March 29

Enticing Egypt

Ever since I was a little girl that went to a glittering gold and ancient exhibit about the discovery of King Tut and his tomb, Egypt has always always captured my fascination and interest. I would absolutely love to visit many ancient wonders of the world that are home to Egypt along with seeing the Nile river and visiting Cairo. One post will hardly do all the amazing things to do, see, and experience in Egypt any justice, but I will try my hardest.

When you hear the word Egypt,do you think of mummies, the Pyramids, and the Nile river? Maybe you don’t, but that is the first thing that pops into my head. So naturally when visiting Egypt, I would want to first the remnants of ancient Egypt. These iconic treasures naturally include visiting the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Imagine riding out through the desert on a camel and seeing the rising peaks of the pyramids on the horizon growing to tremendous sizes until you are dwarfed by the looming structures. Another unforgettable experience would to go inside a ancient Egyptian tomb and to visit many of the ancient temples such as Karnak, Abu Simbel, Hatshepsut, or Philae. Beyond exploring the remnants of this ancient civilization, there is so much life around the Nile river and the city of Cairo to experience.

The Nile is the longest river in the world and is a life line providing water to an area that is almost all desert beyond the banks of the Nile. As such a huge source of water for a dry area, the Nile attracts a diverse range of wildlife. It would be so cool to sail on a boat down the Nile river and watch the passing elephants and water buffalo on the banks and the birds flying overhead. The danger of the lurking hippopotamuses and crocodiles would haunt the back of my mind but it would not be a complete experience without seeing a hippo or crocodile along the banks of the river. The trip down the Nile would also be a great way to see more of Egypt. Since the Nile is a source of life and water, the plants and trees would also be an interesting contrast to the desert beyond the Nile’s influence. Another aspect of Egyptian life that I would want to explore is the people and the culture of Cairo.

Cairo is the capital and the largest city in Egypt. This thriving city is a metropolis for the modern day culture and the food scene. I would love to walk the city and see the mix of old and new buildings that look down at the diverse culture of people and language in the street. I would also love to take the opportunity of being in Cairo to try authentic Egyptian food. Two popular dishes on my list to try are kushari and ful medames. Another thing to try would be locally grown dates. Hopefully one day soon I will have the date set to eat dates on a warm Arabian night in Egypt.


March 24

To Tibet

This week I am off to explore Tibet, as the title hinted at. Tibet is nestled along the Himalayan Mountain range and China. The actual recognized region of Tibet  as recognized is a hot topic of debate between the Tibetan people and the Chinese Government because currently a huge portion of Tibet is under China’s control. This issue of proper borders and sovereignty is very controversial and such a fierce fight that the Tibetan Dali Lama was exiled from Tibet for promoting Tibet’s freedom. Not to undermine this important issue, but this blog will focus more on Tibet’s landscape and culture in more of a tourist element.

Tibet’s landscape is characterized by the world’s tallest mountain range, the Himalayas. This has given Tibet and unique and dramatic landscape that strikes awe in visitors to the country. The southwest border of Tibet is comprised of wall of mountains. Among those mountains is the famous Mount Everest. I would love to see Mount Everest in person but I would definitely not be up to attempting to climb the gigantic king of mountains. Being host to the tallest mountain range in the world has played a role in the development of Tibetan culture and the fame of the Buddhists monks.  Tibetan Buddhist has become famous for their peacefulness yet strong advocacy for the freedom of Tibet from China’s control. Tibetan monks who have made their home in temples that are sheltered by the mountains, have thrust their culture into the spotlight with the conflict and wisdom surrounding the Dali Lama. I would love to hike in the beautiful valleys of Tibet and be blessed enough to explore a Buddhist Temple. It would be such an memorable and surreal experience to meditate in a Buddhist or even just spend time among the monks. Beyond the culture of the Tibetan Buddhists, the people of Tibet have a culture centered agriculture but difference in culture would be truly amazing to experience first hand. While there are a couple popular dishes in Tibet, I would just be curious about trying yak meat and butter tea. I would love to also experience a traditional festival that revolves around Buddhism. An interesting festival would be Monlam Prayer Festival. This festival is filled with people wearing traditional dress, dancing, sports, and food. Such a festival would present all aspects of Tibetan life wrapped up in a couple days, that would be absolutely unforgettable.

