Eating Abroad, Eating in New Countries, Eating New Cuisines, European Travels, International Cuisines, Paris, Paris in 48 Hours, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel Europe, Travel on a Budget, Traveling

Paris in 48 Hours

Years ago, I had the chance to visit the City of Lights and fell in love.  No, not with a man. I fell in love with the city of Paris.  The culture.  The food.  The history.  The art.  This city had me amazed.  I felt as if I had gone back in time.  I loved eating Nutella Crepes.  I saw the Mona Lisa.  I went as far on top of the Eiffel Tower as they would let me.  I shopped.  I visited Notre Dame Cathedral.  I dined in cafes and drank wine as I watched the people go by.

But I only had a little over 48 hours.  If I could go back in time, I would have set more time for this city and country in general.  France treated me well.

When I arrived in France, I took a tai to my hotel (which had a gorgeous view of the city and right across the street from The Louvre) and spent time checking in.  By the time I had checked in and settled myself, I was left with an evening and two full days in the city.  That night I wandered the streets, got my bearings, and figured out where I needed to go for my little 48 hour period.

So what should you visit if you only have 2 days in the magical city?

  1. Eiffel Tower–this seems like a no brainer but what a sight to see.  Most places in the city can see this monument for miles.  I could see it from my hotel.  I could see it in the air when I flew into Paris.  I could see it from the street.  So, what should you do when you visit it?  Some words of advice: take the elevator if issues with walking or climbing, otherwise use the stairs.  Since one of my traveling companions struggled, we took the elevator to the second floor and went up an additional floor to get a better view with less crowds (the higher you go, the less people you see).  Yes, it does cost money (11-17 Euros), but it’s worth every penny.  Stop in the first floor if possible to experience the see through floor!  No worries, there are restrooms, but make sure you know the hours of operation to enter.  During my time, the very top was under construction.  However, I went as far to the top as allowed.  Breathtaking.  There are no other words.  In the words of Jack Dawson, “I’m on top of the world!”  on top of the world
    img_2677
    I could see the entire city, and that was the moment I truly fell in love with Paris, France.  There were not enough  words other than “I am returning one day.”     Check here for more information: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/smartertravel/18-things-you-need-to-kno_b_9149368.html.
  2. The Louvre–For you art or history fans, this is a must.  I was determined to see the Mona Lisa.  Gosh darn it, I wiggled and elbowed by way to the front of the crowd so I could see the iconic picture up close. Besides the Mona Lisa, I was able to go through floor after floor of historical and modern art.  I had the chance to see Napoleon’s belongings and artifacts.  One thing I highly recommend:  Do a little planning beforehand.  There are 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art on display.  There is no possible way to see everything. When I first arrived, I took a map and figured out which rooms I wanted to visit and which rooms would have to wait until another visit.  I immediately circled what I wanted to see and the floor they were on display.  I highly recommend seeing the following: The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Venus de Milo, The Raft of Medusa, Hammurabi’s Code, The Lamassu, and of course, The Mona Lisa.  While there, you will find some rooms empty while others are filled with hoards of people.  Mapping out your time first hand will help with confusion, eliminating time waste, and making sure you visit some of the most famous art pieces in the world!
  3. Notre Dame Cathedral–History, architecture, and religion. What a wonderful and beautiful sight.  One thing I loved about this place of worship–it was free!  While traveling, I found many churches charged a price to enter and look at the relics, art, or architecture.  Notre Dame de Paris was one of the few places that welcomed visitors and even allowed pictures (no flash though!).  On my second day in France, I had the chance to visit the Cathedral and learn more about it.  It. Is. Crowded.  Just a forewarning.  However, I loved once I was inside.  People were generally quiet.  The area was cooler and more peaceful.  It was nice to be in a less stressful environment.  Outside everyone takes pictures, but inside is more reserved.  When entering the church, men should take off their hats.  Ladies–please wear something appropriate.  This is not a time for midriff and breasts hanging out.  While there, I wore shorts and a tank top and was not turned away.  In Europe, it is more common for women to wear something that covers the shoulders and knees.  Although I did not find this (and people were not turned away), men were asked to take off their hat as a sign of reverence.  Remember, you are in a place or worship, so treat the area with respect.  Yet don’t forget to take pictures and truly look at the phenomenal details.  img_2681
  4. Wander–take the beaten path for a few hours. Above are three places that will easily keep you occupied for 48 hours.  However, I highly recommend spending one afternoon (or morning) shopping and wandering around the area.  While I was near the Eiffel Tower, I saw a small farmer’s market across the area.  Here I was able to talk to the locals and find some neat odds and ends.  I bought scarves and other items to take home with me. I also had the time to wander up and down the streets and look at a few boutiques.  I found one of my favorite dresses in a small boutique, and it always reminds me of Paris now.  At one point, I remember being completely lost (even with a map) down the streets of shopping.  Locals were kind enough to help me get back to my original area.  I found cafes that served scrumptious food (see my previous blog post about eating abroad) and had time to relax a bit.  My time in Paris was an absolute delight, because I was able to see non-touristy areas as well. img_2675

