Shark Bay: Australia’s best kept secret!

sharkbay

At the most westerly point of Australia, hidden about 850 km north of Perth, is the not-so-well-named Shark Bay, home to a very interesting colony of bottlenose dolphins.

Each morning for more than 40 years those wild dolphins have swum to the shallows of Monkey Mia beach to offer visitors one of the world’s great wildlife experiences.

Shark Bay dolphins. Picture from The Australian - http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

Shark Bay dolphins. Picture from The Australian

It all started in the 1960’s when local fisherman began sharing some of their catch with a small group of dolphins residing in the bay. Over the year, the dolphins’ trust grew and so did their population.

In 1984, the Shark Bay Dolphin Project – an extensive long-term study of the population – was started and in 1991, the bay was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Shark Bay feeding. Picture from www.sharkbayvisit.com

Shark Bay feeding. Picture from ‘Shark Bay Visit’

As if hand-feeding wild dolphins was not enough, the bay offers several other experiences that are sure to make your stay at memorable.

The area is also home to the world’s most diverse and abundant examples of living marine stromatolites – those ‘living fossils’ who helped scientists unravel the history of life on Earth.

Even though the region’s stromatolists are only about 3000 years old, they are similar to the ones found on earth 3.5 billion years ago.

Stromatolites - Picture from www.sharkbay.org

Stromatolites – Picture from sharkbay.org

Adventure and sport lovers will also enjoy countless other activities such as water sports, fishing and boating, bushwalking and so much more.

Bush walking - Picture from sharkbay.org

Bush walking – Picture from sharkbay.org

With so much to offer, Shark Bay is a can’t miss travel destination for family and solo travelers alike!

Where to stay: Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort (www.monkeymia.com.au)

What to do: http://ow.ly/Mc2HZ

What to see: http://ow.ly/Mc2OA

More info: http://www.sharkbay.org

InterNations – Connecting Global Minds

Living abroad or interested in building an international network? You’ve got to learn about InterNations, the community of expats worldwide.

Internations

If you have ever lived abroad, you surely know that most expats have the same concerns in regards to intercultural competence, relocation, cross-cultural communication and just everyday life in general. But finding other expats could be difficult, not to mention finding others with enough experience to help explain the ropes in their new home.

In 2007, three young German businessmen (Christian Leifeld, Malte Zeeck, and Phillip von Plato), dealing with these issues, recognized the need for a network that would allow them to discuss their ideas and concerns with other expats. InterNations was born.

Slowly, the network grew, to more than one million members worldwide in more than three hundred and ninety communities.

Its goal remains to provide opportunities for both locals and expatriates to connect, make friends, and expand their network globally.

Internations events are varied including formal business networking, movie nights, singles party and cultural events.

Internations 2

With the motto of “Connecting Global Minds”, InterNations delivers on every front, making it easier to expatriates to live and work abroad.

Five New Orleans Must-Sees

The City of New Orleans is a sight to behold. The rich culture, long history and stunning night life attracts visitors from all over the world.
Only spending the week-end? Here are the 5 things you can’t miss.

New Orleans. lonelyplanet.com

 

1) The Garden District

Garden District. Huffingtonpost.com

A tour of the Garden District showcases architecture of every era of the city from the 1500s through modern times. Several stories recounting accomplishments of the times are shared. For instance, the top floor of this house was the only story of a one-story house. The owners wanted to make their home as opulent as their neighbors so they raised the home and added on underneath it. This was in the late 1800s, without today’s machinery and conveniences.

2) Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street. thetravellingonline.com

Part of the French Quarter, Bourbon Street is well-deserving of its party reputation. During the day, it is relatively quiet but comes alive at night with streets blocked off and open containers permitted. With a live band in every other bar, flanked by five star restaurants of authentic flair, and street performers attracting crowds, Bourbon Street is loud, bright and purely unrivaled fun.

French Quarter. jetlaggedcontinuum.wordpress.com

3) The French Quarter

The rest of the 78-square block area of the French Quarter is filled with unique features and haunts. City law states the French Quarter must be historically accurate. If the building was built in 1765, then only colors used in 1765 can be used in re-painting as well as duplicating materials and designs of the time period.

