Please check out my other blog for more recent updates.
Please check out my other blog for more recent updates.
06/24/2015, Blog by Trang Tran, Business Administration with a focus in Accounting, When In Rome: Interdisciplinary Studio Art and Italian Culture
Hello J This is my first official blog post and when I am officially writing as I am going. Before I begin to go into detail about my journey, I want to introduce myself. I am a Vietnamese American. This is my first study abroad trip and my first time going to Europe!! I can’t put into words my excitement for all the new things coming my way these upcoming few weeks. I am going on the When in Rome: Interdisciplinary Studio Arts and Culture program led by UWB.
For this trip, me and two other students are flying from Vancouver, Canada. We are currently sitting in the food court waiting for check-ins to begin at 4:30 am. Our first flight is at 7am. We’ve been up pretty much all night and the only place that is open in the airport is Tim Hortons. It’s my first time, whoooo!! I got a blended cappuccino and a honey cruller (pic). Anyways, first advice, flying from Vancouver is a lot cheaper than flying from Seattle. Second advice, if you are flying early, keep in mind the check-ins begin at 4:30 at the earliest. Our first stop is in Toronto, Canada~
10:59 pm PST — 7:59 am Frankfurt, Germany
I am currently on my final flight heading to Rome!! I went from Vancouver to Toronto to Frankfurt Germany. The flights were okay, but not the worst. My favorite was getting to the next airport and finding new food to try. With a short layover in Frankfurt, I was able to try a pastry and a smoothie (pic). It was also my first time paying with Euros!! Needless to say, the food has been great! It’s about a little over an hour until I land in Rome. I am so excited to explore the city and try all the food! More later on my next post
Thanks for reading
06/21/2015, Blog by Alicia Lookabill, Media and Communication Studies, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (UW Bothell) Spain: The Politics of Soccer in Spain and Beyond
This study abroad trip is the first time I have ever left the United States and my flights have already taken me to three new countries (okay, so I can’t cross them off of my “To Visit” list since I never left the airports, but it’s still pretty cool). I departed for the Vancouver, B.C. airport from Bellingham, Washington at about 5 am on Thursday the 18th. At the Canadian airport, I couldn’t use my phone (I decided to use wifi whenever available for contacting the outside world and to buy a prepaid phone in Spain for local use) and it was already getting difficult because I forgot to text my parents that I had even left. Plus, I was already lost. This trip is going to be trouble. So of course I was happy to be back in the United States when my flight took me to Chicago. I also didn’t have to worry about currency or whether my debit card would work in Chicago which is something I have to consider elsewhere.
After a two hour layover, we boarded our longhaul flight for Brussles, Belgium: a whopping 7 and a half hour trip. I sat next to an 8-year old Belgium girl from Iowa whose family was sitting across the aisle with two babies (thank goodness I bought new headphones). She was incredibly polite and said sorry at least 20 times for… Well, nothing. She started talking to me a lot and I helped her navigate the TV. Then she told me about how all of the girls at school were mean to her and that is #1 out of the times I just wanted to cry.
It was really difficult to sleep on all of the flights because I had the middle seat and had no way to lay down or relax. I only had about two hours of sleep total for the entire 28 hour trip. And the night before leaving I only had about 4 hours of sleep. Safe to say I was pretty sleep deprived and ready to be at the hotel when we finally landed. But of course, that’s just where the adventure begins.
Hello, my name is May Azcarraga. I was born in the Philippines and moved to Woodridge, IL until high school graduation. I joined the Air Force as an Avionics technician and have been moving around since then. In 2014, I moved to Washington state and transferred into UW Bothell.
After my first quarter, I applied for the When In Rome program. I have been never been to Europe and wanted to expand my global awareness. I appreciate the University of Washington Bothell Study Abroad scholarship program to help me financially and share my story with unsure students.
06/01/2015, Blog by Feruza Ghias, Community Psychology, SRAS (School of Russian and Asian Studies) – Russian as a Second Language program, in The London School of Languages and Cultures, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
I chose to study through the School of Russian And Asian Studies (SRAS) for many reasons. One of the main reasons is the location – Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I’ve been exposed to the Russian language and Asian culture in Uzbekistan, where I was born. I went to a Russian-speaking school there. In 2005, when I was ten years old, my family moved to the United States due to lack of economic opportunities.
For the past ten years that I’ve been living living in America, I missed Uzbekistan very much. I missed the simplicity of Uzbek lifestyle: groceries and clothes/accessories sold on the streets. I missed the flavorful food: Uzbek plov (rice), shashlik (marinated sausage), and the meat-stuffed samsa (Uzbek version of the Indian samosa). When we moved to the US, I spoke fluent Russian. However, over the years, unfortunately, my Russian declined as I became busy with my American studies. I wanted to strengthen my Russian language skills and visit Uzbekistan so much so I started searching for study abroad programs in Uzbekistan. SRAS website and specifically this Russian program was one of the first websites that popped up.