Even though Tibet is experience unrest and conflict with China and the simple fact that Tibet is a less economically affluent country, it does not dampen my spirit and thirst for adventure. Hopefully one day I can watch the sun set among the Himalayan mountains while standing  among Tibetan Buddhist Monks basking in the richness of the culture and landscape. This trip would likely lack a lot of urban amenities but that, I think, would only add to the authenticity and rustic nature of Tibet. Until I have such an amazing chance to experience such a travel, this blog will have to do.

March 6

Arctic Adventure

When you hear the word vacation or travel, I bet you think of warm beaches, exotic locations, and culture rich towns. This blog will deviate slightly from my previous blogs about countries I have either been to or want to go to. This blog is not about visiting a country, but rather a continent. Instead of packing bathing suits, I will be bringing my parka and a whole host of warm clothes. That’s right, if you have not guessed yet, I am headed to Antarctica.

This icy, cold landscape is home to unique animals and just raw natural beauty. However, with climate change and the ever increasing epidemic of global warming, this formidable yet wondrous ecosystem is threatened. I would love to go on an expedition to promote conservation or assist on a research study of Antarctica and its wildlife.

I can just imagine the beginning of the long journey to this continent beginning with setting off on a ship into the vast

expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. From there the ship would sail north into the icy water of the arctic circle. Hopefully along the way, our ship will be blessed by the brief company of a passing dolphin or whale pod. At the thought of that, I am reminded about the time I went whale watching in Iceland. It I imagine this trip would be similar to my 4 hours on the small whale watching vessel aside from the trip to Antarctica being more extreme both in the size of the ship and bitterness of the cold. Luckily, I am not prone to sea sickness, unlike some of my friends who went whale watching. Despite being rather immune to sea sickness, I will doubtless be glad to get my first glimpse at the pristine white horizon that means land ahead.

The inner perpetual child in me is keenly hoping that I will be able to see a polar bear for once in its natural habitat instead of just in a zoo. I am also excited at the chance of seeing penguins and walruses as well. Yet my interest in the natural beauty expends beyond just animals. I anticipate being stuck by awe in the sheer natural beauty and contrast of the ice, the sea, and the sky. Just imagine how sunrise and sunset would appear. Vibrant colors streaking across the sky, being reflect by the dark sea and illuminated on the snow and ice of Antarctica.

Despite Antarctica lacking any true form of human civilization or culture, it does have an impressive history of adventurers and researchers who have braved the cold and dangers to explore and discover. I hopefully will one day join those who have traveled to Antarctica. But until then, I must live out this fancy in this blog. Hopefully this blog has made Antarctica less distant and cold in your mind even though its location is far away and its temperatures are quite chilly. But for now I am saying adios to the white land of the penguins.

February 16

Bustling Brazil

  Brazil, might be known as the big country in South America that is bustling with people, wildlife, culture, and sports. But to me, it is the country that I am traveling to in the blog and hopefully someday in real life. Recently, Brazil has been in a bad spotlight due to the outbreak of the zika virus which was causing major birth defects and the past Summer Olympics. The mystery around the zika virus and its correlation and causation of birth defects as well as causing illness has been a deterrent to potential visitors. That along with the problems the Brazilian government had with setting up and running the Olympics, from locking them selves out of arenas to problems with the water, to even just the fact that most cities of Brazil are highly (if not over) populated could be reason enough for an average traveler to bail. Yet my curiosity and innate desire to see and experience different lands and cultures pull me the the home of the Amazon forest.

