Thursday, February 26, 2009

Work and Volunteer Opportunities with The Fresh Air Fund

Those who always complain that really free volunteer opportunities are impossible, or at least very hard to find, need to stop complaining and listen up.

Logo fresh air

I have a placement for you courtesy of Sara from The Fresh Air Fund in New York City.
The Fresh Air Fund is looking for summer camp counselors. Room and board are provided, and if you stick around for the whole summer, so is a small salary. And you don't pay any fees for this placement.

This is a great way to find out whether volunteering with children abroad is for you. And while doing so, you’ll be helping an organization that works very hard to give underprivileged New York City kids the kind of vacations that the rest of us normally takes for granted.

I’m a huge fan of The Fresh Air Fund. They’ve been around for oh, about 130 years, so you know that’s one non-profit that’s in it for the long haul. That also means that they must be doing something right. And sure they do. Check out their website to read up on the many programs they offer each summer to kids who really, really need them.

So, what’s the deal with the summer camp counselor thingie?

1.    You gotta be 18 years old (or over) by June 20th, 2009.
2.    You gotta like kids and outdoorsy type stuff.
3.    You gotta really like kids, ok?
4.    Previous volunteer experience not necessary.
5.    Open to anyone, all you need to do is to get yourself to the general New York metro area.
6.    Get the details from The Fresh Air Fund website.

Now, go and do something useful this summer. And don't complain that there are no free volunteer work opportunities out there, OK?

PS. No, nobody’s paying me to write about The Fresh Air Fund on here. I am doing it strictly out of the goodness of my heart, and also because I happen to support their work.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How to Lose Your Sanity in 20 Days

Ok, guys, sorry I haven’t posted in a while. This move seems more difficult than the ones we survived in the past. Or maybe I’m simply getting older? And lazier?

Either way, my postings will be less frequent until about March 11th. That is, if I survive until then. Because in the next 20 days this is what’s in store for me:

-    going to Poland to apply for new documents (yes, again)
-    returning to Sweden
-    cleaning the apartment
-    packing and convincing my long-suffering neighbor to store some stuff for me
-    getting the cats ready for the ordeal
-    flying to Japan with two screaming cats
-    dealing with paperwork in Japan
-    flying back to Europe
-    driving to the Arctic (without studded tires, yes, suicide, I know)
-    picking the stuff up from my saintly neighbor
-    driving down to Stockholm
-    getting on a ferry, the car and all
-    making it to Poland, hopefully in one piece.

All of that in the next 20 days.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hostel Kanonia in Warsaw

Last month, Travel Rants wrote about hostels needing to improve their image.

Now, I’m a frequent hostel dweller. Most of them have private (or family) rooms these days, and there’s no need to bunk it student-on-a-shoestring style anymore.
Sometimes, a private room at a hostel can cost as much as a normal hotel room. That’s the case normally in Sweden. When that happens, then I do bunk it, or if I can afford it – choose the hotel.

This weekend I’m in Poland, and because I’m dead broke (actually I’m so beyond broke that I’m off the scale of brokenness) I had no choice but to stay at a hostel in Warsaw.
There are bunches of hostels in Warsaw, all offer pretty much the same at pretty much the same prices.

I decided on Hostel Kanonia. And because I needed some peace and quiet to finish up some work, I booked a private room. With a bathroom.

Now, one thing you need to know. Hostel Kanonia is located in the heart of Warsaw’s Old Town. It’s an old building, with all the quirkiness and charm of old buildings. My room was a converted attic space on the top floor. It was simple but huge. Spotlessly clean. And cold. The bathroom was also simple, clean and cold. But the super ultra hot water coming out of the tap with super ultra strong pressure was enough to make me happy.

The common kitchen, where I am sitting right now and typing this, is small but clean and adequate. There’s a TV and wireless internet. And an endless supply of tea bags and coffee. What else would a poor hostel dweller need?

Unlike some stupid hostels in other parts of the world (and even in Warsaw) this one is opened 24 hours, and doesn’t have any dumb lock down rules during the day.
Quiet time starts at 10PM.

All this set me back only 140PLN, which is about 31 euro or 40 US dollars (today’s exchange rate). If that’s too steep for you, then bunk beds can be had for as little as 60PLN.

Sheets and towels included, but breakfast not.

What would make this hostel even better? Liquid soap dispensers. And wastebaskets in the rooms. Other than that, this hostel's image doesn't need any improvements.

Would I stay here again? Absolutely! Nothing beats sitting at the kitchen table and looking out onto a cobblestone plaza framed by renaissance buildings.

Kanonia entrance x400 

The entrance. Looks a bit dark and creepy, but it's not. Very "Old Town" feel to it.

My room

My room.

View 2
The view from my room.