file-dec-05-8-23-17-pm

The Lost City

Valleys, sandstone, sun-backed clay and salty waters….Jordan is a real sight to see.

My good friend Heather and I visited Jordan during the Eid holiday back in September and we were not limited to the many photo ops Jordan had to offer.

We started our exploration at the Dead Sea where we lathered ourselves in mud and floated on top of the hyper-saline waters.  The next day we visited the lost city of Petra.

The Monastery in Petra is a familiar picture that we’ve all seen many times over as we scrolled through Instagram or flipped through travel magazines. Petra is magical! It is a rose-colored city filled with narrow valleys, 200 m walls, and a history as old as Christ.

Our final night was spent at Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum is a vast desert that encompasses several dunes, rocky bridges, scary cliffs and an open observation deck for watching the beautiful sun set over the Arabian desert.

Find me on YouTube to watch my vlog….. @InternationalNikki

Instagram/Snapchat: @internationalnikki

 

File Apr 22, 9 36 44 PM

Teacher chronicles…a look inside my classroom

IMG_2232This is my 9th year as an educator; 3rd teaching internationally and I have to say that this has been one of the best years of my teaching career. I started teaching when I was 21 years old so I can finally consider myself a vet! Teaching has brought me great pleasure and opportunities over the years but best of all, it has given me the opportunity to leave an impact on the young and impressionable minds I’ve come in contact with over the years.

Outside of allowing me to be a role model for my students, I have had the pleasure of teaching with educators from all walks of life. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues as well as from my students. The key to my success is being a lifelong learner. Each day I learn something new. Each day I find a way to be more creative and innovative than the last. Being an educator feeds my soul. It allows me to play many roles. The thing about being a teacher is that you are not just a teacher; you are mother, a nurse, a judge, a friend and the list continues. Let’s just say my days are never the same.

One thing I’ve always taken pride in is my classroom. I believe that the classroom environment is the most important part of a child’s school experience. A student spends the majority of their time in their classroom. This environment should be fun, friendly, inviting and personable. Children should be comfortable here. They should know their classroom like they know their bedroom. My classroom is always a work in progress. From the beginning of the year to the very end, I am constantly changing the room around to accommodate my learners. In fact,  I really don’t even call it my classroom, it’s their classroom. I just manage it!

Here are a few pictures of my classroom in Dubai…….

 

 

 

 

File Apr 08, 8 33 39 PM

The Journey continues….

Hey Bloggies! Your favorite traveling teacher is back. Yes, I know it’s been a while but let’s just say that I’ve been a wee bit busy.

So let me fill you in…..

My two year contract with ADEC ended in August of 2015 and I decided not to renew, however, I chose to stay in the UAE. Shortly after my birthday in November of 2014 I began an intense search for a new teaching opportunity in Dubai. I signed up with Search Associates, a company who helps you find international teaching opportunities and by January I was attending their global job fair. Using their database, I had my eye on one particular school; a brand new international school that had not even been built yet. I was determined to be a part of this school’s history.

File Apr 08, 6 40 58 PM

Job Fair day

After initially being turned away at the job fair because I lacked IB experience, I was determined to get my dream job at my dream school! And let’s just say, your girl doesn’t give up easily.

Long story short, I convinced my now Head of School and his wife to grant me an interview and the rest is history.

But let’s rewind…..

Although working for ADEC had its perks (it brought me here!) I was very much unfulfilled and was not being challenged. Likewise, living in Al Ain made me feel trapped. I was kind of bored with life.

As you may or may not know, I’m a NYC girl. Born and raised in Staten Island, NY and spending the last 5 years prior to moving to the UAE living and working in Harlem had me missing the metropolitan life.

My life back at home was far from mundane. I excelled at work, nurtured my hobbies on the weekends, worked out 5x a week and hung out with my close friends in between. Unfortunately, all of that disappeared when I moved here back in 2013. My life was fantastic for the first 6 months- new friends, new adventures, new experiences and new travels. Rightfully so, I traded in my old experiences for new experiences but once the smoke cleared I became lonely and nostalgic.

I was constantly searching for something to fill my voids. The only thing that kept me afloat for the months to follow was my good friend Devin. Devin kept me spiritually focused; which in turn helped me to make it through a very dark time.

