Exotic spring break adventures

To complete my semester of traveling, I took a trip to Africa and Asia. Of course, these “continents” I traveled to were merely exhibits within the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb.

Before you make fun, you must know that this zoo is amazing. I visited once before with my Girl Scout troop in elementary school, and I loved it. When I found myself with a free weekend, I somehow managed to convince my boyfriend Ryan to drive the three hours north to go look at some animals with me. You still might be thinking, “Even with cool zoo, I’m not sure I’d drive six hours round trip for some animals in Omaha.”

You may be right. I may be crazy. But this just might be just the childhood fix you’re looking for:


Meerkat Omaha Zoo

and his sidekick Pumba.

Pumba Omaha ZooA sleepy Nala with some cubs.

Nala Omaha Zoo

All the finest fundraiser dinners and zoo exhibits are sponsored by HyVee.

Omaha Zoo Hyvee

Now for the controversial part: A whole slideshow of creatures in the same evolutionary family as humans.

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Truman the Tiger on a lunch break.

Truman the TigerThese guys are taller than all those guys playing in that basketball tournament everyone seems to be obsessed with.

giraffes omaha zoo

Now, to Antarctica to see penguins.

Penguins Omaha Zoo

And back to the warmer waters for these jelly fish.

jelly fish omaha zoo

We even survived sharks swimming over our heads in the aquarium.

Omaha Zoo AquariumBut wasn’t until I arrived home, (interestingly enough at the Shawnee, Kan. HyVee store) that I saw the most frightening creature of the weekend.

jayhawk hyvee

The lesson here? Omaha has a tiger and is therefore infinitely cooler. M-I-Z.


Never stop traveling, if only in your mind

A friend passed this video advertisement along to me today. Trust me, it’s worth the three minutes.

It’s in Spanish, but the general message is easy to grasp even even if you can’t understand the words. The video depicts a futuristic middle-aged executive sitting at his desk when his assistant brings him a package. The box contains a video diary the executive made when he was a young man traveling in Peru for his future self. It’s as if he predicted as a young man he would a have successful business career, but forget about the adventures, relationships and memories he created during his international adventures. The young man walks his older self through the adventures they (he?) had. The young man then tells him, “If you’re happy, turn this video off.” The executive keeps it running. The young man then slyly says, “Ah, I see we are still here.” He reminds himself to maintain a balance in his life: find time for friends, continue learning and that he must create the succession of moments that constitute his life.

This video perfectly captures why I wanted to blog about my post-study abroad experiences. For one, I want to help those who go after me have the best experience they can. It’s easy to get caught up in the logistical details of going abroad and forget the big picture. Secondly, this is a mental exercise for me to continually challenge myself and others use those international experiences, insights and memories to make something more of the work we do when we return.

As an almost-graduate, I’m at a time in my life where I have to make some decisions about what shape I want my career track to take, where I want to live and how I see my life playing out in the future. It’s overly romantic to think my career will always lead me to foreign and exotic places. But even in the most velveeta-cheese-and-white-bread location, I can look at the world as I did when I was abroad and continue to ask questions, be curious and learn.

Pamplona Guide: Five Tips for Sightseeing and Traveling

By Laura Davison

A Mizzou student who went on this exchange program before me gave me this advice: You are never going to be as close to Spain as you will be this semester. Take advantage of that.

San Sebastían, a resort town located 45 minutes from Pamplona, makes for a great day trip to the beach.

This advice served me well. There are so many places to visit in Europe. It is easy to spend every weekend traveling to another place in Europe and not enjoy the scenery and activities that are right around you.

Part of studying abroad is getting to travel and cross things off your bucket list. But another part is learning about what it means to live, and not just be a tourist, in another culture.

I found it was most time and cost-effective to go on a few longer trips and spend the majority of my weekends going to events in and around Pamplona. I visited Italy and Ireland and spent a week in southern Spain. But most of my traveling consisted of day trips and weekend outings to Bilbao, Madrid, Bilbao and smaller towns near Pamplona like San Sebastían, Estella and Olite.

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