Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Did You Miss Me?

Hello again everyone!

I know it has been ever so long. There was a family emergency, a holiday, and then 40 pages worth of research papers due and 40 minutes worth of presentations to give yesterday. But, that's enough excuses. You really don't want to hear about that.

Last time, I had asked for some guesses as to where I would be traveling next semester. I was happy that some people actually responded! Joy. But, more importantly, we got a correct answer!!!!!!

I will be heading to Chennai, India to spend about two months at the India Institute of Technology at Madras. I think there will be a week thrown in there somewhere where I'd head to Mumbai to visit a different university but you never know. So far, I don't have a plane ticket, a visa, or even know when I'll be leaving exactly.

I have been warned to not drink the water, bring a handkerchief as you'll sweat like a pig in February, avoid wearing low-cut shirts, and most importantly, be wary of monkeys. A student at my university has been to IIT Madras before and had a monkey enter through an open window and steal things from her room. I guess that's what can happen when you're in the middle of a jungle. I'm just more used to watching out for squirrels. And really, the worst thing they can do is cause you to hit a tree when swerving to avoid them in your car (assuming you're nice enough to try and avoid them).

I would like to congratulate Sarcastic Ninja for correctly guessing my destination. (Applause, and I hope you join in, it always sounds really pathetic when only a single person is clapping). For correctly guessing, our winner gets.......





their own personal stick figure!!!!!!
That was the most academic-looking stick figure I could do. I think he looks rather professorial. Snazzy.

So, starting in February, this blog may change a little. I have no idea what sorts of things I'll find over in Asia. I'm sure there will be all sorts of interesting things to share. And, I may make some snafus that'll brighten your day.

Until next time, God bless America.

And, I promise. It won't be a few weeks before I return.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

To Asia I Will Go...

To Asia I will go, Heigh Ho the Dairy-Oh to Asia I will go.

I have no idea what the actual words to that little musical quip are. That's what happens when you learn something at age five, spelling is not the priority.

Now to the point, I have some exciting news. I will be traveling to Asia next semester for eight weeks! I will then be able to regale you with tales of a place more exotic than central Europe. It will be a bit more of a culture shock so I can only imagine what intriguing things I'll get to share with you all

I would like to introduce a little game. It'll be oh so very much fun.

Let's see who can guess where I'm going. Here are three clues to help you. (And really, we all have internet access so someone should be able to figure it out.)

-It is a city with a national park within its limits
-It is a port city which has been previously owned by the Portuguese, French, and British
-It is a city which holds the greatest concentration of Carnatic musicians

Not that I know what that last clue even means, though I'm sure I'll find out later. If you are the first person to guess correctly, I will dedicate a post and an awesome award to praise you. And, you might even get to appear as a stick figure.

Until next time, God bless America.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tips for Tipping

While traveling, you are going to eat out....a lot. You are unlikely to have access to a kitchen, and let's be realistic, Americans like to eat.

You might want to be adventurous and try the super-authentic sit-down restaurant or you can be a boring American and stick to Pizza Hut. (I don't suggest you try the super sketchy food stand on the corner. Just ew.) Besides, their Pizza Huts are fancier than ours. They even sell wine. Doesn't that sounds like a high-class establishment?

Regardless of your food choice, you will inevitably run into the issue of how to pay for your meal. Here are the important things I learned:

1. No European restaurant  should take your credit card from you.

All restaurants have those little hand-held machines you see at farmer's market stands. They should swipe it in front of you. If someone takes your card to a different room, you may soon end up begging for coins on the corner as a random person ruins your credit score buying expensive bottles of vodka.

2. Tip with cash.

We're all used to the little tip line of a receipt. But, don't be tempted. You shouldn't use that. Nope, nope, nope. If  you tip with the credit card receipt, the restaurant will keep a percentage of the it. So rude. You're already paying the restaurant for the food, tip your waitress instead. Use some cash. Besides, you feel like such a citizen of the world when you have Forints, Euros, Zlotys, and Swiss Francs in your pocket.

3. Don't tip more than 10-12%.

I've always been told you should tip 18-20% for good service, 10% if your waiter ignored you, and a kleenex if they were flat-out mean. That's not quite the case over seas. 10% is what you should be giving for good service. Don't give your waiter the impression they are better at their job than they really are, unless you just want to make some friends. 

4. Ask for your bill when you want to leave.

You will not be given a bill unless you ask for it. Periods. Americans expect to get a bill while you're still eating because the restaurant wants you out as soon as possible. They've got people to feed. Europeans find that rude. They expect you want to sit and converse. Who wants to do that? You've already been spending every minute of every day together throughout your vacation. You don't really have any else to say by now. So, just catch your server's attention so you can go. There's too much to see and awkward silence isn't fun for anyone.

Until next time, God bless America