Devin left me this year! *Insert sad face* My girl had enough…lol…but she is very happy and in love back in the states where she spends her time being the wonderful mother that she is, being an administrator at a new school and best of all, serving the Lord. I miss you Devy Wevy!!!!

In August of 2015, I made the move to Dubai. My school housed me in a fabulous accommodation in downtown Dubai overlooking the World’s tallest building; the Burj Khalifa.

Since moving to Dubai, I have been flourishing at my new job, taking on many leadership roles, making many new friends from around the globe, and continuing my travels.

Each day is better than the next. Not to mention, my partner moving here last year to be with me. On my off days, you can usually find me shopping at the Dubai mall (which is right around the corner), chilling at the beach, trying out new adventure sports or taking my new 2 1b Yorkie Chanel to the park to run wild while I lay out on the lawn underneath the Burj while planning my next adventure.

I have to say…life has been good!

 

Love, Live, Life…Abroad!!!

 

 

Nikki in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal is a city of temples and shrines and a rich religious and cultural history. It is wedged directly in between China and India. Its beautiful landscape boasts magnificent views of the most eye-catching mountain peaks and valleys in the world.

The highest mountain peak in the world, the Himalaya Mountains, can be seen from numerous points in Kathmandu. Trekking tours, as well as, air tours are available for travelers who want to get a first-hand account of Nepal’s natural jewels, either by land or air.

Traveling to Kathmandu was a short, last minute trip I took for the EID holiday this past December. I found an awesome deal on Groupon.ae that was very inexpensive and that included: flight (flydubai), hotel, and airport transfers. The hotel was fabulous; it was a 4 star hotel (Hotel Shambala) located about 30 minutes from the airport. The hotel offered free WiFi, two affordable international restaurants, a cozy spa, and a breathtaking rooftop pool that overlooked the mountains.

IMG_6976[1]

Scenic view from rooftop

I booked a local tour guide through the hotel, who took me anywhere I wanted to go each day. On the first day, I visited Durbar Square, the plaza in front of the old royal palace; Boudanath Stupa, the largest stupa in Nepal, rich in Buddhist symbolism; and Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most sacred Hindu temples in Nepal (I actually witnessed a cremation in process, which is a huge part of Nepalese culture).

IMG_7078[1]

Durbar Square

.

IMG_7057[1]

Pashupatinath Temple

IMG_7015[1]

Boudanath Stupa

 The next day, I went shopping in a local town where I found cool things like Pashmina scarves, colorful hand-made bags, statues, fresh fruits and veggies, and traditional clothing.

IMG_7316

Shopping in local town

IMG_7086[1]

Mother and daughter in front of local shop

Later that evening, I had dinner and tea at the top of a mountain while enjoying Kathmandu’s amazing sunset.

IMG_7368

Dinner and sunset on top of the mountain

On my last full day in Kathmandu, I went on an air tour over Mt. Everest and all of the other surrounding mountain peaks. It was simply amazing! Although the plane was very tiny, I was able to get a cockpit view of the ice caps that securely cover Mt. Everest.

IMG_7186[1]

Approaching Mt. Everest

IMG_7183[1]

Mt. Everest view from the plane

For the rest of the day, I lounged by the pool sipping tea and reading a good book before finally heading back to my room to pack.

IMG_7246

Hotel Shambala rooftop pool

.

Love, Live, Life……Abroad!

Nicole

Grecian Holiday

FullSizeRender (3)

Before returning home last summer I took a trip to Greece. I spent three days in the capital, Athens and another 3 days on the beautiful island of Santorini. Greece was everything I had imagined it to be: historical, exciting, and beautiful! In Athens, I toured the city via Hop-on/Hop-off bus. A two-day pass allowed me to use it as my own personal taxi to all of the famous landmarks and tourist hubs. The structures in Athens were a little unreal; standing tall and solid as if they were just built and didn’t exist centuries ago. Likewise, Athens had tons of cheap and delicious eats and free beaches to bask in the golden sun and swim in the rocky shores.

