Day 01 (06/22)

06/24/2015, Blog by Trang Tran, Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion with a focus in Account­ing, When In Rome: Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Stu­dio Art and Ital­ian Culture

3:36 am

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~pic 1

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 :)

And The Adventure Begins.

 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



Alicia First Blog Post 2This 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.

Alicia First Blog Post


Girl Meets World

06/05/2015, Blog by May Azcar­raga, CUSP, Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Arts & Sci­ences (UW Both­ell) Italy: When In Rome: Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Stu­dio Art and Ital­ian Culture67

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.

Best regards,

May Azcar­raga

Pre Departure

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!


On the road again…

5/20/2015,  Blog by Steven Kay, Com­puter Sci­ence and Soft­ware Engi­neer­ing, Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion via Dig­i­tal Sto­ry­telling in the US and South Africa

dfsaThis 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!

Fish and Deer

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.

Settling Down in Osaka

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.

Exchanges in France

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!


58 Hours

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.

Regional Train — The seats are so com­fort­able and much more leg room than Sound Transit

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.