Going abroad on holiday or for a gap year should be the opportunity to discover a new country, or many, and new cultures. Travelling is not just about being away from home and ending up doing the same thing, there is more to it. So how can you make the best of your travels or holidays?
Living with the Locals
The best way to discover what a country really is about is to spend time with its population. There are now many websites where you can rent rooms in people's houses and share their daily life. Not only this way to travel is more friendly, it is also cheaper.
Volunteer work doesn't just apply to third world countries and there are many places you can spend time helping on different types of project during your holiday. From nature reserves in Central America to hospital building in Africa, you can donate your time and do something for a country and discover spots that are far away from the beaten paths.
Why stay in one place, or even two, when there is so much to discover in any country? You could see much more of it and meet many different people by moving from place to place. With a car, a camper van, or public transports, a road trip will give you a better idea of what a country really is. You can plan the trip or leave it to improvisation, whatever your taste.
Hike or Cycle
This one is for those who like to be outdoor and prefer active holidays. A cheap alternative to the road trip, hiking or cycling around a country is a unique way to take in the beauty of landscapes and cities. You will have access to another side of a country and if you double that with staying with locals, you'll have a memorable experience.
Work on a Cruise Ship
A good way to pay for your travel and get to many different places. Make sure that you will be allowed to get out of the boat during stops or this will be no more than just summer work without any benefits. With the right company, you could be paid to go to exotic places and discover other cultures.
Be an au pair
This one has many benefits: earning while getting free bed and bread, practicing another language, and sharing the life of locals. You will usually get a part of the day free as well as some evenings. If you want to work with children, being an au pair is a precious experience.
If you need ideas for places to go to, have a look here.
Out of all of the world’s tongues, French is one of the most popular to learn as a second language. Once the world’s undisputed ‘international language,’ French is still very widely understood, particularly in Europe and in Africa. But French is more than simply useful – it’s the language of dreams, the language of love, and one of the most beautiful languages there is.
Here are some handy tips for learning French, or for extending your existing knowledge.
Many of the textbooks and grammar books used by professional teachers are freely available to buy online or from bookshops. With sufficient self-discipline and focus, there’s nothing to stop you from buying these and going through the exercises yourself. Remember that you will need to ‘go over’ many aspects of the language several times before they stick in your mind.
Use the internet
There are many different internet resources with downloadable French video and audio samples, which is a great way to practise the speaking and listening aspects of the language. The web also offers many grammar, reading, writing and vocabulary resources and exercises online, many of which are free to use!
Take a French language course
Of course, it’s much easier to learn a new language if you have an experienced teacher and enthusiastic fellow students to learn with. For this reason, many people choose to take a formal French language course as a central part of their learning. Many British language schools like UIC London (http://www.uiclondon.com) offer great courses in French. These schools are very helpful – if you get in contact, they can give you all the information you need on how to book a French course
Travel around France
If you want to learn French, you may well already love France. Make the most of this enthusiasm by taking any available opportunity to travel the country and practise speaking the language first-hand – don’t be shy!
Do a volunteer placement
If you want a real immersion experience, but don’t have the cash for a long holiday in France, a volunteer placement could be what you’re looking for. Many charities and organisations offer free accommodation to volunteers, and many even throw in French lessons! Even if you don’t have formal classes, you’ll pick up lots by listening and navigating shops and buses.
Make French friends
Whether you’re travelling in France or staying at home, you should take every opportunity to make friends with French people. If you’re a complete beginner, you can get them to teach you some key words and idioms, while intermediate level learners can try having a whole conversation in French!
Learning a new language as an adult is a major endeavour, and it’s important to plan your learning carefully. For best results, you should spend at least an hour a day doing French exercises, speaking in French, watching French TV or reading French books.
Poll: Why do you want to learn French?
A I like the way it sounds
B I want to live/ work in France
C I want to live/ work in a French-speaking country
D I think that it’s romantic
E I want to read French literature and watch French films
Free resource offering exercises and explanations on speaking, reading and writing French
‘Teach Yourself Complete French’
Description and purchase link for a very well-regarded French course textbook for at-home use
A course of videos for practising French listening skills
Anyone who has ever experienced the joy of a stop-over also knows the dire situations when it comes to places to eat. Airport restaurants are usually overpriced and the food tastes bland or overcooked. You find yourself heading to Starbucks just because you can trust the quality and price. It might not be great but at least you know what you get.
Over the years I have done my research and I’m proud to announce the six best airport restaurants. Whenever you are at once of these airports you should pass Starbucks and head to the restaurant for good food at a reasonable price.
Piquillo at John F. Kennedy International
Here you will find the first ever tapas restaurant to be opened at an American airport. You will find Piquillo in the JetBlue terminal 5. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or an extensive dinner to pass the time, Piquillo is a great hang out.
Tian Xia Dumplings at Hong Kong International airport
Don’t expect the usual Chinese grub when you find this restaurant in terminal 2. The menu consists out of the best authentic Chinese dishes, prepared with fresh produce.
Encounter at Los Angeles International Airport
The futuristic LAX airport is one of the most exciting airports you will ever encounter. The Theme Building will make you feel as if you’re in a Star Trek movie. Grab a bite at the Encounter restaurant for some typical Californian food.
Plane food at London Heathrow
This Gordon Ramsay’s first airport restaurant and it situated in busy terminal number 5. The view, the food and the atmosphere make this restaurant one to visit.
Bubbles at Amsterdam Schiphol
Feel at home in the eccentric bubbles lounge. The menu offers an eclectic mix of traditional Dutch snacks and fifteen different brands of champagne. Sink in to the lush lounge chairs and stare at the fish aquarium whilst you wait for your connecting flight.
Salt Lick BBQ restaurant at Austin- Bergstrom International
Follow the smell of barbeque beef as soon as you enter the terminal building. The Salt Lick BBQ restaurants dishes up the best spareribs and T-bone steaks available in the State of Texas.