Tag Archives: Alex Chapman

Meet, Plan Go! Boston

This was my first blogger-in-person type deal, and it was definitely interesting.  I really loved being in a room full of people who care so much about travel and value it so highly, instead of always being “the weird one” or “the one who travels.”

I brought my roommate Alex with me, because she loves to travel (Egypt, Syria) and is really interested in teaching English abroad after she graduates in December.  On the whole, the place read more like an alcoholics anonymous meeting than anything, which was fine because we’re addicts, too.  I was waiting for someone to say, “Hi, my name is Adventurous Kate, and I quit my job today so I can travel.”  (In reality, someone else did this for her.)  I was waiting for the group to say, “Hi, Kate,” but instead we all just clapped for her.   Oddly enough, Kate is from my hometown and was in the Drama club with my older brother, and she was friends with a lot of my friendsolder sisters.

I was predisposed to liking Rob Verger because of his blurb on the Meet Plan Go site, but meeting him only made me like him more.  His travel philosophy of staying in one place for a while and really getting to know the culture (including language!) gels with my own views, and it’s a subject I so rarely hear travel bloggers covering.  He was also super helpful to Alex, because one of his major experiences was with Teaching Abroad.

Lillie Marshall (I can’t help but think of How I Met Your Mother) showed her schoolteacher tendencies by quieting chatty bloggers with Teacher Voice, and wore a great dress from Ghana.

I loved getting to hear from David Kramer, who has been very focused on Latin America.  His wife is Colombian, so they’re raising their daughter as a bilingual, bicultural traveler (how cool is that?!)  It was also funny to see how even though all of these people are considered big, expert travelers, they were only experts on one aspect or type of travel, and were often novices on others.  Like David, who immediately admited to never having been anywhere but the Americas, and said he welcomed the other travelers’ advice.  He also works in the non-profit sector and got his start teaching English abroad, so I was pretty interested in that.

Ryan Larkin rounded out the group as one of the youngest on the panel.  He has worked at EF, did ASB (Alternative Spring Break) and most notably volunteered at Edge of Seven in Nepal.  Working amongst the locals, and under their direction, he helped build a school with minimal equipment for two grueling but rewarding weeks.  The longer you stay the better the deal ends up being, and it’s definitely something I would consider doing for a few months.

Meeting Amanda Pressner was great, and I felt more like I was getting drinks with a friend than talking to an incredibly succesful RTW travel blogger who also happens to have co-authored a book.  She was humble and realistic about travel, blogging and the book industry, and seemed genuinely interested in talking to and helping out me and my roommate.  Even though I have no desire to travel in the manner she did, The Lost Girls was the first travel blog I read, and I devoured the whole of the archives in a month or so.  It was just great to meet one of the first people who made me think that there’s a whole world of this out there.

They did a great job selecting panelists tghat covered the spectrum.  Solo travel, couple travel, women’s travel, travel with kids, RTW, regional, vegan and vegetarian, travel with friends, quitting your job, working remotely, freelancing, doing a program, taking a leave of absence, they pretty much covered it all.  I’m definitely more excited now about my upcoming travel and blogging plans, and I’m looking forward to more events like this one.  And can I just say that it was wicked awesome to have a Boston-centric event.  Between travel and all being from here, it felt like we all had a lot of common language.

Why on earth don’t I have pictures?  Because I’m a rookie, that’s why.  Thanks to all involved in the planning, it was a great time!  Hope to see you all again soon!

Lesson Learned from Friends on the Road

  • You should always bring some of the clothes you love and rely on (Nellie) but should also buy/bring some basic stuff you don’t mind giving away (Rhiannon)
  • Of course, don’t be “that guy” who just gives away all their broken/dirty junk: give away the things you love, and it’ll come back to you (Deirdre)
  • Just do it, magn/There’s nothing you can do about it now, so have fun/shoes are lame (unless someone steals yours)/spend your nights under the stars (Kristina)
  • There is no right way to experience a country, so just do what makes you happy in the moment, and if you enjoyed the time while you spent it you can’t look back with regret (Abby)
  • Bring a book or two, and trade them away for others when you’re done.  After all, on the road, a new story is worth more than one you already know, and can easily find again (Emma)
  • If you really are the “whatever” person (like Avi The Army Guy or Julie The Yoga Girl) trust that everyone knows that already, and let them come to you if they want to know more (Julie and Avi. Duh.)
  • Bring all-purpose items, and travel speakers (Laurel, aka Leslie)
  • Don’t lend people your Coach/Ignore all negativity (Aliesha)
  • Be unapologetically ridiculous and enthusiastic, and you’re bound to make friends.  Even if you don’t, you’re probably already having a ton of fun (Brit and Kristina)
  • Sometimes the cost of something “lent” is worth the friendship or the conversation you get in exchange (Britito)
  • Really listen, and remember people (Nellie, Laurel, Julie)
  • Sometimes being the butt of the joke is the best way to put everyone at ease, and the quickest way to gain friends (Gumby)
  • Lack of language doesn’t mean lack of communication (Mike)
  • You can sweet-talk your way into (and out of) anything (Pasha Daoud)
  • You’re always surrounded by a million memorable moments waiting to happen (Allyson)
  • Trust strangers (Dylan and Taylor)
  • Always ask the parents before you give kids something, especially candy–and make sure you have enough to go around (Lori)
  • Don’t let anyone (or anything) hold you back from what you want to see or accomplish (Falconer)
  • Just eat it (Brit, Rhiannon and Falconer)
  • Be humble; laugh at yourself; always be learning (Janine)
  • Keep an open mind and try to put things into context.  Also, always have a notebook and pen (Ilham)
  • Even if you don’t have the words, you can always make friends with your talent (Justino y Míles)
  • Laugh and smile and you will make friends (Diana)
  • Ask questions (Julie–like you don’t know which!)
  • Always have a scarf and a sweater (Marisa and Cynthia)
  • Always bring at least one or two things that make you look hot–you never know (Sarah)
  • Packing is for overachievers (Erin)
  • Relax.  When the bus breaks down, have a photoshoot! play cards! work on your tan! (Profe)
  • When you don’t have something, whether it’s an object or a skill: outsource (Kate)
  • A good friend is always there for you, no matter the distance or time difference (Alex)

What are your best lessons, from travel or otherwise?  What have the people around you showed you?

