Latest blog entries http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/latest.html Wed, 24 May 2017 07:58:56 +0000 MYOB en-gb Let's Talk About the Absinthe Trail Part 1 http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2015/08/let-s-talk-about-the-absinthe-trail.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2015/08/let-s-talk-about-the-absinthe-trail.html

It's been awhile since I last wrote and since my last post I have visited Iceland, Palau, Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Portugal, and the Azores Islands. I have gone swimming with sharks, experienced truffle hunting, and had a boozy tour through Europe. There are many posts forthcoming, but I am thrilled to kick off my return to the blogosphere with my Absinthe Trail tale. 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-1-of-37.jpg

 

It seems that absinthe has made it (back) into the zeitgeist and is everywhere from Buzzfeed to the New York Times to NPR. I have been drinking absinthe for 7 years ever since my first date with my current beau. At first I was charmed by the seeming mystery and intricacy of the absinthe pouring ritual. A fancy glass, sugar cube, water fountain, potent alcohol? Sold. 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-3-of-4.jpg

Drinking a nice chill glass of absinthe as I write this article

 

Over time I developed a taste with preferences for certain brands, water ratio, and color type. I prefer absinthe to most alcohols at this point and it is my favorite type of drunk. It's like a lucid drunk where you are both aware that you are intoxicated and yet will still stumble into walls. Absinthe is also a miracle drink for an upset stomach and will soothe even the most achy tummy. Indigestion, mild food poisoning, borderline dysentery? Absinthe should be your go-to medicine. I am also a person who absolutely hates the taste of licorice, but LOVES the taste of absinthe, specifically absinthes of the verte (green) variety. So keep an open mind and prepare yourself for a bitter, ouzo/anise, medicinal, herbal taste with some sweetness, especially when you use a sugar cube. 

 

Now, please don't believe the hype, absinthe is not hallucinogenic. Absinthe is just a strong liquor that can best tequila (68% +/- 5% versus 38% to 40%, highest up to 55%), and even tequila is not often sipped straight, but it can be disastrous when taken as a shot. Absinthe is best enjoyed slowly and while one is feeling fancy. 

 

Absinthe was banned for almost a century before a wave of legalization eventually hit the US in 2007. A further post (couple of posts) will follow on the history of absinthe, the different types, and the collectable paraphernalia. Currently absinthe is mainly produced in the US, France, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic (although the Czech stuff is notoriously horrendous). The major producers remain France and Switzerland, although their approaches are completely different. France is much more known for the green (verte) variety with recipes from the Belle Epoque/Pre-Ban era, whereas Switzerland is known for the white/La Bleue (blanche) type and a more experimental approach with additional herbs included in the recipe. 

 

There is actually a current debate over whether or not to limit the title of Absinthe to the liquor produced in the Val-de-Travers, kind of like Champagne in France or Vinho do Porto in Portugal. The Val-de-Travers region on the Franco-Swiss border is the home of absinthe and where this particular liquor originated. One of the advocates for this designation is the founder of Distillerie Artemisia, Claude Bugnon, who argues for a distinction to be made from the falsely colored, high-thujone-content gimmicks produced in eastern Europe. More on the hows and whys later.  

 

Absinthe is colloquially referred to as le lait du Jura (the milk of Jura) in the region, a reference to the Jura Mountains surrounding the valley. 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-5-of-37.jpg

Seriously, even if you're not interested in absinthe go check out the Val-de-Travers, it's crazy beautiful

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-2-5-of-28.jpg

In case you're worried you got off track, just follow these handy, subtle signs for the Route de l'Absinthe

 

The Absinthe Trail / Route de l'Absinthe runs along the Val-de-Travers through eastern France and western Switzerland. The Jura Mountains frame this picturesque valley of quaint towns that are lined all in a row. From Pontarlier in France to Neuchatel in Switzerland, there are a string of distilleries, shops, restaurants, chocolateries, and even a mining town/attraction/restaurant that all manufacture or sell absinthe and absinthe-related products. I used Pontarlier as my hub, and my fellow and I rented a car to do our explorations. The border between France and Switzerland is almost ridiculously lax and I'm not quite sure if it ever closes, so car tours are definitely doable. 

 

For those interested in a truly boozy tour without worrying about getting pulled over or arrested, you can hop on a "Land of the Fairies" train tour that starts from Neuchatel

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-3-of-37.jpg

 

Gifts and Absinthe!

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-21-of-37.jpg

A VERY stylized map of the Absinthe Trail at the Maison de l'Absinthe in Môtiers

 

As a heads up, this is not a typical tour and it is most certainly not a tourist trap. This is in fact the complete and utter opposite of a tourist trap. Not many folks go around this region and so distilleries, restaurants, and stores open and close at random times and days. The robust underground nature of the Swiss absinthe culture continues to this day with small-scale operations that can be hard to find and owners that can be difficult to get in touch with. This is a tight-knit community that functions best on word-of-mouth and personal connections. You get in good with one person and they will pass the word around. All of the members of the official Absinthe Trail community are friends, colleagues, and partners. 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-11-of-37.jpg

 

Absinthe coffee and desserts at the Asphalt Mines in the Val-de-Travers

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-10-of-37.jpg

A delightful chocolaterie in Noiraigue, the farthest town from Pontarlier on the Route de l'Absinthe

 

You will also be saved a lot of frustration if you just accept the fact that any plans you make will fall through. Knowing that your plans and ideas of a day will be thwarted at every turn will hopefully allow you to accept each closed store and cancelled tour with aplomb. Many of the distilleries are run by the owner in their kitchen or garage and they have errands to run or breaks to take. The official brochure does not accurately list all of the visiting times and so it is best to just call ahead to schedule tours and meetings. Even some of the "stores" listed are not stores, but actually people's homes.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-2-12-of-28.jpg

 

This was listed as a ceramics shop and display center for absinthe fountains called Ceramique d'Art and was instead someone's home

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-2-13-of-28.jpg

 

Worried I was in the wrong place until I saw this, and even still questioned whether or not someone was trolling me

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-2-16-of-28.jpg

 

SUPER friendly ceramics lady offered us free absinthe, food, and was ready to chill with us for the whole afternoon

b2ap3_thumbnail_absinthe-trail-2-17-of-28.jpg

Denise Prisi's ceramic work station in her home

 

This is not to say that we did not have an absolutely delightful time on our trip. There is a lot to be said for having intimate experiences that can never be recreated through a pre-determined tour. I cannot express enough the enthusiasm, friendliness, and interest these folks shared and showed to us. As Americans, we were novelties and eventually became known as the "American friends" by multiple people. 

 

And there is no way that I would knock the free flowing absinthe generously offered by all the locals that we met and hung out with. 

 

Stay tuned for the upcoming parts of my posts on the Val-de-Travers that will cover our itinerary, tips, and the outdoor fairy fountains that were by far one of the highlights of the entire trip. 


Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) Travel Tue, 11 Aug 2015 19:14:06 +0000
Antalya and the Turkish Riviera http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2014/07/antalya-and-the-turkish-riviera.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2014/07/antalya-and-the-turkish-riviera.html
b2ap3_thumbnail_Antalya2.jpg
 
 
We return to Turkey for this post. After a year away, I am feeling incredibly homesick. With all of my travels this summer to Southeast and East Asia, I cannot seem to shake Turkey fever. Merhaba (hello) is the first word that pops into my head as I walk into a coffee shop in Lhasa. I constantly need to stop myself from asking nasılsınız (how are you?) as I walk down the streets of Chiang Mai. I miss looking out at the towering Taurus Mountains from either of my balconies in Alanya. I yearn for that fresh smelling combination of mountain and Mediterranean that buffeted from all directions. Most of all I miss Alanya Kalesi. When this castle was all lit up at night, it was the beacon that signified home. Driving along the Mediterranean Coast as the Alanya peninsula slowly grew into view, the golden fortress wound like a glittering snake atop the dramatic cliffs.
 
