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libra Posted: Wed Mar 19 13:17:19 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I've just spent the last little while reading old GT threads.

I miss being on here as much as I used to.

I'm having a sort of inability to make decisions right now, and I thought some input from you guys might help.

I'm currently working abroad in Canada, and I will be here until the end of april.
At that point, I am going home.
I have the rest of the spring/summer free - absolutely no plans.

My dog, Kenzie, has just been diagnosed with diabetes and probably has Cushing's disease. She may have to be put to sleep within the next few months. She is only 10 years old, and I feel so bad about being far away from her right now.
I want to spend time with Kenzie when I get home.

I also had been hoping to do a little traveling this summer. I have wanted to go to Europe (i was thinking of London/Paris or something) for a long time, and feel that I really need to go. Right now, however, I don't have anyone who can travel with me (they are all working/etc). I don't mind going alone, as long as I stayed in pretty safe areas. But it is so expensive to go right now, as American money is practically worthless over there right now. It'll be hard to find places to stay by myself, as I probably wouldn't feel safe in a hostel, and motels are too expensive.
I feel like I always make the safe choice though, and I want to do something different, especially since I'll be in school for at least two years starting in September.

Anyone have any thoughts? Anything from travel advice to miscellaneous what-does-it-all-mean kind of things would be helpful.

Kira Posted: Wed Mar 19 14:43:49 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  What if you got a summer job in England or France? It might take away time you could've spent sightseeing but it would help with the issue of money. "Summer jobs abroad" turns up about 243,000 results on Google.

beetlebum Posted: Wed Mar 19 16:04:50 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I have to say that I don't recommend travelling alone unless you really have something to prove to yourself. I've done it before (in Europe) and it isn't all that enjoyable-- eating alone, navigating alone-- it's nice to know that I could do it, but it was so bloody lonely I don't know if it was that worth it.

I don't know how much money you have to spend this summer, but have you thought about a month long language course in, say, France or Italy? You could always study in Paris or Bordeaux. They arrange housing so you live with classmates and you have a group of people who you get to know from all over the world. Alternatively you could always take a summer course in Oxford for study-abroad type folks, and that way you'd also have a group of people with whom you would eventually feel comfortable, and Oxford is smaller, more navigable, and friendlier than London, and only a 20 minute train-ride away from London.

The thing is, having a homebase no matter where you are is always helpful and comforting. Just because you are enrolled in a course does not mean you can't travel three days a week, taking day trips and even taking Easyjet with classmates abroad to other cities... or even going alone if you're so inclined. But you always know you have a safe room to come home to and you'll be living with people your own age who are in much the same boat you are.

Don't get me wrong-- travelling Europe alone isn't a bad idea at all-- I just think there are less stressful, more fun ways to go about seeing Europe.

You could also go the BUNAC route and get a job over there, but just beware that when you get there (or perhaps before) you have to sort out your own housing.

And so far as the exchange rate goes-- yeah, it sucks that the dollar is weak, but I don't think that situation is going to improve any time soon. Better to go now while you can than try to later when you're ready to 'settle down', whatever that means to you. :)

beetlebum Posted: Wed Mar 19 16:07:59 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Also, I am really sorry to hear about your pup. Our dog is almost 15 years old and my mum wants to have a discussion (ugh) this weekend about her health while my sister is home. I am really dreading it; no matter what happens, just the idea of something happening to her upsets me and breaks my heart.

ifihadahif Posted: Wed Mar 19 16:09:36 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Why not travel the US ?
Have you been to New England or the Carolinas ?

libra Posted: Wed Mar 19 18:21:19 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  thanks guys.

First of all, thanks Meg for all the advice and condolences. Its hard to see an animal you've grown up with suffer. Kenzie is such a nice, happy dog, and it turns me into a little kid who talks about the 'world not being fair' to see any kind of bad thing happen to her. She only deserves the best.

In response to:

Hif: I've done a decent amount of traveling of the US, and feel its time to head out to other places. While I really enjoy being in certain places: Boston, New York, the Pacific Northwest--and I've loved seeing Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, etc, I'd really love to go somewhere where they speak a different language.

Kira & Meg's ideas: I've rolled the ideas of working abroad around, and studying abroad is also a good idea. my problem is that I really hate 'group' related things. I know the best way to go would be to do something like that, but I just don't like being on other people's schedules/etc.

everyday_daisy Posted: Wed Mar 19 19:25:17 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I can only imagine your worry regarding Kenzie - I've had Princess for 12 years, and since I leave far away from my family - I worry about her a lot too.

You can always take one of those tours to Europe. You won't technically be alone. You'll be with your tour group and you wouldn't necessarily have to open up and talk if you didn't want to!