 

So, Paris in 48 hours.  Not enough time, but it is doable!  I loved my time in Paris, and I would return in a heart beat.
“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.” – Thomas Jefferson.
xoxo
Your Wanderer
Career, Graduate Degree, Graduate School, Job, Kids, Love of Teaching, school, Students, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Learning, Teaching and Traveling, Time Management, Traveling

Teacher and also a Student

Last year at this time, I found myself neck deep in work–completing the Ohio residency program, planning a large wedding, and finishing my masters program…all while also working full time.  As I reminisce this chapter of my life, I truly wonder now how I survived.  I had to take every day one step at a time.  I could get ahead in planning with teaching, but my nights were filled with making phone calls to the wedding coordinator and writing paper after paper for graduate school.

Here I am.  A teacher. A student. All at the same time.

So how does one work full time, attend graduate school with max hours allowed, and have a life on top of that?  What are the best and worst things about graduate school?  Are there ways to make it easier?

Let me break down the five most basic questions everyone in this position (or pondering this torture) will encounter at some point.  These are things I wish people would have helped me when I earned my degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

  1. How do I pick a graduate school and major that fits me?  Ask yourself:
    • Do I even want/need to go to school?  Yes. Read on.  No. Read one of my other posts. 😉
    • What am I good at?  What aspect of my undergraduate degree do I want to expand
    • What do I want to improve?
    • Online or Campus?  Let me recommend online as long as you can work basic computer programs.  Best. Decision. Ever.  I loved working in my PJ’s at home on my own time.
    • What can I afford?  In the good ol’ U.S. of A. we sadly have to pay most of our schooling bill.  It’s a sacrifice, but that’s the road to success.  When picking a graduate school, I looked at schools that had my major, provided online options, and would not dig me deeper in a debt ditch or contemplate paying student loans or eating.  student loans
    • Find what works for you.  Figure out what you want.  If you’re spending this money and time for another degree, it needs to meet your needs and wants.
  2. What is the workload like? 
    • Depends on your degree and work ethic.  Generally…it’s a lot. Plain and simple.
    • Can you type quickly or know shortcuts to search for key words to insert in a paper?   Can you use Google?  Sounds silly, but you’d be surprised.  Everything depends on your skills, work ethic, and time management.  For example, reading the entire text book in three days may not be likely (especially if you value your life).  However, I recommend using an online textbook.  Why? Ctrl + F baby.  Looking for a specific word or need information for a research paper. Ctrl + F.  It allows you to find what you need quickly and cut down on some time searching through hundreds of pages.  That’s graduate school.  Yes, you learn, but you have to find ways to eliminate times of waste as well.
    • Word smarter not harder. graduate-meme
  3. Is it possible for those with a family? 
    • Is It possible?   Absolutely.  Single mothers do it.  Parents do it.  Older individuals do it.  Young people with zero money in their pocket do it.
    • Sure, you’ll be busy.  You’ll need to set a specific amount of time each night (or day) to work on school work.  You may need your spouse to take care of the kids for an hour each night.  Maybe it ends up being video game time for the kiddos for that hour or two.  You’ll be exhausted, don’t misunderstand me, but it is possible.                     family and school
  4. What should I expect that no one will tell me upfront?
    • In my situation, the thing NO ONE told me about was the amount of group projects.  Oh….I LOATHE group projects!  hate hate hate                                       As I stated before, I earned my degree in Curriculum and Instruction which involved educators from around the country.  It shocked me how many teachers were lazy.  I felt like I was dealing with my students.  I found myself begging individuals to do some of the group work (as the workload was enormous since it was supposed to be split), and teachers would either not respond at all, put the work load on other individuals, or do 1/4 of the work, while I was left with the other 3/4.  What a pain in the behind. group project Furthermore, I found that professors–you know, the people who are teachers to the teachers, were giving those who did nothing the same grade as those who did all the work.  Sure, I told my professors what happened.  Yes, I explained the situations in the group evaluations.   Didn’t matter.  I only had ONE professor that graded us fairly.  You know…the way we are supposed to grade our own students.  So what’s the point of this rant?  There are things you will absolutely encounter and no one mentions–people are incompetent.  It doesn’t matter which department, which professor or peer…it happens.  The financial aid office “loses” your payment or scholarship aid.  The professor punches in the grades wrong and confuses your 96% for a 69%.  The dean stops reading your emails when you explain you’re not paying the university to edit and fix their technology issues on a daily basis.  Not like any of that has happened to me…                                      rolls eyes                                                          Hang in there folks, the end is worth it.  I promise.
  5. Is it worth it?
    • In the end (and for those of us who have to pay), yes.  Within my first 15 graduate credits, I received a pay bump.  By the end of my masters degree, I was given a more significant pay bump.  Although it may not seem huge right now, in a few years I will be making close to 10k more than those with an undergraduate degree.  Additionally, I will be making more every year as I get closer to that time where the pay gap is larger.  What about more than just the price?  Let’s talk about the fact that I did actually learn things essential to my career.  It helped me become a better teacher.  I learned new methods, technological tools, strategies, research, etc.  I came out of it more educated about my field.  Even with my frustrating time pursuing my graduate degree, I am so happy to have my degree.