Sunbeams in Alanya on the Kale

With all this in mind, I wanted to go over some of the highlights from the Antalya, Side, Perge, and Alanya areas. Between beaches, caves, ruins, markets, turquoise water, pirate boats, waterfalls, food, and countless other sights and activities, you will never lack for an adventure no matter what kind of traveler you are. The best part of this area is that it is a gem amongst Europeans, specifically UKers and Scandinavians, but virtually unknown to the rest of the world.
 
Here is a quick overview of the highlights from each of the main areas in the Antalya region:
 
Antalya
 
I want to lead with my favorite piece of trivia from this area: Santa Claus was born in Antalya! Nicholas of Myra, who later became St. Nicholas who even later morphed into a jolly large man who likes to dress in red, was born in Demre within the district of Antalya.
 
Not quite Santa Claus in Antalya

Your first stop in Antalya should be the Kaleiçi, the Old City. The winding streets are filled with restaurants, shops, and hidden mosques. Take the time to walk down to the harbor and eat plenty of seafood.
 
Mosque in Kaleici in Antalya

Do not forget to pick up some freshly blown bright blue nazar (evil eyes) for good luck!
 
Firing up some nazar in Antalya

Perge
 
Sign into Perge outside of Antalya

These are gorgeous ruins that are located on the outskirts of Antalya. Not as touristy as most places, so you will have plenty of photo ops free from random people walking by. The best way to get here is to rent a car (and maybe a driver) since not many buses stop in this area.
 
Deserted and perfect for photos: Perge

Fairly intact ruins in Perge

If you rent a car for the day, you might want to also make a trek up to Termessos, an ancient city set amidst a forest, or go over to Aspendos, which houses an impressive Roman theatre.
 
Side
 
Directions in Side

On the way from Antalya to Alanya, you cannot help but pass by Side. While a bit more touristy, it has breathtaking ruins right on the coast. There is a fun shopping center that you have to walk through to get to the Temple of Apollo. Keep your camera in hand as you wander around the magnificently preserved ruins all around the city.
 
Theatre in Side, though not as large as in Aspendos

Market on the way to the Temple of Apollo in Side

Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo by the sea

Make sure to order some dondurma from a street vendor. Shoot a video or at least snap a few pictures as the vendors show you the full elastic power of this delicious Turkish ice cream.
 
Dondurma in Side

Alanya
 
View from the lookout point over Alanya

My home for a year; where to start? First thing is to head up to the Kale (Castle). You can either get a cab or take a bus. After you have taken panoramic views of Cleopatra Beach, head down and stop by Dizdar Garden for the best kahvaltı (Turkish breakfast) in town. An assortment of cheeses, breads, olives, fruit preserves, and a whole host of other delicious dishes await you in a meal that can be eaten any time of the day.
 
Cherry blossoms in Alanya

Looking out over Cleopatra Beach from the top of the Kale

The great spread of kahvalti at Dizdar Garden

Close up of some of the variety of dishes including fruit preserves
 
Afterwards, you should walk all the way down to the harbor as you admire the shifting views of the city. This is a great opportunity to book a boat tour. Either go for the smaller boats that concentrate on dolphin sightings or opt for the gigantic pirate boats that feature some form of Viking/Pirates of the Caribbean theme. Both will give you the chance to go cliff diving and swimming with sea turtles, as well as provide phenomenal seafood for lunch. Do not forget to haggle!
 
Dolphin boat in Alanya

Pirate boat in Alanya

Getting a different view of the Kale and ship docks 

Lit up at night, Alanya twinkles

The winding snake begins at the Red Tower

Finally, spend plenty of time on Cleopatra Beach and explore Damlataş Cave. Cleopatra allegedly sunbathed here once upon a time, hence the name. As for Damlataş Cave, it is famous for maintaining the same humidity throughout the year and is great for healing people with breathing issues.
 
Cleopatra Beach sunset

Damlatas Cave

This is only the tip of the iceberg for Alanya, so have fun exploring and discovering your own little hidey holes.
 
I traveled around the region completely on my own which gave me the flexibility of not being tied to a tour group, but it left me to my own devices whenever anything went wrong. If you are interested in an ideal mixture of personalized experience tailored to your interests but with all the hassles of travel already taken care of, you might want to consider going with a tour agency like First Choice. This company can arrange everything from an all-inclusive resort (which Turkey is famous for) to a more local-style apartment. Aside from the Antalya region, travel agencies also operate around Izmir, Bodrum, as well as Dalaman, and most other areas of Turkey. You can even book a tour to Cappadocia, one of my personal favorites, and live it up in a Mars-like landscape with fairy chimneys and hot air balloon rides.
 
In any case, I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane and that this post will inspire you to take the leap into Turkey. 

This post has been contributed by First Choice.
Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) Travel Fri, 18 Jul 2014 01:06:00 +0000
My Freelancing Adventures: HelpGoAbroad http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2014/07/my-freelancing-adventures-helpgoabroad.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2014/07/my-freelancing-adventures-helpgoabroad.html
 
 
b2ap3_thumbnail_HelpGoAbroad.png
 
 
 
 
b2ap3_thumbnail_Profilepicture-2.jpg
 
Making a living as a freelance writer is not always easy and I often have to take what comes my way. However, sometimes I get lucky and I end up working for an interesting company that encourages travel. Enter HelpGoAbroad
 
HelpGoAbroad is a website that provides a platform linking travel programs, such as study abroad, teach abroad, volunteer abroad, and intern abroad, with people who are interested in going overseas. Websites, non-profits, schools, universities, and any other organizations that promote travel programs and courses are encouraged to post on the website. These programs are then reviewed and rated by past participants so that people who are interested have an accurate picture of what to expect and which programs will suit their needs. You can find everything on the site from volunteering with sea turtles to interning abroad in top businesses in China. 
 
HelpGoAbroad also has a section for overseas and international positions in a wide variety of fields, including nursing, teaching, business, and journalism. If you are ready to make the leap to becoming an expat, then that would be a great section for you to explore. There is also a community section which allows people to create profiles, swap stories, and make friends, almost like a travel Facebook. You can even create discussions by asking questions in a communal forum on any subject related to going abroad. 
 
There is a blog section where current travelers (including me!) post articles on various aspects of moving, living, traveling, studying, and working abroad. This is a way for readers to get a sense of what they have to look forward to and which pitfalls to avoid, like not getting food poisoning. You might want to even consider becoming a blogger for HelpGoAbroad. Just pitch some articles and if your first couple of contributions receive a lot of traffic, then you could become a paid contributor. 
 
I am currently both a contributing writer as well as a web moderator, so I am familiar with the website’s inner workings. HelpGoAbroad endeavors to provide only quality listings so that applicants will have access to legitimate programs, and so that companies are assured that they will receive serious inquiries and applications. 
 
This is a new project, but it is one that I am extremely excited about. Follow me here for more of my blog posts and be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed so you do not miss any new ones. 
 
Check out HelpGoAbroad and work to build a successful and collaborative community!

Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) Personal Mon, 07 Jul 2014 07:41:00 +0000
Director Interview: The Road Home http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2014/04/director-interview-the-road-home.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2014/04/director-interview-the-road-home.html
 
 
Like two peas in a TCK pod, my interview with director Rahul Gandotra felt more like a conversation between old friends. He began by insisting that I detail my laundry list of homes while he then attempted (mostly in vain) to memorize every city that I have ever lived in. It was a remarkable gesture and it set the tone for the rest of the inter/sation. I did not even get a chance to glance at my prepared questions as we flowed from topic to topic. Gandotra is a gregarious person, and our two hour discussion covered everything from cultural issues and societal constructions to romance, jet lag, and food.

Outgoing and inquisitive, like many Third Culture Kids, Gandotra focused as equally on my background as he did on his film "The Road Home". The film was shortlisted for the 2012 Academy Awards and was directed by Gandotra as his thesis presentation for a Master's Degree from the London Film School. Similar to Pico, Gandotra was born and partly raised in the UK before being sent to a boarding school in India. The same boarding school from this film. He continued to bounce around and is now (temporarily) settled(ish) in London.

This is a particularly poignant film for international students, military brats, diplobrats, and other TCKs. Gandotra channeled his own experiences into creating a film that explored the issues of identity, nationality, and racism. There are not many films that so accurately depict what many TCKs go through; namely the removal of our ability to identify ourselves. Whatever we may appear ethnically or whatever our passports might say, we grew up in a multitude of cultures that put together still do not fully encompass where we are from.

b2ap3_thumbnail_the-road-home-03-woodstock-school-pico.jpg
Pico, the protagonist: credit "The Road Home" website
The opening of the film is particularly striking as the protagonist, who is ethnically Indian, appears on screen in white face. It was a perfect way to express how the little boy feels internally and how this self-perception is challenged by his appearance. This was actually a continuation of a cut scene but it definitely had the strength to stand alone. The director also wrote some of his own quirks into the main character such as a discomfort with Indian food and a lack of understanding the local language. He added some wicked commentary on foreigners assimilating into the Indian identity despite having no ethnic, national, or cultural ties.

In "The Road Home" Gandotra addresses the issue of being an invisible immigrant. This is Pico's internal primary conflict and one he struggles with during the entire length of the film. This is a struggle that many TCKs experience when they return to their passport or heritage countries. When you look like you belong, locals tend to judge you more harshly when you fall short because you did not meet their expectations. This was an issue that Gandotra struggled with even when he returned to India as an adult to shoot this movie.

b2ap3_thumbnail_the-road-home-06-mussoorie-himalayas-running-away.jpg
 
"The Road Home" is a film about a little boy named Pico who has been shipped off to a boarding school in the Himalayas. Having grown up in England and being culturally British, he is teased and bullied by other students who do not understand why he does not accept his Indian heritage. They insist on labelling him while removing his ability to self-identify. Pico eventually decides to run away and return to his family in the U.K. Along the way, he encounters various groups of people from all backgrounds who continue to resist his perception of himself as British. Follow Pico to find out whether he makes it to New Delhi and if he learns to ignore all of the voices clamoring to label him. Find the trailer above and if you go to the official website, you can watch the whole short film for free

Gandotra plans on directing a full length feature that hazily centers around the same premise but with lots more chase scenes, action, and intrigue.


*SPOILER ALERT*



*STOP SCROLLING IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE END*



Some people who saw the end of the film thought that Pico's return to the school and his brushing off of the bullies was due to the fact that he accepted his Indian heritage. In the interests of full disclosure, Gandotra did express that this was not what he intended by the ending. His directorial intention was to show that Pico no longer cared how others perceived him because he had gained confidence in himself. Pico knows who he is and where he is actually from so it does not matter what other people think or believe.

The ending was supposed to be a commentary on how while we cannot stop someone from making snap judgements, we can stay true to who we know we are and the identity that we claim ourselves. That was for you Gandotra! 

Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) General Wed, 09 Apr 2014 10:41:00 +0000
The Shock of Being Grounded http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2014/01/the-shock-of-being-grounded.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2014/01/the-shock-of-being-grounded.html
b2ap3_thumbnail_P1020088.JPG

This is the third time I have tried to complete this post. 
I have color coordinated the entries for easier convenience. It is now 2014 and, thankfully, I am not in the same state of mind I was when I last touched this piece. I am in a better place and I do not feel quite so despondent. I will not write about the shattering event that took place at the end of September and through mid-October, nor some of the other more personal blows that continued to rain through until early December. I am reentering the world, and it seems the internet world is no less daunting than the real. More so in some ways. But, that is why I am finally publishing this weight off my chest. A post that has mocked me for months will finally see the light of the interwebs. So be kind. Please. 

(Try #2) October has been one of the most difficult months of my life. A combination of reverse culture shock, loss, disappointment, exhaustion, computer troubles, sickness, feeling trapped and overwhelmed has led me to just want to run away from life. Have you ever gotten that tightness in your chest, your stomach in knots, and tears about to course down your face at the slightest provocation? That is how I feel daily. I just cannot quite seem to catch a break. If something can go wrong, it has and I am just waiting for the wheel to turn so that I can come up on the other side. I do not usually write posts that are so personal but if I do not get all of this off my chest, I feel like I will burst. I started this post a month ago and nothing has resolved, everything has only gotten worse. Here's hoping November does not frighten me quite so much as October has.

(Try #1) It starts with the little things. The air ceases to smell of sea and sand and mountain. People walk farther apart and with more care to personal space. Language suddenly becomes familiar and it is unnerving to be able to understand the surrounding conversations. Roads and shops are cleaner, more sterile. Plugging back into the Matrix with television, media, high(er)-speed internet, advertisements everywhere all forming a cacophony cocoon of white noise. Most of all, actively having to check the time because the daily Call to Prayer no longer acts as a universal  grandfather clock. 
 
(Reverse) Culture Shock crept up slowly, stealthily. It camouflaged itself in the excitement of returning to what I thought was familiar. I gorged myself on all the food previously unavailable to me (I'm looking at you, Pork Products), franchises that stoked my nostalgia (Chipotle with an ice-cold Corona), and the markedly cheaper alcohol variety. What a novelty not to have to translate every ingredient in the store and convert pesky measurements. Such a relief to no longer need a VPN to use Netflix or Hulu. I shopped, I visited, but mostly I lost myself in the stress of moving. Apartment hunting, flights, moving vans, packing: all of the millions of little tasks that add up to fill up two months. You forget to think about what you left behind when you are so concentrated on where you are going.
 
Then came the beginnings of unease. For the first time in my life, I actually had to furnish an entire apartment with furniture. Really think about that. I have never had to buy or own furniture in my entire life. Either my parents picked up odds and ends from wherever we happened to be for that year or four or the State Department provided the basics. Barring an odd table here or there, I just used what was already there or given to me. I had to think about matching furniture and making sure that what I bought was both with budgetary bounds (read: cheap) and of a good enough quality that it could last years. YEARS, maybe even a decade. I have boxes full of useless ticket stubs, stuffed animals, books, and clothes that I may not (definitely won't) wear again. Somehow all of those boxes hidden away in storage/symbolic-room-in-the-parental-nest seemed to weigh less than the heavy, grounding elements of a couch, two mattresses, two bed frames, five bookcases, three side tables, one coffee table, one dining table and four chairs, lamps, fancy paintings, two dressers, and one cocktail cabinet. 
 
After that it became harder and harder to ignore feeling displaced. The portions are so big here. I forget which language to say thank you in. And most of all, the religion. In spite of having been surrounded by mosques, headscarves, and before that prayer flags, incense, temples, nothing quite matches the judgmental fervor of certain religious sects around this area. I see people standing around with signs calmly stating that I will burn in Hell. 
 