In Rio de Janerio, my trip will begin. With the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue looking out over the city and the beaches, I would love to spend a sunny day on the beach playing volleyball and soccer with locals, enjoying the ocean waves, and the local flavor of  feijoada. Although, I doubt I would understand any Portuguese, the influence of history and Brazil’s past would add to the cultural experience. Brazil was first colonized by the Portuguese and then was under the United Kingdom until it established it’s independence. Rio is also home to Carnival. Oh how I would absolutely love to see and experience Carnival. The costumes, parades, dancing, and parties are unrivaled to anything I can imagine. Another almost mythical part of Brazil is the wildlife.

As you probably know, Brazil is home to the Amazon river and rain forest. The Amazon is home to a host of amazing biodiversity. From leopards, to piranhas, to parrots, touring the rain forest would show the incredible vast number of organisms that share the river and rain forest with the remaining indigenous tribes. Although the large amount of dangerous or poisonous plants, frogs, fish, and animals is a little daunting, it would be a truly humbling experience to sheer size of the Amazon. Beyond the wildlife found in the Amazon, a different type of wildness can be found in the crowds of fans of the Brazilian soccer team.

Brazil’s men soccer team is considered to be one of the best in the world. Brazil’s team was not always considered one of the best in the world but thanks to Pelé, Brazil’s sports have kicked off and shot to the top. While the sports are top notch, the fans are equally crazy and enthusiastic. Being in the stadium with the Brazilian soccer team playing would be unforgettably energetic.

Overall, visiting Brazil is bound to be eventful and invigorating. This amazing experience is just waiting for an adventurous spirit to take a flight down into the Southern Hemisphere.


February 8

Going to Ghana

Just recently, I found out that I was accepted to be a member on a brigade to Ghana this summer. As a member of Global Medical Brigades, I was beyond excited to realize that not only will I be going on my first brigade but I will have the amazing opportunity to actually visit the African continent. My happiness from the upcoming help I will be giving a community along with with adventure of traveling to Ghana bubbled through my shock of first learning I was accepted. Not only is this going to be my first time going to Ghana but it is the first trip that Penn State Global Brigades is going on since the Ebola epidemic made it unsafe for brigades to be sent to Africa. 

My anticipation for the trip stems from a multitude of various reasons. This will be my first mission trip where I will be volunteering in a medical clinical setting, I will be able to immerse myself in the local culture of Ghana and its people, and I will be working with other amazing Penn Staters to help empower and make an impact on local Ghanaian communities.

This week long brigade will begin with a rather long transatlantic flight, but the flight is worth what wonderful opportunities and memories await in Ghana. The typical layout of the trip has around four days dedicated to running the medical and dental clinic alongside local medical professionals. The clinic focuses on holistic healthcare and will also include general and OB-GYN consultations which will be such an incredible opportunity to experience. Some of the usual afflictions that Ghanaians have are malaria, hypertension, parasites, and myalgia. Through the clinics, we will assist in providing community members treatment they need.

The rest of the trip will focus on engaging in Ghanaian culture. Ghana’s culture has been heavily influenced by its history. As a west-African country, European colonization along with with slave trade heavily influenced the development of Ghana into the country that it is today. Ghana is a democracy of diverse people and an equally diverse landscape. The people of Ghana represent the influence of a diverse history with traditional African roots, Christianity, Muslim, English, and various other multicultural elements. The landscape of Ghana changes as you move from coastal savannahs to tropical jungles. Ghana is also for an African nation, relatively economically stable and had a relatively stable government as well. Yet it still remains a rather poor country that qualifies and is in need of assistance from the Global Brigades Organization.

This brigade will doubtless be equally fulfilling in reward from helping others, experiencing a new culture and way of life, and experience working in a clinical setting. Although a week seems like a good amount of time to spend in a foreign country giving aid, I know time will fly by and before I know it I will be headed back to America on a plane with the fresh memories of the brigade in my mind.

