Wanderlust: Study Abroad Advice for Students and Parents

Wanderlust
Wanderlust! As many of you know, one of my passions has always been travel. Anytime, anywhere…I love to visit new places and revisit my favorites. Since the time I traveled to Italy as a young girl, I’ve been smitten with traipsing anywhere outside my comfort zone. Whether I’m researching for my writing, toting the kids to a new theme park, or just sampling exotic cuisine in a far off destination–give me any reason to travel and I’m game!

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My novels are based in Italy, my freelance articles explore new places, and even my social media posts venture far and wide–it’s a vital part of me that clamors for expression. Recently, I started writing articles for an online website, Study Bridge International, that caters to potential students and their parents, carving out insights for those seeking to pursue their university studies abroad. I thought I’d post the links to my articles, in case any readers out there are likeminded.

I studied abroad during college, traveling to Italy with the intention of chalking up credits in International Business. But, my experiences reached way beyond grades. I met new people, immersed myself in the culture, became fluent in Italian, and hopped trains all over Italy and the rest of Europe at every opportunity. It was the experience of a lifetime, and one that did nothing to quench my wanderlust, but instead fueled my desire to explore further.

SculptorCoverWithBlurbMy time studying abroad loosely shaped the story of Mara Silvestri, the main character in my suspense novel, The Sculptor, a grad student who’s stalked by Rome’s infamous serial killer, and subsequent visits back to the Eternal City influenced my thriller, The Race, in which a car racing covert agent must save Rome from a terrorist from his past. But, the articles that I outline below are factual, and accurately represent issues facing students and parents interested in seeking a global view.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00020]

 

These are just a few articles to chew on. I’ll post more later. If you’ve studied abroad, you can relate. Feel free to comment on your own experiences. I’d love to hear your stories, and I’m sure they’d go far in helping students and parents in their quest.

Buon viaggio!

 

How Many Shopping Day Are Left?! Top 10 Reasons For a Family Gift Registry

"Shoppers on Dundas, near Yonge" by Ian Muttoo - originally posted to Flickr as Alone / TogetherUploaded using F2ComButton. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shoppers_on_Dundas,_near_Yonge.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Shoppers_on_Dundas,_near_Yonge.jpg

“Shoppers on Dundas, near Yonge” by Ian Muttoo

It’s the first full day of Fall 2014, which means 92 shopping days left ’til Christmas. Since nearly every retailer has had decorations on display for weeks, I got to thinking about my own gift-giving list.  There’s a lot to be said for the idea of implementing a Family Gift Registry.

Now I know both sides of the aisle have started barking at me already, but you decide whether a Family Gift Registry (FGR) is either a parody of ghastly nonsensical consumerism, OR just plain common sense. In the meantime,

Here are my Top 10 Reasons

for a Family Gift Registry:

#1: The sweaters that mom sends me are hideous. Or the closely related, who buys someone chartreuse hand towels?

#2: I would really rather have preferred the hip-high fishing waders, not the knee-highs. Or the red wine, not white.IMG_0415

#3: My mother-in-law keeps buying me cooking utensils, but I do not cook. Or hairstyle magazines,  but I like my hair the way it is.

#4: My child drinks a lot of milk and has already outgrown his/her entire wardrobe, and it’s back to school time again.

#5: My entire wardrobe is so “last season.” Or the closely related, my waist has outgrown all of my pants.

#6: How do I buy for the person who has everything? Or hates everything I ever buy him/her? Or hates me?  I’d love to donate to their favorite charity instead.

#7: I’m not sure what my niece/nephew is into right now. Frankly, what I think they’re into is scary and ridiculous, and I’m not sure where I’d go to buy something like that.

#8: My friend is disabled, and I’d love to buy him/her something she could really use, instead of just another sweater.4bb69592617bc_130315b

#9: I’d never spend the time and/or money to buy that for myself, but drawing farm animals is my favorite hobby and my sketch pad is full.

#10: How do I tell friends/relatives that I could really use a grocery/gas/home improvement gift card instead of another blender?

After perusing the Top 10 reasons for the concept of FGR, it really comes down to these fundamentals:

  • Preference,
  • Style,
  • Charitable donation,
  • Waste management, and
  • Need

Think about it. A couple gets married, and they set up a Wedding Registry. Why don’t they just maintain it, adding and deleting items as the years go by? They’d get what they need or desire most during the changing times/needs in their life together, and your gift giving checklist is widdled down in a day.

