On The Road With:

On The Road With: Anna McCanse Nelson

Anna McCanse Nelson literally wrote the (guide)book on Dominica. After living in Dominica for 2 years, one gets the impression she would go back in a heartbeat.

Eric Murtaugh: What brought you to Dominica?

Anna McCanse Nelson: I joined the Peace Corps in 2006 and it was completely by luck that I was chosen to go to Dominica.

I really didn’t know anything about the country and at the time there was almost no information about it, outside of a few pages in a Caribbean guidebook, so it was a pleasant surprise that it ended up being such an incredible place. I stayed in Dominica for 2 years, in the village of Grand Bay.

EM: What advice would you give to first time visitors to Dominica?

AMN: Don’t expect a relaxing beach vacation in Dominica. You won’t find visitors laying around with mai tais with umbrella straws here.

Be prepared to get active. There is so much to do and see but you should be prepared to do a bit of work, albeit really fun work like hiking to a waterfall, to get the most out of your vacation.

EM: What’s the food like?

AMN: The food is interesting and not really what you’d expect from a Caribbean island.

The typical Creole plate that you can get at any local restaurant almost always consists of a type of meat, which will be either fish, chicken, or goat, some provisions, which is a kind of starchy vegetable, and usually a salad and rice and beans with a sauce for everything.

American-type food is available as well in the capital and at most hotel restaurants. One of the best places to get a Creole lunch is at Kalinago Barana Aute, in the Carib Territory. Their cook, Rose, is amazing.

"You won't find visitors laying around with mai tais with umbrella straws here. Be prepared to get active." Life in Dominica.

EM: You wrote a guidebook on Dominica. How did that come about?

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On The Road With: Hannah

Hannah spent one semester studying abroad at the University of Leicester in Leicester, England last year.  Here is what she had to say about her experience.

Eric Murtaugh:  Tell me about how you got involved with your study abroad program.

Hannah:  A few of my friends had studied abroad so I applied and figured what the hell. When I got there, I joined the University of Leicester Woman’s Football (soccer) club and also the Study Abroad Society.

I was also part of the London Orientation, which was a 2-week orientation in London with about 30 of us. I was glad I decided to join all the things I did.

EM:  What did you learn about Europe?

H:  There are many things I learned about Europe, but the first thing I learned is that the UK is not as rainy and cloudy as everyone thinks. Everyone is very laid back, and a lot of Europeans do like Americans, despite what most people would think.

It is hard to have to always look the opposite way than what you are used to before you cross the street, and riding in someone’s car on the side you’re used to driving on is a crazy experience.

The bus systems are always late, and being late is not a big deal in Europe/UK.

EM:  You seemed to make it a point to travel almost every weekend. How did you make it happen?

H:  I knew that one major thing I wanted to do while I was across the pond was travel and I made it happen. I studied a lot during the week and got my papers done while almost everyone else I knew went out.

But I planned every trip for all of my friends and made sure I went to the places that I wanted to go.

“Every second I was abroad was so far the best time of my life.” Hannah in Scotland.

EM:  Which countries did you visit?

H:  I visited England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

EM:  What’s the hardest part about traveling in Europe?

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On The Road With: Justin Kaplan

Justin Kaplan spends more than 40 weeks per year working on the road.  Justin took a minute to share his story with me.

Eric Murtaugh: Your job seems to take you around the globe.  What is that like for you?

Justin Kaplan: The experience has been and continues to be humbling and awesome at the same time. You realize how tiny you really are when you’re surrounded by people. All the cultures, the people, the sights; this is definitely the best thing that’s ever happened to me and even when I get down, I remember how lucky I am to be in this kind of position—helping people make their lives better.

EM: How many countries have you worked in thus far?

JK: 9 so far, more coming soon—Australia (x4), Costa Rica, Brazil, Singapore, London, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and Mexico

EM: What is the paperwork process like with the countries you work in?

JK: Most of these have been painless or have small hoops to jump through (Singapore and Australia simply require filling out a website and paying a fee), but Brazil is like pulling teeth. Between the notarized letters of intent from both my company AND my customer, the letter stating you’re not a financial deadbeat, and then having to actually physically send in your passport to the consulate— yeah, 3 weeks later it was a huge sigh of relief.

I was told it’s like that for almost anyone coming to America though, so I suppose turnabout is fair play.

Justin, holding it down in Australia.

EM: How did you score such a sweet gig, anyway?  Could you describe what it is you do for work, and how long you’ve been doing it?

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