Is this time stressful? Yes.

Is this time of stress, tears, frustration, dedication, and sacrifice worth it? Yes.

Learn more.  Better yourself.

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”~ Aristotle

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Eating Abroad, Eating in New Countries, Eating in New Country, Eating New Cuisines, Food, International Cuisines, International Foods, Love of Teaching, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel Europe, Travel NYC, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

Eating Abroad

Eating abroad sounds fun and exotic…except when you have the palate of a 5 year old.  I live off of coffee, donuts, and Mac & Cheese.  My tastes have not changed much since childhood.  Vegetables? Bleck.  Fruit? Eh. Candy? Now you’re talking.

Sure, I’ve had great food.  Other times I questioned why the “pea soup” was red instead of green.  I asked my traveling partners what meat we were consuming and they simply shrugged because they couldn’t identify it either.  On the other hand, I’ve had fresh fruit off the trees that made my mouth water and crepes on the streets of Paris that made me promise to return one day.

However, as a traveler, it’s very difficult to not offend the culture but also eat something you’re not familiar with or even like.  So what should I do?

  1. Know what You’re Ordering.  Ah, the days of Google Translate are here folks and with a touch of a button.  Although Google has been ridiculed at times for it’s accuracy, it is now better and smarter at converting what is needed.  Luckily, there is even an app for that. Download the Google Translate app.  Word of advice: Once you pick the language you will need on your journey, download it so you can use it offline as well.  When I was in Mexico with my husband, we were lucky enough for most menus to be translated into English as well. Not the case when I was in Europe.  Although we used a translation tool, it wasn’t much help.  With the Google translate app not only can you type in your phrases or words, but you can also take a picture as well! If you’re unsure or have dietary restrictions, use a tool to help you figure out what you may need or want.  If you’re feeling adventurous, go for it. Yet for my Vegan, Kosher, Gluten Free, etc. amigos, look up what you’re ordering first to make sure it’s what you need and avoid the added stress.  8890946c-af6e-4a80-9489-c40f6e9b53cf
  2. Grow a Pair and Try New Foods.  “Just try it!” my mother used to say to me over and over again.  Although I hate to admit it, some of my favorite foods are due to simply tasting the food. Pesto sauce–it’s green why would I like it? Tried it. Loved it.  Calamari–that sounds weird no thank you.  Tried it. Delicious.  There are so many foods that I fell in love with because I simply tried the food.  In new countries, it’s always a bit nerve wracking when trying and tasting new foods.  However, I gave myself a strict rule–eat what the locals eat.  If that means eating tacos that may in fact have burned my mouth and I began sweating in my seat and drinking a pitcher of water…hey, I tried it.  Eating locally can also mean getting to know the locals.  Through food I was able to learn more about English customs and what they ate on a daily basis.  So what were some things I tried? France–Escargot.  Germany–Wienerschnitzel and mashed potatoes (oh Mylanta, yum).  England–Chicken Tikka Masala.  Dominican Republic–Goat meat.  I found that items I hated at home were scrumptious abroad.  Sure, I found things I disliked, but I found I had a culturally sound experience through the food.  145a175f-af60-4b14-a57d-e8a7d542da4a
  3. Learn about the Eating Customs.  Sure, we like to think that our proper ways of eating are applicable to all countries.  Nope.  Sure, slurping your food here is not acceptable, but in Japan it is encouraged!  Find what your country customs include so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. As I was researching for my own trip to Rome, I found that drinking cappuccino (or any form of milky coffee) after 10 AM was pretty much a big no-no.  Good to know since I’m in a constant state of drinking coffee!  However, the more you stick out, the more people will know you’re a tourist.  Learning about the eating customs may help save you some embarrassment.  Burping in China? Shows your appreciation of the food.  Thailand–don’t even think about putting your fork in your mouth. Don’t pass food between chopsticks in Japan. South Korea only wants you to eat when the oldest member has begun.  This list continues for various countries.  Even if you were in French club in high school…learn the customs.  3d819b79-b3b5-4b34-9b66-68e579551608
  4. Research Beforehand.  If you are traveling to a country and unsure of the foods do some research ahead of time.  For instance, my husband and I are going to Italy in the summer.  Although I am an avid fan of Italian dishes, I began looking up what items I may like or things that will be new to my palate. With the ease of modern technology, we can easily find simple food items that we like, want to try, or meet our dietary needs/restrictions.  Not sure about a restaurant? TripAdvisor will give you tons of information about what is available, pricing, and reviews.  Sure, we like to think that we can find something the same, but in reality, we are out of our comfort zone.  Do a little research before your trip to find what you want, restaurants to try, and cuisines to blend in with the locals.

