Studying Abroad

I am very impressed with the opportunities to study abroad at my university. I was perusing through some emails sent by my college when I came across one for traveling over the summer, for 25 days to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. It caught my attention so I requested an itinerary from the professor in charge. It was extremely detailed and sounded like an amazing chance to see some great places, so I pulled the trigger and sent in a deposit.

I was most impressed with the cost. It was extremely reasonable considering it included all meals, tips, airfare, cruises etc. I think that all students should take advantage of this kind of opportunity. While the class offered during this trip is optional, it can be beneficial for underclassmen to earn credits while they are abroad. I don’t need the credit because I’m graduating soon. I’m simply interested in expanding my horizons. This blog has served as an inspiration for that.

Q&A with “The Professional Hobo”

When I began this blog in the beginning of the semester (wow, that’s weird to say), I didn’t really know what to focus on. I knew I wanted to do something with travel, but I wasn’t sure what. I mean, I didn’t have a job or any means of going places. I randomly surfed through pages and pages of blogs until I came across Nora Dunn’s The Professional Hobo. It contained everything I’ve wanted to do since I was little. I sent her an email asking a few questions about her and her travels and, much to my delight, she responded! I’d like to share her responses with all of you out there in cyber space.

Well I’d love to hear about your reasoning for picking up and deciding to travel.

ND: At the age of 30 and after sinking myself into my business and ignoring the ever-present voice in the back of my head suggesting I had an unfulfilled dream, I decided to sell everything I owned to travel full-time.

That was back in 2006, and since then my boyfriend and I have been on the road. We travel slowly everywhere we go, staying weeks to months (to years) in each location. We often work in trade for our accommodation to reduce expenses and get a more local experience, and my writing helps pay for other incidentals. As such, we travel full-time in a financially sustainable manner (read: we can do it forever if we want).

That’s fantastic. What is your favorite place to visit? Why?

ND: Right now my favourite place to visit is any place new! My reason goes hand in hand with why I travel in the first place; to discover new places and people, and to tell stories about it.

What got you into blogging?

ND: Blogging was initially a way to stay in touch with family and friends while I was on the road. Once I was traveling, I realized there is more to traveling with an internet connection than I had anticipated, and paying writing gigs started to materialize, along with the increased popularity of my own blog. Now I still use my blog to stay in touch with family and friends, but I also write for a much wider audience.

Do you have any favorite writers or publications?

ND: Rolf Potts has long been a favorite writer of mine, along with a few obscure ones that I won’t mention. I love to read travel memoirs and adventures, as well as how-to ebooks and articles about travel, finance, and business.

What was the most outrageous thing that has happened to you during your travels?

ND: I have a knack for the outrageous on the road. Here are a few tidbits of outrageousness:

My boyfriend and I contracted our first neurological disease from spear-fishing. (LINK:http://theprofessionalhobo.com/2008/02/an-introduction-to-spearfishingand-neurological-disease/) (It sounds more dramatic than it was, but don’t tell anybody. We like the story)!

I slid down a giant icicle 60 meters underground in an attempt to find the bottom of a cave. (LINK:http://theprofessionalhobo.com/2007/09/disaster-point-an-ominous-caving-experience/) Thankfully I was attached to a rope and climbed out…slowly.

In northern Thailand, my boyfriend and I stopped our itinerary in its tracks to raise money for the survivors of cyclone Nargis, who were hanging precariously on to life in the aftermath in May 2008. We raised $15,000 internationally and successfully sent aid into Burma. (LINK: http://theprofessionalhobo.com/category/burma-cyclone-relief/)

The week after we finished our fundraising campaign, my boyfriend spent a week in a Thai hospital suffering from Dengue Fever. (LINK: http://theprofessionalhobo.com/2008/05/hospital-life-with-dengue/)

Last year Australia, we found ourselves in the midst of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires: Australia’s worst-ever natural disaster. (LINK: http://theprofessionalhobo.com/2009/02/victorian-bush-fire-diary-february-7th-day-one/) Once again we rolled up our sleeves and helped to manage a warehouse receiving and distributing donations for fire survivors coming from around the country. We ourselves were evacuated for a month during this time, and when the project ended two months after the fires began, we were given 1 year extensions on our Australian visas and were given working rights too.

You never know what’s going to happen on the road. That’s what I love!

Do you have any collections or hobbies other than writing and traveling?

ND: Sure! As a former professional actor/singer/dancer, my love of musical theatre is never far from the front of my mind. When I get a chance to perform, I do!

I also love to be outdoors (as I mentioned earlier), and I love adventurous activities like rock climbing, scrambling, mountaineering, caving, bungee jumping, skydiving, motorcycle racing….and on it goes.

What would be your idea of a perfect day?

