or center most days. I never thought I would be riding at least six miles a day in temperatures below freezing, but that is a near-daily activity. The ski pants are essential to making this trip more tolerable (though it seems a bit excessive?) and I am certain that I always look a bit ridiculous in my moose hat, with a massive scarf wrapped around half of my face! But the shared thought here is that it doesn’t matter what you are wearing or what you look like, so long as you are warm. It’s so cold that your breath freezes on your skin, hair, and any fabric near your face. It’s not uncommon to arrive somewhere and look like you have aged 60 years. In those conditions, you just can’t be too picky!

I suspect that I’m starting to adjust to this sort of life in Finland. There’s part of me that feels very tough– I would never imagine myself doing this in the States! But it’s so normal here, and while I still detest the cold, my outlook on what is difficult to do is changing. Zero degrees Fahrenheit sounds like a reasonable temperature, freezing sounds like summer, and after this experience I don’t think I can complain about any walk (or bike ride) that is less than 5 km, especially if it’s in any temperature above freezing!

So, that’s Finland so far. I’m leaving some stuff out, but this blog post is already quite long! I just wanted to give a (not-so-brief) update on my experiences so far! I hope you enjoyed reading and that wherever you are is warm, and if it isn’t– I hope it’s beautiful. 

A bientot,

Aly

The Next Destination

Hello, all!

I’ve hesitated to write this blog post for a while now. It’s been a crazy time of the year for me with schoolwork, but more importantly– I finally found out where I am going abroad next semester!

As some back story, when I applied for an exchange program, my options were the Netherlands, England, Finland, and Sweden. All of the schools I applied to had programs that sounded interesting to me and covered topics that include international studies/law and environmental studies/law, which are my particular areas of interest and the main focus of my studies in the United States.

To be honest, I hadn’t really considered the possibility of not getting my first few choices. In my mind, I couldn’t wrap my head around the potential of the situation turning out any other way.

The program I got accepted to was the one in Finland. The second-to-last school on my list, one that I had barely considered.

When I initially found out, I found myself at a loss of words and overwhelmed with emotions. I was shaking as I opened the email from ISEP, the exchange program I am going through. My fingers crossed, my heart dropped to my stomach as the webpage loaded and revealed the information I’ve been dying to know but did not expect to receive so soon. I didn’t know how to react to this news. On one hand, I was accepted to a program and knew where I was going abroad! Travel is quickly approaching! I get to go to Europe again! These thoughts and the excitement they generated was tempered by the disappointment in not getting my first choice and the uneasy recognition that I knew nothing about the place where I will attend school for 5 months.

I hadn’t really thought about going to Finland before or the possibility that I could be placed there. It was one of those places in the world where I’ve never felt a strong desire to travel to, and there I was– realizing that I would be going to Finland and battling my frustration at not getting my first choice.

The distance between the United States and Finland.

The disappointment went away though. Finland was on my list for a reason, and the more I learn about the country and the school I am going to, the more excited I become about going there. It’s exciting now. Not knowing much about the place I am going may be scary, but it also leaves open so many possibilities and opportunities to learn. I will be forced out of my comfort zone– out of the comfort of a temperate climate that is not much different from the climate at home. I will be halfway around the world from home, further north than I have ever been, farther away from home than I have ever traveled. I’ll fly alone for 22 hours to get there, my first solo transatlantic flight.

It feels significant, that this trip abroad is all of those things and it is largely unexpected.

In high school, my trip to France was largely supported and planned by my parents. I was dependent upon them at the time, and while I am still dependent upon their support, most of the paperwork and preparation for the trip, as well as my situation abroad, will be independent. It makes sense for that to be the case. University is a completely different experience, and this will be completely different from my experience in France.

I think this is for the best. I can’t rely completely on my experiences before to set up expectations about what Finland will be like, especially since I know so little about it.

My trip is quickly approaching. Everything is becoming real and solidified as I complete paperwork, choosing classes and filling out applications for an apartment, for a residence permit… buying plane tickets.

I don’t know what I will think of Finland once I get there, but until then, I am learning all I can and slowly developing a crush on this country that is a complete mystery to me. The language, the people, the culture, the climate– all of these are things that I will experience with an open heart and an open mind.

And I can’t wait!

A bientot!
Aly

Impatience

Hello!