Even though this program will take place in Kyrgyzstan and not Uzbekistan, I don’t mind it. My dad had visited Kyrgyzstan before and when I spoke to him about this, he told me that Kyrgyzstan is very similar to Uzbekistan culturally and that a lot of people spoke Russian there. After hearing my dad’s points on Kyrgyzstan and taking into account my desire to connect with my Uzbek roots and improve my Russian, this program became an easy choice for me. Plus, living in Kyrgyzstan will be a bigger learning experience since I have never been to that country before.
Since I’ve never lived on my own before, I was concerned about how I would keep in touch with my family. I spoke to them and my friends who travelled abroad and they advised me to use Skype and Viber applications because those are good for international communication and they are free. So, I downloaded those apps and got everyone’s contact numbers on there.
I’m excited and looking forward to this journey!
5/20/2015, Blog by Steven Kay, Computer Science and Software Engineering, Reconciliation via Digital Storytelling in the US and South Africa
This will be my second experience with study abroad, a little bit older and, I like to think, a little bit wiser. I’ll be heading out to South Africa come July 2nd to attend a Global Leadership Summit at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. But first I’ll be taking a couple of intensive summer session courses designed to get me educated on South African culture and societal issues, and digital storytelling. I’m not even sure what digital storytelling is yet, but I’m excited to find out.
Last summer I traveled to Beijing, and made the serious mistake of not studying anything about Chinese culture or history before traveling there.
Due to a massive language barrier in China, I ended up learning far more about China via Wikipedia perusing when I got back than I ever learned while there. In hindsight, I wished that I had acquired that contextual information BEFORE visiting those awesome places and experiencing that awesome culture. So this time around I’m digging deep.
I looked at my library for a book recommended to me by an professor here at UW Bothell called “Cry, the Beloved Country” that goes deep into societal tensions in South Africa. Unfortunately, I was able to find nothing but Cliff’s notes and the like. I finally resorted to buying it online through a Thrift book retailer for 5 bucks. I think I’ll also have to re-read “The Power of One”, a story about a young English boy growing up to become a professional boxer in South Africa. It was made into a move back in the 90’s as well, which was decent, but I think the rule of “the book was better than the movie” holds here.
Besides delving into these literary works, I think I’ll have to get some cinema going, as well. I loved District 9, and may have to re-watch that as part of a personal going away party. I’ve also heard “Searching for Sugarman” is a great documentary about an little-known American musician who became the musical voice of Apartheid. Being a musician myself, I think this will be enjoyable, as well as a possibly great introduction to the history of Apartheid (which I know next to nothing about). Maybe “Long Walk to Freedom” and the autobiography it’s based on (written by Nelson Mandela) might be worth checking out, as well.
After courses, books, and movies, the last gaps will no doubt be filled by Wikipedia. The amount of information organized and made available on Wikipedia is amazing to me. I can spend (and have spent) all night on Wikipedia jumping from article to article, learning things I would never have touched in a University setting.
I’m excited for South Africa, but equally excited to expand my brain. Let the learning begin!
It’s been just over one month since arriving in Japan and I can safely say I’ve settled down completely. School is in full swing and I haven’t had as much free time as I had hoped, but I still managed to travel to a few new places since my last post.
A few weeks ago I visited Osaka Aquarium, which is one of the largest aquariums in the world. The only other aquarium I had been to before then was the Seattle Aquarium, so I was in for a real surprise. Osaka Aquarium was absolutely massive, and had an amazing selection of sea life. My favorite was the sunfish which, though beautiful, was not particularly bright. While I was there it managed to swim face first into the glass at full speed.
Last week I visited Nara, which is one of my favorite places in Japan. Much like Kyoto, Nara is home to many of Japan’s famous historical sites. Nara Park contains a number of beautiful temples but what really make it stand out are the locals. Nara is home to more than a thousand spotted deer, which roam the park freely and are very accustomed to people. Vendors throughout the park sell biscuits which you can then feed to the deer, but if you’re not careful they will sometimes eat your clothes, paper, or even your money! The deer will often let you pet them, and some will even bow before being given a treat. Here is a family of deer panhandling outside a souvenir shop for some tasty biscuits:
Though it seems the deer aren’t always fun and games:
My first month in Japan has been an absolute blast, but it truly saddens me that a whole month has already gone by. My goal is to make the next month even better by exploring even more of Japan, and I will continue to share my stories when I get a chance.
Thanks for reading.
It’s been a little more than a week since arriving in Osaka, Japan, and I’ve finally settled down enough to write about my experiences over the past ten or so days.
I left Seattle on March 31st and caught my flight to San Francisco where I was supposed to catch a connecting flight to my final destination in Osaka. Unfortunately, there was a weather delay and I ended up missing my flight out of San Francisco by about five minutes. All of the flights from San Francisco to Osaka were booked for the next two days so I had no choice but to be rerouted to Seoul later that day from where I was finally able to catch my flight to Osaka. I arrived at Osaka around 10pm but the problem was the check in hours for my dorm were between 1 and 7pm, meaning I had no choice but to wait in the airport until the next day. After very little sleep on my flight over, and even less sleep in the airport, I was finally able to make it to my dorm a full day later than I expected. Ironically, a mere five minutes ended up costing me a full day.
