Food is so Cheap in Oaxaca!

I simply cannot believe how incredibly affordable everything is in Oaxaca! I live with a host family, which means I don’t have access to the fridge/kitchen whenever I want… or at all. I don’t mind though because street food is very inexpensive and unbelievably good. My roommates and I constantly ate the best hamburgers that we have ever tasted and it cost us $30 pesos, which is only about $1.50 dollars. These burgers had cheese, bacon, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, habanero sauce and a big juicy patty in between two buns. A burger like that would easily cost $15 dollars in Washington and it STILL would not be that good. Believe it or not, the burger was the most expensive street food that we ate. We had tortas, tacos, tlayudas and all sorts of foods for less than a dollar per meal. I really think that the food here will ruin eating out in Washington simply because the food from restaurants in Washington does not compare to the food from here. This is much better and much cheaper! Why doesn’t everyone study abroad here instead of Europe?!


First Impressions of Oaxaca

Ciudad de Juarez, which is the city where we were staying in Oaxaca is the capital of the state and, to no surprise, it was an overpopulated city with loud cars driving by the streets during the day and people sleeping on the sidewalks at night. The city itself wasn’t too pretty at first glance but once I started paying attention I thought it was the coolest place I have ever been to. There are street art (graffiti) murals throughout the city, which to many represent the town’s call of action against a corrupt government. In addition to the murals, there were several of protests against educative reforms, streets being barricaded and even teachers occupying the center of the city by setting up sleeping tents and living at one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Overall, the city was colorful but filled with poverty and ongoing social justice issues.


Study Abroad Round #2: Struggles of Choosing a Program

Blog by Oscar Ponce, Business Administration, “Dance as Social Technology”: Dance, Healing, and Community in Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico

During my first study abroad program I did the typical thing of visiting a very popular city in an overpriced country in Europe – which was Rome and it was really fun! The challenge that came along with my second study abroad experience was finding a program that fulfilled my graduation requirements but at the same time choosing a country that didn’t have such a high cost of living, since I quit my job in order to travel abroad and I knew that I could not afford to spend 10 – 20 euros for every meal I had. I decided to look into the faculty-led programs at UW Bothell and found a dance program that took place in Oaxaca, Mexico. I applied, got accepted and bought my ticket all within a month. I am ready to go abroad!


Traveling to Japan

Blog by Martha Coronel, Bio-Chemistry, Sustainable Energy in Japan


It seems rather unbelievable that I will be traveling to Japan. I am rather excited and terrified at the same time. I always had a fascination with Japanese culture specially the anime aspect of it. So in that regard I am thrilled, but this will actually be my first time across the globe! I have been out of the country but never had the experiment of being on an airplane for more than 3 hours. Well, let us just say 8 hours on a plane seems like a terrible idea. Plus, I won’t be with my family, so technically I will be all alone and its rather scary. Of course I will be accompanied by a bunch of strangers, who are particularly friendly. Yet it will be hard to get used to the idea of living with them. But one thing I am happy about is the fact that I was able to go with these complete strangers, who in reality have the same feelings and worries as me. It was a good idea to get out of my comfort zone and actually decided to begin talking to them because I was able to be part of extra trips and getting the opportunity to travel together and not travel alone, which I am extremely grateful. As for my expectations I really do not know what to expect but one thing is certain I will try in every possible way to make this the best Study Abroad!

Martha Coronel

Preparing to Return Home

The last four weeks have helped me learn a big lesson; a lesson I didn’t realize I was getting. I couldn’t pin point it until after a few of our group discussions and then it became more clear and it is cultural competency. In our small groups, we were able to share our frustrations with the language barrier we were having as most of us did not speak the local language (Italian). One student compared our lack of cultural competency with the Italian culture with how immigrants and refugees must feel when they go deal with the culture of their host country without knowing the Italian language. It made me realize how frustrating it must be for them to deal with officials about their papers and/or if they needed help on health services, etc., without knowing any Italian.

On another note, all of us on this program were expected to do some ethnography work for our video project and yes, we had translators with us and everything, but it still wasn’t easy. The language barrier is not just about loosing a few words here and there. No, it has been about loosing crucial information needed for our supposedly “authentic” research. That lost information is sometimes done unintentionally while other times it gets me thinking if it was done on purpose. Why do our translators give us the sweeter and milder version of the truth? It’s a bit upsetting. We are not getting accurate information. This has happened very obviously during our meeting with the Mayor of Castelsardo town when we asked him if he knows anything about the Roma population living in his town. He said “there are no Romas living here. I know everyone in this town” thankfully Vicente (a famous Roma activist, who was visiting us that day) asked the mayor “how do you know there are no Romas here?” he was implying that the mayor was using skin color and certain ideas of how Romas look like for making that judgement call. Vicente can pass as a white man, his skin is as white as a white person’s but he is a Roma man. And Roma people usually have a darker complexion but some are light skinned. Vicente later told us that the mayor was being racist in labeling Romas as dark people. Even though the progressive Italians, like this mayor have good intentions and want to help immigrants integrate into the society, unbeknownst to him and the others, they perpetuate the same racism and power structures that they are trying to demolish.

