Travel day

Travel day

Wow. What a day. I’m not sure right now if I’m com­ing or going. Started the day out fin­ish­ing up my last minute pack­ing. Which included all my med­ica­tion. I was diag­nosed with type 1 dia­betes about 2 months ago. This is not even every­thing I brought. Then a last minute run to the store for snacks, and we were off to the air­port. Along they way, we stopped at a party store that was doing free glit­ter tat­toos. Great deci­sion.IMG_1470     IMG_1472      IMG_1473   IMG_1474

I flew Asianic Air­lines. If you ever get the chance, I thought they were won­der­ful. I got 3 full meals, I watched 3 whole movies that just came out. I got a pil­low, blan­ket, slip­pers, and look at this bath­room! It’s fully stocked!! They also have baby bassinets! So cool!

We were a lit­tle late land­ing in Seoul, which made every­thing get backed up. But on my run through the Seoul inter­na­tional air­port, it looked cool! All sorts of shops and art instal­la­tions. Then on to the next flight to Osaka. Once in Osaka, I had to get my back­pack, and get through cus­toms. That was an adven­ture. I will remind every­one, I don’t speak Japan­ese. On one of the dec­la­ra­tion forms, they ask if you are car­ry­ing any drugs. Well, refer to the photo above. I am. But I didn’t know if they meant bad drugs, or any drugs. Mind you, it’s 9:30pm when I get in, so it takes 15 min­utes to find some­one who even under­stands what the ques­tion is before I can get through cus­toms. Then, there’s some jerk Amer­i­can yelling at the cus­toms peo­ple because he’s been fly­ing for 24 hours and has to catch a bus and no one else is tired or hav­ing a long hard day either. Thanks for mak­ing us look bad dude.

Finally get through, then I have to find a bus to the other air­port in Osaka, where my flight is out of tomor­row and I have a hotel for the remain­der of the evening. Find the bus, get a ticket, wait in line. Then it’s a 75 minute bus ride. I tried so hard to stay awake while we drove through Osaka, but it just wasn’t going to hap­pen. So I woke up at Itami air­port and set about find­ing my hotel. I found it, just across the park­ing lot, but there was a big barbed wire fence between me and sweet sleep, so I wan­dered around for another hour before I fig­ured out how to get there. Talked to a few secu­rity guards, none of which speak Eng­lish, and, again, I speak no Japan­ese. Makes me feel like an idiot. Some dumb Amer­i­can girl who thinks she can just show up some­where and every­thing will be alright. Turns out it was, but I still felt like an idiot.

IMG_1478

So now it’s 1 am Japan time, and I’m safe in my hotel room. Had a quick shower. I’ve got a Japan­ese style break­fast wait­ing for me at 6:15, then find my way back to the air­port for a 7:50am flight to Mat­suyama. Adven­tures, here we come!

Hiking Trolltunga!

IMG_7984

Hik­ing Troll­tunga is the sin­gle most chal­leng­ing thing that I have ever phys­i­cally done. That being said, wow! What an amaz­ing jour­ney. To start the trip 13 other friends and I trav­eled to Håradalen Cot­tages in Røl­dal, Nor­way. This is about 3 hours from Bergen.

IMG_7913

Håradalen Cot­tages

We rented out the entire cot­tage. Wak­ing up at 5 am the next day we left for Odda where the hike is located.  To start the hike you have two options. Option one is that you climb up 3,000 steps and the other is to climb up the same dis­tance as the stairs but using rocks and a less direct route. We chose the rock start­ing point and started at 7:30 am. Climb­ing the rock stairs were by far the tough­est part of our jour­ney (so we thought). The view was spectacular!

Reaching the top of the stairs!

Reach­ing the top of the stairs!

There was a lot of up hill and wind. It seemed like once you thought you reached the top, there was some how another moun­tain to climb. I don’t think my body has ever been under so much pres­sure. In the back­ground of the pic­ture to the right shows a moun­tain with snow on the top. After another kilo­me­ter after the pic­ture was taken we reached the top where the snow was! An inter­est­ing thing I noticed while hik­ing was that other fel­low hik­ers would always give a friendly smile and a big “hei!”, some­thing that would never hap­pen on the streets of Nor­way. I am curi­ous about the dif­fer­ence in cul­ture between the city and coun­try side of Nor­way. I have had many dif­fer­ent Nor­we­gians tell me that start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion on the street or stop­ping to say hello is thought of to be creepy, while in the US it seems natural.

