Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Foreign Local

In mid-May, blog contributor Staci Barke traveled to Tokyo, Japan to do independent research for two months. She’s been posting updates on her blog, The Foreign Local. We’ll be cross-posting her posts here for our reader’s information and enjoyment!

Here’s her first installment, from May 17:

I have always been a last minute traveler. The night before I moved to Korea was when I began to pack. And I packed the morning I left for Germany. Traveling is in my blood, it has always been a passion of mine. The first time I traveled abroad was one month after I turned 15. This was to travel around Japan for 3 weeks with my Japanese teacher and upperclassmen; I was the youngest allowed to go. The next time was 2 years ago in February of 2012 when I moved to South Korea to become an English teacher. This happened on a whim when my boss asked me one morning if I would like to teach in Korea, of course I said yes and 2 months later I was on an airplane. While in Korea I went to Osaka, Japan for a weekend. The following year I was looking at airline tickets to Germany for no apparent reason one night. I found tickets for 50% off! Of course I bought them. And now, summer of 2014, I am back to my first love: Japan. I will be staying here for 2 months to do research on the old districts of Tokyo and the globalization effects the Skytree, the recently built broadcasting tower, has on these areas.


Skytree Tower, Tokyo

When I travel, I try to break down the language and culture barriers. I take the backroads, go where the locals go, and avoid other foreigners. I immerse myself in the language and culture of the country I am in. Because of this, I get accepted into the communities I stay in. This is how I came up with the name for this blog. I want to share my experiences with everyone, which is the reason for this blog. Follow me on my adventures around the world! Hopefully you, too, will be bitten by the travel bug.


History Professor Monica Tetzlaff from Germany….

As the child of immigrants from Germany and Hungary, I am fortunate to be bilingual — a heritage German speaker. This May and June I have embarked on a trip to Germany, Austria and Hungary, with my spouse, Brad Laird, and my 5-year-old daughter, Hannah Laird. It has been truly heart-warming seeing relatives that my parents loved and remembering my visits to Germany and Hungary with my parents in 1979 and grandparents in 1973. Tante Panni and Onkel Joszi have long been connected to me. They are my mother’s uncle and aunt, though they are only a few years older than she would have been. They used to live in Budapest, but now have retired in southern Germany where other relatives live as well. We visited them every day of our stay (May 31-June 5, 2014) for either coffee in the afternoon or dinner or both. Hannah fell in love with them and their daughter and niece and we spent a sweet five days in Bietigheim-Bissingen, a small town near Stuttgart. There is an industrial area just down the street from where they live, but it is quiet and the birds chirp all the time. Nearby is the town of Ludwigsburg, which features a beautiful palace and baroque gardens. We also visited the “Maerchen Garten,” a fairy tale garden with 30 traditional German fairy tale settings, such as Rapunzel’s braid falling from a tower when one shouts, “Lass Dein Zopf Runter!” (Let down your braid!). Traveling in Germany with a 5 year old has meant visits to playgrounds rather than museums, but we have met many more Germans and their children personally as a result. Fortunately, Hannah is able to sit in outdoor café’s with us and eat ice cream, while we drink coffee. Most of all, she enjoys meeting the relatives, helping them set the table, etc. I’m glad to be able to pass on my cultural heritage to her and to share it with Brad.