Sunday, June 30, 2013

Au please

Bittersweet as it is, my time at both Hofstra University and Condé Nast Traveler has come to an end. I am no longer a student or an intern... I am a college graduate, and, well, unemployed--but hopefully not for long! The experiences I had at Traveler, as well as my other internships, have left me prepared and excited for my future career.

Global Studies department graduates, May 2013
I also have Traveler to thank (or as my parents see it: blame) for further increasing my wanderlust. Not only did working at this magazine solidify my desire to be involved in travel journalism, it confirmed my suspicion that I need to travel more.

I unfortunately never had the opportunity to study abroad (one of my biggest collegiate regrets), and have always wanted to know what it would be like to live in a foreign country. Not long enough to be considered an expatriate, but enough time to really experience the land and its people. I figured now that I am out of school, and not yet committed to a full-time job, this was the perfect (if not only) time to pick up and live somewhere else. I didn't have much money to work with, so I figured out two options that would be most affordable: teach English overseas, or become an au pair.

Teaching English seemed like the more honorable route, so I looked into that first. I spent time researching how much it would cost to rent/sublet an apartment in various cities and countries, versus how much I could potentially make as an independent teacher. That idea got complicated quickly, and I moved my sights in the direction of an organized program. I went to informational meetings about the Fulbright and other academic fellowships, but those required a LOT of hard work and preparation, for no guaranteed teaching position. I spoke to many people about teaching in Israel, a more obtainable fellowship position that interested me, but the required 10-month time period (an entire school year) ultimately felt too long. Though I wanted to travel, I was wary about starting my career a full year later than originally planned.

Intrigued by the flexibility of being able to work for as long or as little as I wanted, I switched my sights to becoming an au pair. I wasn't interested in paying an agency to match me, especially since my plans were still so uncertain, so I looked into finding a family on my own. I found several different websites designed to match prospective au pairs with potential families. I selected three to make profiles on (TheBestAupairAupair World, and and started viewing and communicating with families. The sites were set up similar to an online dating site. You put in your stats, a bio, and pictures, and were sent "matches" based on your preferences (location, length of stay, number of children, etc.). Families and au pairs could message each other through the sites, or send generic "I'm interested" notes. 

One of my several au pair profiles
I had families from all over the world contact me. So many, in fact, that I had to narrow down my responses to those who met my preferred criteria; location (I wanted to be in or near a big city), expenses (the amount I would earn vs. the costs I would have), and generally how cool the families seemed. Most of the people I talked to wanted an au pair for 6 months to 1 year. Though I spoke with some pretty great families, I was still uncomfortable with making that long of a time commitment. Plus, I was keeping an eye out for job openings in New York, in case a 'perfect opportunity' came along.

With summer approaching, more and more profiles started popping up online of families who wanted an au pair for just the three months their children were out of school. This seemed like it would be the perfect amount of time for me. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got, but the expectation everyone had of me (including myself) to get a professional job after graduation was making me hesitant. How could I commit to leaving the country if my dream job was just around the corner? It wasn't until such a job opportunity appeared that I was able to make my decision. I found a listing online for a job I knew I was qualified for and would really enjoy. Two of my editors even mentioned it to me, telling me they had also seen it and thought I should apply. I had every reason to expedite my resume, but I resisted. I couldn't figure out why, until it hit me: I wanted to go abroad. I had to go abroad.

Knowing I had the rest of my life to work in my field, I told my friends and family I was committed to spending my summer as an au pair. I narrowed down my choices to three families (I was all of their first choice); two in Italy, and one in Spain. Spending the summer with any of these three families would have been amazing. Both of the Italian families planned to travel for most of the summer, and would bring me with them. I would spend a month by the Ligurian Sea and  a month in the Northern Italian moiuntains. With one family I would also get to experience living in Milan; with the other, I would sail to Croatia. The Spanish family lived in Madrid, and though I wouldn't get to travel with them, the stationary location (and large amount of free time provided) would allow me to really explore the area and get to know the city and country.

I video chatted with the three families. One of the Italian families, I discovered, did not know English as well as they had implied... honestly, they didn't know much English at all. Although I'm sure we would've gotten along well regardless, I was worried about our ability to communicate. I studied the Italian language in high school, but to date have only retained a rudimentary vocabulary. I told the family I would not be joining them this summer.

