To Ireland?

No no–definitely, TO IRELAND! That whole visa, plane ticket, moving, and student loan thing will work themselves out. Yeah, pretty much none of those things are accomplished yet, and there is little to update, but here are some updates:

VISA: my partner and I are waiting for a sponsorship number from our sponsor. Until we have that, we can’t apply. We’re just waiting. If we need to expedite the visa process once we have that, then we will.

FLIGHTS: well… we can’t really go until we have visas. So we continue to wait. In other news, my parents are buying my flight home for the holidays for my birthday! Weeeeee!

MOVING: packing up this weekend… not sure if it’ll all fit in my car, BUT I AM DETERMINED! Who needs more than a blazer full of stuff anyway? I can get rid of stuff, or hide store stuff in other places (like my room where the new tenant will be “borrowing” my furniture).  Then I am off on a roadtrip to DC, NC, and final destination: Indy.  Most of the big paper work is going to have to wait until then…

LOANS: I’ve been furiously investigating how I can manage living/volunteering/working in another country with a ton of student loans.  I asked Yahoo answers, and didn’t exactly get the answers I was looking for… Mostly they told me stuff I already know, like that I’m a crazy person.  I also found a nice article that explained everything I should know about loans when I go to volunteer.  That was the most helpful.  But I’m pretty sure I actually can’t do anything (save for call the lenders), until it’s too late, i.e. I’m in loan trouble.  Which sort of makes sense… I guess.  And most of my loans are going to be out of grace in December.  There is a lot of waiting involved in traveling.

On those neutral notes.  I’m out.

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Sarasota, Florida: Atlantis Shuttle Launch, Siesta Key, and Harry Potter World

I recently went to Sarasota, Florida to hang out with my bf, his mom, and dog.  Sarasota, as one might imagine, is not exactly a Florida hotspot… especially mid-July.  The city’s heyday was probably in the 50’s, and now the streets are mostly aligned with ugly strip malls and nearly abandoned motels.  The “outskirts” of the city are new sub divisions named after the ranches that used to be there, and the population consists of, well, old people, but also, I think, local vacationers, i.e. Floridians enjoying Siesta Key and just relaxing.  Sarasota is way low key compared to other areas of Florida I’ve visited (Orlando, Destin, Miami, and Tampa).  There isn’t a whole lot there, but IT IS everything you need.

The Beach

Siesta Key is gorgeous, and apparently the #1 beach in the US.  One day the waves were rolling, another day quiet and calm.  This is me, obviously, having a good time.  I have some nice photobombers in the background there. NOTICE: there are a lot of people there.  Go early.  Bring food and drink… There really is no oasis around the beach area, except maybe a hotel bar.  It’s pure beach.  Parking to water seems like a mile walk in the desert, then you have to find a place to park your butt, and then you just sit and swim: glorious…. until you’re hungry or thirsty.

Atlantis Shuttle Launch

NOTICE: this is not actually Stargate Atlantis, but I thought it was funny that fb tagged it that way.  It’s just the last shuttle launch, that’s all.  Three hours to get there (we’re about 5 miles away on bridge on the side of the road) and it was MADNESS everywhere! People camped out in their cars.  Running across 4 lane traffic.  Risking their lives!  Hoping to catch a glimpse of this fiery triangle.  Traffic two and from: awful, but totally worth it.  You should go watch the ne… oh wait… THERE WON”T BE A NEXT.  Sad day at Cape Canaveral.  Well, you can always go to the Kennedy Space Center or hit up Cocoa Beach.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I realized on our three hour drive to Cape Canaveral through Orlando, HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER!!!! HARRY POTTER WORLD IS HERRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEE!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I”M SO CLOSSSSSSEEE!!!!! I HAVE TO GO!!!! I HAVE TO GO!!!!!!!!! EEEEE!!!! EEEEE!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

So, in the blistering heat on the weekend after the 4th and before the final release of HP7.2–me, bf, and his mom went to universal and islands of adventure for a day.  Just to clarify before you ask: Harry Potter World is a mini-theme-park in Islands of Adventure in between the Poseidon and Jurassic Park mini-theme-parks, and no, it does not cost extra to enter Harry Potter World.  However, it’ll cost you 11 bucks to get a Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice… Surely it isn’t that much in THE REAL Harry Potter World.  We skipped the pumpkin juice, but I enjoyed a frozen butterbeer (tastes mostly like a butter scotch smoothie, so if you don’t like butterscotch, you won’t like butterbeer) and a turkey leg in the Three Broomsticks.