As I’m slowly packing my things and preparing to go home, I’m going to miss the island. One moment I was swept off my feet with its beauty and charm. The next moment I would look at it and feel sad, sad about the many lives that tried to reach its shores, but they couldn’t make it. Overall, I really enjoyed my stay here and I’m leaving with a lot of lessons and memories made. Thank you Italy for your warm welcome and hospitality. Grazie mille! (Thanks a lot).






While Abroad


It’s been one week since I’ve been in Alghero, Sardinia.  I’ve learned so much already, from trying new foods, experimenting with preparing food for yourself, doing new activities with other, living with house mates.

This week we learned about Roma population (informally known as Gypsies), Bangladeshi and Cameroonian refugees which was an eye-opening experience. To be honest, hearing their tragic stories about why they fled their country was unsettling for me. I was surprised by how I felt about it because my own parents have been through forced migration from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan so I should be familiar with how that experience is like. But Later that day, I realized that the reason I could not relate to these refugees is probably because my parents never really shared details or their feelings about their migration. Meeting the refugees has motivated me to try and approach my parents and see if they’d be willing to share their experience with migrating.

Since we are abroad and we don’t have our personal cars and we are not so confident in using public transportation, we walked. A lot. Our school was 20 minutes of walking from our apartments. We walked there and back every day which isn’t that bad but it gets tiring. I cannot remember the last time I’ve walked so much on a daily basis because We don’t walk much in the US. In Uzbekistan, I waked a lot but I was just a kid back then, it’s different now.

Since we, my study abroad group, is studying about refugees right now, I can’t imagine how much walking refugees must have done and how tired they must be because of carrying either their bags or their children. They would be walking from the loading docks to the refugee camps, or to the border. I had water on me when I went walking but these refugees probably didn’t, or had very little of it. I had bandages… for my blisters, I bet they didn’t. If one person’s feet are wounded without protection, since there are many of them, the infection can multiply and increase. I’m grateful for all the volunteers who stand to welcome the refugees because they not only hand out food and water, but they give medical supplies too. Those volunteers are the true heroes in this crisis.



Blog by Feruza Ghias, Community Psychology, and Society, Ethics and Human Behavior, CHID Sardinia: Island Migrations, Health, and Social Justice

I chose this program because it aligned well with my double major in Community Psychology and Society, Ethics and Human Behavior. Through these two majors I have learned a lot about sociology, psychology and a bit about cultures from around the world – all of which interest me a lot. This program will be focusing on the following topics: social justice, health and migrations. Through this program we will be working on one big class project which is creating a video about Multicultural Societies. We will be working with migrants that have arrived in Sardinia, interviewing locals and other key individuals involved with migrants. We will ask them what they know about the recent mass migration happening in Europe and what their opinion is on the influx of immigrants on their island. Additionally, we will study about how migrants’ health is affected by their immigration situation. The location of the program- Italy, mattered, because many immigrants and refugees that travel to Europe, first must go through Italy in order to get to their desired destination. Some of them don’t make it out of Italy for various reasons and so that would be another thing we would look at – what happens to those immigrants and what their prospect future looks.

Since this will be my second time studying abroad, there still are many things I could learn from this experience. For instance, this time I will be living with room mates, which I have never done. I tend to be a neat and organized person, but I am concerned if my room mates are going to be the messy-type and how will I deal with that. Academically and Professionally, I want to work first hand with migrants and refugees. I hope to learn about their life in their country and why they fled their country and what their hopes are for their future. Since I am not 100% sure of what I want for my profession, I hope that this experience will shine some light on certain topics that interest me and I hope that can help me in narrowing down my academic interests and my intended focus of what I want to do in my profession.

I have never been to Europe but always wanted to visit some day. I can’t wait to make new memories!



Missing the Little Things, Makes Me Appreciate them More.

I am thankful to be staying in a pace that has a bed. I know that most of the things that I complain about are things that most people around the world do not have. I have a lower back problem and the beds at Eucalipti have made it worse. I cannot not complain that people would fight over a bed and some do not have a home that has a bed. You bring comfort and safety to most people. Our accessibly to beds in America is mind blowing. I have seen so many mattered shops across my town. I wonder if there are or is a charity where they donate beds to people across the world? Most third world countries work in agricultural or manual labor jobs and that can take a toll on their bodies from long term effects. Studying the migrate farm worker population in Washington State, most of them live in poor housing conditions with no or one bed which they have to share with their families.