4) The Riverwalk

The Riverwalk. americabyrail.com

The Riverwalk began life as a port to unload ships. As shipping containers were used more and more, the city tore the wharfs down and developed it as an upscale mall for tourists, with scenic walkways and a park atmosphere. After damage from a freightliner crash in 1996 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it has slowly built itself back up and in 2014, the mall rechristened itself The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, the first downtown outlet center in the United States.

5) Jackson Square

St._Louis_Cathedral_(New_Orleans)

Jackson Square is a historic park near downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. In 2012 the American Planning Association designated Jackson Square as a one of America’s Great Public Spaces. It features a statue of the hero of the Battle of New Orleans and future president Andrew Jackson, as well as the St. Louis Cathedral, the old city hall and a museum.

And don’t forget the crawfish…

Post by Nathalie Baudet

The 5 Wonders of Wisconsin

If you’re travelling this holiday season, why not try a amazing yet surprisingly tourist free state of Wisconsin?

Wisconsin. travelwisconsin.com

 

Check out these 5 wonders the Badger State has to offer.

1. Door County.

Door County - huffingtonpost.com

Door County – huffingtonpost.com

The “thumb” on the State of Wisconsin has more than 300 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and five state parks. For those who enjoy the outdoors, quaint small towns and history, Door County is a sparkling jewel. You can stay in a small bed and breakfast or a luxury resort. Tour lighthouses, cherry orchards and unique communities. Even in winter, Door County attracts tens of thousands of visitors for snowmobiling, ice fishing, charity events, live music, winter festivals and much more.

 

 

2. Madison

Madison. Chess.com

Madison. Chess.com

The capital of the state has something for everyone. Fine dining and culture mingle in its austere downtown area with the fun and fancy of a good party on State Street. The outlying areas feature sculpted parks, zoos, playgrounds and other attractions. The Olbrich Botanical Gardens are world-renowned, the University of Wisconsin – Madison boasts powerful sports teams and a premier medical research and provision program and the Dane County Farmer’s Market offers the best produce and garden plants in the state. There is always something to do in Madtown no matter your age or interests.

3. Ice Caves

Ice Caves. voices.suntimes.com

The sea caves of spring and summer became fantastic ice caves in the winter. During the warmer months, the sea caves can only be explored by kayak on calm days but by February, an ice bridge make it possible to walk out and examine the magnificent formations that change day to day and from chamber to chamber.

 

 

4. Wisconsin Dells

Wisonsin Dells. countrytimegazette.com

 

Wisconsin Dells is considered “The Waterpark Capital of the World” and for good reason. With dozens of indoor and outdoor waterparks, theme parks, museums, attractions, stores and restaurants, it is like a giant carnival that never sleeps. It features the world’s longest water roller coaster, the world’s largest bowl ride and the only water slide in the country that loops with speeds up to 40 mph.

 

 

5. House on the Rocks

House on the Rocks by  John Kroll

The House on the Rock is in Spring Green and is an architectural marvel. As the pet project of Alex Jordan, he began construction of the house in the 1940s of chimney of rock. He filled it with eclectic, unlikely and quirky artful collections, selecting just those pieces that he felt a strong affinity for, with no rhyme or reason.  The most impressive room is the Infinity Room, jutting out 200 feet over and into the valley below.  It has 3,264 windows and from November to early January, more than 6000 Santa Clauses grace the premises.

 

And let’s not forget about the Green Bay Packers…

 

 

 

Post by Nathalie Baudet

Spotlight on Semester at Sea

Permission to Board for a Semester At Sea!

semester at sea

Semester at Sea is a multiple country study abroad program. Since 1963, it has been offering opportunity to students of all majors. The University of Virginia is the program’s academic sponsor, although students from 250 – 300 colleges from all over the world participate each year. The program emphasizes comparative academic examination, hands-on field experiences, and meaningful engagement in the global community. Students from all majors can participate as Semester at Sea offers coursework from 20-25 disciplines. A wide variety of course work is integrated with relevant field studies and credits earned are transferable to the participant’s home college.

