The Four People You Meet in Foreign Countries

International Travel

Throughout my time in Uganda and in other travels, I’ve come across many foreigners that I’ve been able to fit into one or two of five categories in my head. This is by no means a complete or all-encompassing list, but a very generalized set of characters that I frequently meet abroad.

The hopeful. This person is the one that is most likely to stay long-term. They enjoy their lifestyle, and they find meaning in their work that gives them a reason to hang around and stay motivated. They are hopeful for the future of the country and believe they are making a difference. This person is great to know, as they are most familiar with the local culture and can give you insight and advice for your time in the country.

The cynic. Hearing this person speak makes you wonder why they are still here. They hate the food, the people, the work. They usually don’t last long, and if they are put here on an assignment, they will complain the entire time until they leave. The cynic isn’t the most fun person to be around, but it can sometimes be amusing to see a person struggle in challenging situations (see Paris Hilton working on a ranch in The Simple Life). Even the optimist has bad days, and the cynic is a nice companion on those days when you need someone to whine with.

The partier. Plenty of fresh-out-of-college, low budget young adults go to developing countries in search for the wild experience of a lifetime in a secluded part of the world. They are usually non-communicative or un-contactable, causing their parents relentless worry and fear for the worst. They’re fun nightlife people, and have plenty of great stories to tell about crazy situations they’ve encountered.

The wanderer. This may be the lone traveler, or the backpacking couple that is making its way across a country or continent. They take comfort in not having a tight schedule or work obligations, and are taking advantage of a period in life where they can take an extended period of time to see the world and experience a part of the world that they know nothing about. You’ll probably meet this person only once, but with some communication and planning you might be able to see them again on a random trip in another country.

When you travel, you meet a lot of interesting people. It’s important to be open-minded and, contrary to the traditional advice, willing to talk to strangers. You never know what you could learn by simply starting a conversation on a bus or in a restaurant. As my time in Uganda is coming to an end, I can say that one of the best things about being here has been meeting the range of characters, both local people and foreigners. I’ve met a Russian wedding dress designer, a kindergarten teacher, several Peace Corps volunteers, a lone traveler making her way down the east coast of Africa, a Spanish salsa instructor, a missionary working in the nomadic Karamoja, a Canadian couple running a primary school, and a Ugandan man trying to establish a turkey farm.

Mika White is a second year biochemistry major at Northeastern expecting to graduate in 2018. This semester she is on her first co-op in Uganda interning at a rural hospital in the town of Iganga and establishing a malnutrition treatment program in Namutumba District. She loves to travel, read, and run. Feel free to reach out to her at white.mik@husky.neu.edu and LinkedIn, and read her personal blog at mikawhite25.wordpress.com.

Some countries just call to you…

image taken by John D Carnessiotis via Flickr

image taken by John D Carnessiotis via Flickr

This guest post was written by Ellen Zold Goldman, Associate Director of Career Development and lover of anything international.

Some countries just call to you. It’s hard to explain but if you’ve experienced that one dialogue that you couldn’t get out of your head, or a study abroad or international co-op and wished you could turn right back around and re-board the plane, then you know what I mean.

That’s what it was like for me going to Greece. It started as a tourist visit and then I landed a short-term professional gig. I went there month three of a three-month overseas adventure, having picked three countries I wanted to see ‘before I settled down, became boring, and couldn’t ever travel because I held a professional job’. I spent one month in Israel making a video on a program at the Jerusalem Cinamateque, and got a job offer I turned down. One month in Italy (well, that was just plain decadent travel with two friends), and then this life-changing month in Greece. I made so many Greek friends; it was the trip of a lifetime and I have no regrets. It rained in Greece the day I went home. They said Greece was crying for me.

My mission was to save enough to go back and do something professional. I networked like crazy with anyone in the Boston area who would talk to me about Greece. You owned a restaurant- great? You were a professor at a college I Didn’t Go To—awesome. I worked a list of American Companies in Greece. Networking paid off and I landed a gig with a professor from another college who was starting a new non-profit. My bags were practically packed. Trip Two, The Professional Overseas Adventure…

I boarded the plane – no looking back. I stayed with Greek friends, and by then I had a Greek boyfriend. Broke up with said boyfriend and learned about what I would miss in the U.S. (family, and definitely same day dry cleaning). I talked Greek politics (I love politics) and was blessed on New Year’s Day by a Greek Priest. I traveled with my Greek gal pals (woman power!) and worked every day. I learned about real Greek life.

My contract gig was ending with the non-profit. While I had hoped it would lead to a full-time position, it really was a short-term gig. My time was winding down.