I was unable to decide between the remaining two families. Though very different living situations, each had the same amount of positive qualities. I asked friends and coworkers for their opinions, but received different answers each time. My parents were out of the country themselves at the time and unable to give me advice. It got to the point where I needed to give the families an answer, so they would have enough time to find a replacement au pair if said answer was "no." The night before my deadline, I prayed for a sign; something--anything--that would tell me if I should spend my summer under the Spanish or Italian sun. The next morning, I woke up to an email from Spain, saying once again that they enjoyed chatting with me and hoped I would join their family. As insignificant as that email might seem, I took it as the sign I had asked for, and decided to go to Spain.

One of the things I liked best about the Spanish family was that they required significantly less hours of childcare than other families, giving me a lot of free time. However, this also meant I would be paid less. I told the mother, Patricia, that I was interested in doing some extra work during my free afternoons; specifically, I wanted to embrace my original idea of teaching English. With Patricia's help, I found several families in Madrid who said they would love to hire me to teach their children English. It was set! All I had to do was book a plane ticket and I was good to go.

Danielle and me in high school--long time friends!
But, of course, simply going to Spain wasn't good enough for me. I had never been to Europe before, and really wanted to travel to other places as much as I could while I was there. Another thing I had liked about the Spanish family was that they needed someone for a shorter amount of time. Instead of working for the entire season, I was free to go in the middle of August. My friend Danielle had been bitten by the travel bug after a recent study abroad program in Scotland, so I reached out to her to join me in spending the end of summer on the road.  

Somewhat to my surprise, she agreed, and we got together to brainstorm different cities and countries to visit. We threw around a lot of ideas (incl. but not limited to Portugal, Morocco, Poland, and Holland), but the finally decided that we would meet in Prague (Czech Republic), and from there, travel to Vienna (Austria), Zurich (Switzerland), and Paris (France). Though the amount of time we choose to spend in each city still still open-ended, the entire trip will last 16 days.

I cannot wait to have an amazing summer working as an au pair and English teacher in Madrid, and traveling around Europe with one of my best friends. Be sure to check out my new blog, Life as a Bullfighter, to keep updated with my adventures. ¡Hasta luego!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A place that makes sense to me

Monday afternoon, America watched with horror as Boston, Massachusetts became the most recent city within our borders to experience a terrorist attack. The identity Boston held in many people's minds and hearts swiftly changed. To some, a city typically regarded as the enemy, was viewed compassionately as a brother. To others, an exciting vacation spot became a nightmarish hell--one they may never muster up the courage to visit again. And to many more, the love they had for this city only grew stronger with heartbreak.

Inspiring display outside The Brooklyn Academy of
Music after the Boston Marathon explosions
The geographic term "sense of place" describes the way in which places are experienced subjectively. Whether through personal experience, or from outside learned knowledge, most people tend to view most locations through a specific, individualized lens.

Take the city of Hartford, for example; the not-quite-metropolitan capitol of my home state, Connecticut. I love Hartford. Sure, there isn't always a lot to do, and the skyline is rather ugly, but it's my city. It's where I was born, where I went to high school, and where I'll probably get married one day. It's the place I've most explored (and gotten most lost in); the place I've seen plays and concerts, and been to museums and nightclubs; the place I crashed my car and tried my first cigarette; the place I made lifelong friends and decided upon my future career; the place I grew up. 

Not everyone sees Hartford the same way as I do. It is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the country, and I wouldn't argue the fact. Some people think of the urban hub as being quite well-off (whether because certain television shows portray it as such, or because of the general assumption about Connecticut's wealth), while others will say it must be one of the poorest in the area. Many will never bother to consider Hartford as anything besides a cause of traffic between the greater cities of New York and Boston. 

Everyone is correct. There are mansions, and there are gunshots, and there is certainly bad traffic, but no matter how one chooses to see Hartford, theirs is only one view out of an indefinite amount. This is true of any and every location. Thanks to globalization, we are now able to visit and learn about more locations than what was even imaginable in the past. With this increase, the idea of "sense of place" is more prominent than ever, especially in the travel industry.

Everywhere, from tiny towns to major countries, is constantly working to maintain and improve their image. Tourism brings in a lot of money, and also a better reputation. Even New York City, a place that tends to sneer at tourists, is completely reliant on them. Mayor Bloomberg confirmed in 2011“The strength of our tourism industry is one of the reasons New York City was less impacted by the national recession than other cities, and it continues to be one of the reasons we’re growing faster than other cities today.”