Destinations

S15-Map2

Semester at Sea goes to six different continents: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. In between stops, they study and prepare for their next adventure. At each location, students get to fully immerse themselves in the culture and activities of the region. They visit significant historical, cultural and political sites as well as natural and manmade wonders like the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, Great Pyramids of Giza, Angkor Wat and more. Natural history comes to life on the Galapagos Islands and the Praia Do Forte Marine Turtle Research and Preservation Project.

Faculty and Staff

semester at sea 2

Semester at Sea would not be possible without a team of 26-30 educators that love to innovate, stimulate and provide a flexible and diverse global education. Courses occur on board ship and then there are practical exercises and additional learning opportunities out in the world and predetermined field labs. Each voyage has a completely different faculty than the one before. In addition to the educators, each as an assistant staff member to provide extra support.

Housing and Hosting

 

53EXPLORER-Deck-5-Balcony-Suite

While on location, students can explore the regions through community exploration and home stays. Carefully vetted homes, families and individual share their homes and culture with the students, demonstrating their life style, culture, celebrations and traditions during their stay. They get first-hand interaction with business professionals in their majors, professors, area college students, writers and artists. Past remarkable interaction opportunities include visits with Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The students also give back by participating in Habitat for Humanity, Operation Hunger, Dalit Village Work Project, Missionaries of Charity and Calabar Favela. This gives them the real world opportunity to converse and work with local individuals and leaders to gain an appreciation for a different way of life.

The Ship

SASApril2014

The MV Explorer was built in 2002. It is 590 feet long with seven decks, weighs 25,000 tons and has a maximum capacity of 836 passengers. The cabins and staterooms are well-maintained and offer plenty of space for living and learning while on board. In addition, the ship has nine classrooms, a computer lab and 9,000 volume library. Students also have access to UVA’s online resources and a computer lab. Everyone on board stays connected with internet communications, the latest technology and an on-board IT staff to keep it all up and running.

Semester at Sea offers an opportunity of a lifetime with the comforts of home with the excitement and wonder of traveling abroad.  It is a great introduction to fields of global study and to prepare a scholar to navigate the global stage regardless of their career choice.

Find more info on Semester at Sea here

Post by Nathalie Baudet

3 Things You Should Know When Dining in Italy

Coming back from Italy, I thought I would share a few things to keep in mind with dining at a trattoria to spare you some of the embarrassment I’ve been through:

1) It’s a four course meal.

Italian meal

A good thing to keep in mind when ordering is that, in Italy, meals are generally articulated around four different dishes:  Antipasti (appetizers), Primi piatti (first dish), Secondi piatti (second dish), Dolci (dessert). Unless you’ve climbed the Etna earlier that day, I suggest ordering a Primi piatti as a main course, that way you have room for desert.

2) Don’t ask for a spoon.

Don't use a fork

I’m sure you’ve heard it before but it’s worth repeating: don’t ask for a spoon to eat your spaghetti. At best you’ll look like an uneducated tourist, at worst you’ll offend the waiter, the chef and the other clients.

3) Have a Limoncello.

Limoncello

It might feel rude for Americans to stay at the restaurant table after the meal is over but in Italy, it’s part of the tradition. Especially if you’re eating at a family-owned trattoria, make sure to ask the owner for a liquor after dinner. My favorite is a lemon one called limoncello. And why not invite the owner to sit down why you and chat?…in Italian of course!

Eerily Beautiful Abandoned Places

1) Michigan Central Station

by James Cheadle/Alamy

by James Cheadle/Alamy

This hulking Beaux-Arts train station was the tallest train station in the world at the time of its construction in 1912. It was designed by Warren & Wetmore and Reed and Stem—the same architects behind New York’s Grand Central Terminal—but has been abandoned since 1988.

2) Gunkanjima

by Shayne Hill/Xtreme Visuals/Getty

by Shayne Hill/Xtreme Visuals/Getty

More than 10,000 people lived on this tiny Japanese island up until the 1970s. Once home to an active coal mining facility owned by Mitsubishi Motors, Gunkanjima (or, literally, “Battleship Island”) is now entirely abandoned.

