A Global Journey

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” ―Fran Lebowitz, The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Hear a voice from the past, from across an ocean, from the future, or maybe even one that you could hear on your own street.  Whether it’s the crack of a new book’s spine, the worn, well-loved pages of a favorite, or the soft glow from your e-reader, the act of reading a book transports you.  To another place.  Another time.  To a group of people whom you don’t know.  And everyone is looking for something.  Join us on our journey around the world—in books.  Find something that speaks to you and tuck in.

Written in 2006, Adichie’s wrenching tale chronicles five people’s lives as they navigate politics, power, academics, journalism, women’s rights, marriage, and the struggle for daily survival during Nigeria’s Civil War in the late 1960s.  How blurred are the lines between life and death?  What does it mean to be in love?  How does war affect humanity—and its soul?

A Chinese classic on feminism, circa 1827.  While the Qing Dynasty period wasn’t known for embracing femininity, the author was. Ruzhen offers us a subversion of gender roles in a fantasy classic—often with a humorous twist.  He believed in equal rights for men and women and wrote Flowers in the Mirror as one fantastical version of what that kind of world could look like.

Travel to Barcelona, on Zafón’s meticulously detailed streets with young Daniel in 1945, just after the Spanish Civil War.  Pick up an obscure, tattered book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and join Daniel on a dangerous mystery that will take you throughout past and then-present Barcelona—and the heartbreak of the human spirit.  Also Try Zafón’s 2009 prequel, The Angel’s Game, written in 2008, seven years after Shadow of the Wind.

Touch From Abroad

Not joining the throngs headed “home for the holidays” on planes, trains, and automobiles?  No fear. We’ve outlined some tips and tricks for those of you have don’t have data plans, those of you who do, and those of you who have none of the above, so that you can easily stay in touch with your family and loved ones—without actually being there.   Step 1?  Don’t worry.

If you don’t have a data plan

Here’s the key: access WiFi when you can.  Use internet cafes, hotels, stores, libraries, and other “hot spots” where you know you’ll be able to access the internet.

A trick and an App…

1. Type your emails whenever you want and save them as drafts.  When you get to WiFi, all you have to do is hit “send.”  Huge timesaver. (That’s the trick).

2.      Have you met Boingo?  Boingo Wi-finder is an app that helps you find thousands of free WiFi and Boingo hotspots around the world.  Easily.  You don’t have to wait until the internet café opens or until you pass advertised WiFi.  Boingo tells you where to go.  It’s reasonably priced, and you don’t have to buy a plan for a year.  You can buy one of their “AsYouGo” plans for an hour, a week, a day, a month if you want, and have access to free WiFi and Boingo hotspots to connect with your family and friends. (That’s the app).

If you do have a data plan

It’s a beautiful thing: you can send emails any time you want.  That’s not a trick.  That’s a reality.

Fun Apps to consider:

1. Skype

Probably the most well-known and it works well.  It’s a free download for phones, tablets, and computers, and you can also call cell phones and land lines (what are those?!) for a small fee.  Biggest plus?  Lots of folks already have accounts and use it.  It boasts free Skype-Skype video and voice calls.  You can instant message, screen share, and operate from a Mac or PC phone, tablet, or computer.

2. Viber

For starters, the app is free.  Everything is free if your family and friends have Viber, too.  For a small fee, you can contact non-Viber users, too.  You can call, text, and photo message, and you can use it from your phone, tablet, or computer.  Mac or PC?  Doesn’t matter.

3. WhatsApp

Avoid SMS fees by messaging friends and family for free.  You can also talk internationally for free, and have free face-face conversations.  You don’t use your cell plan’s voice minutes, but you may have to pay for data.  Double check your plan if you don’t want the “hidden” data charges to show up on your bill.

4. Facetime

Make video or audio calls from an iOS device.  Super easy to use—but the folks you contact also need to have iOS devices.

Survive an Enduring Career

It’s like riding on a subway without holding onto anything for balance: the consistent shifting and evolution of your place and space on the train mirrors the metamorphosis of today’s work landscape.  One consistent trend in workplace evolution?  Time.  Young graduates will have to work longer than their parents.  Sure, you want to survive.  But we know that you want to do more than that.  You want to thrive.   Here’s how.

1. Changing Life Cycles

According to a recent Financial Times article, life used to be measured in three stages: education, work, and retirement, all with fairly equal amounts of time.  That cycle looks different now, with a significantly longer working life.  While an MBA used to be the catalyst for the job that would get you to your final burst of highly successful employment, it’s now somewhere in the middle.  When your working life begins in your 20s, you need to begin to think of this cycle lasting for fifty—or even sixty—years.  How should you prepare?  What do you want it to look like?  Consider what it would take to sustain your spending habits—and extrapolate those costs over the next half-century plus.

2. Transition and Change

Recognize that transitions—even positive ones—are always difficult.  They rattle your sense of self, and often your sense of place. They are always a time for growth, whether you want it or not.  The keys to your success? Flexibility and adaptability.  It’s unlikely that you’ll have the same job for 50 or 60 years. Keep your networks broad and varied—reach out to people of different ages, genders, and occupations.  As you build your portfolio, consider the trends that potential employers will invariably seek—and see.  With perseverance, your career portfolio will tell your story of resilience—and a willingness to try new things.

3. A Few Paces Ahead

Plan your career like you’re a chess master: think strategic steps.  Always.  Sitting still gets you nowhere.  Learn a new skill.  Try a new language.  Add some people to that fantastic network of yours (see #2).  Learn some new technology.  Reach out.  Look out.  Do what you enjoy.  Keep yourself relevant, happy, and think about how you can apply what you know and love to what you want to do—recognize that those things will probably change over time.