Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Have you ever met someone who raved about visiting a particular city and you wrinkled your nose and shook your head, "Gah, no. That was not our experience at all!" How can people have such different impressions of the same place? Maybe the weather was bad, your kids were whiny, or you were tired from traveling. Maybe you picked the wrong restaurants, got lost too many times, or felt overwhelmed by the crowds. There are tons of reasons why your first visit to a new city or town may not be favorable. Some places deserve a second glance before you write them off for good. We have a list of places we want to visit and see, so we are often too quick to write a city off once we've been there. Been there, done that, let's move on. There are too many places to see and too little time, money, and energy to see them all so why go back to a place where you...
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Meeting the Parents…Without the Boyfriend

Meeting the Parents…Without the Boyfriend

Guest post by Carrie Elizabeth Akarslan You wouldn’t normally meet your boyfriend’s parents by going on a twelve-day tour of Japan together. Of course, our relationship doesn’t follow the “normal context, ” and so this is a story about how I met my Turkish boyfriend’s parents for the first time. I grew up on a small ranch in Oregon, riding horses and shoveling manure. I walked to school and went to church most Sundays. My family later moved to Connecticut, and after college, I moved to Florida for the warm weather and relaxed lifestyle. I lived in a city with a population of roughly 40,000, and this felt like a city to me. Several years later, feeling the need for a new adventure, I found myself alone on the small island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras. I was considering a position teaching at an international school there so I decided to take a vacation to Roatan to learn how it’d feel...
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Family Travel Guide to Öland, Sweden

Family Travel Guide to Öland, Sweden

Ice cream, go-karts, beaches, and alpacas? Explore this tiny island to find some hidden gems off the east coast of Sweden in this family travel guide.   In European countries, it is common for the entire country to shut down in August as people head off to various resorts and tourist destinations. In Sweden, that "shut down" month is July—typically the warmest weather month of the year with maximum hours of sunlight. With four weeks of vacation, what is a family to do? Fortunately, for Swedes, there are plenty of stugor (rustic cabins) to rent, and plenty of islands to visit. One island, in particular, Öland, is located off the southeast coast of Sweden in the Kalmar region. Öland translates to "island land," which is fairly nonsensical but essentially, it's a long, narrow island.   Getting to Öland There is a bus that runs between Stockholm and Öland if you want to put someone else in charge of the driving. You can enter the island either by...
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Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Imagine an amusement park where only kids are allowed to ride and they receive endless rides on the tea cups, carousel, and trains. Where kids drive cars, motorcycles, and tractors. All. By. Themselves. The 1980s are alive and well at Lådbilslandet—or Soap Box Car Land—an amusement park in Sweden with soap box cars, "motorcycles" (they have three wheels so they are more like tricycles with engines), tractors, and river rafts. Lådbilslandet is a place where your kids can feel like grown ups. Kids Only It's a "kids only" type of place and adults aren't allowed on any of the rides. Not one. If your kid doesn't want to ride alone then you'll need to find a willing child (or sibling) to ride along with them. Honestly, that shouldn't be hard at all to find since every kid I saw was dying for extra rides. The kids are really in charge at this amusement park and parents have no choice but to relinquish all pretenses of being...
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Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

"Where's the chamber pot?" I asked my husband at 2 am. "You're kidding me," he mumbled. Wish I was, my dear, wish that I was. If you ever wanted to know what life was like before modern conveniences, then look no further than your nearest Swedish stuga. Stuga is Swedish for "cabin or cottage, " and they are generally pretty rustic—mostly because they were constructed sometime in the 1800s and electricity and running water were later additions.   Your classic Swedish stuga has low ceilings—people were shorter 100+ years ago—a wood burning stove in one or all of the corners, and if you have a fancy stuga, you'll have more than one room with big heavy wooden doors. For whatever reason, my daughter thinks opening and closing stuga doors is the funnest thing ever and it keeps her busy for at least an hour. Many of our Swedish friends have mentioned spending their Easter holidays and summer vacations "at the stuga," and we always thought...
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Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