The experience was surreal.  The setup was incredible.  I rode the hogwarts ride, and standing in line alone was incredible–you get to walk through Hogwarts!!!!!! Moving paintings (super cool btw), statues from the movies, entire classrooms, holographic characters talking to you.  Pretty awesome.  I probably could have spent a lot of time checking out all the detail, but alas, we had two theme parks to conquer in about 8 hours.

NOTE: the Spiderman ride in Islands of Adventure is still my favorite and most memorable ride EVER.  That is all.

So Sarasota, you were good to me.  Beautiful beach nearby.  Decent food if you yelp (seriously, YELP, otherwise you’ll be eating at Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and IHOP the whole time you’re there).  And far enough away to avoid the crazy parts of Florida, but close enough to be able to go for a day if you want.  Everything I need: beach, space, and Harry Potter.

This weekend: Erie, PA (I know, I really get out).

….Still working on that visa…….. and wondering, should I get a bike in the UK?

Meetup.com: special someone or one night stand

So I went on my hike yesterday and made it back safely.  Before I chronicle the details of my hike, I thought I would post some thoughts about Meetup.com.  Meetup.com is basically an online community of interests groups (typically based on geography) that plan events and almost anyone is welcome to join.  Some groups are more serious and exclusive than others, some are just good resources to find stuff that’s happening in the city, most are free. I’ve been a part of Meetup.com and like a million groups (surfing, hiking, traveling, ultimate, slacklining, hippie alternative medicine, etc) since I moved to Boston.   Though I haven’t done too much with it, and you get about a million email (I think my meetup.com alternative email has about 5000 messages in it right now).  I’ve played some ultimate on the Common, and yesterday I went on this hike (c.f. Pros and Cons of Storytelling for my reservations).

It was a pretty grueling, solid, intermediate hike, and I went with 3 other people I had never met.  This is sort of what meetup is all about: meeting people.  But we all know meeting people online is usually a hit-or-miss activity.  Meetup is no exception: the group (or activity) could be great, organized, and consistent, or weird, disorganized, and awkward.  Just like internet dating, you could have a wonderful time and find that special someone, or a one night stand.

I hit, but others on the same hike–MISS.  That’s what happens when 20 strangers get together for a 9 miles, 4000ft hike.

Like I said, I hit, I would totally hike with the same 3 people I rode with again.  But we killed the hike (before it killed us).  We kept pace, we stayed together, and we got back to Boston before dark.  Others on the hike were TWO HOURS behind us after we finished in 6.5 hours.  And while that sucks for them, I really have to give props to the leader of the hike–he stuck it out staying TWO HOURS behind for a bunch of people he may have JUST met.  That is noble, and is helpful for keeping a good reputation for the meetup group.  So maybe it was a hit for everyone… as long as we all made it down the mountain safely.

More on the trip later!

P.S. I also had GREAT experience playing with the Ultimate Frisbee group. Maybe they’ll be some nice groups in Ireland.

Pros and Cons of a Good Story

So I’m kind of bored and with no plans for the upcoming holiday weekend.  Woo Boston pops wooo….. But that’s all the way on Monday!  I looked into flying to see friends in North Carolina (tickets were relatively cheap even a few days in advance.  I looked at cruises, and tons of spiritual retreats/getaways.  I looked to see if there was anyone on couchsurfing.com near a surfable beach.  I solicited facebook for possible excursions this weekend, but to know avail.  I’m relatively short on cash (because of other upcoming trips: Florida, Erie, Cape Cod, New York, and IRELAND), and I don’t want to push my car past the point of no return just yet…

I turned to meetup.com.  It basically gives me information on the coolest stuff happening in Boston and around Boston that I might be interested in, liiiiiiiike an all day hiking trip to Mount Lafayette in New Hampshire tomorrow (also a pub crawl on the 4th).