February 3

Colorful India

India is a land of raw beauty. This largely populated country captured my imagination from the story of the Jungle Book and pictures of elephants, colorful saris, and the Taj Mahal. My adventurous spirit has left me yearning to experience the wildlife, culture, and history of India. After a long flight, the plane would touch down in leaving me to explore this country ideally some time between the summer and winter monsoons. One of the most exciting thing to me about India is the incredible diversity of not only landscapes but of animals. Seeing  cows in the street, riding an elephant, and seeing the unique wildlife of the Jungle Book manifested in real life would exceed my dreams.

Yet the colorful diversity does not stop at just the wildlife, it is reflected in the diversity of languages and rich culture of India. India is host to many languages and dialects that reflect on the subtle cultural differences between regions. Although I would only be able to communicate effectively in English, I would explore Indian culture through their beloved media and Bollywood. However to get authentic cultural immersion, I would try eating local and traditional Indian cuisine. While the non spice food like naan would be no problem, I fear my mediocre tolerance for spicy food might fall below the bar for traditional Indian curries and other such dishes. Another cultural element I have always admired were the saris that women wear. The saris are intricately beautiful and expressive due to the multitudes of color and detail of patterns. Trying on saris or even just seeing the street turned into a sea of bright saris would be breathtaking.

Similarly just as breathtaking would be to experience parts of India’s history such as visiting the Taj  Mahal. The artistry of the architecture and symbol of the history of India before the British make the Taj Mahal a must see landmark that is on my list of things to see one day. India’s history is equally as rich as the art and culture of the country. India after Gandhi’s movement became independent of the British rule and it similarly moved away from medieval traditions like the caste system. Even now despite India’s major advances in economy, government, and population size, poorer parts of India and corruption leave India as not quite a fully developed country. While some parts of India remain densely populated in slums and as a whole the nation boasts quite a large population, these issues will seem less apparent to tourists. Yet this does not deter me to visit. Rather it would be an enlightening and humbling experience. Of course being wary is always the safest way to travel especially when some of the more remote and less popular destinations will have locals to rarely see Caucasians.

Overall, India is an enticing adventure beckoning curious souls to explore the riches of the country. The flight halfway around the world and the inevitable jet lag will be truly worth the experiences and memories that India will foster.

January 27

Beginning in Ireland

Dia dhuit! These strange words of greeting were one of the first things that welcomed me to the lucky, Gaelic city that is the Capital of Ireland. Getting off the plane in Dublin was the first time my feet had stepped on another continent or even country outside of the United States.  As a young girl, I was excited to see this new place but mostly I was excited to show off my new raincoat to the drizzly overcast weather that is consistent to a fall day in Ireland. Walking around Dublin with my family, my eyes kept getting wider with the awe and amazement at the ancient, beautiful buildings mixed into a modern city. For the first time ever, I began to realize that the US’s old history and historic buildings barely compared to the age worn stones of these buildings.

Just as I was reveling in my newfound appreciation for the age and history of Dublin, I began to notice strange words on signs and buildings with normal English names underneath. These weird Gaelic words fascinated me and my curiosity about this different culture bubbled through. My curiosity spiked as we left Dublin to drive to the small town of Kilkelly on the other coast of the country. I was shocked to find that in the little grocery stores, all the food and brand names were different. As I began to notice more differences such as the smaller everything and that the cars drove on the wrong side of tiny narrow roads flanked by stone fences that marked off fields sprinkled with ruined castles, churches, and graves where sheep idled through the remains, my appreciation of differences in countries grew.  Driving through Ireland, I was flabbergasted when we found a town that shares my mom’s maiden name, to celebrate this exciting discovery besides just a picture, we stopped in a local pub for lunch. The colorful, friendly locals with their singsong accents combined with delicious traditional Irish would have been enough to remember the meal, but the cherry on top was when I asked the waitress for rootbeer to drink. As a child I was still adjusting to cultural differences and did not realize rootbeer is  strictly an American drink, the poor waitress was flustered but brought out a beer anyway to which my parents dissolved into laughter and ordered me milk. Aside from that incident, my trip was nothing but wonderful experiences. The child in me was  impervious to the jealous looks at my curly hair from girls, the constant drizzling, and the hair-tangling wind.