    img_2612
    Bakery in London
  5. K.I.S.S.  When in doubt, keep your ordering to something simple.  Do not be “that person” who orders tons on the menu to only find you hate it and waste platefuls of food.  You like chicken–look for a plate that offers chicken.  You like sweets, check out a local bakery.  Tea time in London? Try a cup–trust me, it’s way better in England.  No wonder they have a specific time of the day designated for it.  Try new things, but keep it simple and your expectations realistic.  If you have a sensitive palate (or an immature one like me), keep your eating simple and you can gradually work your way up. img_2615

 

You may not like the food.  You may love it.  You won’t know until you try.

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” ~Clifton Fadiman

Talk soon folks!

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Day in New York City, Love of Teaching, New York City, NYC in 24 hours, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel NYC, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

NYC in 24 hours

Have a day in NYC but not sure how to spend your time wisely? It’s true that the city that never sleeps is full of activity, people, and places to see. It’s hard to visit every aspect of NYC, especially in an area full of traffic and humans.

So what should I cover in a 24 hour time frame?

Here are 5 tips to make sure you get the most out of your NYC experience.

  1. Invest in Big Bus Tours (https://www.bigbustours.com).  Get to your main destinations by hopping on and off at their designated bus stops.  Yes, you’ll look like a tourist, but you need to get to your destinations easily and quickly.   I’ll be completely honest–this was a fabulous investment.  One I will use in future cities as well (the company extends to Europe, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific).  Although when I used this pass it was a snow storm and freezing, I loved that the company offered a map of the city and free headphones to listen to a guide explain each landmark and famous area.  Big Bus Tours gets you all over the city at a fraction of the cost of a taxi cab.  Tickets also offer options to Liberty Island and/or Empire State Building. Big Bus Tours
  2. See a Show.  If time permits, see a show on Broadway.  There is nothing like it in the rest of the world.  I have seen multiple shows on Broadway over various visits to the town.  Picking a matinee show allows you time to see a play and then follow it up with dinner and more sightseeing.  However, a later show allows you to do all of your sightseeing first and gives you some rest off your feet.  Tickets may be costly depending on your Broadway taste, but it is worth every penny.  212f1ebc-f6ce-4a3e-b878-def435d5da65
  3. China Town and Little Italy.  If you have never experienced this world in NYC, it is an absolute must.  You can find purses, clothing, and knick knacks for a small price, and bartering with the locals is always a fun experience.  If you are offered a price always offer something lower.  If an individual refuses, simply walk away.  99% of the time, the person will follow you out the store (and sometimes down the street) to make the sale with you.  Additionally, Little Italy has some fun restaurants with tasty food to give you some energy during your time.  In fact, it has the BEST cappuccino I have ever tasted in the Western Hemisphere.
  4. Times Square.  Talk about the hustle and bustle.  This is the area with the brightly lit signs.  You see individuals from all over the world trying to get a sneak peak of something new or a celebrity spotting.  In this area, you can visit M&M’s World, a giant Toys R Us, a two story Disney Store, and every other shopping place imaginable.  Yes, it’s crowded.  For some, overwhelming.  Yet, this is a well worth area to visit, find a place to eat, and get some great people watching time. 025e2fad-9fc4-429f-a460-1cfaa091abec
  5. Pick One Must See Destination.  Is it the statue of Liberty? Central Park? 911 Memorial Museum? Empire State Building?  Pick the one thing you absolutely want to see.  Those other areas are fun to see and easy to get to using Big Bus Tours.  Even with hopping on and off a bus, I walked close to 10 miles in my 24 hour period (Hint: use a good pair of walking shoes).  However, my must see recommendation is the 911 Memorial Museum.  I would absolutely suggest this for anyone who remembers the event and holds that time close to their hearts.  This museum is not particularly geared for kids, and the museum is generally somber and filled with silent sobs in specific areas.  It allows you to listen to telephone calls from those on the airplanes, see remnants from the crash and buildings, and view the history of the 911 plan.  If visiting, go straight in the morning when the memorial opens.  This avoids long lines and crowds of people. Whatever you pick, make sure you set time to see your destination.  Traffic is terrible and takes time to get anywhere.  With the right amount of planning and using specific routes, one can see multiple things in a short period of time! e29d6256-2915-4764-a811-0d6ca75ea71a

