Travel Writing Exercise: Your Favorite Place

The dreary weather around here has got me day dreaming about places I’d rather be instead of where I actually am!  We all have those days though, when all we can think about is that mountain ledge, or that sandy beach, the view from that balcony or maybe it’s just seeing your feet propped up on a coffee table somewhere familiar.  It could be at home, it could be abroad, but we all have a place that is special to us (more than somewhere else).

Write about your favorite place.

As always, feel free to leave your vignette in the comments section or drop me an email and I’ll provide you with some feedback!  Happy writing!

Here are some photos of my favorite places!  Let me know if my places are your places too!

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London!

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Paris!

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Mexico!

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Iceland!

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Philadelphia!

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Prague! These are some tasty Czech cakes

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Washington DC!

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Charleston!

 

Travel Writing Exercise: Breakfast

When you’re a teacher, you have to get up super early.  Sometimes, it’s hard to remember to eat what is supposedly “the most important meal of the day.”  Breakfast is actually my favorite meal and I always make room for it!

One of the coolest things I’ve seen while traveling is the different things people eat for breakfast.  In America, I’d say a traditional breakfast consists of eggs, bacon and some kind of starch (potatoes, pancakes, waffles, toast), maybe some cereal, juice and coffee.  In Ghana, I ate porridge, fresh fruit and sometimes toast and eggs.  And in France, I had pastries, jam and cheese.

Write about breakfast you’ve eaten while traveling.

Feel free to leave some of your favorite breakfasts in the comment section.  Here’s a fun little guessing game as well!

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In what country would you eat the following foods?

Costa Rican Cuisine Breakfast

1) Rice and beans, buttered toast, eggs, rice, beans and a fried plantain.

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2) Mushrooms, beans, black pudding, sausage, tomatoes, bacon, eggs and fried potatoes.

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3) Hot soup, chilies, salad (soda optional!)

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4) pita, hummus, tomato and cucumber salad, eggs and labaneh (creamy cheese covered in olive oil)

 

Travel Writing Exercise: School

School children in Ghana.

School children in Ghana.

This week I am student teaching!  Very exciting stuff.  I’ll be in a classroom allll day long, but still keeping up on my blogging!

One of the things I love most while traveling is getting to see how other cultures learn and visiting their local school systems.  It’s amazing how different people prioritize different aspects of life, or how each subject is emphasized and at what level of schooling.  I try and visit at least one school or camp in every country I’m in.

Write about your experience(s) with schools abroad.

Leave an example of your travel writing exercise in the comments below.  We’ve had some great ones recently!

Here are some fun international school facts to get you going:

  • In Australia, students attend school from late January to mid December.  Because it is in the southern hemisphere, summer vacation for Australian students is from mid December to late January.
  • The school day in Brazil runs from 7 a.m. to noon, and students typically go home at noon to share lunch with their family. Lunch is the most important meal of the day.
  • China provides all students with uniforms, but does not require they be worn.
  • Costa Rica is one of the most literate nations in Central America with over 96% of students over age 15 being able to read.
  • The school day in France typically runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a half day on Saturday, although students do not attend school on Wednesday or Sunday.
  • In Iran, from ages 5 to 18, boys and girls are educated separately. Girls typically have female teachers, while boys are taught by men.
  • Many schools in Kenya provide lunch. Because Kenya is experiencing severe economic and environmental hardships, some students save all or part of their lunch to share with their families.

Travel Writing Exercise: Bicycling

Biking around in a costume is a great way to meet new people!

I love biking, locally and abroad. It is the most eco-friendly, convenient way to travel and you can really get a sense of place while biking on your own. If the terrain permits, I rent a bicycle to get me from place to place. It’s my first choice and sometimes I even get grumpy when I can’t use my bike (for example, Prague is a terrible place to rent a bike!).

Have you ever done a bike tour? Are you a cyclist? Ever been present for the Tour de France?

Write about travel and bicycling.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or advice you may have.  Feel free to leave your story in the comments section, or send me an email and maybe I’ll feature yours next week!

Travel Writing Exercise: Dreams

©KatkaTravels

Today I’m throwing a bit of an abstract concept at you: dreams. Dreams are supposed to be symbols of our subconscious, ideas we are grappling with in real-life represented in our dream-like state. They also say that the more you study a language, eventually you will start dreaming in that language. Sometimes we want something so badly, we dream about it and it makes us want it more.

Whether or not our dreams are trying to tell us something, or if you remember them, there is always some kind of image that pops into your mind every so often, perhaps a place you’d rather be, or an activity you’d rather be doing. Those count as dreams too, and are valid points of a life you hope to lead.

Write about your travel-related dreams.

Below you can read a vignette I’ve written as an example, to get you started.  Feel free to leave your story in the comments section, or send me an email and maybe I’ll feature yours next week!