In most other areas of the world, I am considered an outsider and therefore exempt from local religious practices. As long as I am respectful and considerate, people are pretty much content to worship or celebrate in their own way and I am welcome to participate or not as I choose. Here I find the choice removed from me. By virtue of my lifestyle and (lack of) belief I am thrust into the position of opposition rather than just an outsider minding my own morals. It is exhausting treading in this world that is so different from the exclusive-but-welcome-to-awkwardly-participate world of most other religions and cultures. 
 
It is easy, really easy, to feel overwhelmed in a place that is both familiar and unexpectedly alien. Finding a routine that works around the frustrating closing of shops at 5PM and on Sundays. Trying to explain that my small town in Turkey had a larger population during their off-season than the entire year-round population of this "city". Finding that the wildlife population has a vendetta against humans and have concocted nightmarish creatures that sting, bite, infest, and devour unwitting victims. The South, I have found, is a daunting place.
 
Isolation is an issue for me. I am an extrovert to the point that I find constant proximity to people comforting. I don't necessarily need to be engaging in conversation the whole time but I do like being in an environment where I can ease in and out of interaction at will. The lack of a comprehensive and reliable public transportation system puts a damper on being able to move around in complete autonomy. You need a car to get anywhere and I resent feeling dependent on/chained to a machine. Plus, everything is so spread out, in spite of the tiny population, that walking is out of the question and the humidity removes the option of a bicycle unless you want to look like you took a shower en route.  
 

I miss feeling weightless. From two suitcases to one to usually a backpack, for the last three years it has been so easy to drop everything and go.

Flight comes easy, it is being grounded that is so difficult for TCKs. 
 
 
 
 
 

Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) General Mon, 13 Jan 2014 12:26:00 +0000
Top Ten TCK Quirks Part 2 http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/10/top-ten-tck-quirks-part-2.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/10/top-ten-tck-quirks-part-2.html
Due to the popularity of the Top Ten TCK Quirks, I decided to make a part 2! Enjoy:
 
  1. Our tolerance threshold is higher than most people
 
Remember that time your parents took you to see Komodo dragons on a tiny island in Indonesia and you had to sleep on the floor of a concrete building with rats running over your face? Yeah, I was seven years old. 
 
TCK childhoods: Dodging gigantic flesh eating insects since we were in diapers (gif credit Eric Linn)
 
Most adult travelers have crazy ridiculous stories of uncomfortable living conditions, but we started those when we were toddlers. As a result you can throw us anywhere and we will make do, even if we are in cockroach/rat/lice infested territory.
 
  2. Our willingness to experiment with peculiar foods 
 
We have grown up in a variety of places with a variety of very distinct culinary tastes. If you were picky, then you were rude. The last thing your parents would allow was rudeness in a foreign culture. Therefore, you learned to eat anything and everything. 
 
Ignore the outrageous stereotype of this gif

 

Most people's reactions

 

Ours.
 
  3. Our ability to pack on a moment's notice
 
We never knew when our parents' would decide to drag us off to go hiking or snorkeling or exploring some sort of Temple of Doom. Once you are overseas, it is easier to travel around for short weekend trips and so we learned how to pack quickly and with maximum flexibility.
 

 
  4. Being unfazed by a ridiculously convoluted flight schedule
 
Flights can be pretty hectic and international flights doubly so. From the time we were in diapers we could navigate the most insane flight schedule including gate changes, delays, and cancellations. We know all the tricks to sweet talk our way onto another flight ahead of the rest of the pack. 
 
The rest of the pack

TCKs
 
  5. Our rooms and apartments look like a flea market exploded
 
When you move around a ton, you tend to pick up a lot of stuff. It doesn't matter that your parents made you put most of your belongings in storage during each pack-up phase; you can't help having accumulated a curio shop's worth of souvenirs from every place you ever lived. We then take those once forgotten dusty objects and sprinkle them around our dorm room or apartment leaving us with no need to trouble IKEA or Pottery Barn for generic decorations.
 

 
  6. Our film and music tastes are very diverse
 
If you are exposed to a variety of sights, smells, and sounds from an early age, then your tastes are bound to be influenced by your upbringing. TCKs tend to have a wider knowledge of foreign language films and music, so do not be alarmed when you check out our playlists/netflix queues.
 
You're welcome world: YATTA youtube
 
  7. Comfort food
 
You have five or more types of comfort food, all from different countries. Depending on where you are and what you are going through, you will be craving one or more impossible dishes that only exist in one place in the world. Good luck. 
 
Sadly, the food never magically appears in your fridge to your great disappointment
 
  8. You have a pet that is more traveled than most people
 
At one point your parents decided that you needed some point of stability in your otherwise unstable life, so they got you a pet. This dog/cat/parrot/reptile would go on to follow you to every subsequent assignment. These animals never understood how they could go from frolicking in wine country in France to exploring cow dung in North India to creating sand angels on the beaches in the Philippines. Ignorance is bliss to the happy animal and you could not have asked for a better companion.
 
They approached each new assignment with the enthusiasm of this duck
 
 9. You have been in the care of an ayah at some point in your life
 
Early on your parents no doubt discovered the joys of inexpensive household help that is usually available overseas. Off you went into the loving arms of an ayah (nursemaid) who most likely taught you her/his native tongue. They were like another parent and you are still grateful for how well they cared for you.
 
 
  10. You have been called different terms of endearment in different countries 
 
Beta/Beti (Hindi), Jei Jei/Ge Ge, Mei Mei/Di Di (Mandarin), Mui Mui/Dai Dai, Jeh Jeh/Gau Gau (Cantonese), etc. At some point, either visiting a friend's house or at a social function with your parents, people have called you a term of endearment that you just learned to roll with. Just like you learned how everyone (EVERYONE) is an Auntie or an Uncle; it never mattered that they were not actually related to you or that you just met them.
 
Saying an awkward hi to someone you just met at an official function but your parents insist you've known for ages
 
I hope you enjoyed part 2. Let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments and check out my Tumblr page for some TCK and expat gifs: Unsettled TCK Tumblr

Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) General Tue, 01 Oct 2013 10:30:00 +0000
Guest Post: Erin the TCK http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/09/guest-post-erin-the-tck.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/09/guest-post-erin-the-tck.html
Erin and I reuniting for the second time ever in Hong Kong!

She fully embraced life in India, stray puppy and celebrating Holi included ;)
This is a guest post by the wonderful Erin Vignali. I missed her by a year when I moved to the Philippines my senior year. We ended up meeting because she knew a family that I knew when I lived in New Delhi and, after sitting across from one another at a reunion dinner, we hit it off immediately. Enjoy!  

And, if you are not already familiar with TCKs, here is a list of my Top Ten TCK Quirks
 
Before the age of 14, I had little to no awareness of how white I really was and how that lack of melanin would determine people's impressions of me for the rest of my life. I was born in my parent's childhood home of Queens, New York, but by the age of six, before I could form any lasting attachment to the culture there, my family had already moved to our first overseas home, The Netherlands. My school was extremely international and despite our diversity in culture, language, and appearance, our age coupled with our international setting made us blind to our differences. Our next two moves, Singapore and Japan, put me in American schools which led to a difficult adjustment period culturally but did allow me to physically blend in. However, for my sophomore year of high school, we moved to the Philippines and I ended up in a school which was comprised of a predominantly Filipino demographic.
 