 

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
Tom Wolfe

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xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Love of Teaching, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel Europe, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

Travel on a Teacher’s Salary

I have traveled since I was young.  Traveling is in my blood.  Loving it is an understatement.

Do I love airplanes?  Not particularly.  How about long road trips? Eh, not really.

Yet once I’m there, I am in love.  I have been to every state on the east coast, covered most of the midwest, and multiple states on the west coast.  I was lucky enough to have a parent that encouraged traveling, immersing in culture, and trying new foods, places, and customs.  I have had the travel bug for as long as I can remember.

Yet, here I am.  Teaching.  Adulting.  How can I afford to visit different places around the world on my little teacher salary?  Sure, when I was living with my folks I had the chance to go to Germany, France, Canada, England, and over half of the U.S.  But now?  How can I do it now?

It’s not easy.  Plain and simple.

It takes planning, budgeting, and LOTS of research.  So where have I been since I left the nest and entered the working world?  Over the past few years I have visited:

  • New York City, NY
  • North Carolina (multiple times and locations)
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Ocean City, NJ
  • Mexico
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Las Vegas, NV (almost every year at this rate)

What’s next you may ask?  Italy.  Booked and Paid.

So, let’s get a few things straight–I am not making millions at teaching.  Sure, I sell things on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I’m not making a salary off of it.  During my first year of teaching, I made a whopping $23K.  Yup.  After moving districts I was able to increase that salary, but it’s not raining money in my household.

So how do I do it?

