Hiking Mt. Fuji: Friendly Advice From Someone Who Made All the Mistakes For You

“Anthea, are those parachutes?!” my friend asked me. And just like that, I was so excited I practically shook in my dusty, busted sandals. I felt that feeling in the pit of my stomach – the one that usually means I’m about to experience an adrenaline rush. “I think they might be?” I said, looking over the edge at the dark, disappearing shapes falling through the thick, white of clouds circling the top of Mt. Fuji, leaving trails behind them. Continue reading “Hiking Mt. Fuji: Friendly Advice From Someone Who Made All the Mistakes For You”

Cuba’s Fusterlandia: Transforming a Neighborhood

Cuba and U.S. relations have improved enough that visiting is no longer impossible. One must apply for the appropriately categorized trip on their visa. Cuba is almost indescribable in less than fifty thousand words, but suffice it to say the culture, history, and nature are uniquely beautiful. And the people are unlike anywhere else – a particular kindness, and an unusual sense of safety for two women traveling alone, was a pleasant surprise. Continue reading “Cuba’s Fusterlandia: Transforming a Neighborhood”

Overgrowth in Chernobyl: Interesting Botany and Wildlife in the Exclusion Zone

What do Korea’s demilitarized zone and Chernobyl, Ukraine have in common? It may sound like the beginning to a poorly chosen joke, but it’s a sincere question with an unexpected answer. Both areas have become nature sanctuaries. Both regions are undisturbed by human activity and construction, allowing animals to flourish and plant life to return unmitigated by industry or landscaping. After the destruction of war and nuclear catastrophe in 1986, Chernobyl’s exclusion zone has seen the return of a number of species to the area, including the intentional introduction of one species. Continue reading “Overgrowth in Chernobyl: Interesting Botany and Wildlife in the Exclusion Zone”

Stained Glass, Art, and Murals in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

I’ve heard Chernobyl, Ukraine is best described as a living museum. It’s perhaps the best way to explain what is now referred to as the exclusion zone because it truly feels like even the cities decomposition is a way of preserving what happened there. The exclusion zone – the region now off limits due to residual radioactivity from the 1986 power plant accident – is largely deserted, apart from the military and scientific staff that are rotated in shifts to maintain its borders and keep a close eye out for fires or illegal settlers. Continue reading “Stained Glass, Art, and Murals in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone”

Too Old to Learn a Language? Think Again…

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Have you always wanted to learn a new language but question how realistic it is since you didn’t grow up hearing and speaking the language? I had this fear in high school and college, and for many years this prevented me from taking language classes. If I had known then what I known now, I wouldn’t have hesitated… Continue reading “Too Old to Learn a Language? Think Again…”

A Case for Living with a Host-Family, and Switching Families if Need Be

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During college, I studied abroad in Spain during my junior spring semester. I knew this was a once in a lifetime experience, and therefore I should take advantage of every opportunity given to me, including living with a host family. While this was a daunting and almost scary idea—living with people I never met who didn’t speak English—I knew that I probably would never have this opportunity again. And so I checked the box in my application requesting a family homestay. Continue reading “A Case for Living with a Host-Family, and Switching Families if Need Be”