IMG_7958IMG_7960

Our jour­ney was full of beau­ti­ful scenery! Look­ing out we could see fjords that were insanely blue despite the cloudy weather. The hike is about 11km each way. The high­est part of the hike is Endanuten being 1214 meters above sea level. After trav­el­ing through 11 km you reach Troll­tunga! I wanted to cry when I saw it. Look­ing exactly how I imag­ined it, cov­ered in tourists from all over the world, I could finally say I made it!

Fun fact: Troll­tunga means troll tongue!  

                                                                    IMG_7976

The famous rock is about 700 m over Ringedals­vat­net. (Don’t worry mom, no fatal­i­ties have ever been recorded here!) Sit­ting on the edge could only be explained in words that do not exist. It was the most breath tak­ing moment of my life. I would rec­om­mend this to any­one trav­el­ing in Nor­way! Not only is it gor­geous but also a once in a life time expe­ri­ence. Your body goes through the pain (espe­cially on the jour­ney back) but to know that you have com­pleted some­thing so crazy is worth not being able to walk for a cou­ple days ;)

IMG_7983

A few hik­ing tips:

  1. Bring lots of snacks with you and eat peri­od­i­cally while you hike!
  2. Know your own pace and stick with it! It is a very long hike and you want to be able to sur­vive right?
  3. Bring along a friend! Some­one to take pic­tures with, some­one to cap­ture your great­est moments, and some­one to catch you when you fall. Trav­el­ing in pairs is always a lit­tle more safe!
  4. Bring a cam­era! I wish I had invested in a Gopro.
  5. Water­proof hik­ing shoes are a must! I hope you like mud!
  6. Any­thing to help with insane wind! (hand warm­ers, wind jacket and a beanie!)
  7. Only bring a cou­ple water bot­tles because you can always refill them at the top! There are nat­ural water foun­tains made for this.
  8. This hike would be best done in August.

Lessons in Life

Life is not one long jour­ney but many short jour­neys. And each jour­ney has its ups and downs. There are cli­maxes and con­clu­sions, chal­lenges and vic­to­ries. But more impor­tantly, life is made up of lessons. There is some­thing to gain from each indi­vid­ual jour­ney as long as we take the time to look back and see how far we’ve come since the end of the last one. My month in Rome has been one of the most reward­ing jour­neys I have ever embarked on. It has been full of many lessons not only in art and his­tory but in life.

Some of the less impor­tant yet more amus­ing lessons I have learned come from every­day chal­lenges. For exam­ple, while in Rome, I have learned how to live in a coun­try where I don’t speak the lan­guage. I have also learned how to live with only three food options (pizza, pasta, or panini) and with­out any ice cubes in my expen­sive glass of tap water. And I am no longer sur­prised if I go into a restroom and there is no toi­let seat or it takes me five min­utes to fig­ure out how to flush. We also have to sep­a­rate our trash into four dif­fer­ent bins and when we go to the super­mar­ket we have to bag our own gro­ceries. While all of these things are not easy to adjust to and make me miss home, they are sim­ple and I can­not help but love the city that I am in.

While liv­ing here, I have learned that the Italian’s way of life is much slower than the peo­ple of the United States. They are not in a big hurry to get any­where. They spend much longer eat­ing their meals and enjoy­ing their con­ver­sa­tions around the table. They seem to be care­free about every­thing and never uptight (except per­haps while dri­ving). While at times this was hard to under­stand, it taught me a lot about my own life. So many times I’m in such a rush to get things done that I miss what it truly is that I’m see­ing. Even at points on this trip I was in a rush to get home to the states. But when I was too busy think­ing about home, I would for­get to enjoy the fact that I am in an absolutely beau­ti­ful and time­less city. Around the third week I started to take this for granted and stopped enjoy­ing the sites of the city. I real­ized I am this way at home too. So many times I’m just focused on what I have to get done that I take for­get how beau­ti­ful life is around me. I live in a beau­ti­ful state and live an extremely blessed life. If any­thing, Rome has taught me to slow down. I have learned that I need to remem­ber to enjoy the time that I have, enjoy what is around me. Because one day just like with Rome, I might have to leave; and I would miss it. So when I return to Wash­ing­ton, I will go back to my nor­mal rou­tine of liv­ing like an Amer­i­can col­lege stu­dent. How­ever, I can only hope that I truly will take the lessons I’ve learned here and slow down to enjoy every minute of the life that I have.

