Deciding Where to Stay based on What you Want to Do

The city in the middle with villages surrounding. When I went to West Africa, my main goal was to learn how the locals lived and get a taste for what life was like for them.

The small home on the edge of the farm on the side of a mountain. When we went to Indonesia, our main goal during my husband’s internship was to be close enough to be able to see him while he worked and enjoy the beauty of the country.

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Deciding Where to Stay based on Price

We went to Disney World on our honeymoon. It truly was magical. We decided we wanted to go back on our five-year wedding anniversary.

Five years and three kids later, we went to Disney World. Yes, we were a little crazy, but we were so excited to take the kids! We knew it would be a completely different experience, AND IT WAS! We had a blast, but in a whole new way. Somehow taking children made it a different kind of magical. We definitely want to go back.

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Confusion from the Unexpected

He sat there, looking at me. A man. His hand was outstretched toward me…longing. His clothes were tattered, frayed beyond the worst piece of used clothing I own. He was dirty and, though the area smelled of body odor from being in the big city, I imagined he smelled from lack of personal hygiene as well. I could tell he was blind in at least one eye, but his face was a bit mangled so it could have been worse than I knew.

I did not know his story. I did not know the struggles he went through. I did not know if he had any support at all. I did not know how hungry he was, and I honestly did not know how to respond. Read more

Expect the Difficult

The leaders announced it was time to call parents. Everyone traveling with me pulled out their phone cards. (In 2003, cellphones for children were unheard of, and roaming charges were crazy expensive!)

I vividly remember walking past the phone and the line of children leading up to the phone. My parents could not afford a decent phone card, so mine was to be used only in case of emergency. As I walked past the line—knowing I was not going to talk to my parents for three weeks and it really was not that big of a deal to me—I recall children crying because of how homesick they were.

Going to the United Kingdom as a teenager without your parents and without being able to contact them is quite an ordeal. But I think I was just born to travel, and it did not phase me too much. However, every child is different! Even as a teenager I knew not to judge the kids who were homesick and missing their parents. Now, having children, I know even better how different children respond to different situations. Read more

A New Normal

I woke up in a new and unusual place. The family I was staying with was very different from my own. I was surprised by how quiet it was. We had been in the United Kingdom for just under two weeks, and all we had been exposed to was cities. Cities busier and more bustling than I had ever seen coming from Alabama. Yet, here I was staying in the home of a wonderful family who lived “in the countryside.” They had opened their home to me and another student on this trip, and we were soaking up every minute of it! Read more

Close to Home

 We opened the book. The children had picked it out at the library, probably because of the vibrant colors and pictures on the front cover. They had come running up with it in the air saying, “Read it, please!” I conceded and sat on the floor. The book was shoved into my face, and the children huddled around me like they were looking at a precious gem! I opened to the first page, and their imaginations went wild. They were transported to another part of the world, in another time, and surrounded by different people. My heart was full as I reveled in their wonder and the way they clung to this new experience. Read more

For the Love of Culture!

I was thirteen years old, and my parents sat me down in the living room. They wanted to have a talk with me. Many things were going through my mind as to whether I was in trouble or if they were going to praise me for something I did. They started telling me how I had been recommended to go on a trip overseas and was accepted into a program for students that allows them to travel to countries all over the world. I was absolutely shocked! I never thought my parents would be able to afford for me to go. However, they were very open to me going as long as we could come up with the money. Thus started my love for other cultures! Read more