Posing with friends at the Dead Sea in Israel
I had the opportunity last week to meet Michael Tuchfeld, a leading journalist in Israel. One of the points he made over and over again is that the media focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict far more than it ought to. "The conflict does not define the country," he said. When I asked him what he thought should define the country instead, he suggested the many advancements in medicine and technology Israel is responsible for, their superb educational system and stable economy, and the fact that Israel makes a wonderful vacation spot.

Having been to Israel, I can attest to that. It is an absolutely gorgeous, culturally enriching, and fun country to visit. I find it bewildering that Cyprus, the super small island next door, currently has nearly 3x the amount of annual tourists that Israel does, according to Tuchfeld. The reason for this, as I'm sure you can assume, is because of the conflict with Palestine. When the only thing you hear about a country is that it's "at war," you're not often rushing out to buy a plane ticket there. Even after I came home from my trip, completely safe and with great stories, the only reaction I got from some people was a stuffy, "I'm glad you didn't get blown up."

Similarly, I recently realized, must be the case of Korea. Aside from the success of "Gangnam Style" singer, PSY, Korea seems to only be in the news for Northern leader Kim Jong-un's alleged threats of war and destruction. I am sure the negative publicity is stressful for the citizens of his regime, but probably even more so for the folks in the South. Though separate countries, both parts of Korea are being thought of as warzones in the minds of many ill-informed people.

When leaving the Condé Nast Building the other day, I noticed a rather large billboard in Times Square. On it was a lovely sailboat and ocean scene, with text reading: 
"VISIT KOREA: 9000 miles of unspoiled coastline. 3000 islands of rare beauty. Discover the unexpected charm of Korea."
Billboard advertisement in Times Square, NYC
My initial reaction was confusion. I had prided myself in being open-minded enough to see Korea as more than just Jong-un's playground, but had never considered vacationing there--especially not for their beaches. To be honest, it didn't occur to me before seeing this advertisement that Korea even had beaches (silly, I know). I took note of the wording: unexpected charm. 

It was true; Korea probably isn't the first location that pops into the mind of even the most sophisticated traveler when thinking of island beauty, but that doesn't mean it's without. By acknowledging that it is a more under-the-radar travel destination, Korea is validating the audience's individual perception of the country, while gently letting them know that there's more than what meets the eye. The viewer is being informed of the truth, while maintaining their personal sense of place.

Though I am grimacing slightly at the thought of this billboard's price tag, I think it was a smart decision to have it posted. People who have established their Korean sense of place through what they've seen in the media (feeling uncomfortable or possibly scared at the thought of going), are likely to only allow the media to change their minds. Korea reiterates on its tourism website that it has "maintained its longstanding reputation as a safe tourist destination" and that it is working to further increase the number of tourists; doing so, in many ways, by appealing to the individual's sense of place.

Regardless of a person's travel expertise, they often times know where they want to go, and why. People do like to learn, but they do not like to be told that they're wrong. In order to get the highest number of visitors each year, towns and nations need to act as travel agents with only one destination. Listen to the customer, and work with them to give them the best vacation possible... within your borders.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sky High Standards

One of my editors at Condé Nast Traveler is coordinating a photo shoot this week on the island of Dominica. The photographer will be shooting select hotels and restaurants that an incognito writer previously visited and reviewed. I was researching the locations the other day (finding images online of the buildings and grounds) to help give my editor a head's up on what was going to be shot. When I showed her some of the pictures I pulled, I was quite surprised at her reaction. "Are you serious?" she exclaimed, bewildered. "These are the hotels we have to work with? [Pointing at the computer screen] Why would the writer stay here? It looks like a dump."

While I wouldn't necessarily compare these hotels to the Taj Mahal, one would have thought she was looking at pictures of a Motel 6 in the Bronx, rather than a quaint resort in the Caribbean. I do not think my editor is stuck up by any means; the problem is that the majority of hotels we feature do resemble the Taj Mahal. When you're photographing something for a glossy mag, you want the shot to look absolutely perfect, regardless of what it's of; in this case, the design of the interior and exterior of the hotel. Likewise, I believe most readers would prefer to see a high resolution shot of the crystal chandeliers at The Plaza Hotel than the continental breakfast spread at the Holiday Inn Express.

qualia in Hamilton Island, Australia;
CN Traveler's pick for the world's best hotel
One of the reasons I love reading and working at Traveler is because of the magazine's intelligence. The articles are much heavier than your average magazine, in regards to both the topics discussed and the language used. The pictures are stunning and sophisticated. Even little things, like the fonts chosen, exude a certain class. It is a breath of fresh air to read a beautifully written exposé on Arabian horses after you've been informed, for the dozenth time, who Justin Bieber is now dating by other publications.