My trip was rich with the beautiful landscapes and abundant castles, however the most incredible scene was not from dolphin watching but from visiting the cliffs of Moher. The sheer size of the cliffs made me feel insignificant while standing on what felt like was the edge of the world. The raw nature and power of the waves and the cliffs was beyond picturesque. This trip and experiences from it developed an insatiable desire to explore the different beauties and cultures of the world. Go raibh maith agat, Éire.

November 3

Home of the Inca Empire

This week I am traveling just south of the equator into the Southern Hemisphere.6d9cfb1e4457a30342060b1f55e82770 As you can probably guess from the title,  Peru is my destination. Nestled among the Andes Mountains, Peru is home to the ancient Incas and one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. Peru’s unique culture today still holds on to its native elements and also contains a blend of Spanish culture that was introduced during the Spanish conquest of South America.  Despite not knowing Spanish, I would love to immerse my self with local natives and learn about their everyday lives and culture. Additionally, the delicious Peruvian food would be just another exquisite perk to visiting this Latin American country.

My dream trip to Peru would last about two weeks and primarily encompass the hike in and out to visit Machu Picchu. peru-854175_960_720Ideally, I would go with a small group and have a local guide and perhaps a few pack llamas to help offset the bulk supplies needed for the 4 day hike to Machu Picchu. To experience the full extent of Peru’s Inca ruins, I would be embarking on the classic Inca trail which is 82 kilometers. Machu Picchu and the area surrounding this World Heritage Site, include  protected natural beauty and other Inca ruins such as Llactapata, Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, and Phuyupatamarca. This beautiful and rewarding trip will also be a grueling 8 day hike through the Andes Mountains. In preparation for this trip, I would brush up on some basic Spanish and train for the trek. Excitement bubbles over me when I think about possibly having the chance to observe the famous view of Machu Picchu. Even as I write this blog,  part of me want to just buy a plane ticket now to guarantee this lifetime experience is one that will happen in my life. Yet I would only really want to make this incredible trip outside of the rainy season. Therefore, I would be confined to visiting Peru in just the summer months.

Seeing the ruins of the Inca cities is an amazing way to not only further enrich and learn about the culture that shapes Peru currently, but to learn more about the Incas.inkagott-auf-eintrittskarte  The Incas are considered one of the largest empires before the Spanish came to South America. The Incas were an advanced civilization that worshiped primarily the sun god. The Inca Empire was quite expansive and reigned over people living along the length of the Andes Mountain range. So much is known about the Incas except for the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu which was only internationally discovered in 1911 despite the city existing then abandoned in the 1400’s. Yet this mystery is in-part what makes Machu Picchu so special.

Hopefully I will have the opportunity to hike to and see the “Lost City of the Incas” before Peru closes tourism to Machu Picchu in fear of the damage of the site and risks to tourists. Until I can visit striking land, I will be saving a page in  my passport for Peru.

October 27

Land of the Rising Sun

Halfway across the world lies the archipelago nicknamed, Land of the Rising Sun.depositphotos_11331458_m-2 Japan awaits with its stunning nature, rich culture, and beautiful language.

The flight from the east coast to Japan is a daunting, roughly 15 hour flight. Despite lengthy flight time, the plethora of experiences that more than compensated for the hours on end stuck in metal tube in the sky. When first flying over Japan, waiting to land, I think the thing that will strike me the most is the stark contrast of the mountains against the sea. The volcanoes that created this island nation, produced breathtaking mountains and mountain ranges. It would be amazing to experience the awe of standing in the midst and shadow of mount Fuji. mount-fuji-8Once landed, another contrast to the sheer power of  nature’s beauty will yet again be in contrast, not within itself,  but this time with the packed, bustling life of a Japanese city. Yet even in the city, Japan has not lost touch with its history and connection to nature. The abundance of cherry-blossom trees and the traditional architecture are visible links to  the past. The traditional Japanese architecture is unique and has a delicate beauty. In the past, for a most part, Japan remained isolated until it sprang from the feudal ages into a thriving industrial nation it is known as today. Today Japan is prominently known for its strength in business, manufacturing, and science.