My whiteness was constantly pointed out; how I didn't tan very well and how red my face got when I was hot, sunburned, embarrassed, or any number of other actions that my sensitive skin decided to display. They had fun pointing out my differences, poking fun at the white girl, telling me I blended into the white walls of our lunch room. One friend eloquently defended me by explaining that I was far too red and splotchy to blend in. Yes, thank you teenage acne. If I did something dumb or goofy, it was because I was white. Often times I felt like some animal on display, a side show freak at the circus for entertainment. I remember going to the mall one time with one of the three white girls in my year and how we sat in the food court for over an hour complaining about how hard it was being white in our school. We knew we couldn't talk to anyone else about it. Try telling a non-white person how difficult it is to be white... Think Chris Rock in "The Longest Yard", "Hey! You're white! Smile!"
 
Eventually, I figured out how to blend (not into the walls). I joked with them, "Haha I know. I glow!!" A line I still use here in India with my local boyfriend and friends. Thumbs up for self deprecation as a survival technique.
 
But regardless of how much I dealt with because of my skin colour I still had a lot of friends outside of my race, something that changed dramatically when I moved to Massachusetts for university.
 
Having grown up overseas since the age of 6, with most of my life spent in Asia, I was most comfortable around what I considered my "fellow" Asians. I was uncomfortable with how white my school was, I was confused by racism and the separation of students by skin colour. And to make matters worst, I was ostracised even by my white peers whom found me difficult to relate to on account of my upbringing. During orientation, an African American guest speaker encouraged students not to judge their minority peers in thinking that their race was the deciding factor in their acceptance. I look around the room, deeply confused, "That's a real thing?!"
 
Different student clubs were introduced to us during orientation and none caught my eye quite like the Filipino student club. I wanted nothing more than to join and I even spoke to one of the members who encouraged me to join but even his kind words couldn't get me over the fear of being judged. Throughout my time there, I tried desperately, to no avail, to befriend other Asians students. I had lived in their ancestors homes longer than they had but I still wasn't right. My Chinese American roommate took me out with her Asian friends one night for ice cream, somewhere over the course of the conversation, I found an opportunity to bring up my Asian upbringing. I imagined that my words would melt their hearts, that I too would be seen as Asian American and that they would take me into their arms with a big hug, "Come here, you honorary Asian you!!" Instead, I got an odd glare and awkward silence. Oops.
 
While there, one of my closest friends was a devout Christian, African American girl from the South, that had lived her entire life in the US. As a lapsed catholic, whiter-than-snow girl from Asia, you may not think we had much to talk about but the one thing that brought us close was that we were both uncomfortable around large populations of white people. Now, I wouldn't say I'm a self-hating white person but I am definitely uncomfortable around my own kind. I came from a graduating class with four white people out of a 150 something. Where I came from, I was the minority and that's how I was comfortable.
 
I eventually left Massachusetts, despite the few close friends I had made. I couldn't fit into a place where the non-white people wanted nothing to do with me and the white people constantly told me that I looked normal but I wasn't.
 
I wound up moving back to Japan, my childhood home, for a one year study abroad. I soon learned that my TCK upbringing and my international friends as a child were a far cry from real life in Japan. The first year there, I stayed with a host family and befriended some more study abroads from the main campus in Philadelphia, three of whom were African American. Thinking I had blurred the lines of separation that kept our races apart in the US, I was truly enjoying my new life in my old home. Then one afternoon, as we were hanging out in the cafeteria, the three girls spotted some African American guys they wanted to chat with. One girl turned to the others and said, "Should we take snow bunny with us?" Gestured at me and laughed. Ironically, this girl's mother was white. I remained friends with one of the girls but separated from the rest and searched for new friends. I finally found a good group, almost all of whom came from mixed ethnicity backgrounds and had gone to international schools their whole life. A semester later, I decided to matriculate as a full time student and began apartment hunting.
 
When I finally found an apartment that would accept a foreign tenant, my agent scheduled a meeting with my landlord. Before going, I put on a conservative outfit, took the cross off my neck and bought thick foundation to cover the tattoo on my foot. I desperately tried to eliminate anything that he could possibly judge me by. While in the lift, my agent turned to me and said, with no more hesitation than you would say your own name, "Please say this to your landlord [Japanese phrase]. It means, "I am a good foreigner."" When we arrived at my landlord's apartment, his wife answered the door. Before letting us in some chatter went back and forth between her and my agent. They were discussing, of all things, whether or not a foreigner like me would be able to understand the extremely complicated garbage system in Japan (despite the highly detailed, colour coded, English translation they give you prior to moving in). To make matters worse, when we were finally allowed into the apartment, my landlord gave me a long lecture concerning his complex views of foreigners. By the time his speech was over, I learned that he was a proud racist who really liked Americans but hated Australians, New Zealanders, and a few others I can't remember. He never said why.
 
In the four years I lived there, I dealt with the many nuances of Japanese life that kept foreigners from being viewed as equal. There were protests and rallies for limiting our rights. More than once a complete stranger cursed me out for being a foreigner. My Japanese textbook featured a skit of a foreigner getting refused service by a real estate agent solely because of their nationality. Japan was such a big part of my childhood but as an adult, I felt more and more that I was unwanted. It was as if a part of my identity was being torn from me.

Showing multinational pride!
After graduating university and spending some time in Hong Kong with my parents, I moved to India to return to a children's home I had volunteered with in the summer of 2008 and 2009. India is where I'm writing you from today. The racism is slightly better here. I'm thankful that I'm not Irani, a population the Indians trust even less than the average foreigner. But the judgement is still there - I'm white and white women are lose. We live apart from our families so naturally, we are not at all close to them. My pleas for them to understand that I speak to my parents everyday and that my cousins are like my brothers and sisters are either met with shock or a polite nod, partnered with a half smile.
 
It's a bizarre twist of the TCK life that the racism experienced overseas will never make you feel quite as lonely as not fitting in in your supposed home country. For me, growing up as a white TCK, no matter how long I dealt with the discrimination, I always held out hope for people to see me like I see myself - no race, no accent, no nationality. In September, I'll be moving to London for my Master's. I'm not sure how I will handle being around that many white people, especially English speaking ones. But I still hold out hope; hope that one day, I'll meet someone who sees me for who I truly am: Not simply an American, or white, or foreign, but Dutch, Singaporean, Japanese, Hong Kong Chinese and Indian. A TCK.

Quite possibly the cutest picture of a person on a yak ever.
If you enjoyed this guest post, please show Erin some love by leaving comments! And if you want to read about another TCK, here is a link to a guest post by my lovely friend Tara who I know from Chennai: Tara in Thailand
 

Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) General Fri, 20 Sep 2013 10:18:00 +0000
A Farewell to Alanya and Turkey http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/06/a-farewell-to-alanya-and-turkey.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/06/a-farewell-to-alanya-and-turkey.html
See how hard it is to leave beautiful Alanya?
 
Moving never gets any easier. Losing yet another home is hard and no amount of excitement for the next stage quite masks the hollowness you feel as you pack up the house. The feeling is always the same. The oppressive heat (I always seem to move during summers and in tropical climates), and the intermingling smell of chemicals (cleaning and paint) and slight dustiness as I disturb the softly sleeping piles of stuff that I have not touched in a year.

I hate to see my imprint leave a place. That mark I accidentally left on the wall has been painted over, as if it was never there in the first place. My clutter retreats as the forces of impersonality invade once again, immaculate and alien. My comfort is turning into a stranger before my eyes and I am powerless to stop it.  

With most relationships, both parties are hurting and reminiscing and putting on their nostalgia goggles. There is a sense of validation with the mourning process. Yes, this actually happened. Yes, you meant something to me even if we are going our separate ways. Moving is not like that. While I stare fondly at my butt indentation on the couch, the couch remains indifferent to my presence.
 