When I look at the magnificent hotels, restaurants, and activities featured in Traveler, I enjoy it through the "living vicariously" point of view. Sure, I may not be able to afford a $500/night hotel room (more like 10% of that price), but my empty wallet can't stop me from ooo-ing and ahh-ing at the pictures and descriptions.

Our standard demographic of readers are well-off, educated, and middle aged, so it makes sense to feature nicer locations. However, I think sometimes the grade A locations listed can be slightly detrimental. Though I intend to eventually be successful enough to graduate from the Best Western to the Westin, I don't think I'd ever stay somewhere nicer than that. I'm not the type of person to shell out insane amounts of money on anything, let alone a hotel room. Once you reach a certain point of luxury, it seems (to me, at least) that extra money is being spent simply because it can be.

My extremely inexpensive "Room with a View"
at the Palm Grove Hotel in Virginia Beach, VA
Dominica is a teeny, tiny, little island in the Caribbean I hadn't heard of, until I chatted with a bartender on a cruise ship last year who had grown up there. While it seems absolutely beautiful, I wouldn't call it the Caribbean's #1 destination for the rich and famous. What then, is the harm in having some middle-level hotels as a center spread? They might not be as gorgeous as readers are accustomed to, but they're still pretty darn nice.

One of the sections included in every issue of Traveler is called "Room with a View," that highlights--you guessed it!--a hotel room (they even give you the specific room number) that has an extraordinary view. The hotels are located in the Swiss Alps, along the Indian Ocean, and other exotic, beautiful places. 

I traveled to Virginia Beach with a friend when I was 18, and after being turned away at the front desk by the hotel I had made reservations at (turns out they had an under-21 policy that conveniently was not listed on their website at the time), I found a cheap, but relatively decent looking hotel that accepted not only walk-ins, but 18 year olds. When I finally got to my room, completely exhausted from both the ride down and the unexpected hassle, I was shocked and overjoyed that I somehow had a balcony and ocean view. Virginia Beach was certainly not the loveliest destination I had ever been to (I doubt I will go back), but as a teenager paying under $100/night; this was my Taj Mahal.

I am excited to one day be able to select a hotel by its amenities, location, etc. and not solely its price. Until then, it's fine to dream... and it's nice when the dreams are realistic. Today I am dreaming of the 4-star hotels in Dominica.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring break, all I ever wanted

Spring break is something I have coveted regularly since grade school. While referred to by different names depending on which school I attended, it always meant the same thing: vacation time. My family went away fairly often throughout my childhood, and while I always enjoyed these trips and am appreciative of them, my one-track child mind cared about one thing--not having to go to school. Whether or not we traveled didn't matter to me as much as getting a break from homework, my teachers, and waking up early.

But today, as I sit on my parents' couch in suburban Connecticut, opposed to a chaise lounge in the tropics, I find it hard to feel the same way. It's not so much that I am desperately craving a beach vacation (I was lucky enough to go to the Caribbean in January), but that I'm being told by pop culture that by staying home I am "doing spring break wrong."

The ocean in Treasure Island, Florida
I'm not really a "spring break" person by typical college standards. I have a difficult time seeing the appeal of partying-into-belligerence and dropping tons of money to do so, which often seems to be the expectation. I did go to Florida during my spring break last year, but the trip was quite far from anything you'd see on MTV. However, as I made my way through the beaches and cities of St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Clearwater, I found myself surprisingly disappointed by the lack of exciting nightlife and daytime opportunities. I realized that even though I intentionally avoided debauchery-filled hotspots like Daytona Beach and Miami, I had still managed put the state of Florida on a pedestal, assuming it would provide me with a magical vacation, since, hello, I was a college student on spring break.

A film called "Spring Breakers" recently hit theaters and I had the (mis)fortune of seeing it. Overall the film was trash and I would not recommend it to anyone, but it did have an interesting message, if nothing else. The storyline follows the experience of four college-aged girls who, after obsessing about spring break, manage to travel to Florida to "live the dream." Their vacation quickly goes from a carefree (read: raunchy) party scene to getting involved in gang-related crime, and ultimately partaking in a murder spree.

The super classy stars of Spring Breakers
This is, of course, an unrealistic and quite absurd portrayal of the average spring breaker, but it exposes the shallowness and hedonism that many young travelers possess during this season. College students flood the beaches in herds, trying to create an experience for themselves that is ultimately more destructive than enriching.