The same couple has a baby, and they set up a Baby Registry. Simply maintain it as the child grows, allowing for updates in the clothing or diaper sizes, changes in the style of the child’s room, or any unexpected costly special needs items that a group may chip in on. When the child is of the age to start asking for new sneakers, a video game, or Lite Brite, then others can easily pick and choose for their child’s birthday, Hanukkah, or graduation. With size and preference updates, the child gets what it wants/needs (NO rival team Zubaz from Grandma for the 5th year in a row,) and there is no wasted time, money, or effort, as regular quantity or “item received” notices are provided.

Similar to an online family website that may be private or public, where people share photos and news with loved ones near or far, every family could establish a Family Gift Registry, that’s mobile, password protected, and possibly linked to favorite stores, or linked to preferred charities for giving donations instead of gifts, or listing gift cards in various denominations, etc. FGR’s would provide a separate page with distinct profiles for mom, dad, child, grandpa, the dog, etc. that each would regularly update in time for the next occasion.

What’s more, an FGR App could stem from the registry, downloadable to any device, so that last minute shopping is convenient and painless, both for the shopper and the recipient who rack their brains for last minute ideas, while party-goers are waiting for cake.

Of course, there’s still something to be said about spur-of-the-moment gifts, like a bottle of wine for a dinner party, a bracelet for that special someone, flowers for mom, a juicy mystery novel for a great friend, or a restaurant gift certificate for a shining employee. Spontaneity AND variety are truly the spice of life. And don’t let your significant other forget it.

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But, say goodbye to Boxing Day holiday, Canada…there’ll be no more cause for returns. The entire dynamic of the day-after-a-holiday would switch from battling traffic, weather, and fellow patrons traveling store to store with arms laden with returns/exchanges, to strolling through the park with loved ones and a picnic of leftover turkey sandwiches. Black Friday would still be black for retailers, but so would many other days, as the need for returns becomes obsolete.

Sure, you can put together a site yourself, but here’s a quick list of some Family Gift Registry sites that offer to do the work for you:

So make a list, and check it twice…because Santa’s job has never been easier! What do you think? Does a Family Gift Registry take the magic out of gift giving? Or does it provide a money- and time-saving way to choose THE perfect gift? Let me know what you think…

Buffalo’s NPR station, WBFO, chats with Gina Fava about The Sculptor

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WHAT GETS INTO MY HEAD?

I sat down recently with Mike Desmond at Buffalo’s NPR station, WBFO, to discuss my suspense thrillers,  THE SCULPTOR, and THE RACE, and a mixed bag of other things, such as:

  1. Joyriding a gondola in Venice
  2. The influence of counter-terrorism studies on my writing
  3. Whether I let my kids read my books
  4. Why one of my bad ass villain’s reminds me of the guy who built my deck
  5. Why I set the mysteries in Rome, Italy

Here’s the link to the podcast: http://news.wbfo.org/post/author-gina-fava-sculpts-new-novel

After listening, you might be wondering where to pick up a copy of one of my books. Just click on the cover to buy it.

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I hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think…

 

Gina Fava’s THE SCULPTOR “Chisel A Review & Plaster it Everywhere” Contest

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“Chisel A Review and Plaster it Everywhere” Contest

To Enter:
1) After reading THE SCULPTOR, post a review on Amazon, Barnes & NobleGoodreads, your blog or website, AND/OR everywhere others can read it.

2) Use the contest entry form on my CONTACT page at my website, http://www.GinaFava.com/Contact, to include your name, email address, AND the link(s) to the blog or review website where you posted your review. It will better your chances of winning if you post on several sites.

This contest is worldwide and rolls out on May 21, 2014 and runs until midnight on November 7, 2014. On November 8, 2014 three winners will be chosen.

Prizes:
1st Place: $40 Barnes & Noble gift card + $10 Cold Stone Creamery gift card
2d Place: $30 Charming Charlie gift card
3d Place: $25 iTunes gift card

In addition, the winner of the Most Thoughtful Review will be acknowledged in my next book.

And, the person who wins the Funniest Review will be a named character in a future book.

Good luck, everyone! And, thank you for posting a review of THE SCULPTOR! It’s greatly appreciated.

SculptorCoverWithBlurbPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00020]For more information on THE SCULPTOR, or

Gina Fava’s thriller, THE RACE,

check out www.GinaFava.com.