On the other hand, those are boring sometimes and personally, I prefer exploring places on my own.

Hmm how about traveling to Asia! It's a little easier to navigate here because even though they speak different languages most of them try to speak English - well except in China. Oh Australia's another option! They have such a different landscape and culture that it will FEEL like they speak a different language but still speak English!

everyday_daisy Posted: Wed Mar 19 19:26:00 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  live far away from*

Sorry. Ha

mat_j Posted: Thu Mar 20 04:24:27 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Gizmo the predecessor of my current Pooch Che got ill when he was about the same age, i was in uni but could have been home in a couple of hours but my mother couldn't get in touch with me. I knew with her he was in the best hands though, she cared for him up until the last.

As for travelling, visit Britain but lord don't stay here and i'm not just saying that because i live here. England is unique as in it's not like any of the western or southern European countries i've been to but those other places are so much more easy going on the traveller than the UK.

Loathe as i am to direct you towards Christophe country but Belgium is amazing and so is holland. If you go to Paris you could easily visit a different country a weekend for about 2 months.

Each has it's own unique culture and personality and language to boot, i hear what Hif is saying about America being 50 little countries in one but I wholeheartedly recommend you try that little sojourn, you'd be amazed at the differences and subtle similarities.

I love all the low countries (Not seen much of Lux tho).

France and Spain are beautiful and amazing.

Italy- well what's there not to love about Italy apart from its politics.

sweet p Posted: Sun Mar 23 00:23:49 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  hey libra, i can relate to pretty much everything you have said in this one post.

up until 6 months ago, i was also making plans to travel alone. i made the decision and i was sticking to it. my family and friends were all against it but i had nobody to go with and i was tired of waiting around for something to happen.

luckily enough, my sister finished school and took a job for a while so has decided to come along with me on my trip. seeing as i have never travelled alone, i can't say how great it would turn out, but i understand where you're coming from and i think sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.
i'm sure meg knows what she is talking about when she says it's not always so fun, but i'm also wary of group-trips and the like. i guess it really depends what you're looking for.

i seek adventure in my everyday life and i guess i am good at enjoying the little things that life brings my way, but maybe i need something else right now. i don't know what your exact situation is but i was obviously feeling like i HAD to do this now or never, otherwise i could keep waiting until someone became available or i found somewhere else to go. i think if you really want to do it, you can and will.

i think Europe is doable alone. i was going to try South America on my own!
i also think other parts of Canada could be nice. and not just because i live here. the east is really nice [and it isn't horribly expensive to travel here, especially if you are not afraid of hostels]. Quebec is pretty - especially old Quebec city..and they only speak French there. The Maritimes are even prettier. and i'm here if you ever want to see Toronto!

anyway, that's just my two cents.

sorry to hear about kenzie. our dog one is 13 this year and we're all worried about her too. i don't even want to think about it :(

also, i've missed GT a lot lately. i can't log on at work and i feel like i don't know what's going on around here anymore. soon i am going away for 3 months so i will really be out of touch, but i decided to take some time to catch up tonight as i make chocolate chip cookies :)

hope you're all doing well.

libra Posted: Sun Mar 23 02:49:09 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Thanks Sweet P. That was nice to read.

I hope everything is going well for you!

addi Posted: Sun Mar 23 06:52:10 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  sweet p said:

>also, i've missed GT a lot lately. i can't log on at work and i feel like i don't know what's going on around here anymore. soon i am going away for 3 months so i will really be out of touch, but i decided to take some time to catch up tonight as i make chocolate chip cookies :)

Asking a favor please to give us a shout before you head away on your adventures. Just so when we haven't heard from you for months we'll know why, and won't worry.
Well, I'll probably still worrry, but you know what I mean.

FN Posted: Sun Mar 23 08:47:24 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  As far as traveling in the EU is concerned, I personally did like London (sorry Mat :)), I visited some museums there and I especially liked the natural history one. But I guess that's not why you do a city trip. I just wasn't up for several days of shopping either, I can do that at home too. I remember being really annoyed with the overabundance of arab signs over stores.

The thing I have though with city trips is that I run out of stuff to do very quickly, but that could just be me. If dropped for a week in whatever city I wouldn't know what to do all day after day 3 if I didn't have anything to do during the day like a job/class.

As far as Belgium is concerned as a traveling destination, I can recommend Gent and Brugge (Ghent and Bruges in English), both cities still have a heavy medieval heritage, especially Bruges is a sight worth seeing, but again I don't know what people would do there for like more than 2 or 3 days.

As far as Brussels is concerned, I guess the Atomium is worth seeing, and maybe "Manneke Pis" if you know that, to see how small he is in real life, but personally I'm not a big fan of Brussels.