This type of tourism carries much further beyond college. A couple months ago I saw an advertisement for a huge travel expo that was coming to Long Island. I was very excited, and decided immediately that I would attend. I imagined meeting representatives from travel spots all over the world, and listening to fascinating lectures about different locations and types of travel. Unfortunately, after looking a little deeper into the expo, I realized it was more of an opportunity for hotels to sell timeshares than anything else. And people were still happily attending.

I am not against frivolous travel. I think everyone who travels is entitled to have a good time, and if that includes wild partying or staying solely at all-inclusive resorts, then that's okay by me. To each his own. But I am disheartened that so many people view this as the only way to spend their fleeting amount of vacation time; whether a week off from the school semester, or a total of two weeks off from an entire year of work. When I see my friends posting pictures of their trips to Panama City Beach, I want to shake them and say, "Did you know you could've traveled to the real Panama City for less money than you just spent? How much more exciting would that be?" 

If someone willingly chooses a less exotic travel location, then fine, but knowledge of what I consider true travel is diminishing more and more in our culture. Many people say they would love to travel the world, but go their entire lives without leaving their native country. I implore everyone settling for a "fun" spring break to imagine where they could have gone, and what they could of done instead. I certainly am from my couch.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Song of the Expatriate

I have heard the term "expatriate" various times over the course of my life, but never stopped to consider what it really meant. I knew the dictionary definition was "to give up residence in one's homeland; to take up residence in a foreign country," but, like most words that people use to identify themselves with, the actual meaning had to be much more loaded than a single, simple sentence. It wasn't until I was reading an older copy of Condé Nast Traveler and got slapped in the face with the word, that I forced myself to truly think about it.

"The Global Bar Hop" CNT July 2012

Although I've noticed that Traveler does reference expats fairly regularly, the article in question was "The Global Bar Hop" in the July 2012 issue. The piece examined some of the trendiest new bars to pop up recently around the world, listing quirky facts and observations about each, like what the atmosphere was like and what kind of people frequented the joint. Three of the bars included, "WTF" in Bangkok, "Ca'D'oro" in Istanbul, and "Malt Fun" in Shanghai, were credited as being expat hot spots. I didn't understand, and was a little frustrated, why this tidbit seemed to be consistently included. The other types of regular barflies were described as hip, beautiful, artsy, intellectual, and cool, among other flattering adjectives. Since when did moving out of your home country automatically make you these things?

Throughout my childhood, I met people every couple years whose family had moved to America to be near friends and family, or to escape war and poverty, or for whatever other reasons. My area of Connecticut is constantly accepting immigrants from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico, and has been for as long as I can remember, but I also gained several new classmates from Bosnia and Albania; two countries my child self hadn't heard of until meeting my Eastern European peers. Were these people to be considered expatriates? They technically fit the dictionary definition, but it didn't sit well in my mind. Plus, my classmates and their parents, with all due respect, certainly did not possess the type of glamour Traveler seemed to imply of them.

Although the words "immigrant" and "expatriate" have similar definitions, they describe extremely different people. I think the best way to understand the difference, is that immigrants move with the absolute intention to stay in their new country, while expats cannot necessarily say the same thing. Many immigrants leave their home country in order to start a new life elsewhere, while it seems many expats go abroad to simply continue their lives in a new location. Though an expat may stay in his or her new country permanently, they are more of a long-term traveler than anything else.

Johnny (right) and his friend Axel, a German expatriate,
in "The People's Park" in Chengdu
A couple years ago, my friend Johnny spent a period of five months living abroad in Chengdu, China. He sublet an apartment, found employment, and joined a recreational soccer team made up predominantly of non-Chinese. With the exception of a few, virtually all people met and friends made were fellow expatriates; not just from America, but across the globe. He said he utilized English-written websites and print publications to network with others and find out about local happenings. Essentially, he relied strongly on the other expats to provide him with the complete experience of living there.

If I were to take a trip overseas, who would be the best person to seek advice from?
Option 1) A native of the country. Certainly they would be most familiar with the land, but would they know what's best for a traveling American?
Option 2) A friend who had traveled there before. They could tell you the hit or miss tourist spots and recommend activities, but what do they know of local flavor?
Option 3) An American living in the country. The best of both worlds. I do believe the expat would be the expert.