After making it to my dorm, I was given the key to my room as well as a welcome pack containing a description of a handful of things I had to do immediately after arriving. These tasks ended up being very complicated and involved registering with the city office and filling out some paperwork. Thankfully, I was able to make some friends in my dorm soon after arriving and they helped me through the process. Without them I probably would not have been able to figure anything out. I also did some shopping and purchased some necessities including food, some cooking utensils, as well as some general household products.
After buying everything I needed, I decided it was time to explore Osaka and a few friends and I made a trip to Osaka Castle. The weather that day was fairly wet, but we decided we had to visit the castle as soon as possible while the cherry blossoms were still in bloom. This ended up being a great decision and seeing Osaka Castle surrounded by pink was truly a pleasure.
School has just started and there are still a few things I need to do to settle down completely, but after that I will be able to focus on my studies. Hopefully, over the next five months I will be able to explore Osaka and Japan a lot more, and I’ll make sure to write about any interesting experiences I have.
Thanks for reading.
Life in Montpellier, France has been amazing these past two and a half months! I can’t believe I only have 2 months left! I think in coming here I thought things were going to be vastly different than they are. I absolutely love it here though.
Université Montpellier-Paul Valery is much different than any other school I have ever been too. There is not a lot of help like we are used to in America, but I have learned that that is just the French way. You definitely have to be much more independent to study in another country where their academic system is set up completely different. Finding classes was one of the hardest things I have done in France so far. Though one really cool thing is you are allowed to spend two weeks trying out classes before actually registering for classes and having to take them. Though a much less cool part is not getting your schedule for finals until 6 weeks before finals. So as of now I still do not know the exact dates for my finals that I will be taking the end of May. The classes are also harder than I thought they would be but it’s really good for my french, seeing as outside of class I almost only speak in English because I have made a lot of friends that are American and Australian. I do however still see an amazing improvement in my level of French and how much I understand more culturally the French in general.
The beautiful La Comedie in Montpellier
Another thing I have come to love here is the coffee. You definitely cannot get a latte anywhere but the Cafe Crème is just as wonderful! There are coffee shops on every corner, as well as bakeries to buy amazing baguettes! Finding a gym was harder than I thought it would be, I think working out might not be as big a deal in France. I have also discovered through observance and asking my professors, that the French do not dress for the weather, they dress for the seasons. Some of my profs will wear jackets when it’s 70 degrees out! But it’s because it was still technically winter. Overall though I think this experience has really opened my eyes to how amazing France and the people here are!
Traveling is probably the best part about being in France though! I have so far been able to visit Paris, Barcelona, Nimes, Split Croatia, Orange, Loire Valley, Dublin Ireland, Avignon, Sete, and Couliour! I wish I could upload pictures but for some reason my blog isn’t allowing me to add anymore.
Next on my list is Colmar, Freidburg Germany, Strasburg, Rome Italy, Venice Italy, Florence Italy, and Greece!
Hopefully soon my blog will let me add more photos and I can share with you more evidence of this amazing experience!
I left my home in Seattle at 5 A.M. on March 26, I reached my dorm in Freiburg on March 28 at ~ 3:00 P.M. That’s ~58 hours of traveling. There was an overnight delay of more than 24 hours in Las Vegas (Best thing ever!!!). But, I finally reached my dorm with barely 3 hours of sleep in the 58 hours that I traveled. I slept for 22 hours and woke up at 1 P.M. on March 29, today. I went out to get something to eat but found out that almost everything is closed on Sundays, especially supermarkets. In addition, there are no water fountains here, you have to purchase your own water. The worst part so far has been carrying around 3 bags and the best part has been to sleep.
After I landed in Frankfurt I had to figure out how to get to Freiburg, around 270 km (168 miles). It was a bit difficult as most people didn’t speak English and the ones that did spoke very little and formal English, but I managed to purchase a train ticket and find my way to Freiburg. Freiburg is a very small town in Southern Germany and it is beautiful. It has enough infrastructure and resources to be able to access almost anything and at the same time it is small enough to navigate. One thing I noticed is that everyone uses bikes here and the cars are parked half way on the side walk. Also, there are only formal road crossing/marked crossings with signal light (for pedestrians) on major roads, everywhere else there are no makings or lights to cross, you just cross where there are no cars or bikes coming.
My dorm is nice, it is much bigger than the old UW Seattle dorms and also much brighter. It has nice hardwood flooring and the bathroom floors are heated. There is a nice locale closet and a mini fridge. They have also given me some basic kitchen supplies. I have met some local students and I found out that you only go to college for 3 years in Germany and you don’t have to pay a single penny. The libraries have many copies of each textbook so you don’t even have to pay for textbooks. This is only for public universities, you still have to pay for private universities. The admission process for public and private universities are the same as in the U.S. So far it has been really windy and the temperature is the same as Seattle, expect without the rain.