Spain is good for lying on a beach and if you want to party a lot/get a lot of STD's.

France is heaven if you're into wine at all, but a lot of old people around as tourists and such as well.

The Netherlands are good if you're into drugs I guess, what I remember most from my trips to the Netherlands is seeing a lot of freaks and junks. No offence intended, that's just what I remember.

What I do truly recommend anyone to visit though is several cities in Italy. Usually the weather is nice, tourism is a normal thing there so maps and routes and such are all easily available, and some cities, especially Florence, have no equal that I've run into yet. Very intriguing history with the history of the Medici and such, and if you've read Machiavelli and the guy's biography it's even more so. The Tuscany region in particular I found to be very enjoyable on the whole, I plan to pay cities like Florence another few visits during my lifetime.

I wonder though, what do you guys do when you're traveling abroad? I'm talking like what activities do you look for, how many days you can spend in a city without getting bored, etc. Especially you Mat after having visited belgium, I wonder how you filled your time here and for how long (I'm too lazy to look up the thread again, indulge me ;))

As far as currency is concerned, I'd say be sure of what you're getting yourself into at this point in time. 100 at this time is worth over 154 USD, 1000 means 1543 USD, it's that bad and prices in probably don't differ that much here in absolute numbers compared to prices in absolute numbers in the US. The best solution I guess would be to earn 's here instead of having to pay for them with dollars.

A pretty girl like you will never go hungry though *dirty grin*

haha, couldn't help myself

libra Posted: Sun Mar 23 16:10:49 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Tentative plan:

2 week language program in Florence, Italy (they set you up in an apartment with other students). I've taken italian before, so i have a good starting point.

Then: about two more weeks traveling around Italy. Venice, Rome, etc.

How does that sound?

FN Posted: Sun Mar 23 19:04:32 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Sounds like a plan if you can somewhat think what the needed budget will be/whether you can spare it.

In any case, you can't go wrong with Florence.

misszero Posted: Mon Mar 24 05:26:20 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>Why not travel the US ?
>Have you been to New England or the Carolinas ?

i read recently that Kansas is ranked 50th for tourism in the states (for number of visitors). that made me feel really bad for Kansas, so i think i'd like to go there.

addi Posted: Mon Mar 24 08:38:53 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  misszero said:

>i read recently that Kansas is ranked 50th for tourism in the states (for number of visitors). that made me feel really bad for Kansas, so i think i'd like to go there.


There's a reason for that ranking, misszero. I know...I've been there.
; )

mat_j Posted: Mon Mar 24 08:42:37 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Here's a handy currency converter for pounds, dollars and Euros

1 = $2

1= A few and some buttons and sweets to make it worth while.

Sorry couldn't resist it!!

Seriously though, I love Belgium, one day i intend to go mad and run there to hide as is traditional for British eccentrics and/or homosexuals when in crisis.

Mesh Posted: Mon Mar 24 20:36:44 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Been to Kansas, and indeed, there is every reason for it to be lowest on that list. I mean, come on. It's Kansas.

beetlebum Posted: Mon Mar 24 20:44:02 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  i love kansas. the small towns are idyllic and it's the best state to drive on the highway (hwy 70) with the top down and listen to free bird while playing air guitar because there is nothing but you, the fields of grain, and the long straight road ahead of you.

also, there are a lot of sunflowers there. who doesn't like sunflowers.

Mesh Posted: Mon Mar 24 20:47:46 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I hate sunflowers.

Anywho, who would like to go to the Fuck Parade with me in Berlin?

For a taste of how awesome it is, that is where my avatar is from, Technoviking and all.

beetlebum Posted: Mon Mar 24 20:49:02 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  truthfully, i hate sunflowers too.

they harbour lots of gross bugs.

beetlebum Posted: Mon Mar 24 20:53:50 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  fuck sunflowers.

addi Posted: Mon Mar 24 21:39:15 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  beetlebum said:
>fuck sunflowers.

I only made my comment about Kansas because I was hoping to get a rise out of someone (I believe Cherry and Puck are moving there or something) : )

I've been in and through that state so many times I can't keep track. Anyhoo Kansas has some good things about it..
Kansas City has some lovely fountains downtown
There's the Jayhawks basketball team..they're pretty good
There's Dodge City...that's a manly place
And then you only live a state away, so that ups the coolness factor exponentially.

sweet p Posted: Mon Mar 31 01:29:36 2008 Post | Quote in Reply  
  addi said:

>Asking a favor please to give us a shout before you head away on your adventures.

i'm off in a few hours.
finally got all the family members outta here and got my packing done.
excited but nervous. mostly really tired.
will be back in 12 weeks!
will try to check in as often as i can otherwise mass emails/travel blog. email me if you're interested.




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