Maybe not all expatriates are as chic as the locations they visit, or maybe they are more so, but the places they choose to spend their time are worth taking note of. If you are interested in absorbing culture through the eyes of someone who is simultaneously both an outsider and insider, consider their point of view. Or, become an expat yourself and tell the world what you discover about it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dolla dolla bill y'all

It's not hard to imagine that many of the people and companies one works with at a travel magazine are located abroad. Whether they're natives of a country we're writing a story about, or Americans (or Europeans, or Africans, etc.) who get sent on location, business is being conducted in a country different from where we are headquartered.

One of my regular duties at Traveler is to process money wires to vendors overseas. Depending on the contract agreed upon prior to the trip, we will usually pay for/reimburse expenses accrued, such as meals and a hotel, in addition to payment for services. Wiring money simplifies the payment task, as crossing borders (and often times changing currency) can get a little complicated.

Luckily, the internet makes money conversion a lot easier
A few days ago, for example, I had to process the payment of a British photographer who had been sent to Italy. I was supplied with the invoice for his work, as well as his receipts of personal expenses we had agreed to pay for. Because all of the money exchanged in Italy was in Euros, I had to convert the final costs of each receipt into US Dollars, so I knew how much to pay him. (Condé Nast uses American banks and American currency, so naturally all of our payments are in USD, regardless of where the money is being deposited.) After I knew the correct amount, I completed a form to have the money wired directly into his account at a bank in London.

While figuring out the conversion wasn't particularly difficult, I did find it a bit of a nuisance and couldn't help thinking how, after all the advances we've made with globalization, we do not have a universal currency. I suppose the USD serves as a somewhat unofficial one, seeing as it is largely accepted around world, but imagine if there was one specific monetary policy for all seven continents.

15 Israeli shekels (~$4 USD)
I am not implying that it would necessarily work (especially considering the current trouble with the Euro), but it would certainly make life easier. I remember traveling to Hawaii in 2005 and being completely marveled that I could use American money there. (Yes, of course I knew Hawaii was a state, but I was so wrapped up in the local Polynesian culture and the vast time change, I would find myself forgetting.) It made all of my purchases, and essentially the entire trip, much less stressful. It's hard enough to control your impulses to buy souvenirs and experiences when visiting a foreign place, but having "Monopoly money" (a currency you're not familiar with) in your pocket makes it all the more easy.

I remember specifically my trip to Israel in 2010; my first time out of the United States without my parents.
Me: Cama ze ole? (How much is this?)
Vendor: 80 shekels.
Me: Uhh, okay... here you go. *hands over foreign money listlessly*

Whether or not the idea of a universal currency will ever gain popularity and come to fruition, I do not doubt that many people will attempt to make it happen. If it does indeed become a reality, I wonder if we would be more prone to globally adopt an already existing currency, or create a new one entirely. Regardless, the United States will probably be the most difficult country to get on board... we have still yet to embrace the metric system, after all.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bienvenidos! Willkommen! Welcome!

Nuzzling a friendly burro in Samaná, Dominican Republic
Hello, and thank you for visiting my blog! My name is Jenny, and I am currently wrapping up my senior year at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, where I will be graduating with degrees in Global Studies and Journalism.

My decision to study these fields stems directly from a long-time dream to work at a travel magazine. Naturally, I love going on trips and vacations, but even when I'm stuck at home, there's not much I enjoy more than learning about different locations and cultures across the globe.

My dream is starting to come to fruition with my current internship, at Condé Nast Traveler. Although I have only just started, I love it already, and can't wait to work, learn, and discover as much as I can throughout the semester.
Condé Nast Traveler, January 2013

I was granted permission to count this internship as part of my coursework for my Global Studies major. One of my academic duties throughout the semester will be to post on this blog; about both my internship, and related global topics and issues.

Condé Nast Traveler is a part of the company Condé Nast, one of the largest and most successful magazine publishers in the world. My office is not only in Manhattan, but right smack in the middle of Times Square. While New York is considered by many to be a prime travel destination, I am constantly searching for other locations to escape to, whether physically or just mentally. Unfortunately, due to monetary and scheduling restraints, the latter is much more prevalent.  But even so, there is nowhere better to learn about the world than in the middle of the mother superior of all cultural melting pots. In this sense, I consider myself a "stationary traveler," because even though I may not be able to globe-trot as much as I would like, I get to explore the world through photographs, articles, and books--all while sitting at my desk! I'm looking forward to a great semester of learned experience and knowledge. I can't wait to share my thoughts and findings with you.