What to Do: Learn a Language
Monday, December 7th, 2009

[singlepic=1600,250,,,right]If you’ve ever dreamed of learning a new language, there’s no better time than on your career break!

August Flanagan, co-founder of, a startup that helps people practice conversational Spanish, has 5 tips on how to make it happen.

1. Go to a/the country where the language you want to learn is spoken.
If you are like me and want to learn Spanish, it is pretty easy to get to the Spanish speaking country of your choice from anywhere in the U.S. Frequently, flights into tourist hotspots like Cancun or Buenos Aires cost only a couple hundred dollars one way. Once you are there, you can catch either a domestic flight or a bus to just about anywhere for a whole lot cheaper than an international flight.

2. Settle down somewhere and spend time in a new community.
If you take a few months (or longer) and stay in just one place during this time you will learn a lot more of the language than if you just travel from place to place during that time.

Forming a routine means that you’ll see the same people day in and day out. You’ll stop to chat with the same store owner or vegetable vendor, get to know your neighbors, and, of course, you’ll make new friends. Which, in my opinion, is really the best way to learn a language.

When you first get to your new home try using CouchSurfing to organize a few nights out. Aside from being a website that helps you find a place to crash, CouchSurfing is a great place to meet new people in cities all over the world.


What to Do: Photography Lessons in Laos
Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Not all activities on the road need to be planned in advance.  During her travels, Sherry explored the opportunity to take photography lessons from a professional.

[singlepic=1001,200,,,right]I’ve had an ill feeling that has plagued me for the last year. I first remember it coming on in New Zealand. Then it hit me stronger in Vietnam. I was feverish about it in India. It is the feeling of being in some type of moving vehicle, traveling through a country, and seeing about 25 perfect photographs outside my vehicle window. I would feel ill thinking – “if only I could tell them to stop so I could get out and take a picture.” Yet I sat there helpless watching my beautiful shots go whizzing by, wondering if I would ever be able to capture this image again.

I would get queasy when I saw a group of people intimately interacting, simply being themselves, but I couldn’t get the nerve to go up and ask them if I could take a photograph. Instead, I would linger a bit, and then sulk off mad at myself for not having the guts to be a real photographer! The few times I did get the guts to go up and ask if I could take a photograph (fumbling through this conversation in broken English, pointing at my camera and smiling) they would normally say ‘yes’ and then give me some big, posed, toothy grin – transforming the shot from a nice little intimate, cultural gathering, to a Sears family portrait.


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