This is the nineteenth home that I have had (I'm counting moving dorm rooms and shifting as a vagabond). This is also the longest that I have lived in one place since I graduated from college three years ago. Alanya/Turkey and I have had our minor differences (usually over the exorbitant price of alcohol), but on the whole I have loved living here. This is a magnificent country that is filled with pretty much anything you could ever want. 
 
History? In spades. This is the nexus of so many empires that pretty much every stone is a historical artifact.
 
 
Thirteenth century ruins here in Alanya, Turkey.
 
Beaches? There is the gorgeous Mediterranean, Aegean, Bosporus, Black Sea, etc.
 
Optimal beaches for levitating in Alanya, Turkey. This is Cleopatra Beach.
 
Mountains? I watch the sunrise over the Taurus mountain ranges from my balcony whenever I stay up ridiculously late.
 
Gorgeous city surrounded by mountains!
 
Friendly folk? Yup, Turkish people are amazing.
 
Who doesn't love a good sense of humor in Turkish men?
 
Food? Kahvalti is to die for. 
 
Kahvalti (Turkish breakfast) is my favorite meal here.
 
An Occupy Movement? Just check the news.
 
Barriers set up around the Ataturk Statue in Taksim Square in Istanbul for the May Day protests.
 
In honor of my latest home, I have compiled a photo post of my year here. Twenty-one visitors, numerous trips to Istanbul, Antalya, Cappadocia, Side, and Perge (and yet still so much left to see!), plenty of sun burns, a lot of skin scraped off during Hamam (Turkish bath, and seriously, my dead skin all gathered up could make a mini-mountain), a dead hard drive, my fourth anniversary with the Boy, my twenty-fourth birthday, SOOOOO many statues of Ataturk, entertaining pirate ships, enough cay (tea) to bathe in, enough baklava to get a million cavities, daily calls to prayer to let me know the time, the gigantic sun that almost seems too big to be real, and a ton of kofte consumed: Thank you for being a wonderful home.
 
While I have written a guide for Istanbul as well as Cappadocia, I have yet to do one for Alanya. This is just my farewell, so stay tuned for an Alanya guide!
 
The castle walls and old shipyard in Alanya, Turkey by night.

Where else would I get to celebrate Christmas with Ataturk?

We have Turkish flags, cruise ships, diving ships, and pirate ships here in Alanya, what more could you want?

The Turkish men love to pose on the pirate ships here in Alanya
 

One of the many caves in Alanya. This is Damlatas Cave on Cleopatra side.
 

Why would I want to leave the land of enormous vegetables? This was taken at one of the daily markets.

Love the random leaping fauna here in Alanya.

I will miss the dramatic views of Alanya.

Daredevils on the castle walls in Alanya.

There are ridiculously gorgeous sunsets here in Alanya.

Yes, that is an actual rainbow around the sun as a halo here in Alanya.
Here is a double rainbow in Alanya.
 
Now onto the other areas that I have visited and loved in Turkey.
 
Antalya is the largest city near Alanya (about two hours away) and it is a fun place to visit.

I couldn't resist getting a photo of Ataturk holding the moon.

Glass guy making a nazar (an amulet which wards off evil) in Antalya, Turkey.

The moon with a mosque in Antalya, Turkey.

It's my pansiyon!

Holding the sun with some hot air balloons in Goreme, Cappadocia

Posing in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia from the water.

Light beams and mosques make a good combo in Istanbul.

Ruins all to ourselves in Perge, which is just fifteen kilometers outside of Antalya.

No crowds waiting for photo ops!

Greece doesn't have all claim to columns since these are in Perge, Turkey!

More columns in Side, Turkey.

Apollo's Temple in Side, Turkey.

My last pose in Side, Turkey.
 
I hope you enjoyed my tribute. If you haven't been to Turkey, I highly suggest you hop on the next plane over. If you have been, then I hope that you share my fond memories of this fantastic country.

Goodbye Alanya, I will see you again someday. 

Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) General Tue, 11 Jun 2013 04:34:00 +0000
From Raptor to Bearcat http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/05/from-raptor-to-bearcat.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/05/from-raptor-to-bearcat.html
“Don’t worry, we don’t drug test new students until three months into the school year.” This was the reassurance my new guidance counselor provided me when I moved to the International School of Manila. Dressed in a khaki uniform with a strange school’s logo emblazoned on my left shoulder, I questioned how he arrived at this judgment.

Was it my nose piercing that I had gotten in Florence at the age of fourteen? If so, he was wrong. That was in honor of living in India for eight years.

Was it the six piercings I had on my ears? Again, wrong. They were not meant to be subversive. Instead they were a visual representation of the different countries I had visited and the friends I made along the way.

Was it the fact that I had just come from the American International School of Chennai? Perhaps. India lives in stereotypes and is surrounded in a haze of hippy dreams.

Regardless of his snap judgment, I hastened to reassure him, “Snip off some hair! Give me a cup! Don’t you worry about me.” I beamed at him with my most artificially innocent smile. This was the man who would be responsible for getting me into college despite knowing me for a minute. Then again, as the guidance counselor for an international school I had faith in his ability to at least fake a convincing immediate connection. That is the hallmark staple of Third Culture Kids, diplomats, military folk, and all others who are required to move constantly. Form an intense emotional bond before your friends are snatched away.

I actually have this guidance counselor to thank for my acceptance into multiple colleges. The benefit of moving to a new city, a new school, and a new group of teachers is how clean your slate becomes. International school teachers tend to treat students differently than teachers in the US. They speak to us as equals and we form close bonds without even trying because of the extreme situations into which life has placed us. My biology instructor in Chennai guided us through seeing cadavers in Manipal, a city in the south of India. I touched a dead body at the age of fifteen and gagged over a blue bucket full of the remains of babies. I witnessed an open heart surgery taking place five feet away from me. In Manila, I saw my teachers out at the same clubs and bars that my friends and I frequented. I even saw a teacher at a local Filipino strip club in the red light district. Some of my teachers were as close to me as my best friends and I mourned them when I was displaced.

However, there are a few teachers who would treat us like wayward students that failed at life unless we behaved as perfectly motivated adults. I asked for a recommendation letter from one such teacher and was told by my new guidance counselor to ditch the recommendation. Instead, I got a letter from a teacher who only knew me for three months rather than three years. Sometimes being displaced has its benefits.

As a senior, I would not be graduating with the cohorts with whom I had spent my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. When I walked to class, I could only overhear inside jokes. I had to feign memories of people and adventures that took place before my dad even thought about his next assignment. I was grateful to those who reached out a hand to me and grew adept at ignoring all of the undercurrents of drama that swirled in their wake.

I also lost a toenail that fall. Joining a new soccer team without the benefit of my full shipment caused me to borrow cleats a size too small. By the time the overland boxes arrived three months later, I celebrated with bandages and a newfound appreciation for the valuable protection nails provide.

When it came to tournaments, I did not even have the benefit of competing against the same schools as Chennai in the SAISA (South Asian Inter-Scholastic Association) tournament. Separated into different regions, I had to learn about the dynamics that separated each school within IASAS (Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools). My rival was now the Singapore American School. I was expected to despise them for their haughty attitude. Jakarta International School had an unfortunate acronym, but their baseball team was to be admired. No longer could I be bitter about AISC’s defeat at the hands of the American International School of Dhaka or complain about their irritating habit of eerily calling out, “TTTTTIIIIIIGGGGGEEEERRRRRRSSSSSSS,” during basketball matches. I was a bearcat, not a raptor.
- See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/437/from-raptor-to-bearcat#sthash.5IB0yJuC.dpuf
Big fish in a small pond...
“Don’t worry, we don’t drug test new students until three months into the school year.” This was the reassurance my new guidance counselor provided me when I moved to the International School of Manila. Dressed in a khaki uniform with a strange school’s logo emblazoned on my left shoulder, I questioned how he arrived at this judgment.