image

Restaurant at the foot of the Acropolis

image

On top of the Parthenon

image

Temple of Zeus

Then there was Santorini. Santorini is a place known for its breathtaking hues of blue, cliff-side landscape and unforgettable sunsets. Santorini offered an experience like no other. From hiking up an active volcano to swimming in the Aegean sea, Santorini is a must visit for any kind of traveler.

image

On top of an active volcano

image

Caldera view

I traveled from Athens to Santoroni on a luxurious ferry that took about 6 hours. Aboard the ferry, I upgraded to first class, in which I had a cabin with an en suite bathroom, bed, and desk. The ferry offered panoramic views of the Aegean sea, wi-fi (fee for use), an array of dining options, and a storage center for luggage at the bottom of the vessel. It was the best ferry ride I’ve ever experienced.

image

Greece is one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken.

Tips for Traveling Internationally

travel tips

Planning:

  • Thoroughly research the country you want to visit (trip advisor, books, blogs, etc.). Decide on what you want to do/see when you arrive to this country; figure out how you will navigate the country while there (train, local flight, shuttles, ferry, etc.).

travel books

  • Start pricing international flights and accomodations about 1-3 months in advance.

flights

  • Set a realistic budget (flight, accommodations, transportation, food, excursions, shopping, and misc. expenses).

budget

So now you’ve decided to travel internationally, now what:

  • Book your flight no later than 6 weeks in advance (flight is usually the most expensive part of a trip and prices tend to increase closer to the expected departure date). *Pay attention to cancellation fees or change fees.

itinerary

  • Book your accommodations, transportation and excursions at least 4 weeks in advance.

hotels

  • Check to see if any vaccinations are suggested or required for the country you’re visiting.

vaccination

  • Get a full medical check-up and refill any prescriptions that are running low.

check up

2 weeks before you leave:

  • Call your credit card companies and inform them that you will be traveling internationally so that when you use your card you won’t be flagged for fraud.

credit cards

  • Make copies of all of your documents (passport, credit cards, etc.). Leave at least one copy at home and email a copy to yourself.

passport

  • Check if the country you are visiting requires a temporary travel visa and if so, the cost.

visa

  • Call your mobile company and inquire about international calling packages.

phone

  • Check travel alerts and register with your country’s embassy (in case any problems in the country you’re visiting occur).

us embassy

  • Purchase adapters/converters for your electronics.

adapters

1 week before you leave:

  • Get guidebooks (maps, keywords, phrases, sights, etc.)

maps

  • Download travel apps (currency converter, language translator, maps, etc.)

travel apps

  • Print out all booking documents (hotel info, excursions, etc…). *Don’t depend on your smartphone or tablet, as Wi-Fi isn’t always available as soon as you arrive to a new country.

print docs

  • Email someone a copy of your itinerary with all contact numbers available. Safety first!

itinerary2

  • Check baggage allowance and fees for you airline.

baggage allowance

At the airport:

  • Arrive at least 2-3 hours before your flight departs (international flights begin boarding an hour beforehand).

check in

  • Take a picture of your luggage (just in case the airline loses it).

luggage

  • Lock and tag your luggage (helps distinguish your luggage from other similar luggage).

locks

  • Keep all of your travel documents with you. Keep any medicine, electronics, personals or valuables in your carry-on bag.

travel bag

 

Arriving in country:

  • Get money from an ATM machine at the airport rather than from an exchange kiosk. Take out enough money to last you for a few days. Do not carry too much money.

currency exchange

  • Use a pouch or bag that is ALWAYS in front of you (pickpocketing is very common in countries outside of the U.S.).

pouch

  • Keep credit cards and cash separate.
  • Carry copies of your passport with you and lock your actual passport in your hotel’s safe or in your locked suitcase.
  • Don’t buy things from random people on the street.
  • Take only registered taxis.
  • Avoid shortcuts.
  • If traveling alone, return back to the hotel at sundown.

Take lots of pictures and have an amazing trip!