Ethics

One argument against online journalism as a legitimate means of reporting is the idea of ethics, from fact-checking to use of sources.  While many of the best blogs are essentially annotated with links, even (or rather, especially) heavy hitters like p-trunk have trouble with the intersection of their blog and their personal life.

If you are someone who posts often, and who is widely read, you will eventually have to tell the people in your life about the blog.  How does one do that, and how long should they wait?  In the meantime, what is off limits to write about?

When I first started this blog I left out all names, although anyone close to me could tell who I was talking about.  after a year or so I started getting complaints from close friends about never being in the blog, so I started putting names in.  I also found it cumbersome to refer to all 25 of the Egypt Dialoguers anonymously all the time, especially for something a benign as, “so Sarah, Alex, Janine and I went to lunch and…” especially since those sentences usually end with, “…they all said brilliant things that inspired the following post.”

If you write, has this been your experience?  Do people want shout-outs?

Where is the line when you write, almost daily, about the people in your life?  Who is off limits?  Which conversations are “off the record’?

What do you think?  Should I have strict rules for writing about other people?  What sort of advance notice can people reasonably expect if I’m going to write about them?

Regardless of whether you’re a journalism student, a fellow blogger, or just a thoughtful reader, I would love to get your thoughts on this topic.  I’ll be posting my amorphous personal philosophy on the subject later.

The Final Countdown

You can miss a lot in three months.  While I am pumped to go, here are a few things I’ll miss while I’m gone.

  • Pat’s post-season and the Super Bowl.  I watch the Super Bowl every year
  • St. Patrick’s Day.  St. Patty’s is a big deal in my family, what with us being absurdly Irish and it being Kev’s birthday and all that.  I’ve also never been 21 for it before, and because of Southeast and UNA last year I pretty much missed it entirely.
  • Valentine’s Day.  For me, and any self-respecting UNA kid, V-Day means Harvard and all that that entails.
  • Chicken Lou’s TKO.  So delicious.
  • Husky Hockey.  The regular season, the Beanpot, etc.  I haven’t missed many games in my tenure at NU; it usually only happens when I’m out of state.
  • Harry Potter exhibit at the MOS.  I was hoping to get in there before I leave, but that didn’t happen.  I’m hoping they extend it beyond February.  Even if they do though, it probably won’t still be there in April.
  • Milk.  It’s only rationed for babies in Cuba, so I won’t get any for three months.  How weird is that?  And I’m a huge milk drinker so this may be an issue.
  • Dates with Meredith in Davis.  It’s a great little neighborhood with some of the best shopping.  Keep an eye out on Poor Little Rich Girl for me, k?
  • Alex, my partner in crime.  This will be the first significant amount of time that we’ll spend apart in over a year.  We survived the long hours of UNA, the Egypt trip, a broken ankle, a broken heart and a lot of fun.
  • The New England winter.  I know, easy for me to say.

If you were gone for the next three months, what would you miss?  Anything you totally wouldn’t miss?

Activist

The weekend of September 20th was phenomonal.  In the words of my father, “Nobody is gonna believe us.”

September 20th is my dad’s birthday, and he and I spent it by collecting signatures for Amnesty all day and then watching U2 from the inner circle at night.  Oh, yeah, and we walked on stage.  With Bono.  It was more amazing than I thought it could have been, and the best free birthday present ever. 

The second night I went to Gillette with Alex, cuz my dad works for a living and that was an exhausting day.  So that means I spent two full days immersed in Amnesty and Save Burma and U2.  I actually got a bit jaded from seeing them so much, which was kind of weird.  But it was by all accounts an amazing weekend, and not just for the reasons you would think. 

The second night, I was legitimately choked up while walking on stage, Aung Sun Suu Kyi‘s face in front of my own.  I finally felt like I was really doing something worthwhile, and I had this little moment of oh, so this is my life now.  I’m a girl who does the solidarnosc fist and wears peacock feathers in her hair because they symbolize democracy in Burma.  I’m also the only one (besides Alex) who knows what CEDAW is and can properly explain our petition about it.  I kind of like being this person.  Hm.  I could totally be this person, for real life, not just for coop.  Hm. 

It was englightening to speak to the monks, both of whom were in their early 20s.  These are people who have given up the comforts of modern or family life for ascetism and service to their people.  I really enjoyed seeing people my age who were so committed to their faith and their country, and on such a different path from where I am. 

One of the monks had a digital SLR, his only luxury item.  He explained that it was not frivolous at all.  Since the warrant for his arrest was issued due to his part in the protests, he can’t go home.  Instead, he travels, taking pictures and telling his story, trying to save his country from afar.  The camera is just his way of doing the work he was called to do, adapting to this new circumstance. 

I’m no monk, but I’d like to think that my path isn’t as far from his as it first seems.  Because right now, I’m a professional activist.