A City of Art

This study abroad pro­gram is focuse­don stu­dio art and Ital­ian cul­ture. After tak­ing an art his­tory course this past year, I was excited to see the work of some of the artists we stud­ied. Car­avag­gio, Raphael, Michelan­gelo and so many more artists come from this city that I’m spend­ing four weeks in. It is unreal to think that they walked the same streets as I did. In addi­tion to see­ing their work, I was excited to make my own. This was my first time tak­ing any sort of art class. At first I was ner­vous but I learned so much and I couldn’t be happier.

photo (5)

photo (6)        We vis­ited sev­eral muse­ums and churches full of beau­ti­ful art. The Bernini stat­ues are my favorite pieces we’ve seen on this trip. The real­is­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics of his “David” statue are beau­ti­ful. You can see the focus and strug­gle in David’s face as he goes to throw the stone in his sling­shot. Every detail of his fig­ure is so beau­ti­fully carved it brought me back in time – as if I was stand­ing there watch­ing David’s bat­tle with Goliath in real life. The “Rape of Perse­phone” was stun­ning. The life that Bernini brought to every aspect of the statue was incred­i­ble. I was amazed at his abil­ity to make Persephone’s skin look soft as Hades grabs her leg. Her tensed feet even look as if she’s in a strug­gle. It looks as though they had been frozen in place. I stood in front of the statue for sev­eral min­utes  in sheer awe.

photo (7)

photo (8)

Though I am not catholic, I truly enjoyed our visit through the Vat­i­can and the other churches in Rome. The Sis­tine chapel was one of the most impres­sive things I’ve seen. St. Peter’s Basil­ica is over­whelm­ingly ornate and detailed. I could not help but find it all to be incred­i­ble. We also vis­ited a church with some of Caravaggio’s work. His paint­ing “The Call­ing of St. Matthew” is one of my all-time favorite works of art. Hav­ing only seen images of his work online before, I can’t explain how cool it was to see it in per­son; it’s mas­sive. It was dif­fi­cult to fully grasp it all sim­ply because there was so much. Even in his­tory — there are so many sec­tions in the Vat­i­can, each with a dif­fer­ent piece of reli­gious his­tory to visit.

Though I’m cer­tain I will never have my paint­ings hang­ing in Ital­ian muse­ums, I am so grate­ful to be able to paint in the cap­i­tal city of art.  For my final project I painted a series of doors that I found in Rome. As I walked through the streets of Rome every­day on my way to school and our many guided vis­its, my eye was always drawn to the unique doors and their vari­abil­ity not only in style but in size and age. These sim­ple images par­al­lel my life in many ways. The doors rep­re­sent the many oppor­tu­ni­ties that I am pre­sented with. Some­times they remind me of my past, left behind in the rub­ble of old mem­o­ries. Some­times they give me hope for a bright future full of many more won­drous expe­ri­ences. I found my expe­ri­ence in Rome to be its own door and oppor­tu­nity for adven­ture. I can­not wait to see what other doors will open in my future.

photo 2photo 1photo 4photo 3

Departure Day is creeping up on me…

Peru is com­ing up so fast! I’m less than two days from leav­ing, and there’s still so much to do! Take my advice on this one: don’t work full days the two days before you leave. It’s a bad idea. My to-do list is as long as my torso, and I have a cumu­la­tive sum of about 6 hours between now and when I leave to do them all, all while fam­ily and friends are try­ing to visit me before I leave.

So…don’t do that. Not smart.