Love, Live, Life…Abroad

Nicole

 

 

 

 

Mission Un-Impossible: Kenya, Africa

Kenya, Africa: A scenic, culturally rich landscape, filled with vibrant people, blue skies, vast jungles, and ferocious animals.

photo_1 (2) kenya2

Traveling around the world is amazing! But the best part about it is the people you meet along the way. When I backpacked through Europe 2 years ago, I met so many amazing people, heard tons of unique stories, and became greatly inspired. Traveling through Europe inspired me to begin documenting my journey around the world. It also gave me access to information and resources I may have never discovered on my own.

I’ve encountered many young people during my travels, who before or after university, will often take their graduation monies, savings, and financial donations from family and set out to travel the world for a few months to a few years. I truly admire these young people and wish I could have started my journey around the world earlier in my life. Although I missed the opportunity to travel the world candidly; I still get to see the world in a different way and with a different purpose at hand.

I’ve been to many tropical islands and jumped off loads of boats in the middle of the bluest seas and although I absolutely love this activity, I realized that traveling around the world is so much more than laying out on the beach, swimming with dolphins, and snapping pictures of monuments. In my mind, my Africa trip would be very different, as I planned to bring another vision of mine into fruition. I planned this trip not knowing the access I would have to help fulfill my vision but I still proceeded with the plan anyway.

With that being said, I would like to share my latest inspiration:

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend asked me a question that really provoked a deep thought. Although we frequently challenge each other to think deeply about who we are, our purpose in life, and our future endeavors; this one time in particular really got the wheels in my head turning. As I grappled with ideas of what I wanted to do once I finished my teaching contract and returned home from the UAE, he abruptly interrupted, asking “If you wasn’t a teacher right now, what would you be doing?” I struggled to answer this question because teaching has always been my passion. I also shared my childhood dream of becoming a choreographer or background dancer for a huge pop star and reminded him of my goal in becoming and owning an interior decorating business. After a few jokes and a brief moment of silence, I began to answer the question again. I humbly said, “All I really want to do is help people. I want to inspire people, I want to give to the less fortunate. I need a selfless career. I’ve been blessed beyond blessed so now I need to share my blessings. I love being a classroom teacher but I think my mission is so much bigger than the classroom.” When I chose to visit Kenya, I chose it with a purpose in mind. Kenya was “the beginning of the beginning” to the next chapter in my life.

For years I had been thinking about becoming a philanthropist but could not find an entry point or even something that I was truly passionate about supporting. I never really shared this idea with anyone because I wasn’t ready to fully commit to it and knew that it wouldn’t be a success unless I was 100% ready.

During my stay in Nairobi, I shared a tent with Anna at the Wildebeest campgrounds. Anna, a 28 year old, Vietnamese woman, from the United States, had been traveling the world for a few months. Anna was on a mission to raise money for underprivileged children in remote areas by using their artwork as a graphic on t-shirts, so that they could attend school. Anna’s determination and charismatic personality greatly inspired me, as she discussed the successes and failures of her mission. As a farewell, I thanked Anna for the fun time I got to share with her but most importantly for the lasting impact that she left on me and my own future philanthropic endeavors. So in the words of Anna, I will “keep trucking” until my mission is a success.

anna kenya

Then there’s Pauline. Ms. Pauline is a middle-aged Kenyan woman with a heart of gold. Pauline and I first started communicating via email, when someone referred me to her about taking a tour to Masai Mara. Pauline ran her own safari tour company called “Jungle Green Wild Safaris”. I had a brief opportunity to talk to Pauline at dinner during my first night at the Rhino Tourist camp in Masai Mara. However, it wasn’t until our second night, when Pauline came to check on me, that I would finally reveal my vision. I asked Pauline tons of questions (as I always do when I’m intrigued by someone or something) and she did not hesitate to answer every question in great detail. She even shared personal stories about her life, in which we both shed a few tears. Pauline is a mother, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, an advocate and so much more. I aspire to be the same. Shortly after we wiped our tears away, I shared with Pauline, my desire to become a philanthropist, which was the first time that this silent idea had been said aloud. I told her that when I got back to Nairobi I wanted to visit a few orphanages and see how I could provide short term and long term support. And that’s when Pauline dropped four powerful words.

paulineshousekenya

“I have an orphanage!” and so now my mission begins…….

schoolkenya studentskenya

Watch my video from my adventures in Kenya:  

Love Live Life….Abroad