  1. Set a certain amount/percentage to be taken out of your paycheck per pay to put towards travel.  This may be $20; it may be $100, but it’s training your mind and willpower to save the money.  For me, I had to transfer this money to an entirely separate bank account that I could not easily access.  Over the course of a year, you will have enough money saved to take you somewhere awesome.
  2. Look at companies like Groupon, Funjet, Kayak, and even Orbitz.  These places allow for vacation packages–flight and hotel.  Conveniently, these places also give you the option to look at reviews, proximity to local food joints, and even distance to the nearest airport/train station.  Websites like Groupon allow you to get great deals on awesome vacation packages; just make sure you read the fine print.  If you’re not around a major city, you can have your flight altered for a fee.  Talk to a representative for more information. Mexico Beach
  3. Research. Research. Research.  When my husband and I planned our Italian Getaway, we were immediately taken aback by the outrageous prices per person.  I put my head in my hands and wondered if I was ever going to return to Europe.  We spent days researching, browsing websites, and looking at prices.  My husband soon realized that a very expensive week was followed by an insanely cheap week through Orbitz.  After searching week by week from May to August, we found the perfect week that allowed us 5 days and nights in Italy in a 4.2 star hotel with flight for $700 per person.  Woah!  It was insane.  We booked it immediately.  Look for trends in prices, seasons, and even flash deals on the websites listed above.
  4. Sign up for offers through hotels.  Sounds crazy and will fill your email box with junk mail?  I’ll be honest–yes.  Yet there always seems to be a gold nugget hiding in the list of unopened emails.  During my first visit to Las Vegas, I went through an offer to stay at the Wynn Hotel for free!  Once I went to Vegas and signed up at multiple hotels, those rewards and offers continued.  Through this, I was able to see Fabulous Las Vegas multiple times in the course of a few short years, because I only had to pay for airfare and food.  img_2572
  5. Network.  Staying in contact with friends and traveling with a buddy has allowed me to visit new places for a fraction of the cost.  I visited NJ, NC, CA, NYC, and PA because of friends chipping in together.  We slept in the same small bed, but we didn’t care.  We were able to see a new city for $50-$100.  On the other hand, having friends and family in different parts of the country also allowed for new traveling experiences.
  6. Air BnB.  When I was in San Francisco, I had my first experience with Air BnB.  Although it was different from staying in a nice hotel, it was well worth the money for a few nights of sleep.  The host was kind and provided a clean place to sleep with a private bathroom.  Quite honestly, my husband and I never saw our host, and we were in and out so often that the room was a quick place for us to catch up on sleep and off we went again.  It was half the price of a hotel in the city, and we were able to walk to various restaurants and shopping.  To get into the city, we needed an Uber but it was close enough that it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
  7. Exercise and Plan to Walk!  As a traveler, I have found that taxis and transportation are easily where the money goes down the tubes.  Vegas–walked everywhere.  I was averaging 15 miles of walking per day and only took a cab at the very end of the night when my feet could no longer handle it.  London–walked.  Paris–oh good lord, I walked everywhere.  If you’re in a city that you can easily walk around and get to point B from point A, get on a good pair of shoes and walk.  Burn off those wine and chocolate calories through the city if you can.
  8. Transportation Options.  So what if I can’t physically walk for huge amounts of time or my hotel/room is too far away?  How do I find a cheap flight? Here are some options:
    • Bus--How did I get to NYC? Bus.  I took a bus overnight there and back.  Sure I didn’t get the most restful sleep of my life, but it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than a hotel.  Just invest in some coffee when you arrive in your desired city.  Bus transportation also is a great option in bigger cities to avoid outrageous cab costs.
    • Train–Although trains are available in the U.S., it is generally as long as driving and not always as cheap as one dreams.  However, in Europe, not only was this an affordable option, but it allowed me time to relax and take in the scenery that I otherwise would have never seen.
    • Airline Promos--Look at flights on Wow Air or Skiplagged.  These places offer affordable flights in specific time windows or find loopholes in the airfare pricing to give you the best deals.
    • Flight and Hotel Packages–Want to have your flight paired with your housing for the week?  Check out vacation packages on a multitude of websites.  Personally, I have found amazing packages through Groupon, Funjet, and Orbitz.  Not only does it help eliminate costs, but it also helps eliminate the headache of planning every detail.
    • Uber/Lyft–In a big city and the distance is too far to walk?  I have been in this situation before.  Uber and Lyft offer options much cheaper than a taxi or renting a car and generally give you the cost up front.  The drivers are usually friendly, and when splitting the cost with friends, it is the way to go with transportation. Germany train station**Train station from France to Germany**
  9. Make side Money.  As teachers specifically, we have options to do tutoring on the side, sell items on Teachers Pay Teachers, or even begin tutoring kids from other countries via Skype.  I do not make tons of money off of Teachers Pay Teachers, but a few bucks here and there do add up.  Additionally, I tutor two nights a week which equals roughly $60/week.  Even a small amount like that can easily be added to your travel fund over the course of 9 months.  Lastly, I have seen many positive reviews about VPKID–flexible tutoring schedule all from the comfort of your home. We don’t see the $20 here or the $40 here as a big deal, but when we don’t touch that money and save it, we end up with a vacation during the summer.
  10. Little bit of Luck.  It’s true.  Part of traveling is luck.  You find a great deal on a hotel or flight.  You find a friend that lives in the area and crash with them for a few days.  You travel with friends who also have that travel bug to split the costs and see the same attractions for a fraction of the cost.  Part of traveling is planning and budgeting, but another part will always be luck.

Traveling is one of the best adventures and memories one can make.  There is a wide world out there.  Get out there and see it.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Augustine of Hippo

Make sure to also visit me on Instagram @TeachingTraveling.

Talk Soon Folks!

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Job, Kids, Love of Teaching, Students, Teach, Teaching

Why Teaching?

Why did I choose the teaching profession?