I’m not, by nature, a patient person. I jump ahead of the conversation with alarming frequency and can’t stand the waiting period for nearly anything. When forced to wait for longer than five minutes for something I’m excited about, I get antsy. I squirm in my seat and fiddle with my phone– anything to attempt to occupy my mind.

I submitted my study abroad application a couple weeks ago, and the waiting period has begun. I won’t know if I got in or where I am going until November and the suspense is driving me mad.

The waiting period has found me searching for flights to and from various places in Europe; wondering if, wherever I end up, I can find a way to the places that are still drawing me in. An impossible task; I applied to seven (extremely) different universities in four different countries. I could end up at any one of them.

Waiting is keeping me from planning but it only fuels my desire to plan more. I have a burning desire to know when I’ll be back in Europe. When can I make the trek to France? When can I go to visit family in Scotland? Even more important: how much time will I have in the United States between finishing classes this semester and before I go abroad?

Waiting leaves too much time for thought; what if I end up at my last choice? My angst isn’t helped by the fact that I don’t really understand the application process.It’s a totally different experience from my last trip abroad, where I knew exactly where I would be studying for months in advance. Arguably, it wouldn’t be that bad; I will still get to go abroad but the sting of disappointment of not getting into my first choices would be all too real. What if I don’t get in at all? All the work and all the anticipation– only to be let down. What then? What if, what if…

I have no idea what to expect at this point. There aren’t other steps I can take to prepare for my trip until I know where I’m going.

There is something about the insecurity of anticipation that is particularly aggravating.

Until I know for sure, everything is out of my control. I am existing in a state of anxiety that I can’t shake off. The best I can do is focus on what I’m doing: school, work, and spending time friends. I’m trying to be present and engaged in what is going on here in Asheville, and trying to shake off my wanderlust with the promise of future adventure. It isn’t quite enough, at least not right now. It’s a shallow critique and a worthless complaint, but until I know SOMETHING about what’s next for me, this is where I am.

Battling my own impatience.

A bientot!

Aly

Finding A New Dream

Hello!

For most of my life, my Ultimate Dream was to live in France and to speak French. I don’t know what brought that idea to my mind– perhaps my love for Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a child– but nonetheless, I had been dreaming of those things. I announced to my mother at age seven that I wanted to go to France for the New Millenium; I’m not sure what kind of seven year old is so determined, but I knew what I wanted. After that I spent ten years working towards that goal. When I finally accomplished what I set out to do, I found myself at a loss. Accomplishing my dream is an awesome experience, but afterwards, I realized I had no dream quite like it to work for.

I’m one of those people that loves to have some Big Plan for my life. Having a specific Big Goal to work for drives me to be active and do things I love. It serves as motivation for me. Working towards a specific goal gives me a plan, and while I never quite anticipate what would happen if I don’t accomplish what I set out to do, I find that the journey to that place is fulfilling in and of itself.

For the last few years, following France, I haven’t had a specific Ultimate Dream. I’ve had a vague direction, the career path that I am working towards, the Ridiculously Complicated job title that is so perfect for who I am. There is no guarantee of accomplishing that, and working towards such a vague and far-off goal has left me without motivation or much direction.

It’s like I am looking out across a landscape that has this far-off mountain, but I can barely see it above the horizon; it’s obscured by forest and thunderstorms that seem dark and frightening from where I stand. While I have the courage to go forward towards it, and know that I can probably make it to the mountain, all the way up to the top even, I have a long way to go until then. It isn’t a straight line; I don’t have a map to guide me on my way.

That’s not to say it is impossible, but I need a Big Goal that is closer. A way-point along my path to the mountain.

I finally found it. A Big Goal to work towards that isn’t quite the distant, giant mountain. Something large enough that I will have to work to accomplish it, but not big enough that I feel as though it is insurmountable.

I have a new dream, and at long last, I am walking along the path to a way point and the mountain in the distance isn’t looking so far away or scary from here. The breeze is nice through the trees and I am protected from the thunderstorms.

 A bientot!

Aly

For the Treatment of Wanderlust

Hello, all!

