Category Archives: Uncategorized

Disappointment from Modern Family, yet again

Sorry Modern Family, I try again and again to like you and despite Phil’s awesome ridiculousness, your sexist, racist, and homophobic stereotypes ruin it. It’s just not funny to discuss a young boy’s sexuality and judge him based on stereotypes.

Ugh stop it and do something more creative, take a leap and do something new instead of tired stereotypes.

Rant over.

head desk gif

about.me

I made an about.me profile. Check it out!

Who else uses about.me? Any tips? There are some cool profiles there.

Allison goes to London while Katie works an extra job

It’s been way too long since my last post so here’s a quick update! My sister is studying abroad in London right now and loving it. You can see some photos on her blog: Allison Goes to London.

I’m not really working an extra job, just cat sitting for three weeks. It’s a little inconvenient with the commute and my work schedule but I get to go play with this adorable cat (and one other) once a day! Not a bad way to make a little extra money.
Cat sitting

Enjoy summer! More posts to come, currently working on an Internet Round Up of Women’s News. Stay tuned.

Homestay families

Article originally published on the Go Overseas blog – May 23, 2012.

As the Volunteer Director here at Go Overseas, I spend a lot of time reading, writing, and learning about volunteering abroad. Our recent article about the Pros and Cons of a Home Stay Abroad got me thinking about my own homestay experiences and the impact it had on my whole trips. Just to be clear, I am “pro-homestay” and since my own experiences have made me biased, I wanted to share why I feel this way. I have volunteered abroad and lived with homestay families twice – once in Cusco, Peru for about 6 weeks in 2009 and again in Oaxaca, Mexico in October and November 2011.

Host family Peru

Not only do host families give you accommodations and food, they also give you a true sense of family life and culture while treating you like one of their own children. I was always so busy volunteering and studying and exploring that I felt like a part-time family member, but I don’t think I will ever be able to fully appreciate what these families do. Even so, it was always hard to say goodbye and I will always remember them.

I had a great roommate, who was also on the ProWorld school trip with me. In Peru we lived with Tania and Sandro. They were my first host family and it was their first time hosting students. They didn’t know much English but we managed. They helped us with our Spanish homework, brought us to Tania’s parents’ house for a family party, and took us to their favorite chinceronia restaurant and bakery outside of town.

They had an adorable little boy, Joaquin, who was always too shy to talk to us. Tania’s 17 year old brother Benji was great; he spoke the most English and showed us around the neighborhood. I was surprised and touched to see Tania cry when the whole family dropped us off at the airport. I will never forget them and their hospitality. I am ecstatic to hear they have hosted more students since I was there.

host family Mexico

Just last year, I stayed with a family in Oaxaca, Mexico for about 2 months. Magda and Pedro have been hosting foreigners in their home for 10 years! They told us about the people they met from China, France, and Oregon. I had one roommate from Ohio, who was also with ProWorld. We got along great and hung out a lot. From exploring the city to taking Spanish classes together, it was great to have someone to share the experience with. We also had a roommate from Canada who came to Mexico to teach English through her school’s credential program. Our fourth roommate was a student at UW with a study abroad group taking classes at the cultural center in Oaxaca.

It was fun being part of a big household and I loved talking with our host parents about anything and everything. We watched videos from Magda’s last family reunion. She had hundreds of family members! Magda and Pedro’s kindness and passion was inspiring and they were an important part of my experience in Mexico.

Here are some of my tips to have the best homestay experience possible:

  • Make sure to spend time with and talk to the family regularly. It’s hard not to get distracted by your new environment but taking time to be with your host family will help you bond with them and learn about culture in a new way.
  • Ask them to show you their favorite local spots. You will get a free tour guide to take you to non-touristy places you wouldn’t know of otherwise.
  • Don’t be shy! It may feel awkward to be living in a stranger’s home at first but remember that the family wants you there and wants you to be happy. The sooner you tell them when you have concerns and need anything, the better your experience will be.
  • Respect differences. You will be out of your comfort zone and there will be a lot of new things but that’s all part of the experience!

It amazes me how welcoming these families are, opening up their homes and showing so much hospitality to complete strangers. I think our world would be a more tolerant place if more people regularly hosted and lived with people from different cultures. At the very least, it would be a great way to learn about other places and a cheap way to gain memorable experiences.

What is your preferred type of accommodation when abroad? Are you pro-homestay too? Why or why not? Do you know any foreign exchange students? Have you hosted a foreign exchange student? Would you consider being a host family for travelers? (Or is hosting couch surfers more your style?)

What experiences do you have with homestays? What are your thoughts on the Pros and Cons of a Home Stay Abroad?

Maker Faire Bay Area 2012

I went to Maker Faire yesterday with no idea of what I was getting into. I had always been intrigued when I heard about it in the past and when I was offered a free ticket I decided to check it out.

Driving, being in the suburbs, spending money, and being in crowds are generally not ways I like to spend my free time, but I will admit, Maker Faire was an exception. Some highlights for me were: giant bicycles and other unique mobile contraptions (like a giant see-saw on wheels painted like a dinosaur), bands playing with equipment powered by bicycles, cute crafts, lightening/electricity display in the glow-in-the-dark room, intricate machines making music, mushroom-growing kits, robots, funnel cake, and more!

It was a much bigger event than I imaged, much more family/kid oriented as well. Might not be worth the money but it was fun and definitely worth looking into for those who like to spend their time on science/crafty things.

Beer tasting in Portland for Mother’s Day

Deschutes Brewery sampler
May 12, 2012

 

Bike to Work Day 2012

Free stuff from Bike to Work Day Oakland 2012

Thank you to the two great local bike organizations – Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and East Bay Bicycle Coalition –  that made this possible! Great to see the community and spirit of biking getting more support!


Yoga: My Nine to Five Relief

Let me just start off by saying, I do not work 9 to 5, it’s more like 9am to 8pm. The term 9 to 5 is outdated and doesn’t give weight to the amount of time us young career go-ers put in.

After sitting all day and staring at a computer screen, I need some relief. Yoga has been that release of stress for me. At first it was hard to concentrate and not think about anything else and just breathe. Now, I love it. I try to go once a week at a studio near my office. I sleep so much better after yoga. It’s relaxing and a perfect way to transition to my normal life after work.

What’s your relief? Everyone needs one!

Lessons from Abroad Conference at SFSU 3/31/12

I went to a conference for work this weekend and ran the Go Overseas booth with my coworker Nadia. We didn’t have very high expectations as the conference was pretty small and last-minute but we still had a good time and met some great people. I just got my business cards too so it was great to be able to give them out.

The conference was for study abroad alumni who want to go abroad again and/or work in the study abroad industry. It was great networking practice. The best part was definitely talking to students during their hour lunch break. Hearing about where other people have studied abroad and why is always interesting! I’m definitely going to start going to more networking events and conferences so I can get better at it!

Berkeley Locals Making a Difference Around the World

Berkeley Locals Making a Difference Around the World

…New blog post I wrote for the Berkeley Patch news website. The article talks about the experiences that locals have had abroad and have written about and reviewed on Go Overseas. Reviews make Go Overseas the wonderful website it is and helps potential travelers make informed decisions about meaningful travel.

This is an especially great time to get the word out about travel program reviews because of the Go Overseas Leave a Review Contest! If you’ve been on a program abroad, leave a review of your experience for a chance to win an iPad3, tons of Apple gear, and travel apps too!