3) Nara Dreamland

by Demotix/Corbis

by Demotix/Corbis

Japan’s troubled version of Disneyland closed in 2006, but all of the park’s roller coasters, arcades, and souvenir shops remain intact.

4) Maunsell Forts

by Chris Laurens/Alamy

by Chris Laurens/Alamy

These sci-fi towers were constructed in the Thames estuary to protect England’s coast from German air raids during World War II. After being abandoned in 1956, the forts were briefly used to broadcast offshore radio stations.

5) Kolmanskop

by Michele Burgess/Alamy

by Michele Burgess/Alamy

Kolmanskop was once a thriving diamond mining town—home to the southern hemisphere’s first X-ray station and Africa’s first tram—but the dwindling diamond field was exhausted by the 1950s. Now, sands of the Namib desert have overtaken the town.

6) Pripyat

by Vladphotos/Alamy

by Vladphotos/Alamy

Pripyat was vacated just a few days after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, abandoning 15 schools, a hospital, a rail station, and an amusement park.

7) Varosha

by Corbis

by Corbis

Once a popular beach destination for stars like Brigitte Bardot, the resort town of Varosha was abandoned during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Its inhabitants never returned.

8) Train Cemetery

by Infinita Highway/Getty

by Infinita Highway/Getty

Uyuni is best known as home to the world’s largest salt flat. But travelers can also visit the antique train cemetery, where many mining company trains were abandoned in the 1940s, when the industry collapsed.

9) Lake Reschen

by Lugris/Alamy

by Lugris/Alamy

Beginning in 1940, Italian electric company Montecatini built a dam to unify the area’s two lakes—Reschensee and Mittersee. As a byproduct of the dam, local villages were entirely submerged. In Graun, this 14th-century church bell tower is the only reminder that the village ever existed.

10) Bulgarian Communist Party Headquarters

by Epa/Vassil Donev/Corbis

by Epa/Vassil Donev/Corbis

When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, it left behind this massive relic, perched at an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet. The new government hopes to restore the immense building.

11) City United Methodist Church

by Jeffrey Phelps/Aurora Photos/Corbis

by Jeffrey Phelps/Aurora Photos/Corbis

The United States Steel Company paid $385,000 toward the construction of this $1 million Gothic beauty in the 1920s, but now the church lies in decay.

12) Ship Cemetery

by Michael Runkel/Alamy

by Michael Runkel/Alamy

Mauritania’s second-largest city is home to the world’s largest ship graveyard. The city’s port is home to more than 300 rusted vessels, as corrupt officials took bribes from boat owners, allowing them to abandon their ships.

13) Balestrino

by CuboImages/SRL/Alamy

by CuboImages/SRL/Alamy

This picturesque Italian village was owned by the Benedictine abbey of San Pietro dei Monti in the 12th century and was once a bustling village full of olive farmers. Population began to decline, however, in the late 19th century when a series of earthquakes struck the area. The remained residents were relocated in 1953 due to geographic instability.

14) Nicosia International Airport

by John van Rosendaal/Alamy

by John van Rosendaal/Alamy

The customer waiting areas, restaurant, and check-in counters at this abandoned airport remain exactly as they were in 1974, when the Turkish invasion of Cyprus began.

 

Gate A-4

Live & Learn

naomi_shihab_nye

Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be…

View original post 393 more words

20 Reasons You Should Drop Everything And Visit New Caledonia (and not just because that’s where I’m from! )

1. First of all, that water.

Nouvelle-Calédonie

2. You can sail along that pristine water in a yacht.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 2

3. You can snorkel, surf, and kite surf.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 3

4. Spend time with the locals.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 4

5. Go for long walks on white sand…

Nouvelle-Calédonie 5

6. …or maybe just do absolutely nothing.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 6

7. The Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef in the world.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 7

8. There’s a place called “Joking Cliffs”.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 8

9. There’s an island covered in pine trees.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 9

10. You can see some incredible sights from a helicopter.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 10

11. And landscapes that will take your breath away.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 11

12. You can hike and explore the bush.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 12

13. Breathe that sweet tropical air.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 13

14. And indulge in French wine and escargot on a tropical beach…

Nouvelle-Calédonie 14

15. …as the sun sets and looks like this:

Nouvelle-Calédonie 15

16. This is a place where giant green rocks float on pristine, glass water.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 16

17. It’s just…

Nouvelle-Calédonie 17

18. …SO…

Nouvelle-Calédonie 18

19. …BEAUTIFUL.