Was it my nose piercing that I had gotten in Florence at the age of fourteen? If so, he was wrong. That was in honor of living in India for eight years.

Was it the six piercings I had on my ears? Again, wrong. They were not meant to be subversive. Instead they were a visual representation of the different countries I had visited and the friends I made along the way.

Was it the fact that I had just come from the American International School of Chennai? Perhaps. India lives in stereotypes and is surrounded in a haze of hippy dreams.

Regardless of his snap judgment, I hastened to reassure him, “Snip off some hair! Give me a cup! Don’t you worry about me.” I beamed at him with my most artificially innocent smile. This was the man who would be responsible for getting me into college despite knowing me for a minute. Then again, as the guidance counselor for an international school I had faith in his ability to at least fake a convincing immediate connection. That is the hallmark staple of Third Culture Kids, diplomats, military folk, and all others who are required to move constantly. Form an intense emotional bond before your friends are snatched away.

I actually have this guidance counselor to thank for my acceptance into multiple colleges. The benefit of moving to a new city, a new school, and a new group of teachers is how clean your slate becomes. International school teachers tend to treat students differently than teachers in the US. They speak to us as equals and we form close bonds without even trying because of the extreme situations into which life has placed us. My biology instructor in Chennai guided us through seeing cadavers in Manipal, a city in the south of India. I touched a dead body at the age of fifteen and gagged over a blue bucket full of the remains of babies. I witnessed an open heart surgery taking place five feet away from me. In Manila, I saw my teachers out at the same clubs and bars that my friends and I frequented. I even saw a teacher at a local Filipino strip club in the red light district. Some of my teachers were as close to me as my best friends and I mourned them when I was displaced.

However, there are a few teachers who would treat us like wayward students that failed at life unless we behaved as perfectly motivated adults. I asked for a recommendation letter from one such teacher and was told by my new guidance counselor to ditch the recommendation. Instead, I got a letter from a teacher who only knew me for three months rather than three years. Sometimes being displaced has its benefits.     

As a senior, I would not be graduating with the cohorts with whom I had spent my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. When I walked to class, I could only overhear inside jokes. I had to feign memories of people and adventures that took place before my dad even thought about his next assignment. I was grateful to those who reached out a hand to me and grew adept at ignoring all of the undercurrents of drama that swirled in their wake.

I also lost a toenail that fall. Joining a new soccer team without the benefit of my full shipment caused me to borrow cleats a size too small. By the time the overland boxes arrived three months later, I celebrated with bandages and a newfound appreciation for the valuable protection nails provide.

When it came to tournaments, I did not even have the benefit of competing against the same schools as Chennai in the SAISA (South Asian Inter-Scholastic Association) tournament. Separated into different regions, I had to learn about the dynamics that separated each school within IASAS (Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools). My rival was now the Singapore American School. I was expected to despise them for their haughty attitude. Jakarta International School had an unfortunate acronym, but their baseball team was to be admired. No longer could I be bitter about AISC’s defeat at the hands of the American International School of Dhaka or complain about their irritating habit of eerily calling out, “TTTTTIIIIIIGGGGGEEEERRRRRRSSSSSSS,” during basketball matches. I was a bearcat, not a raptor.

Manila was one of my roughest transitions because it reminded me of the US. It was one of those unique international schools that had a relatively stable student body. Locals who could afford the hefty tuition prices grew up in those halls. Expats with embedded careers allowed their children to have a facsimile of a steady upbringing. I went from a pool of twenty students to a sea of one hundred and fifty; small by American standards but overwhelming for me. I returned to being a number.  

I built myself on the laurels of those who had lived in my house before me. The parties that were hosted in my home were legend. Students would walk up to me after Economics class and reminisce about throwing up in the bathroom downstairs. Countless others had danced on my pool table, downed shots on my couches, and trashed the upstairs rooms. The fact that I had known the family when I lived in New Delhi during my elementary school years cemented my displacement of them.

I never actually hosted any wild nights in Manila. Having witnessed the destruction wrought by my fellow students during the Freshman/Senior Party, I worried about my dad’s antiques. I did not want raw egg covering my marble entrance. I did not want the residue of questionable substances peppering my walls, toilets, and showers. I did not want a group that I barely knew, let alone trusted, violating a house with which I was barely acquainted.

I traded my spot as Valedictorian in Chennai for an Advanced Placement cord and a seat in alphabetical order. My best friend in Chennai mentioned me in her speech. She affirmed my time in AISC while I watched my tasseled hat disappear in a cloud of green and gold as the whole class celebrated over a decade of work and friendship. 

Being a Bearcat in Bangkok
“Don’t worry, we don’t drug test new students until three months into the school year.” This was the reassurance my new guidance counselor provided me when I moved to the International School of Manila. Dressed in a khaki uniform with a strange school’s logo emblazoned on my left shoulder, I questioned how he arrived at this judgment.

Was it my nose piercing that I had gotten in Florence at the age of fourteen? If so, he was wrong. That was in honor of living in India for eight years.

Was it the six piercings I had on my ears? Again, wrong. They were not meant to be subversive. Instead they were a visual representation of the different countries I had visited and the friends I made along the way.

Was it the fact that I had just come from the American International School of Chennai? Perhaps. India lives in stereotypes and is surrounded in a haze of hippy dreams.

Regardless of his snap judgment, I hastened to reassure him, “Snip off some hair! Give me a cup! Don’t you worry about me.” I beamed at him with my most artificially innocent smile. This was the man who would be responsible for getting me into college despite knowing me for a minute. Then again, as the guidance counselor for an international school I had faith in his ability to at least fake a convincing immediate connection. That is the hallmark staple of Third Culture Kids, diplomats, military folk, and all others who are required to move constantly. Form an intense emotional bond before your friends are snatched away.

I actually have this guidance counselor to thank for my acceptance into multiple colleges. The benefit of moving to a new city, a new school, and a new group of teachers is how clean your slate becomes. International school teachers tend to treat students differently than teachers in the US. They speak to us as equals and we form close bonds without even trying because of the extreme situations into which life has placed us. My biology instructor in Chennai guided us through seeing cadavers in Manipal, a city in the south of India. I touched a dead body at the age of fifteen and gagged over a blue bucket full of the remains of babies. I witnessed an open heart surgery taking place five feet away from me. In Manila, I saw my teachers out at the same clubs and bars that my friends and I frequented. I even saw a teacher at a local Filipino strip club in the red light district. Some of my teachers were as close to me as my best friends and I mourned them when I was displaced.

However, there are a few teachers who would treat us like wayward students that failed at life unless we behaved as perfectly motivated adults. I asked for a recommendation letter from one such teacher and was told by my new guidance counselor to ditch the recommendation. Instead, I got a letter from a teacher who only knew me for three months rather than three years. Sometimes being displaced has its benefits.

As a senior, I would not be graduating with the cohorts with whom I had spent my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. When I walked to class, I could only overhear inside jokes. I had to feign memories of people and adventures that took place before my dad even thought about his next assignment. I was grateful to those who reached out a hand to me and grew adept at ignoring all of the undercurrents of drama that swirled in their wake.

