I am a Student Affairs Advisor in the Student Affairs Department.
I traveled extensively as a kid and after high school lived in Pakistan for 6 months during which time I performed in my first professional production. I returned home long enough to pack the rest of my bags and buy a plane ticket to Chicago. Chicago was a whim; I knew I wanted to be in a big city and having a futon to crash on for the first week won out over the dorm room floors on offer in other major metropolises.
My initial plan was to only be here for a short time and to live in many places, but other than an early 3-month stint in Omaha, I didn’t stray far from Chicago for nearly 10 years. Then one day I started thinking about how to return to the mindset of that initial plan and within a few months, I had quit my job, sold (almost) everything I owned, and bought a ticket to Taiwan. That ended up being the best decision of my life. It led to meeting my spouse, lots of travel and delicious food, and learning so much about other cultures, history, and more.
I was born in London, raised in Southern California, and consider Chicago as the closest thing to home. I ended up attending Columbia College Chicago, where I received a B.A. in Theatre.
Even though we traveled a lot when I was young, we stopped visiting family in Pakistan before I was old enough to really remember it, so when my dad moved back in my teens, I got the experience of visiting as if it were the first time. The hand-painted, highly decorated trucks and buses, the intense heat (I used to white out going between air-conditioned rooms in Karachi), Pakola, and the jarring class divides were all part of my first impressions on that trip. That and how strange it felt to be at home in a place I was both from and not truly of.
Australia, Pakistan, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland.
I taught in Taipei, Taiwan for 2 ½ years and in Madrid, Spain for 6 months. But I lived in Islamabad, Pakistan for a while and usually visit family in London and Perth for significant lengths of time whenever I make it over.
My last few years in Taiwan I didn’t have an ARC, so my school paid for me to go on visa runs when I didn’t already have a trip planned. My first visa run was to Hong Kong, a city I had always loved from afar (approaching the Hong Kong airport for a layover on my way to Pakistan was always my favorite part of that very long journey-- it’s a magical skyline) but never actually visited. My bosses were great and would book my flights to give me as much time as possible to explore in between, so on that first visa run I picked a spot to wander, looked up directions, and hopped on the airport train.
My destination station happened to let me out in an underground mall and the only exits I could find took me to this impenetrable circle of apartment buildings. I must have explored every single inch of wall in this beautiful, massive, rambling courtyard in an effort to get out, but alas no exit was to be found. It started raining, there was no one around, and Google Maps couldn’t understand why I just kept walking in circles when clearly an exit must exist. Eventually, I went back down to the mall and started following people for a while until I finally found an exit that landed me outside the walls. Needless to say, I didn’t get to see as much as I wanted on that first trip, but at least I didn’t end up living in an underground mall in Hong Kong!
So many! Hot-pot, Korean BBQ, bhel puri, and bánh xèo top my list, but also I have been planning a return visit to Vietnam for awhile and this time I want to spend all my time eating. Maybe a few walks in between to soak up the scenery and digest, but mostly eating.
I love working at ITA because I love helping people make that transition abroad! Plus, working for a company where continuing to travel is encouraged, where your ideas are valued, and where you get to work with other adventurous people is a major benefit.
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