I suffer from a chronic case of wanderlust. I am forever dreaming of the places I want to travel to, and I have a near-constant desire to pack up and go anywhere. This love of travel makes it unnecessarily difficult to fall in love with one place, with a few exceptions. I find myself daydreaming of places I’ve never been, thinking of all the adventures I could be having anywhere else in the world that aren’t where I am now.

For me, the solution to wanderlust involves either travelling in some manner or distracting myself from my desire to travel. Both solutions end up tying into each other, but here are some ways that I deal with my wanderlust.

For the Treatment of Wanderlust

  1. Explore local attractions. When was the last time you wandered around your town and had adventures? Have you been to all the touristy places? The places off the beaten path? Maybe try a new restaurant or go to a festival or something like that. Go to the cool local places like shops and galleries or museums.

  2. Check out the travel section at the library. There are lots of blogs and books that talk about travel or travel experiences. It’s fun to read stories about someone else’s adventures and although it won’t cure your wanderlust, it will help you imagine you are elsewhere in the world. (You just have to use your imagination.)

  1. Make something inspired by your travels. This doesn’t necessarily mean travels you have already had! Try making a playlist of songs that remind you of a certain place or experience, or making a photo album/collage of places you have been or want to go. Reliving some of those experiences can be a bit nostalgia-heavy, but at the same time, you may feel as though you are travelling again!

  2. Travel via the internet. Back to the travel blogs with you! Have you checked out travel pictures on Flickr? Tourism websites with virtual tours? Google Earth? Learning or reading about a new place, or seeing images of an interesting place to try to experience it in a different way is one fairly easy way of travelling without even leaving your room!

  3. Practice a new language. Experiencing a new language is kind of like experiencing a whole new culture! Why not explore the world in words? source: http://www.destination360.com/travel-resources/travel-books

  4. Cook a meal inspired by a different culture. Try to cook a meal (maybe even from scratch!) inspired by a different culture or country! When is the last time you tried to make sauerkraut from scratch? Sushi?

  5. Start planning a trip. Dig in for some research and start planning a trip. Even if you can’t afford it, it’s fun to think about how you could go somewhere you really want to go. How much would it cost for plane tickets? Lodging? What major attractions would you want to see? Figuring this out when you are suffering from wanderlust can help make it feel better– at least you are planning for a trip, even if you aren’t going yet!

How do you deal with wanderlust?

A demain!
– Aly

Guest Post: Travel Safety Tips

Staying Safe

    Many college students enjoy traveling around the country and the world. They enjoy seeing the popular landmarks that they study about, and they enjoy spending time with friends and family. While traveling can be fun and educational, it can also have bumps in the road. Unforeseen circumstances might thwart travel plans, and the entire trip can go from a dream to a nightmare in a short amount of time. There are some things to remember about planning a trip to increase the safety while abroad.

    Students who do not want to carry a large amount of money on a trip (smart choice) can use a credit card. The money is secure because it is not in an open space- like a wallet or a pocket; but instead it’s electronic and can be moved or cancelled at any time. It is confined to a card so that only the holder of the card can use the money. However, if your wallet is stolen, you will lose the card. There is the potential that someone else can use the card unless you make it secure. Don’t put a name on the card. This makes it harder for someone to use it because there is no personal information attached to it. Prepaid credit cards are the way to go for students who wish to travel; the student puts money on the card instead of having a credit limit from the company and it helps them stay out of debt while still being able to travel with a small financial cushion.

    Getting lost can be easy to do in a big city. The first thing to do is remain calm. Find someone in the area who speaks the same language you speak; if you speak English, this won’t take very long. Explain where you are from and where you are trying to go, and make a map of the directions that the person gives. Instead of street names, use landmarks you will remember because then you remove the language barrier from the equation. Students should pay attention to bus and train schedule so that they are not stranded in the city after the last departure. Print directions to every attraction. Plan ahead, stay organized and know your major landmarks of the area like churches, museums and bus stations.

    There are some things that are never fun while traveling to another country, and this includes getting sick. It could be the food, the flight to the area or a host of other things that can make someone sick while traveling. Find a pharmacy as soon as possible and only take medicines from sealed containers. Drink plenty of fluids to replenish fluids that have been lost (make sure the water is safe to drink). Bottled water is a good idea because the water in some countries is not sanitary to drink. Eat as healthy as possible by finding something in a store or restaurant that is familiar.
KC Owens has written and submitted this article. KC is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.