When I complain about something as little as to having a bed that makes my back hurt, I feel awful about. I am so privilege to have these item and have access to them verses someone else who have to sleep on the floor or give up their bed so their wife children can sleep comfortably. We have access to a lot of things many people to do not and when we complain we keep forgetting about the people who are living without these things. I definitely forget sometimes and then I think about and realize what I complaining about. I hope this changes for me and I can be more appreciative about the things I do have in my life. Which I am don’t get me wrong, I have worked and paid for everything that I have. With my mother having cancer, she has medical bills to pay for and by helping her out I pay for my own things and help her out whenever I can. I want to not take life for granted and work my hardest at everything I do. I plan on volunteering in Seattle somewhere to give back to the community. I have a passion and interest in working with communities and I would like to have everyone have the same access to resources as do I, but at a more affordable price or free. Thank you bed for giving me and others a place to sleep.

What Study Abroad Means to Me.

I have always that each study abroad program was the same. The one most advertised are the ones where you get to travel to Africa and help the children and families out. I would always see people on Facebook taking pictures with the children and having such a good time. As my college years went by, I took a course called Global Health. One of the topics that my professor discussed was the issue about studying abroad. She said that it is not all what you expect. We are entering their home, their personal space, and culture. Especially in the line of work that she did (medical anthropology) she said that when the group of study abroad people or doctors would come over to Africa they would be given medical supplies but when they left, there was very little. The supply was so scarce and not easily accessible as it is here in America. As for the pictures, many of them do not want to be photographed. Many study abroad students do not ask if they can take their picture or if it is okay to post it on social media. The whole idea about study broad has changed my perspective. My idea of helping them out is a little screwed after talking that course.

My experience all throughout this trip is me not teaching them, but rather them teaching me. The people of Vel Mari and the University of Alghero have taught me so much about migration, social justice, and multiculturalism. Everyone’s idea about traveling abroad to specific places like Europe because it’s beautiful or it’s on their bucket list; it’s so much more than that. It’s more than the pictures that people post on Facebook of the people they meet or are supposedly “helping”. I know some students were angry in the first week because they wanted to work more with the people of Vel Mari, the doctors and so on. These expectations of making a change is solely by working with the people is not always right. I was a little upset that some students didn’t realize that we have to learn more about the project and background information of migration and the refugee camps before we start the project. I think that people have these high expectations of what their study abroad experience should we and are not opened to changes or different ways of learning. I say be opened to anything that happened during your experience and be accepting of it and just being about to study abroad.

Back at Home Reflections

I’ve only been home from my study abroad experience for a few days, so I know that adjusting back to life in Seattle takes some time, but it definitely has been challenging, more emotionally than anything. My sleep schedule is off, so I find myself wanting to nod off in the afternoons, which means I wake up in the early morning hours and have to find creative ways to fill my time. I’ve also been experiencing some sadness and depression around being home, and feel a bit disoriented and unsure of what to do with my time. While in Italy I was so focused on other people and helping to contribute to the bigger picture, but now that I am home I have to focus on my own life, deal with things I’ve been putting off, and begin pursuing my deep passions and interests.

Aside from the issues I face personally, I miss the friends and connections I made in Alghero, Sardinia, the warm and sunny weather, and the vast number of stars visible in the night sky when you’re walking along the beach. I miss the walking around and exploring, finding new restaurants, and enjoying panoramic views from hotel rooftops. I miss staying out until 4am because we’re all having so much fun socializing and dancing with our new friends, and I miss the hospitality that we were shown from locals and the community members we worked with.

As part of our curriculum, we touched on topics such as white privilege, marginalization, and issues facing migrant and refugee populations. Being born and living in America was a lucky chance, one that many do not get to experience. This has been an internal struggle of mine, especially since I’ve been back home, as I am constantly reminded of the luxuries around me. I’m finding it hard to enjoy things at times, as I will begin to feel guilty about these luxuries when I know that others are just trying to survive with much less. We have more opportunities and resources here in America, and it can be a hard reality to sit with, but in one of our reflection letter assignments while abroad I brought up the fact that all I can really do is acknowledge my privilege honestly and vow to use that privilege in order to help others.

Something else that I’ve realized and accepted is that nobody really wants handouts and nobody wants to be pitied. I say this because there were times throughout my trip where I felt bad for those we were working with and their situations, but I realized that most of these individuals who have immigrated or were forced to flee their home countries, are fully capable human beings who just need resources and help from others in order to get back on their feet and be self-sufficient. Although my heart goes out to those we worked with and their oftentimes tragic pasts, I have come to realize that they have been through so much already that their current realities and their future experiences are probably nothing in comparison to where they’ve already been and what they’ve already experienced. Obviously hardship will fall upon us all and they are no exception, but I definitely have a new perspective on all of this, for which I am grateful.

I know going forward that things will fall more into place and will get better, I just have to be patient and take care of myself in the process. I look forward to finishing my degree this Spring Quarter and going out into the workforce to help those in need by providing them with resources and empowering them to be self-sufficient in order to build the life they’ve always wanted.