Nouvelle-Calédonie 19

20. Do you really need a 20th reason??.

 

Part of this post was initially published by New Caledonia Tourism on BuzzFeed. See it here

7 countries where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free)

Humboldt University in Berlin

Since 1985, U.S. college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition fees keep rising. In Germany, they’ve done the opposite.

The country’s universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October, when Lower Saxony became the last state to scrap the fees. Tuition rates were always low in Germany, but now the German government fully funds the education of its citizens — and even of foreigners.

Explaining the change, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, said tuition fees “discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study.  It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

What might interest potential university students in the United States is that Germany offers some programs in English — and it’s not the only country. Let’s take a look at the surprising — and very cheap — alternatives to pricey American college degrees.

1) Germany

Berlin

Germany’s higher education landscape primarily consists of internationally well-ranked public universities, some of which receive special funding because the government deems them “excellent institutions.” What’s more, Americans can earn a German undergraduate or graduate degree without speaking a word of German and without having to pay a single dollar of tuition fees: About 900 undergraduate or graduate degrees are offered exclusively in English, with courses ranging from engineering to social sciences. For some German degrees, you don’t even have to formally apply.

In fact, the German government would be happy if you decided to make use of its higher education system. The vast degree offerings in English are intended to prepare German students to communicate in a foreign language, but also to attract foreign students, because the country needs more skilled workers.

2) Finland

Helsinki Harbour

 

This northern European country charges no tuition fees, and it offers a large number of university programs in English. However, the Finnish government amiably reminds interested foreigners that they “are expected to independently cover all everyday living expenses.” In other words: Finland will finance your education, but not your afternoon coffee break.

3) France

Eiffel Tower

There are at least 76 English-language undergraduate programs in France, but many are offered by private universities and are expensive. Many more graduate-level courses, however, are designed for English-speaking students, and one out of every three French doctoral degrees is awarded to a foreign student.

“It is no longer needed to be fluent in French to study in France,” according to the government agency Campus France. The website studyportals.eu provides a comprehensive list of the available courses in France and other European countries.

Public university programs charge only a small tuition fee of about 200 dollars for most programs. Other, more elite institutions have adopted a model that requires students to pay fees that are based on the income of their parents. Children of unemployed parents can study for free, while more privileged families have to pay more. This rule is only valid for citizens of the European Union, but even the maximum fees (about $14,000 per year) are often much lower than U.S. tuition fees. Some universities, such as Sciences Po Paris, offer dual degrees with U.S. colleges.

4) Sweden

Sweden

This Scandinavian country is among the world’s wealthiest, and its beautiful landscape beckons. It also offers some of the world’s most cost-efficient college degrees. More than 900 listed programs in 35 universities are taught in English. However, only Ph.D programs are tuition-free.

5) Norway

Norway

Norwegian universities do not charge tuition fees for international students. The Norwegian higher education system is similar to the one in the United States: Class sizes are small and professors are easily approachable. Many Norwegian universities offer programs taught in English. American students, for example, could choose “Advanced Studies for Solo Instrumentalists or Chamber Music Ensembles” or “Development Geography.”

But don’t expect to save money in Norway, which has one of the world’shighest costs of living for expats And be careful where you decide to study. “Winters in general are quite different in different parts of the country, with the north having hard, arctic winters, and the southwest mostly having mild, wet average European winters,” the Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Education notes.

6) Slovenia

Slovenia

About 150 English programs are available, and foreign nationals only pay an insignificant registration fee when they enroll. Slovenia borders Italy and Croatia, among Europe’s most popular vacation destinations. However, Times Higher Education, a weekly magazine based in London, did not list one Slovenian university in its recent World University Ranking.

7) Brazil

Brazil

This post was initially published by Rick Noack for the Washington Post. See it here