Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Resolutions Checkpoint: March 2015

It's the last day of March, you know what that means! Like always, I'm starting off with the progress I made towards each of my three 2015 resolutions, based on the tasks I gave myself last month. Completed tasks are in bold.

March Progress

1. Reach a high intermediate level of French.

  • Study French for 10 minutes a day, and track on yellow sheet. - Actually did really well at this, have been using FluentU nearly every day, and recently discovered a ton of awesome French music I've been listening to for hours each day! Got some children's picture books (French) and CDs from the library, too, along with "Shrek" so I could watch it in French.
  • Book 4-6 weeks at the language school in Montpellier. - Am taking 6 weeks of French classes May/June!
  • Find and book studio/room for 2 months in Montpellier on AirB&B. - Booked a place for May and June!
  • Buy plane ticket to France. - Flying to Madrid, plus booked train from Madrid to Montpellier.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Letter-Writing Campaign: Free stationery and correspondence

As y'all know, I'm a huge snail mail fan and send out letters every week to friends.

While you may think snail mailing is a solo hobby, social media has made it, well, social. (When you want it to be).

So when I think of it, sometimes I'll take pictures of my outgoing mail and tweet it with the hashtag #showandmail. I've participated in some postcard exchanges and also follow some snail mail/paper-loving blogs, like the Letter Writers Alliance and The Paper Chronicles.

Sarah Schwartz, blogger behind The Paper Chronicles (and founding editor of Stationery Trends) has an ongoing project called the Letter-Writing Campaign (LWC). It's a very simple—yet amazing—campaign. Here's how it works, in her words:
Getting involved in my campaign (and getting some free stationery) is so easy. Just send me a letter, card or postcard on your favorite paper (which is most likely gathering dust) and tell me what makes it so. 
My address is: P.O. Box 22133, Beachwood, Ohio 44122. I will share it here, and then send you even more stationery. And if you are interested in being a sponsor, please reach out … I’d love to hear from you too!
So, in February—after following the blog for over a year and meaning to write in once I was back in the states, I finally did.

The other day the post went up on her blog, and today I got the package in the mail!

The stationery she chose for me comes from Jenipher Lyn's Nightly Doodles, it's so cute and positive. Plus there were all of these other goodies included—it seriously felt like my birthday.

And the timing couldn't have been more perfect, with April just around the corner (National Card and Letter Writing Month). (Oh, which reminds me, if you want to participate in this year's #write_on, writing a letter a day during the month of April, thousands of kits with four letterpress cards have been donated again this year, so snag your free letter-writing kit here!)

So if you want to support the campaign, you can either write in to receive free stationery, or donate stationery by sending it in!

Thanks so much Sarah and Jenipher.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Average Day on the Camino

An Average Day on the Camino de Santiago

It's been almost five months now since I finished walking the Camino de Santiago, which means I'd better get writing before details escape me any more than they already have! (Don't worry, I kept a written journal along the walk, and wrote every day. This is me we're talking about here...)

I've really been missing it lately, and wouldn't mind making the Camino a yearly event. To share the love and give you a taste of what it's like, I'm going to describe an average day on the Camino.

When it comes out to people that I walked 780 km (~500 miles) in 26 days (or was it 27?), it sounds like a lot. And while it was a faster pace than others, I'm convinced anyone can walk the Camino because you do it at your own pace. The Camino is not a race. And you're walking through towns and sleeping in beds, not roughing it.

Days consist of waking up, walking, eating, talking, and sleeping. You can do those things, can't you?

So let's start early in the morning when my days typically started. Rise and shine!

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thankful Thursday: 3/19/15

Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13—read why here
I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!

I'm thankful that I have knowledge gained through life experiences that I can share with others. I think we often get it in our minds that you have to be an expert at something in order to be helpful, but really, there are probably many nuggets of knowledge that you could share with others.

Today I got to share pictures from my Morocco trip (from 5 years ago) with my mom's second grade class. And then in the evening, I served as a UW alumnus at another alumni connections event (just like what I did this fall), so current students could come around and ask us questions.

While the latter had a very low turnout (March Madness, anyone?), there were still a few people I was able to talk with (and hopefully helped) by sharing my experiences in Spain, Korea and beyond.

In a little over a week, I'll be speaking to the Spanish V classes (seniors) at my local high school about my experiences post-high school—abroad and in-country—sprinkled with life advice.

I'm thankful that I was able to pursue these opportunities to give back, and that I have something to share.

What are you thankful for today?
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thankful Thursday: 3/12/15

Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13—read why here
I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!

Since I'm still not back to regular health (threw up yesterday and have felt like I could do the same today) after nearly a month of various degrees of illness, I am very much appreciative of good health and know that I definitely took it for granted before this sick spell. (Health, I promise I'll be grateful for you if you just come back to me!)

I'm also thankful that I got to spend time with my dad and younger brother today, as pops was driving up to where brother lives for a conference, so I hitched a ride and will be staying the weekend (woo!). So cool that this worked out (I have a friend from home also going to that city for the weekend, so I've got a ride home on Sunday), because I'm not sure when I would have seen this brother next—if at all before I high tail it to France.

Finally, I'm thankful for the sunshine we've been having. It makes all the difference.

What are you thankful for today? Has your health been worthy of gratitude lately?
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

[Teach Abroad Blog Carnival] Advice letters to my past self

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL-related article on my blog at the start of every month, and the carnival is always published on the 5th by that month's host. Check back for more posts, and if you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at dean@reachtoteachrecruiting.com, and he will let you know how you can start participating.

This month's host is Holly Beddome of Adventures with Holly, which is where you can read all of this month's entries.

Prompt: Write a letter back to yourself when you were just planning your trip. Give advice, forewarning, hopes and encouragement.

I'll split this into two shorter letters, one before teaching in Spain and one before teaching in Korea. I'm keeping it really personalized and specific to my situations, so advice to other teachers would look completely different. (Note: If you want some real advice, go here for teaching in Spain and here for teaching in Korea!)

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