Was it because I loved having parents degrade my career?  How about people referring to me as a glorified babysitter?  Maybe I love politicians pulling funding from my career every year, leaving me with very little and paying for much of my classroom out of my pocket?  Summers off?  Wait…maybe it’s because I loved being demeaned in college and that my work was simply coloring and using glue sticks.  I can give you a for certain head nod that those were not the amazing reasons I joined the teacher work force.

So why did I begin teaching?

“I am a teacher. It’s how I define myself. A good teacher isn’t someone who gives the answers out to their kids but is understanding of needs and challenges and gives tools to help other people succeed. That’s the way I see myself, so whatever it is that I will do eventually after politics, it’ll have to do a lot with teaching.” ~Justin Trudeau

A little bit about your author:

  1. I said I would NEVER become a teacher.  I had no intention of stepping foot back into a classroom.  When I threw my cap in the air at graduation, I had every hope of entering the medical field and trying to erase my memories of my own schooling.
  2. I could not enjoy my current career path.  I loved interacting with people in the doctor’s office.  I loved learning new theories and information in the scientific department.  Yet, I didn’t love medicine.  Was I doing well in my studies? Yup.  Did I have friends? Yup.  Did I love it? No.
  3. I made a conscious decision that I wanted to love my future career.  Even if that meant making a financial sacrifice.  The words “teaching” kept running through my head.  I decided to take one education class to get my feet wet and see if I even enjoyed it.  I was immediately hooked.

A few years later I found myself in my own classroom.  Shaking.  Feeling like I had to puke.  Nervous about making an impact, maintaining classroom behavior in an inner city school, and wondering if I could do it.  From that first day to now, I have been loving every moment of it.

It’s true–I don’t get paid very much for my qualifications.  I not only have a bachelor of science, but I also have minors in English, Science, and Religion.  I then received my Masters degree and continued my education after that as well.  I soaked in learning about research based methods, utilizing data, curriculum mapping and planning, child psychology, and becoming a better teacher.

I love learning.  That’s why I also love teaching. 

Teaching kids the love of learning is one of my favorite parts of my job.  I love having those “light bulb” moments where they finally understand and connect the dots.

Why else do I love teaching?

  1. I love watching kids grow academically, emotionally, mentally, and as a person.  I get to have an impact on that child (that may be remembered for the rest of their life).  Woah.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  More than anything, it makes the weight of my responsibility even heavier and sacred.
  2. I chose teaching, because I can be silly and crazy.  I get students excited to learn and explore the world around them.
  3. Personal Growth–I’ve seen all backgrounds of students, which helps me get insight into different perspectives.  I’ve worked with farm kids, rich kids, inner city kids, and many more.  I’ve seen students excelling in school.  I’ve seen kids who need love, because they don’t get it at home.  I’ve seen kids with strong wills and those who are still learning to stand up for themselves.  I’ve seen kids who go to bed hungry, listening to gun shots in the street, and wake up not knowing where or when their parent will return.  It’s an emotional job.  I get attached to my kids.  I care and their problems become my own.  I stay up at night wondering and praying for their safety.  Since I’ve become a teacher, I learn more and more that my life is about others.  I’ve become more patient.  I’ve become diplomatic when conversing with parents and colleagues.  I know when to speak and when to hold my tongue.  Most importantly, I have learned from my students what it is like to come from a plethora of backgrounds and how to meet them with their needs.
  4. enjoy working with kids.  I’ll never forget as my husband was around a group of children that were not his own at a party with friends. His patience was wearing thin and he eventually had to go into a different room.  I quietly went up to him and whispered “I do this every day.”  As we came home from that party and talked about our time, he simply stated, “I couldn’t do that every day.  Even with a summer off…”  He understood.  I love working with kids, your kids.  I get excited the first day of school and can hardly sleep.  I love coming in on Monday mornings to little chatters and kids racing to tell me about their weekend.  My job is a joy.
  5. I can be a voice for those who are too afraid to speak out.  You teachers know exactly what I’m thinking about.  We have all had to report a situation to social services.  We gain the trust of the child.  We may be the only one’s that child feels like he/she can talk to or express their concerns.  We listen.  We love.  We speak up for them and we do everything in our power to give them the best life.
  6. I inspire change.  It’s hard to not let politics get in the classroom, and I do keep the classroom neutral.  However, we discuss justice, injustice, history, peace, and becoming a better person for society.  We teachers want your child to inspire change for the future and promote goodness.  In the words of Elphaba and Glinda from Wicked, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
  7. I have a purpose.  My purpose is to teach, train, and mold our future.