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I don’t have recurring dreams, but I have recurring themes. The most terrifying of them are the dreams I have involving waves. I never used to be afraid of waves, I liked playing with them at the beach and bobbing up and down in the currents. Once I started having these dreams however, I became a fan of the shoreline. Stupid, I know, but I can’t explain the overwhelming sensation I get when I try to get over this fear.

I think part of this dream is influenced by the Tsunami that happened in 2005, because in the dream, I’m in some tropical location. Not like the Caribbean, definitely somewhere in Asia, but nowhere discernable (as dreams usually go). The wave is huge, way higher than any normal wave, and it curls and swirls and its mouth opens tall and wide to devour me. I run, I’m running further and further away, the jaws of the wave about to devour me at any moment. It’s usually dark in these dreams, a deep gray-blue overcast that matches the steely color of the wave. The wave never gets me, but at the end of the dream, I am usually alone, my friends and family the tragic victims.

Some people think waves symbolize a turbulent point in a person’s life, something we can’t recognize right-out but that the churning, changing motion of the wave represents a churning within ourselves. Others believe the wave is something we are supposed to overcome before it “comes over” us. I’m not really sure what it means for myself, but I do know I haven’t had a wave dream in a while. Perhaps I’ve figured out whatever I needed to know…

Travel Writing Exercise: Unsafe

©KatkaTravels

There has been a lot of buzz lately surrounding safety and the independent traveller after Sari Sierra, a 33-year old woman from New York City, was discovered dead near some ruins in Istanbul, Turkey. It was her first time out of the country and she was traveling alone. Many criticized her decision to travel on her own as a woman, which was countered by a wave of solo traveller backlash, but the point remains – what does it mean to be a safe traveller?

You can prepare and research a place all you want, but no matter where you are, there may be times when you’ve felt unsure or unsafe. It could be in a big city like London, or a rural Asian fishing village. Most times we return home unscathed, but every so often, something triggers the emotion of fear within us. You can create a very compelling travel story based on an event where you weren’t 100% sure about your well being.

Write about a time where you felt unsafe while traveling.

Below you can read a vignette I’ve written as an example, to get you started.  Feel free to leave your story in the comments section, or send me an email and maybe I’ll feature yours next week!

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They shut the electricity off every other day in Ghana.

The government blames it on a drought in Lake Volta, which is Ghana’s largest source of power, but Stephanie thinks it’s more of a political move to garner votes for the upcoming presidential election. Regardless of who is right, the sun sets at 6:00pm on the dot, and Ghana becomes a thick curtain of black.

Growing up in New York City I never experienced complete and total darkness like I do here in Ghana. There is always a source of light somewhere, this weird purple-red haze that sits above the buildings, blocking out the stars, like a natural ceiling filled with light pollution. But when it gets dark in Ghana, you can’t see the space before you, even when the moon is out. It’s eerie.

The rest of the group left the internet cafe early, but I remained behind for an extra hour to catch up on personal matters. I volunteered to pick up some groceries – bread, eggs, bags of water – but the enchantment of the internet caught up with me, and soon I saw that the sun was setting. My flashlight was at the villa and if I was going to make it back before everything turned black, I had to leave now.

The sun set quicker than I thought that day; in an instant it seemed as though the world had been swallowed up. I feel nervous walking back to the village – most of the stores have close up, and I still haven’t bought the bread. They warned against walking around Hohoe alone at night, in the dark, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. What if I get robbed? Kidnapped? Someone could swoop out in an instant and take me away, hold me for ransom. Even if I yelled for help, the robber would decree in his native language that I was only joking, he knows me, we’re good friends. And then, I’d be gone.

I see a little shack with a single light bulb running, pumped by a generator. There is a skinny boy standing at a table, where he is selling loaves of bread. Anxiously, I walk up to him and buy two loaves.

“You are from America?” he asks. His smile is large and welcoming.

I nod. “Yes, that’s right.”

“You like Ghana?”

“I do,” I reply, but I’m anxious to leave.

“We love you!” he tells me. I’ve never seen him in my entire life, not a day since being here. And I’ve been here for almost three months. “You are a superstar, thank you for liking my country!”

Suddenly, a gaggle of little Ghanaian children swarm around me. But not in a scammy way, like how beggar children will enclose an innocent tourist and demand money. No, these children are hugging me, smiling, singing songs, saying they love me. Not one of them goes for my daypack. Not one of them asks me for money.

“They like you,” the boy at the table says. “Because you are nice. They want to walk you home.”

It’s then that I realize how most people are good people, and not out to hurt you, and that these people have so much more to worry about than stealing some little white girl. Because everyone in this village knows everyone else and everything that goes on, and they are protective of visitors, and each other. Word would get out fast. I wouldn’t be missing for long.

The fear subsides, and I walk home alongside seven talkative Ghanaian kids. Sometimes, the hold my hand.