All that aside, I’m so excited. Stressed, but excited. I’ve got my new tent, my new sleep­ing bag, a suit made of mos­quito net­ting (no joke), and I’m ready for an adven­ture. I’m look­ing for­ward to smelling trop­i­cal air once more and tast­ing those incred­i­ble fruits they have in that area of the world. South and Cen­tral Amer­ica really do have some of the most incred­i­ble fla­vors. I’m hop­ing to find my beloved granadilla, which is an orange fruit I fell in love with in Ecuador. Granadil­las are shaped sim­i­larly to pas­sion fruits — you crack it open with a spoon, rip it open, and eat the deli­cious seeds on the inside. I will say, though…they look very unap­pe­tiz­ing. They’re gray and look some­thing like snot. But I promise that they are sim­ply delicious!

I’m very much look­ing for­ward to remov­ing myself from my com­fort zone once more and return­ing home with a renewed under­stand­ing of my place in the world. I just want to cul­ti­vate my garden.

Business Britain-High Tech in the UK

8/20/2014 Blog by Isara Ebsen, Busi­ness, Busi­ness Britain-High Tech in the UK

Hi every­one! My name is Isara Ebsen and I will be a senior at UW-Bothell this year. BEYOND excited about my study abroad trip to Lon­don which I leave for on Fri­day! How­ever, before I get into the details of my pro­gram and why I chose it, I wanted to tell you a lit­tle about myself first. I’m half Thai half Amer­i­can and I’ve spent almost equal amount of time liv­ing in both Phuket, Thai­land and here in the Seat­tle area. I work two part-time jobs as a wait­ress at two local Thai restau­rants. My fam­ily is every­thing to me! I have the best par­ents any­one could ever ask for. They divorced when I was really young but they never missed a beat when it came to pro­vid­ing love and sup­port. My father is my moral rock. Some­times I think of the per­son I might have been if I didn’t have him and the answer would be, not good. Peo­ple say the only uncon­di­tional love you will ever get is from your mother and my mother is liv­ing proof of this. I have a younger brother who is a year and half younger than me and is also in col­lege. While I set­tled for a rather mun­dane busi­ness degree, my hot shot brother Har­ri­son thinks he can out shine me by study­ing petro­leum engi­neer­ing. Sib­ling rivalry at its finest. I also have a younger sis­ter (Arisa 12) and another younger brother (Con­nor 8), bet­ter kids you won’t find any­where. My life would not be com­plete with­out my three best girl­friends Sarah, Abby, and Stephanie! We recently just had a blast together in Vegas cel­e­brat­ing being young and fun. A great friend trip that I would rec­om­mend to any­one! And last but def­i­nitely not least I have an amaz­ing boyfriend named Tate. Slow and steady wins the race is how I like to think of our rela­tion­ship. We met roman­ti­cally in halls of Cas­ca­dia Com­mu­nity Col­lege almost two years ago at the begin­ning of the school year, we went on our first date last July, and have offi­cially been dat­ing since April. He is the most car­ing most thought­ful boyfriend and I’m one lucky girl to have such a great man in my life.

Okay now about my trip! I leave for Lon­don on Fri­day, and since today is Wednes­day you can only imag­ine the excite­ment. I have never been to Europe before and can’t wait to see what that side of the world is like. Peo­ple keep telling me that just because they speak Eng­lish in Eng­land does not mean there isn’t a huge cul­ture dif­fer­ence. My trip is an explo­ration sem­i­nar and is part of the Fos­ter School of Busi­ness on the Seat­tle cam­pus. (For those of you who don’t know, an explo­ration sem­i­nar is a three week pro­gram offered dur­ing Pre-Fall term. A great choice for those of you who might have sched­ule con­flicts or are wor­ried about being over­seas for too long.) The pro­gram is called “Busi­ness Britain-High Tech in the UK” and focuses on high tech com­pa­nies and their con­nec­tion with global busi­ness. Being a busi­ness stu­dent with a strong inter­est in global busi­ness, I def­i­nitely felt like this pro­gram was a per­fect fit for me and I’m extremely lucky to have been cho­sen to go. Since my pro­gram hasn’t begun yet, I can only speak to how you should pre­pare for any study abroad trip. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN AHEAD! My one and only main piece of advice. Whether you are wor­ried about finances, trav­el­ing, or any other con­cerns you might have, you can find a solu­tion to all of them if given enough time. I know that for me my main con­cern was finances (it still is!). Hours of plan­ning, prob­a­bly twenty-something phone calls, numer­ous Google searches, and the UW-Bothell Study Abroad Schol­ar­ship is how I am afford­ing to go to Lon­don. The process is time con­sum­ing and not always fun, but achiev­able and super rewarding.

