Tortoise on the Move

June 27, 2014

My First Week as an Au Pair

Gungahlin

photo2(1) On Sunday, I joined my new family for a barbeque at Cotter Dam. The “winter” weather was far from Connecticut in January – I learned the basics of cricket and drank hot chocolate to the tune of 50-something degrees Ferenheit. It’s since chilled down a bit as a cold front moved through Canberra. After the barbeque, we drove up Mt. Stromlo in search of my first kangaroos in Australia. Although I’d been in Australia for three days, I had yet to spot one (dead or alive… apparently, the ‘roos are a bit like deer are in the US and jump in front of cars). To my excitement, we found about 8 up at the top! As touristy as it sounds, I was psyched to see wild kangaroos.

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June 21, 2014

Arriving in Australia

Marion Mahony Griffin View of Canberra

After twenty-eight hours of traveling, I arrived in Sydney, Australia yesterday morning. I made it through customs and immigration in about a half hour and collected my bags that made it onto all three flights with me. I decided to experiment with a pre-paid Vodafone plan; I’ve never used a phone internationally before but I wanted a way to easily contact my host family while I’m in Australia. I hopped on a Murray’s express bus from the airport and disembarked three hours later in Canberra.

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Posted in: Blog
June 11, 2014

One Week to Takeoff

welcomeimage

Hi everyone! Welcome to Tortoise on the Move, and thanks for reading my first post. In the midst of the ever stressful second semester of senior year job search/grad school dilemma, I came across an au pair website and decided to create a profile. A few weeks later, I received an email from an Australian family in Canberra asking me to join them for a few months. So I’m taking the leap and moving to Australia on a Work and Holiday visa for a year.

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Posted in: Blog
June 10, 2014

Peru

Colca Canyon, outside of Arequipa
Plaza de Armas, Arequipa

Plaza de Armas, Arequipa

Peru was my first venture into travel planning on my own. After being awarded a travel fellowship from the Archaeology department, I set out to plan a two-week long trip to Peru with the objective of comparing museums in the modern cultural landscape. As it works out, I enjoy going to museums anyway so it wasn’t too strenuous to write my report when I came back to the US. I traveled with one of my friends who I had known from club swimming growing up. Over the course of the trip, we visited nine cities (including Machu Picchu), starting in Lima before making our way south to Arequipa and then heading to Cusco and the Sacred Valley. We spent Peruvian Independence Day (July 28th) in Ica. Between most cities, we took Cruz del Sur bus service. I was nervous about bus travel, but I purchased the tickets and chose our seats before we even went to Peru and all of our ventures on the buses were without issue. Along the way, I grew increasingly tired of colonial architecture and Spanish churches and more interested in ancient ruins (if you’re a big fan of churches, to each his own), which might have been a result of our route or a happy coincidence of taking the route we did. Happily sipping pisco sours along the way, I learned a lot about traveling on my first self-planned international trip. It was the beginning of a new chapter of travel for me, and that was one of the most exciting aspects of the venture.

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June 10, 2014

Italy

Duomo, Florence
Il Duomo of Siena

Il Duomo, Siena

I studied Italian Language and Cinema in Italy in the summer of 2012. Our course was based in Siena where we had the privilege to participate in homestays with host families. In Siena, neighborhoods are broken up into smaller communities known as contrade (s. contrada). We lived in Istrice (Porcupine) with our host mom, Paola; however, she remained loyal to the Torre (Tower) contrada where she grew up. Twice every summer, the ten of the seventeen contrade compete in the Palio, a grand pageant followed by a bareback horse race around the Piazza del Campo. Being able to attend the Palio was a crazy and wonderful experience. Having a “home base” in Siena while we traveled on weekends was also an interesting part of the trip. We were able to experience Siena in a more thorough way than visitors who only come for the Palio days filled with pageantry and chaos. Our weekend trips, however short, were still chock-full of Italian cultural and historical sites. I only wish we could’ve stayed in Rome longer than a weekend, but I guess that just means I’ll have to go back.

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June 10, 2014

Turkey

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Sunset over Istanbul from Prince's Islands ferry

Sunset over Istanbul from Prince’s Islands ferry

Without a doubt, Turkey was the place that inspired me to travel. As this was my first international trip, someone told me beforehand that Istanbul would ruin every other city in the world for me. So far, he’s been right, but I won’t give up the fight just yet. I went to Turkey for five weeks in the summer of 2011 to study Archaeology with 10 other Yale students. Since we participated on an actual dig with the University of Nebraska, we were all admitted on Research Visas. About half of our time was spent in Istanbul before we made our way through central Turkey en route to the dig site at Gazıpaşa on the southern coast. In Istanbul, the interactions between the historical and the modern as well as the East and the West are nearly magical. But one of the most unique and special experiences of the trip was going to a village wedding in Fesleğen. Having traveled since then, I can still say with confidence that Turkey will always have a place in my heart. Turkey is one of the most beautiful places on earth with amazing history and culture that you have to experience for yourself.

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