ND: I try to balance a little bit into each day – or at least each week. I get outside and hike/walk/swim/climb/paddle as much as possible. I also harbour a slight addition to social networking and clearing out my Inbox, which fills up quickly. I write for a variety of editors on a variety of topics, mostly centered around travel and personal finance. And I spend time with my boyfriend (who travels with me), and our local friends. No matter our location, these activities tend to be themes. Although nothing is perfect, I’ve designed my life to be as close to perfect (at least my version thereof) as possible.

Do you have any travel tips for the financially challenged?

ND: Yikes – travel tips for the financially CHALLENGED could be dangerous. I like giving travel tips for the frugally minded – and I manage to travel the world full-time for approximately $14,000/year (LINK:http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/cheap-travel/) using these techniques.

But if you are financially challenged, you might not have the ability to hit the road to begin with. I’ve received lots of emails from people saying they have all sorts of debt and no savings, asking me when they can travel full-time.

There are things you need to do to (responsibly) hit the road and travel. Here is a guide to some of the financial things you can consider before traveling:
http://www.vagabondish.com/practical-guide-long-term-travel-part-2-money/

Thanks again Nora! What an inspiration!

Interactive Map of Old City Bar Crawl

Here I have a map I created of my outing last evening. I’m new to the world of Google Maps, so I hope this will suffice. I took the PATCO train to the 8th and Market stop. From there, I walked to Old City, right by Chestnut Street and chose several bars that I thought seemed interesting. Follow my journey virtually, but also give it a shot one night. I had a great time. And feel free to leave me comments on other bars around the area that I should have checked out. There were definitely a lot of options. I think it will take me a while to hit them all.

Bar Crawl in Old City

Since I’m technologically challenged, I had some difficulty posting these photos to my map. So here you can get a sense of what my evening was like and then follow along on my map as well. Enjoy!

Preview to map

Ok, so since I seem to be extremely uncreative this week, all of my posts are last-minute. I apologize to those who have checked it daily. I was given the assignment of producing an interactive feature, such as a map or timeline to tell a story. Easy enough for a travel blog right? Wrong. I could not think of a single thing to do a map on. I really wanted to do something creative and different and not map every coffee-house in the area that I liked, but I wasn’t exactly sure of how to execute it. Then, BOOM. I had it.

I decided to focus on one area in Philadelphia, since I’ve neglected it all semester, and go to several hot spots and map my evening. I was convinced by a friend who lives in the city, that bars would be a cool idea. So, with much self-control, I limited myself to three bars in the course of one evening in Old City. I took the PATCO, which is a Godsend for those who aren’t familiar, and away we went.

Funplex of Mount Laurel!

Sometimes you just can’t beat a good night of acting like a little kid again. I recently went to the Funplex of Mount Laurel, NJ to do just that. I have to say, things sure have gotten better since I was younger, when all you had to do to have a good time was to play in a pit full of plastic balls and eat greasy pizza while playing video arcade games.

The Funplex is full of fun things to do for people of all ages. It is a great place to go if there is a nor’easter, like there is all this weekend. They have both indoor and outdoor attractions, some of which include miniature golf, bumper boats, a water park, go karts, bowling, laser tag and an arcade.

Although there are a lot of young children, they have special nights for older people so you won’t be flooded with screaming children running around wreaking havoc. Thursday nights are college nights, where you can bowl all night with shoe rentals included for only 12 dollars. They also have Monday night football specials, must be 21 to enter, BYOB and 25 dollars per lane, per hour.

I have to say that the prices are extremely reasonable. The most you could spend is about 26 dollars and that is for an all access pass for an entire evening. So I highly suggest taking a visit to the Funplex, especially if we have another weekend like this. There are two locations, in Mount Laurel and East Hanover, NJ.

Check it out!

Sushi!

I recently visited a fantastic little sushi place in Philadelphia. Usually I’m hesitant to go out to get sushi simply because I’m very picky with it and I don’t have the money to throw away on rolled up fish and rice. A friend of mine asked me to join him in Bensalem for some sushi, so I decided to give it a try.

Sakura Japanese Restaurant was a surprising delight. From the outside, it looked like any typical Asian restaurant. Once you walk in however, the atmosphere is very serene and interesting. You can watch the chef’s prepare the rolls and sashimi artistically on your plate, which is always my favorite. It is very quaint, but with the feel of a high end restaurant. The selection is great and the prices are even better. There are lunch specials everyday, with a great dinner menu as well. 

For two, we got a soup, salad, dinner entrée, beverages and a roll for under 25 dollars. I highly recommend the Godzilla roll, it is filling and flavorful beyond description. Here is a complete list of their menu.  

I hope to make it back soon now that I know I can get quality sushi without breaking the bank.