I pounded the pavement—Got some offers to teach English and a soft offer to work in a travel agency, but in the end I decided to go back home. I came back full of priceless adventures and also saw that my friends were moving onto professional positions, grad school and I felt that if it were meant to be, I’d find a way to return to Greece. I did go back after I was working and it is still the place that makes my heart sing.

Was the whole thing worth it? YES. I’d do that again in a New York second.

What did I learn?  A LOT. Working at the non-profit and living in Greece with my friends gave me the best glimpse into authentic Greek Life (I was there in January-not during tourist time). I went out with friends Friday nights, sang Greek songs in the car and vacationed where they vacationed. I lived, ate, and breathed Greece. I was meant to be in Greece. I also had the worst case of reverse culture shock coming home. I cried all the way home—and I do mean for all 6 hours. I learned that I wanted to blend my love of culture with education professionally. As a result, I began working for International Co-op, specifically with Americans going overseas to Australia, and then worked for 9 ½ years with international students on preparing them to work in the U.S.

The small influences—well, I learned how to make Nescafe Frappe just the way I like it. The big influences—my passion for working with international students and first generation Americans has never left me. I’ve directed a Study Abroad program, and work in Career Services where I help create international student programming. My passion for this has stayed with me for the last 15 years. I never get tired of it. Even on a bad day.

While I decided not to live in Greece permanently, I hope to have a little apartment there one day and retire there- or at least go back and forth. Sorry to folks who want to retire in FL; it’s just not the same. Greece is, after all, my favorite place on earth.

Everyone deserves their own grand adventure. I hope you create an amazing adventure for yourself, even if it does take two trips. 

Ellen Zold Goldman is Associate Director at Career Development. She’s worked on a short-term gig at a non-profit in Greece, has coordinated an international co-op exchange program in Australia, directed study abroad at another university, loves international students, and as you can probably tell, she has a passion for anything international.

A Glimpse at Dialogue of Civilizations: Peru

http://girlgonegallivanting.com/loving-lima/

http://girlgonegallivanting.com/loving-lima/

This post was written by Emily Brown, a regular contributor to The Works and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern University. She is also a Career Development Intern.

In the Career Development office I often hear the phrase “Dialogue trips” being thrown around. But what are they exactly? Yanet Monica Canavan provided some insight on the program below.

Yanet Monica Canavan is a teacher of Spanish at Northeastern and the faculty leader for Dialogue of Civilizations trips to her native country of Peru. She has extensive experience teaching Spanish including teaching Spanish Literature to undergraduate and graduate students at the private university, “Inca Garcilazo de La Vega” in Lima, Peru, teaching Medical Spanish for the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital and has even taught private Spanish classes to former Boston Red Sox Manager, Terry Francona. Monica will be leading her third immersion class (of 32 students) to Peru in Summer 1 2014.

What exactly is a Dialogue of Civilizations?

Open to Northeastern University students of any major, the Dialogue of Civilizations is a series of “global student exchanges” between students at Northeastern University and students around the world. The goal of each program is (a) to connect students with their peers in different national, cultural, political, and social environments and (b) to provide students with a “global experience” that builds upon and enhances their academic studies and training in Boston.

Where in Peru does the Dialogue take place?

Peru Dialogue of Civilization is a Spanish immersion program that will take place at a language center in Lima and at a Language School in Cuzco, which is the capital of the Inca empire.

What kind of language instruction is provided on the trip?

The Spanish immersion program will offer intensive Spanish language training to solidify the students’ knowledge of Spanish grammar and teach them to speak the language fluently. The five week course includes four hours per day of instruction focusing on: developing all of the four language skills (speaking, writing, listening and reading). Students from Northeastern will have Peruvian language partners and will experience life in Peru as local Peruvians. Students will stay with Peruvian guest families, learning their culture and using the Spanish language in their day-to-day activities.

How will students experience the culture of Peru?

Instruction includes cultural visits to museums, cathedrals, and the like and activities such as dining at fine restaurants and experiencing Lima’s and Cuzco’s night life. It is an exciting way to experience another culture’s people, ideas, customs and beliefs. Students will sample all that the cities of Lima and Cuzco have to offer and will complete a service project (in a Language School or in the Air Force School) in which they will help Peruvian students to practice speaking English and also explain to them a typical day in the life of a American college student.

What indicates to you that these Dialogue trips are successful?

The reputation of NEU has grown in Peru as a result of the establishment of this cultural exchange. The Peru Dialogue of Civilization (DOC) program provided the students with an immersed experience in a safe and secure manner planning different activities during the whole day. Students were under my supervision interacting with locals, learning and acquiring the Spanish language and Peruvian culture. Students have learned about Peruvian idiosyncrasy, customs and beliefs and have gotten to know how local Peruvians think and act.  The full immersion helped students to be more involved in the Peruvian culture.

Emily Brown is a Career Development intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.