Christina Marie's Travel Blog

Welcome to my blog! I left the country for the first time two years ago and have been obsessed with traveling ever since. Entries include videos, photos and details from my adventures, including my time living and teaching English in Vietnam. Enjoy!



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Recent Tweets @cbrodzky
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hi I am curious what program you went through to teach overseas and whether you would recommend it?
cbrodzky cbrodzky Said:

The program I went through is called Teachers for Vietnam. I think they’re a good organization and you should consider them. The memories I got from teaching abroad will stay with me forever! Enjoy!

You can still enjoy the same great travel stories at my new site: www.thejewricantraveler.com!!

An old student of mine recently reached out to me requesting I proofread her paper on the importance of education in Vietnam. Some of the statistics listed in her paper surprised me, such as 40% of students in the Mekong Delta dropped out of school in 2009, most of them being upperclassmen. Whether this statistic is accurate or not, I can’t actually say for sure, but from what I saw during my travels, including outside of Vietnam, I wouldn’t be all that surprised. 

I saw first hand the unfortunate instances of when parents had removed their children from school in order to have them work and support the family. One of them being at one of the family vegetarian noodle shops I ate at regularly. I always thought this one girl that worked there was rude and unfriendly (but the food was awesome, which is why I kept coming back). At any time of the day she would be there and it annoyed me to see her. 

I later discovered from one of the other English teachers that she was only 14-years old (I thought she was at least in her mid-twenties) and that she was taken out of school to help the family. It broke my heart to know that she was so young working all hours of the day (not to mention I felt like the biggest jerk). It also killed me to know she wasn’t able to attend school while her younger brother was. After that I didn’t mind her attitude in the least bit and I even made more of an effort to smile at her. 

I suppose there are two lessons to take away from this post: The first being don’t judge, and the second being that of the importance of education, not just for Vietnam, but even for here in my own country.

Click ‘read more’ to read my student’s essay on the importance of education …

Read More

Until recently, I found it hard to believe that I managed to take a 21-hour flight to Vietnam and have yet never managed at least a five-hour drive north of NYC (that didn’t include New York). So for my first trip of 2011, three of my closest girlfriends and I headed up to Stowe, Vermont for a weekend filled of skiing, hot chocolate by the fireplace and the most important - relaxation! Also, I wanted to hit the slopes for the first time in my life and continue on my path to doing things I’ve never done before. 

We got a great deal to stay at the Stowe Mountain Lodge through Jetsetter. Our stay at this luxurious lodge was nearly half off what it would normally be and our room was pricing at about $2,300 if we booked last minute. The price we paid to stay here, which included the room for three days, two nights and lift tickets, was only about $250 per person!

The interiors of the lodge were beautiful and everyone was very accommodating. It must be a prerequisite for the staff to be gorgeous because there was eye candy everywhere. The best part of our lodging was the room because it was equipped with a full kitchen and fireplace.

When it was time to hit the slopes, my one girlfriend and I decided to take lessons since it was our first time. We headed to the practice area where we shared mini slopes with five-year olds.

Later that night, we headed to the outdoor hot tub. It was an incredibly relaxing atmosphere having the mountains in the background, snow falling on your head and being submerged in hot water. 

Overall, the trip was amazing and I highly recommend everyone to take a trip to Stowe, Vermont. If you had time, make sure to stop by the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory on your way out. 

To view the rest of my photos from Vermont, visit my Flickr photostream by clicking here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cbrodzky/sets/72157625997665045/

I’m ecstatic to announce that I’ve just recently accepted a new job, where I will not only be doing what I enjoy doing, but will also require me to visit my client in Chicago frequently! Here’s a photo from my last visit to Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). This photo is almost symbolic of how I’m feeling: A little nervous to take that first step, but doing it anyway and being a rock star (and I hope this photo speaks volumes considering I’m TERRIFIED of heights). 

Sears Tower - looking down at the glass floor

To view the rest of my photos from Chicago, visit my Flickr photostream by clicking here

"Dear my teacher!

Vietnamese Lunar New Year is coming, I am excited to enjoy it. Our school will have 2 weeks off from 27Jan to 9Feb. This time for me to come back my home town, decorate my house, prepare foods and visit my relatives. This is also the good chance for me to see my old friends and visit my teachers. On occasion of Vietnamese New Year, I hope that you and your family will be healthy, lucky, and happy!”

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Celebrating Tet, the Vietnamese New Year
Notes from Vietnam: Happy Vietnamese New Year!

"Hello teacher!

I haven’t signed in Facebook, so I wish you a Happy New Year by email. May your New Year be filled with the happiness and so much health! Your cute student, :-)”

It’s almost time to celebrate yet another year coming and going. Enjoy this video of Bill and Hilary Clinton dancing to Frank Sinatra at the 2009 New Years Eve Ball Drop in Times Square. Working in PR at that time definitely provided some perks, such as getting front row seats to taking tons of pictures and capturing this video!

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Photos: 2009 New Years Eve Ball Drop in Times Square
New Years Eve in Vietnam
Christmas in Vietnam 2010

My goodness how time flies by! Tomorrow marks one year since I headed off halfway around the world to Vietnam. I’m amazed how I got the courage to leave my job, sublease my apartment, say goodbye to all my friends and family, and hop on a 22-hour flight in order to do something like I’ve never done before. 

Here’s a picture of me with my favorite class. To this day I receive emails from students telling me how much they miss and love me. They were worth leaving everything behind. 

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Notes from Vietnam
Kite Flying
This is why I love my students…
The relationship between teachers and students in Vietnam

If there was one destination in all of Southeast Asia that I could revisit, hands down, it would be Bali. Even though the island is small, there are so many different types of landscapes and activities so there’s something for everyone. Once I got off the plane, picked up my luggage and went outside, I remembered to try to catch a cab from outside the airport gates. By doing this, I eliminated the airport tax!

The airport in theory is only a 15-minute drive from Kuta, a town known for shopping, bars and surfing; however, because of all the traffic, it took at least 40 minutes to get to where a few guesthouses were located. I’m lucky I came during low season (May) because everything was cheaper than normal.

Kuta usually attracts students from Australia and New Zealand during Spring Break. Although I was enjoying my solo traveling experience, Kuta would have been a good place to travel with at least one other person. It wasn’t the easiest place for me to meet people and I didn’t want to be one of those creepers sitting at the bar alone. The best part during my trip to Kuta was the most amazing hour-long massage I got for only $10USD (after tip)!

Instead of staying there longer than two days, I headed more inland to Ubud, which is where Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love lived. I easily met two other foreigners on the van ride over who let me tag along. They found in their Lonely Planet that locals in Ubud curse the book because of the influx of tourist that flock to their small town. 

Ubud was an amazing place to visit and I wish I could have stayed there longer. It was so quaint and I was in good company. Two attractions that we enjoyed included the Sacred Monkey Forest and watching a traditional Balinese dance performance. 

In summary, Bali is worth visiting and I highly encourage people to take a trip if their able to. To view photos from my time in Bali, please visit my Flickr photosteam by clicking here.

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Video: Traditional Balinese Dance
Video: Cute monkey at Sacred Monkey Forest in Bali