Pros:

  • I found something to do!
  • Hiking a new mountain.
  • Seeing a new place
  • Meeting new people
  • Getting to say I did it
  • Getting to say I did it in a totally unsafe/sketchy way
  • In all likelihood having an awesome Saturday
  • And consequently a better story than I might have had otherwise for my Saturday

Cons:

  • Waking up too early for a Saturday (5am)
  • Being in a car of complete and total strangers 2 hours there and 2 hours back
  • Hiking with complete strangers (though they probably won’t be complete stranger after the car ride, a day hike, and another day ride)
  • The possibility of encountering a craigslist killer-type situation
  • The possibility of dying in a car crash, being stranded on the side of the road, or on the side of a mountain with total strangers.
  • This is a 9 mile hike and I haven’t hiked or walked 9 miles at once for a while… I did Mount Monadnock last fall (no problem)… and I did Half Dome once when I was a Freshman in college (which is a bigger deal than I realized at the time).

Yeah, I’m probably just going to do it… up the ante and do it barefoot (vibrams). What do you think?

Acquiring a UK Visa

In order to get to Northern Ireland by September, I need to acquire a UK Visa.  Currently, I am at work, not working on getting my UK Visa (as I should), instead, I will whine about it and hope this helps me better organize my thoughts and maybe send out some important e-mails.  If there is anyone out there with info or tips or questions on getting the visa, I would love to hear.  It’d be even better if you fall under “Tier 5: Religious Worker” because that is what I am applying for.

With this type of visa the first steps aren’t even steps I have to do, it’s my sponsor, and my sponsor is the Tobar Mhuire Community. The sponsor is basically who takes care of you overseas, and they apply in order to prove they will take care of me while I’m there.  So I need the sponsors application, and a letter from them talking about what I’ll be doing, etc etc. Once I get that, I apply online, then I apply in paper, and in person.  The soonest you can begin applying is 3 months before you leave, so it seems like the process goes fast once it finally starts.

I’m a tiny bit worried because I began the online application, and then realized I couldn’t finish it, and there is a 7 day limit on it (something that was not said at the beginning of the application).  I think the only consequence of not finishing in the time, is that I just start over (I hope).

Well, the purpose of this blog was a success: amidst my writing all this, I e-mailed my sponsor about visa paperwork, and am almost done filling out other forms I need to send to him.

Step 2: Figuring out my student loan situation for the next year without income.

Northern Ireland, Passionists, and some real asceticism

When I began this blog the purpose was to either 1) become the best STA world traveler intern that ever existed or 2) save money so I could then spend it all traveling summer 2011 after graduating from TWO Masters degree programs (hence, “frugality for future extravagance”).  Neither of those things are happening… Actually, I’m sort of entering into some real ascetic-ness.

One of the things that I have listed as absolute in my life is that I will absolutely travel a lot, and in comparison to the rest of world (which is never really fair), this has been accomplished.  I’ve made my  way around the US, Mexico, Canada, Nicaragua (x3), and various European locations (x4). But also a part of my traveling dream is the desire to live overseas for an extended period of time, and the older I get, the further and further this becomes, until this past Spring.  So, the current plan is to move to Northern Ireland for a year, plan Peacebuilding retreats, do some counseling, and hang out with Passionists.  Not making an income.  Spending time with a lot of high schoolers and college students. Hopefully more ukulele playing… I’ll have a place to stay and food and another friend joining me on the journey (Cheryl).  However, most of the details are unknown  except that I know there were riots in Northern Ireland last week, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.

Join me as I loosely document the process and experience.

Step 1: Get a UK Visa