I also lost a toenail that fall. Joining a new soccer team without the benefit of my full shipment caused me to borrow cleats a size too small. By the time the overland boxes arrived three months later, I celebrated with bandages and a newfound appreciation for the valuable protection nails provide.

When it came to tournaments, I did not even have the benefit of competing against the same schools as Chennai in the SAISA (South Asian Inter-Scholastic Association) tournament. Separated into different regions, I had to learn about the dynamics that separated each school within IASAS (Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools). My rival was now the Singapore American School. I was expected to despise them for their haughty attitude. Jakarta International School had an unfortunate acronym, but their baseball team was to be admired. No longer could I be bitter about AISC’s defeat at the hands of the American International School of Dhaka or complain about their irritating habit of eerily calling out, “TTTTTIIIIIIGGGGGEEEERRRRRRSSSSSSS,” during basketball matches. I was a bearcat, not a raptor.
- See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/437/from-raptor-to-bearcat#sthash.5IB0yJuC.dpuf

Welcome to the International School of Manila, home of the Bearcats!

Welcome to the American International School of Chennai, home of the Raptors!

Sorry for the tiny logo for the AISC Raptors. I couldn't find anything larger...
“Don’t worry, we don’t drug test new students until three months into the school year.” This was the reassurance my new guidance counselor provided me when I moved to the International School of Manila. Dressed in a khaki uniform with a strange school’s logo emblazoned on my left shoulder, I questioned how he arrived at this judgment.

Was it my nose piercing that I had gotten in Florence at the age of fourteen? If so, he was wrong. That was in honor of living in India for eight years.

Was it the six piercings I had on my ears? Again, wrong. They were not meant to be subversive. Instead they were a visual representation of the different countries I had visited and the friends I made along the way.

Was it the fact that I had just come from the American International School of Chennai? Perhaps. India lives in stereotypes and is surrounded in a haze of hippy dreams.

Regardless of his snap judgment, I hastened to reassure him, “Snip off some hair! Give me a cup! Don’t you worry about me.” I beamed at him with my most artificially innocent smile. This was the man who would be responsible for getting me into college despite knowing me for a minute. Then again, as the guidance counselor for an international school I had faith in his ability to at least fake a convincing immediate connection. That is the hallmark staple of Third Culture Kids, diplomats, military folk, and all others who are required to move constantly. Form an intense emotional bond before your friends are snatched away.

I actually have this guidance counselor to thank for my acceptance into multiple colleges. The benefit of moving to a new city, a new school, and a new group of teachers is how clean your slate becomes. International school teachers tend to treat students differently than teachers in the US. They speak to us as equals and we form close bonds without even trying because of the extreme situations into which life has placed us. My biology instructor in Chennai guided us through seeing cadavers in Manipal, a city in the south of India. I touched a dead body at the age of fifteen and gagged over a blue bucket full of the remains of babies. I witnessed an open heart surgery taking place five feet away from me. In Manila, I saw my teachers out at the same clubs and bars that my friends and I frequented. I even saw a teacher at a local Filipino strip club in the red light district. Some of my teachers were as close to me as my best friends and I mourned them when I was displaced.

However, there are a few teachers who would treat us like wayward students that failed at life unless we behaved as perfectly motivated adults. I asked for a recommendation letter from one such teacher and was told by my new guidance counselor to ditch the recommendation. Instead, I got a letter from a teacher who only knew me for three months rather than three years. Sometimes being displaced has its benefits.

As a senior, I would not be graduating with the cohorts with whom I had spent my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. When I walked to class, I could only overhear inside jokes. I had to feign memories of people and adventures that took place before my dad even thought about his next assignment. I was grateful to those who reached out a hand to me and grew adept at ignoring all of the undercurrents of drama that swirled in their wake.

I also lost a toenail that fall. Joining a new soccer team without the benefit of my full shipment caused me to borrow cleats a size too small. By the time the overland boxes arrived three months later, I celebrated with bandages and a newfound appreciation for the valuable protection nails provide.

When it came to tournaments, I did not even have the benefit of competing against the same schools as Chennai in the SAISA (South Asian Inter-Scholastic Association) tournament. Separated into different regions, I had to learn about the dynamics that separated each school within IASAS (Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools). My rival was now the Singapore American School. I was expected to despise them for their haughty attitude. Jakarta International School had an unfortunate acronym, but their baseball team was to be admired. No longer could I be bitter about AISC’s defeat at the hands of the American International School of Dhaka or complain about their irritating habit of eerily calling out, “TTTTTIIIIIIGGGGGEEEERRRRRRSSSSSSS,” during basketball matches. I was a bearcat, not a raptor.
- See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/437/from-raptor-to-bearcat#sthash.5IB0yJuC.dpuf

Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) General Wed, 08 May 2013 05:00:00 +0000
Cherry Blossoms in Washington D.C. http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/04/cherry-blossoms-in-washington-d-c.html http://www.ceciliahaynes.com/blog/2013/04/cherry-blossoms-in-washington-d-c.html
In the spring of 2010, I went to the cherry blossom festival in D.C. This is a post that I have gone back to and revamped with nicer pictures and finishing touches. It is strange to go back and see how far I have come in terms of technique, Photoshop/Lightroom manipulation and even the way that I approach my blog. 
 
The National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. is a yearly celebration and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Bring a picnic, some kites or even just a blanket and relax the day under a beautiful canopy of flowers. There are all sorts of events and it a really good time to visit the US capital. Events typically begin in March and continue into April. The peak flower periods vary each year but just click this link to see a chart of all the peaks throughout the years.

If you missed this year's celebration and are planning on next year, here are some tips about how to keep costs down:
 
1. Don't stay in DC itself since hotels can be quite expensive. I would recommend staying in one of the suburbs surrounding DC but with easy access to the metro. If you are determined to stay in the capital, make sure to book in advance since slots will fill up fast!
 
2. Try to go during the week. I know it's difficult to get time off, but weekends in the capital can get packed! If you do come during the weekend, try to go early and scope out a sweet spot.
 
3. I hate driving in DC. It is incredibly stressful and confusing. If you have an excellent sense of direction or a wonderful GPS, go for it. Otherwise use public transportation, it's not bad. Plus, you won't have to fight for a parking space since that can also be a brutal waste of time. 
 
4. Picnic! Hit up a grocery store and pack your own lunch. Why wait in lines or spend money on potentially expensive restaurants? Scroll through my Pinterest recipes board and pick an exciting dish that packs easily and doesn't require much preparation.
 
These are tips that I use everywhere in order to save money (stay in the outskirts of cities, don't go during high season, use public transportation and live off of sandwiches), so keep these in mind the next time you head out of town!
 

Don't forget to bring a camera, you won't want to miss the photo-ops.
 
Walking to a cherry blossom orchard in front of the Washington Monument

Beautiful cherry blossoms and picnicking

Artistic cherry blossoms in Washington DC

Photo-ops in Washington DC during the cherry blossom festival

The Washington Monument through the cherry blossom branches

Itty bitty cherry blossom in black and white

Artistic American flag in front of the Washington Monument

The perfect place to lie out underneath the cherry blossom trees

Beautiful blossoms in Washington DC

The Washington Monument through the blossoms

Creative photos taken in Washington DC during the cherry blossom

The fallen petals of the cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms in black and white

More cherry blossoms in black and white

I love the colors of the blossoms against the blue sky
 
Cherry blossoms with the Washington Monument

American flags against the Washington Monument

 
 
         
Read More]]>
jimiero@gmail.com (Cecilia Haynes) General Mon, 22 Apr 2013 10:00:00 +0000