The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Dear Mary-Sue: Gap year destinations and learning to speak properly

Mary-Sue Wallace, The Displaced Nation’s agony aunt is back. Her thoughtful advice eases and soothes any cross-cultural quandary or travel-related confusion you may have. Submit your questions and comments here, or else by emailing her at

Dear Mary-Sue,

I’m in my last year of school, but instead of just mundanely heading off to university next September I’m planning on taking a gap year. I have some older friends who went on gap years and I was really impressed with how it rounded out their CVs. I was initially thinking of going to an ashram, but then I thought that I should go to where I can be the most useful. As I’ve heard you’re such a font of knowledge when it comes to matters of travel and international relations. Any suggestions?

Archie, Bath, England.

Dear Archie,

Go where you are most needed, sweet noble prince.  I say Somalia. Or Fresno.

Dear Mary-Sue,

I love reading the little globules of wisdom you spit out for us. I think we must have been separated at birth! We’re like two peas in a pod. Like you, I live in Arizona and I love all things British. Even the crap stuff like Torchwood. Anyhoo (wonder who I learned that term from? I love it! Use it all the time) I have one teeny query re: my one little teeny — my 13-year-old son, Scott. The other day I was watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for, like, the thousandth time and I was thinking: why can’t my Scott speak like one of those lovely Harry Potter teenagers? I want him to sound a little more Dan Radcliffe and a little less Dan Ackroyd.

Susie-May, Arizona

p.s. Want to meet up?

Dear Susie May,

I have two words for you: Nicholas Witchell. Being a committed member of the sisterhood of the tea cosy (that’s the Mary-Sue term for an anglophile), you doubtless knew about the divine Nicholas W. His fiery red hair matching his fiery red passion. He’s clearly sex-on-legs — am I right or am I right, girls? Being the BBC Royal Correspondent, Nicholas not only has brains but also a healthy, deferential respect for constitutional monarchies. Now what I suggest is that you go onto YouTube and find all the Nicholas Witchell footage that you can find. Now your son Scott needs to spend at least an hour a day listening to Nicholas’s dulcet tones. Hopefully, he’ll do it willingly, but if he doesn’t then you may need to strap him down to a gurney. Also, if you take the audio from the videos and burn it onto a CD, you can make sure when Scott goes to bed, he turns on the CD. While he’s asleep the soothing voice of Nicky W. will be playing in Scott’s ears. Subconsciously, Scott’s brain will absorb all of Nicholas Witchell’s good speaking habits and before you know it little Scott will be like your own Little Lord Fauntleroy.


p.s. No.

Anyhoo, that’s all from me readers. I’m so keen to hear about your cultural issues and all your juicy problems. Do drop me a line with any problems you have, or if you want to share your fave meatloaf recipe with me (yum! yum!). As they say in Italy, “ciao!”

Mary-Sue is a retired travel agent who lives in Tulsa with her husband Jake. She has taken a credited course in therapy from Tulsa Community College and is the best-selling author of Traveling Made Easy, Low-Fat Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul, The Art of War: The Authorized Biography of Samantha Brown, and William Shatner’s TekWar: An Unofficial Guide. If you have any questions that you would like Mary-Sue to answer, you can contact her at, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for Monday’s post.

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