Experiencing Japan would be an enlightening yet difficult experience for myself. Although I think the Japanese is a beautiful language both written and spoken, I don’t know a single word of Japanese, which might make visiting and touring Japan difficult. I love trying new things so I would be excited to try to learn a bit of Japanese and to eat traditional Japanese food, which usually entails noodles or rice with veggies, fish, or tofu. Yet my nonexistent Japanese would not hinder me from traveling to various cities, such as Tokyo and Yokohama. But to round out these expansive, busy cities, I would also want to retreat into the Japanese countryside. I would love to visit some Japanese temples to expand the 55689-largecultural side of my trip to Japan. To further experience and witness elements  of Japanese art and culture, I would love to see a tea ceremony, geishas, and the multitude of art forms and famous pieces that Japan has produced. Japan has a unique distinction and style with its sculptures, paintings, and woodblock prints. Seeing these pieces in Japan would provide a wholesome element to this trip.

By experiencing a nation and a culture vastly different from the one I have grown up in, I feel as though I can learn a lot not only about this different culture but also about myself and become further inspired by the world around me. There is something enlightening and almost rejuvenating that resonates through me when I hear the words Land of the Rising Sun. Perhaps its just the hopeful excitement triggered by my wanderlust in response to thinking about traveling, but I believe there is a beautiful enigma that emanates from the name and the country itself, Land of the Rising Sun.

October 20

Vacanza Italiana

Traveling to new places brings such fun adventures, so when I heard that I have the opportunity to go on an vacanza italiana (Italian vacation) I was beyond ecstatic. Just recently, I was told that over spring break, my parents are planning a family vacation to Florence, Italy.


Florence and Italy as a whole was the birthplace of the Renaissance. As having taken AP European History, I can spew out countless artists, paintings, churches, and sculptures that came about during the Renaissance but I will spare you the lengthy recitation. Learning about the change in art, culture, and thinking during the Renaissance during my junior year in high school has placed Italy on my list of places to see. Florence, Italy is the city where the renaissance truly blossomed from due to the influence of the Medici family. I will try to keep my AP Euro facts to a minimum, but learning about such an important city only makes me await this trip even more.

I will have the incredible chance to see the Florence Cathedral and Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. david_by_michelangelo_jbu0001The historical importance and beauty of the ancient architecture will take me back to the Renaissance. Yet visiting Florence will  have more than just history and art, there is the Italian food, culture, and language.

I love a good Italian meal and eating fresh made pasta in Italy is one of the things I am anxiously anticipating. Pizza, rigatoni, gelato, wine, and cannolis, I wouldn’t be surprised if I gained 20lbs from the wonderful Italian cuisine. Besides the food, I await the opportunity to be immersed into the modern day culture of Italy and the language. Florence is a metropolis of a city and a hub for culture and art, which isn’t surprising because that is at the roots of this city. Furthermore, as  a love language, Italian is just a beautiful language to hear and hopefully learn to speak. My 5 years of German in high school won’t help me much here but maybe I will be able to learn some Italian.

dreamstime_9167862Italy, as you know, is in Europe which mean it has a great rail system. This will allow me to take day trips to Rome, Pisa, Venice, Milan,  and possibly Naples and Pompeii. These cities are equally as historic and culturally rich as Florence with their own arts and attractions.

The only two things to top off a trip to Italy would be shopping and exploring the nature and smaller towns around Florence. Shopping at local boutiques and stores would fulfill a quintessential element of visiting Italy. I would also love to visit a picturesque small town in the beautiful  Italian country side or even get a chance to hike in the Alps.

I doubt my extensive laundry list of things to do and see while in Italy is even possible to complete just over the course of spring break, but I will attempt to experience as much as I can. So until then, I will continue to dream about visiting Italia.