  Maybe I'm just a simple gal who enjoys the simpler things in life but in all of our travels, my favorite vacations have been the ones in which I can let go of all of my stress. I'm a casual jeans and T-shirt, comfort over style, laid back type of person and my most favorite vacations are the simple ones. Don't get me wrong. I've been incredibly fortunate and privileged to have seen the gilded ceilings of the Vatican museum, ridden in a private boat on the sparkling blue waters of Lake Como pretending I was Amal Clooney, and relaxed beachside at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. Those were all amazing experiences and I am so grateful to have experienced them. However, my favorite, most special moments occurred after everything went "wrong" and all of our planning didn't match reality. I think back on our trip to Tuscany and my heart aches to be "stranded" again in the middle of a tiny Italian...
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Heading Back During A Tumultuous Time

Heading Back During A Tumultuous Time

  I'm about to get on a plane for 12 hours and fly straight into the face of the unknown.   I'm not heading in for a family trip, holiday, or celebration. I'm making this difficult, time-consuming trek because I feel compelled. Something is pulling me. I must go.   New friends, old friends, and whoever I meet along the way will all be a part of this wave of energy. A hopeful turn of the tides. A show of change, positivity, and unity.   I have witnessed firsthand what women can accomplish when they organize. It is empowering, bold, and beautiful. When we set aside our differences and focus on our commonalities, we can break down barriers. Build bridges.   Discover how we are the same and the differences no longer seem to matter. We may define "best" for our families differently and approach it in various ways—there is no one path in life—but we are all trying our best.   My good friend, Clara Wiggins, talks about the uncertainty...
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There Are Good People Everywhere

There Are Good People Everywhere

A few weeks ago, I packed my suitcase and headed out of town for a week in Amsterdam to facilitate a data analysis and management workshop—switching my crisp and clean editor/publisher hat for my worn-in public health hat. It was refreshing to step back into comfortable shoes and play a role that was familiar and speak a language that was native. I met public health professionals from all over the world—Georgia (the country, not the state), Russia, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, and Croatia. In 2013, I was five months pregnant and flew to Cote d'Ivoire to facilitate another global public health consultation of this nature. Luck would have it that I was paired with the only female participant in the room—a laboratorian from Sierra Leone. We sat together and analyzed her influenza surveillance data, and I noted that she didn't have any cases—I mean zero cases, which would be extremely rare—for males aged 30-45...
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Mother Tongue: An Ambitious Memoir About Multilingualism

Mother Tongue: An Ambitious Memoir About Multilingualism

I pre-ordered this book because Christine Gilbert was offering some awesome rewards for her fans before the book hit the shelves. Despite living in Sweden, it arrived only 20 days after its release and I devoured it while absorbing the intense Swedish summer sun on my front deck. Christine Gilbert is somewhat of my publishing and adventure-driven nomadic mentor. She regularly packs up her family and sets off to a different country (she's traveled to over 35 countries) as she and her husband have digital careers. She has self-published numerous books and traditionally published her memoir with Avery, Mother Tongue: My Family's Globe-Trotting Quest To Dream In Mandarin, Laugh In Arabic, And Sing In Spanish. Her online courses are super clear recipes for how to start and sustain a digital career that allows you to live anywhere in the world. She's been successful and definitely knows what she's talking about so if you're interested in furthering a creative digital career, Christine is someone to...
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Top 10 Ways To Be An A+ Expat Host

Top 10 Ways To Be An A+ Expat Host

  Last month I published the Top 10 Ways To Be An A+ International House Guest and fellow expats around the world cheered with delight. Well, the knife cuts both ways and I'm here to share some tips on how to be an excellent expat host. As nice as it is to have respectful, thoughtful guests, it is equally important to be a considerate host when your family and friends are traveling hours to visit you. If you want to guarantee that friends and family will ever repeat their long and expensive trek to see your scrubby faces, here are the top 10 ways to be an A+ expat host. 1. Meet them at the airport A+: "Welcome to our new country! We have nice cold waters waiting for you in the car and you can relax the rest of the way to our place." Pass: "I ordered a taxi for you at the airport. The driver will bring you straight to our house." Fail: "Sorry, I forgot you were...
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