When I was in Georgia (the country, not the state!), I saw this interesting feature of an old house that was open to visitors.

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I learned from the tour guide that this used to be the home of a hermit who shut himself up in that little attic and had food delivered to him in that basket. My first thought upon hearing this was “I want one of those!”

What I’m going to share now is something I’ve told very few people about, simply because it seems rather unusual and I don’t think most people would understand it. But then again I’ve always been surprised by how many people have seemed to identify with things I’ve written on this blog that I thought were unusual, so I’m going to venture to write about this too. [Read the rest]

The Other Georgia

July 1, 2016

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I left you in my last post with a description of the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin, where I had a somewhat exhausting but very inspiring time. The previous year I had regretted not being able to stay in Berlin longer to see more of the city, so this year I planned to be there for a full week intending to use the couple of days before and after the Gathering to do some sightseeing. I did at least do a bit of walking around and enjoyed seeing inside the Berliner Dom as well as browsing a gigantic bookstore called Dussmann (I feel like this could be the start of a list called “You know you’re a nerdy traveler when…”), but unfortunately I found myself lacking the energy to do much else. I guess I should have given myself even more time to account for the toll of jet lag and the mental exhaustion of the Gathering. Oh well, there’s always next year!

After Berlin I made my way to Georgia to visit a good friend of mine.

And when I say Georgia, I mean the country, not the U.S. state. Since many people don’t even know this country exists, much less where it is (and I have to admit I didn’t know either until fairly recently), here’s a map that points it out nicely:

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Confession: I totally stole this image from Google. Please don’t sue me?

When I told family and friends in the U.S. I was going to Georgia (“the country, not the state,” I was always careful to specify), the most common reactions were:

  1. “Where is that?” (Hopefully the above map clears this one up.) and,
  2. “Is it safe there?”

[Read the rest]

At the beginning of this month, I traveled to Berlin, Germany to participate in the 2016 Polyglot Gathering. It was the third year of the Gathering, and my second year being a part of it.

image1For those of you who don’t know, the Polyglot Gathering (along with its more formal predecessor, the Polyglot Conference) is the physical manifestation of an online community of people around the world who have learned or are interested in learning multiple languages. The people in this community are a diverse group, but the main thing most of us seem to have in common is that we have found ways to learn languages on our own outside of school. Most of us also seem to learn languages not for the sake of career prospects or any other conventional practical reason, but more simply because we find intrinsic value in the learning itself. And many of us are downright addicted to language learning. From the point of view of the majority of people, all of these things make us seem pretty strange. We know this, and we know most people can’t understand us and our unusual hobby. But thanks to the Internet, we have found each other.

[Read the rest]

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Yes, that’s right: Everywhere is boring. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s the truth.

Everywhere, there are people who wake up at the same time every morning, eat the same breakfast, and drag themselves off to the same uninspiring jobs.

They pass the same scenery they do every day, which their glazed eyes look at without seeing.

They deal with the same annoying people at work, whose annoying behaviors pile up like dust on the surface of consciousness, until nothing but the dust is visible.

They travel home at the end of the day, whether by bus or train or car or bicycle, and drown out the stress of the day with television or drinking or sleeping.

They are the weary Everyone, and they live Everywhere: In Rome, in Tokyo, in Denver, in Moscow, in Bangkok, in Mexico City.

When starry-eyed travelers exclaim in delight how wonderful Everywhere is, Everyone replies with a perplexed expression, “Why? What’s so wonderful about it?”

But the travelers know something Everyone does not: Everywhere is wonderful.

Everywhere there is delicious food, fascinating history, beautiful nature, and interesting buildings. Everywhere there are people– kind people, funny people, interesting people, perplexing people. Everywhere there is something new to discover about the world and about yourself. Everywhere there is adventure to be had.

But when you’re just another Everyone living Everywhere, it’s far too easy to forget all this. What may have once been fascinating becomes commonplace, and what may have once been inspiring becomes mundane. Before you know it, the dust of Everyday life piles up and covers the treasures all around you.

And that is why I travel, why I can’t stay put in one place– because Everywhere is boring, but it’s also not. And I never want to forget that.


 

So, for the past few weeks my life has been a little crazy. I’ve been traveling so much I almost feel like I live in airports, but although it’s been tiring it has been worth it. After a month hopping around different locations in the US visiting several friends and relatives I hadn’t seen in far too long, I traveled to Berlin for the Polyglot Gathering, which was just as interesting and inspirational as it was last year! And I am currently in Tbilisi, Georgia (see the above photo!) visiting a good friend of mine. I will share more about some of the things I’ve been up to in upcoming posts, but just thought I’d give you a quick update for now!

Goodbye Japan, Hello USA

April 23, 2016

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“She may not look it, but actually she’s really sad that you’re leaving,” said the girl’s mother.

I knelt down to look into the face of one of my favorite kindergarten students. A shy, sensitive girl of six, she spoke perfect English and had a penchant for embellishing her handwriting with cute little curlicues. I had noticed this and taught her to write in cursive, something none of the other kids learned. We enjoyed goofing off together and had developed a special bond.

“I’m sad too,” I said, “but I know you’ll do a great job. And if I come back, I’ll make sure to visit you.”

I hugged her and almost wanted to cry. Was I breaking this poor little girl’s heart? But no, she was good and smart and talented and had a wonderful mother– she would be fine and go on with her life and probably soon forget about me, her kindergarten teacher. And I had to do the right thing for myself, right?

But was this really the right thing? Either way, it was too late to change my mind now. [Read the rest]