I leave on Fri­day and have a whole day in Lon­don before my pro­gram starts! I be sure to blog more about how my trip is going. Hope my adven­ture inspires you to go on one yourself!!

Traveling Tips — Norway Edition!

Due to the recent real­iza­tion that I may have under­es­ti­mated how expen­sive and dif­fer­ent Nor­way is, I have decided to start a few tips for trav­el­ing to Norway!

IMG_7164IMG_7198

The view from my room. Bergen, Norway 

Num­ber one: Bring a lot of money and trans­fer it into NOK before you get here.

So you’ve heard Nor­way is expen­sive right? Well, now you know. I knew Nor­way was going to be expen­sive but I had NO idea it would be this expen­sive. One bus ride is about $4.00, and the McDonald’s does not have a dol­lar menu. Think of every­thing you buy, and then at least dou­ble the price.

The rea­son behind trans­fer­ring your money before you arrive is mainly because the US banks will give you a much bet­ter deal than any air­port, or ran­dom ven­dor here in Nor­way. How­ever, It is not just that but there is no Chase bank, Bank of Amer­ica, or BECU. The ATM fees will bury you alive.

Num­ber two: Black jeans and con­verse, Wear it.

If you are a woman, or man, you will see almost every sin­gle Nor­we­gian wear­ing this out­fit. The shirt rotates, but the bot­tom is always the same. In the states women tend to wear var­i­ous pairs of shoes, how­ever, Nor­we­gians here stick to the basics.

Num­ber three: Bring TP, some dry food, sham­poo / conditioner.

My four biggest regrets. Like I said ear­lier, every­thing in Nor­way is expen­sive includ­ing the basics. If you can get away with spar­ring some room in your lug­gage for these items, I would rec­om­mend. That is four things you do not have to worry about — the less to worry about the bet­ter. More room for fun! Also, they aren’t nec­es­sary to take back with you, so the room that they take in your lug­gage is the room you can use for your new Nor­we­gian sweaters!

Num­ber four: Try and for­get about Mex­i­can food… 

Maybe this is just a tip for me… due to my absolute love for Mex­i­can food, but you just wont find it in Nor­way. Although, Friday’s are taco Fri­days! Lit­er­ally every­one in Nor­way makes tacos on Fri­day… you just do..

Num­ber five: Hike, Hike, Hike!!

With Bergen being sur­rounded by seven Fjords, there is absolutely no excuse not to hike! So bring those shoes, work­out pants and your rain coat! (yes it rains almost every­day) So far, I have hiked only two of the Fjords, how­ever, every week­end it is a new adven­ture! Its the cheap­est and most ful­fill­ing thing that Bergen can offer you, so take it!

IMG_7491

More to come! :)

Preparing for Take-off

August 19, 2014, Blog by Stephanie Schoep­pel, Soci­ety Ethics and Human Behav­ior (SEB),Psychosocial & Com­mu­nity Health Thai­land: Health in a Devel­op­ing Nation (Explo­ration Seminar)

Today is the day! I have been wait­ing months for this day to finally be here and have worked very hard to make it hap­pen. I must admit that my bags have been packed for quite some time and I have recently fin­ished acquir­ing the last few neces­si­ties (i.e. maps, e-books and of course tons of snacks). I will be fly­ing out tonight at 2:10AM and it will take me 12 hours to get to my first stop, Taipei, Tai­wan. I’ve been told to spend the 4 hour lay­over explor­ing their beau­ti­ful and quirky air­port so there won’t be a dull moment for me any­time soon. From there it will be another 3.5 hour plane ride to Bangkok, Thai­land where I will begin nav­i­gat­ing the taxi ser­vice in order to arrive at my quint lit­tle hotel. At that point I will prob­a­bly fall over from exhaus­tion, but it will all be worth it! I am so ready for the adven­ture to begin and can’t wait to see every­thing Thai­land has to offer!