Teachers choose teaching, because of those seven points (there are more too).  Some want summers off, but I can assure you they hate their profession (and usually don’t last long).  I knew my profession would be difficult.  I knew I would never become a millionaire.  I knew I would have to grow and learn constantly.  I have to beat my personal best every day.  I engage, love, care, and teach kiddos daily.  I LOVE it, and I have never looked back since I chose my calling.

“Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honour for me.”~ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Teaching, Time Management

Time Management in Teaching

We work on weekends. We stay hours after school to finish grading. The work never seems to end. For those of you non teachers, that work also includes state mandated paper work, information for special education, tracking progress monitoring, and any other paper that is not just grading.

So why do we spend so much time doing work and staying after school or on weekends when we are not even getting paid?

In my first year of teaching, I felt like I was barely keeping afloat. Think of a person drowning and only their lips are above water to keep them alive. That was me. I came home every night with textbooks and grading. HOURS were spent trying to keep up with my work. The stress of my job was real and staring at me straight in the face. After an entire semester of this, I realized something had to change. Quickly.

As I moved to new positions and even grade levels I still stuck to these steps for time management. It has led me leave school on time, spend more time with my family, and reduce job related stress.

Steps to Time Management:

1) Set a Quitting Time and Stick to It! 

Set a time you leave the building and work completely, that includes no weekend work. That means turn off the emails. Turn off school notifications (unless it’s for cancelations or delays) and focus on your life outside school. Inevitably you will have to stay late for conferences or a meeting, but otherwise you stick to that schedule. I have too much work to just leave. Alright, then pick one day you stay late at school and work. All 4 days you stick to your quitting time. You have a life outside your job.

Want to reduce your job related stress? Leave your job that is causing you stress at a reasonable time.

2. Work Smarter not Harder

Did a teacher just say that? Yup.

  • Stop spending hours on your computer after school trying to come up with perfect lessons to create. If that’s not your strong point, then support another teacher by buying lesson plans or materials off of Teachers Pay Teachers. If you are good at that, keep creating those awesome lessons. You want to know why? Because you’re being PAID.
  • Keep off of social media and focus on your work and students aka put the phone away.
  • I see this daily, but we don’t realize how much time we waste. I watch teachers spend their planning period every day talking to other teachers and procrastinating. These are the same ones that stay after school and weekends, because they couldn’t finish their work. Sit in your room and work. Use your time wisely, as we would tell our own students.
    • You’re giving a test and monitoring? Use a clipboard and grade papers as you walk around the room and answer questions at the same time.
    • Kiddos are on computers practicing technology skills? Grade and fill out papers as you monitor.
  • Find when you are most productive.  For example, I am the most productive in the morning.  Many studies show that people are more productive in the morning as well.  Teachers rarely get into school earlier than absolutely needed.  Get to school 30 minutes early–make your copies when there is no line, grade when no one is in the building yet, set up your classroom so you’re not doing it during your lunch period.  That thirty minutes early allows me to leave school immediately, no weekends, and generally I only need to do this on Monday mornings to be set for the week.

Make a list of what needs to be accomplished for the week and focus on that, especially those who struggle with time management. Keep your focus on what needs to be done and work smart.

3. Assign Less Homework

Uh oh. Touchy point.

At the elementary level, homework has little to no effect on student achievement. Yup. You read that right. We send kids home with reading logs (FYI most parents don’t do and just sign off), worksheets (mostly busy work), and homework that they can’t do. We spend more time tracking down homework and berating students who did not do it, than using that time for actual teaching. If a child can not understand his or her homework, the frustration carries over to the home and back to school the next day.

But it helps carry over our work at school and helps them practice. Practice makes perfect.

  • No. Practice makes permanent. If you have a kid who struggles, they’ll just practice it wrong and you spend more time in class fixing their work and thinking process.

What if you have to give homework?

  • Than make it short and meaningful. Stop sending busy work. It sucks for the kids and you.

Middle school and High school colleagues–studies show that homework is more beneficial by this level (mainly high school). So set up your homework that is meaningful, easy for you to grade, and set aside one day for only homework grading or refer to point 2 above.

A little more on this new teaching phenomenon:

 

Only you can change your time management.  I went from working hours outside of school time unpaid to entering and leaving my classroom on time while being fully prepared for my kiddos.  I have a life outside of teaching.  Spend time focusing on what ways you waste time and eliminate it from your daily routine.  How can you work smarter and not harder?

 

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” ~Charles Richards