1) Brazil - I'm secretly planning a trip to Brazil right now. When people ask me what I'm doing when I graduate (because I've gotten tired of saying "LAW SCHOOL."), I say "I'm moving to Brazil." And that usually shuts them up. To me, Brazil is the hottest place right now--we're talking economic advances (Brazil is a hot spot for alternative fuels such as those made from sugar cane and soy beans), social advances (Rio Olympics 2016!), and everything else from dancing samba to drinking cachaça to listening to Céu! I have been studying Portuguese for a few months now and I cannot wait to put it into practice.
2) Mozambique - They also speak Portuguese in Mozambique, but that's not the only reason I would like to go there. I have been looking into short-term volunteer programs in southern Africa and many of them include this rarely-talked-about former Portuguese colony on the eastern coast. It looks absolutely beautiful and untouched, with a fascinating cultural history and a blend of the Swahili, Arabic, and Portuguese cultures. Sounds like I'd fit right in. :)
3) Ethiopia - Ethiopia has a bad reputation due to its tumultuous political history and geographic misfortune of being located in the unstable horn of Africa, squished right between Sudan and Somalia, perhaps the two worst major conflict zones in the world. Is it wrong to say this is precisely why I want to visit? Last year, I took a course about African politics and at the end, our professor, who was born in the Congo, took us to an Ethiopian restaurant where we submitted our final paper (mine was about Western Sahara, but I'll get to that later.) Ethiopian food is the most delicious and spice-filled I've ever tasted; I've been longing to go back to the restaurant, but I haven't had a chance. The sounds of Ethiopia are wonderful as well. Gold & Wax by Gigi has been on "my favorites" playlist for almost a year.
4) Morocco - Being that I've almost been to Morocco at least three times in the past 6 years should say something. The first time was suppose to have been in high school, when a small day excursion was planned to Tangier from Málaga, but was cancelled due to the uncertain political climate. The second time was two years ago when I visited Danielle (who, at the time, was studying in England) for a quick visit to Spain. We were ready and waiting in Málaga once again, but there were no ferries heading to Morocco the day we decided to go. The third time was this summer, when I studied Islamic Architecture in Seville. I had the choice of going to Morocco or Portugal for my long weekend, but I ultimately decided Portugal because I wanted to visit before starting my first semester of Portuguese. I met a lot of Moroccans in Spain and being that I've spent two years studying Arabic, Morocco seems like a logical destination. I am absolutely enchanted with the mysterious Berber civilization and the romantic notion of the vast Sahara. Moroccan politics, immigration with Spain, and the issue of Western Sahara interest me greatly, and I was able to do a lot of research for my Africa class.
5) Panama - On my way down to South America this past time, I had a day long layover in the airport in Panama city. Nervous to buy a day-visa and explore, I sat in the airport longing to escape to the lush, green, country. On the approach to the airport, I saw something I did not expect to see--a legitimate "city!" Living in New York is tough to compare things to, because anything with less than fifty skyscrapers is not considered a "city" by any means. Jacksonville, FL? Not a "city." Madrid? Not a "city." Panama City is a "city!" The approach to the airport was absolutely beautiful; tons of silver rectangular skyscrapers lined the coastline! On the way back up to New York, I had the opportunity to talk to a man who travels to Panama at least four times a year to surf and I was able to ask him questions. He managed to pique my interest even more, and I cannot wait to leave Tocumen International for real this time and balance on the joint that connects the two continents in this hemisphere.