ExPat Life

[This is a guest post from Shawn Wall, my errant climbing partner. Shawn left Colorado to do some travel after graduating university at the end of 2015, and he never came home. He now lives in Budapest, Hungary, with his girlfriend. I spent a month visiting them in October 2016. I asked him to write a little bit on his experiences living as an expat in a foreign country.

You can find his personal travel blog, The WanderinGinger, at http://wanderingingertravels.blogspot.com/]

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February 22, 2017.

Today marks three years since when I first ran away from home to a magical place called New Zealand. I wanted to escape the troubles of day to day life and just be free from everything. So I left. I was running away from death, pain, sadness, confusion and everything that I knew and called home. At least, that is what I thought I was doing. Parts of that may be true, I was running away, but whenever you run away you run towards something else. I was running straight towards a whole new path of life.

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Fake News in Former Yugoslavia

My traveling partner Ollie and I arrived in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on a bus from Sarajevo, where we’d spent a few days learning the history of the Siege of Sarajevo—the longest city siege in the history of modern warfare. Our friends in Sarajevo told us NATO forces broke the Serbian siege, saved the city, and the lives of every Bosnian living there. Before that, we’d been in Belgrade, Serbia, where a huge banner flying in front of parliament memorialized fallen Serbian soldiers as “Victims of NATO Aggression.”

Same story, two sides.

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Yovo, yovo, bon soir – Visiting Benin

Benin gateway to slavery

[ed. note: I’m off exploring Taipei. Our ski town correspondent is skiing pow. In the meantime, here’s a guest post about general travel in Benin, West Africa. The writing’s courtesy of my sister, who served 2.5 years of Peace Corps service there. It’s a fascinating piece—I guarantee you will learn something new!]

I am a geography nerd who loves maps and learning about the world, so I knew about the country called Benin, but I probably would never have visited had the Peace Corps not invited me to serve there. (More on Peace Corps service later!)

Benin was colonized by the French, and there is still a small contingent of French  voluntourists who visit the country, but in the English-speaking world, it is largely unknown. It deserves more recognition.

Benin is a small, key-shaped (or so they say) nation on the coast of West Africa. It is bordered on the east by Nigeria, and on the west by Togo (which is one country over from Ghana, perhaps the best-known West African nation and a poster-child for international development).

Yes, you will need to have some French language skills to get by here. Very few people speak English. Though once you get out of the capital, you’ll find that many of the people you encounter don’t speak French either. They will be thrilled to teach you a few phrases in the local language, though.

Here are some interesting facts about Benin and advice for your travels there.

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