Blog Entry 1

August 21, 2017. Blog by Pearle Maki, Biology major, From Andes to Amazon: Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability in Peru.

Hey everyone!

So, I leave for Cusco, Peru in 2 days, and I will be there for a month staying at biological stations and studying biodiversity in one of the most biodiverse places on earth! I chose this program because it sounded like an amazing opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things learning about one of my favorite topics!

I am very excited that I could have this opportunity to study abroad in Peru. I am also a bit nervous and anxious about leaving. I am anxious because I know little to no Spanish, but I know that I will be able to get around ok because my traveling partner knows a little. I know it will be a lot of fun, but I have not been away from my friends and family for that long. And we will have very little availability for contacting them once the program starts. It will be nice to be away from technology, and my friends and family have been really supportive of me going!

Anyway! Packing has been a lengthy process for me. We got the list of our essentials (including sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent, among other things) in the beginning of June and I have been slowing chipping away at everything we need and I think I finally have it all! Now I have to try to make it all fit in my duffle! I spent a Sunday at the beginning of August trying to fit everything in 2 backpacking packs, but it literally took me all day and I still couldn’t fit it all in. I resorted to a duffle bag because it can fit more, and it is way easier to find stuff in! Now if only I could fit Riley in too (The chocolate lab on the bed). I will miss her and her sister very much when I am gone too.

   

I made a few additions to the packing list because I am not sure what is available down there, and we will be spending 10 days camping in Manu National Park, so I would like to be prepared if I need to be! I made sure to bring melatonin, earplugs (I am a light sleeper), cold medicine, Benadryl/Calamine/Tea tree oil (for all the bug bites), Neosporin, toilet paper (herd this from another student), Pepto-Bismol. Those were the last few things I added in addition to Advil, and my normal prescriptions.

I will be heading out this week, and I will not be able to blog while I am there, but I will when I get back in about a month. So, stay tuned, and wish me luck!

-P

Busy in Paris! (Week of 8/9-8/16)

Wow, its been super busy this last week! We already had our first midterm and i got an A! For the beginning of the week, we just had class in an actual class setting. Then Wednesday we went to Saint Chapelle and the Conciergerie. I remember in the beginning of the orientations our director told us we would have a to walk a lot, which i understood, but i never actually imagined it would be as much as it has been! Thursday we went to some old Gallo Roman arenas and to Cluny museum. Then Friday we had our midterm, and afterwards went to the Pantheon. It was really magnificent but also I kinda creepy because it was all tombs, but there were some pretty significant people buried there. Afterwards, i took my own mini trip down the street to Palais De Luxembourg, which was simply amazing, the palais and jardin were breathtakingly beautiful. That night some friends and I also went out for the night and had some good food! The next day we went to the museums again because the program got us a 4 day museum pass to use for the one full day off!  This last Monday we went to the Basilica of St Denis, another amazing yet kind of creepy sight because of all the tombs. Then yesterday we visited the outside part of the Louvre and i got some medicine because i was starting to get sick, but i definitely feel better today. And today we got up bright an early at 6;30am to get on a train and got to Chartres to see the church and the country side. Ive tried to condense my writing today because I’ve been really busy and tired, and its easier to read and follow! So thanks for reading, and ill write again sooner (hopefully) than this last time!

Confused and slightly overwhelmed on the way to Paris

August 7th, Blog by Cassie Kays, Pre-Major, French/Comparative Literature France: Paris in the Summer

Wow, I’ve already been in Paris for a week!! Time seems to have flown by between class and touring the city, and I already have my first midterm on Friday!! I arrived in Europe on July 24th, a week before my programs start date, at 8 am at the Charles De Gualle airport, after being awake well around 24 hours. Confused and slightly overwhelmed, I began to search for my next terminal and hopped on another plane (with the help of a very friendly and helpful french couple) to visit one of my former exchange sisters, Louisa, in Hannover, Germany. The language barrier in Germany was slightly difficult, because I’m a strong believe of speaking the countries native language to be polite, but it was pretty easy to get around and get what I needed. So week one of my first time outside the states was the week of fun! After getting over the initial jet lag and waking up at weird hours of the night, my body had finally realized it was on European time.

The first week in Paris (7/31-8/6)

July 31st 2017
​After having my plane delayed about 2 hours in Amsterdam, I had rode the train down from Charles De Gualle (north of Paris) to the southern end of Paris to arrive at the Cite Internationale Universitarie de Paris. This will be my home base for the next month. I will admit it was only slightly nerve racking because of the lack of cellular data, and never having rode a train on my own, but I used my French to help navigate the way. I arrived at the student housing around 4pm ( approximately 7am Seattle time) tired and hungry. The first night I walked down to a Italian restaurant where I ordered a pizza in not-so-amazing French. I apologized to the owner of the restaurant for my poor French where he apologized for his poor English in return and said to not worry because my French will get better. I went back to housing after ordering my pizza and got inside just before a down pour, and called it a night.
​Tuesday August 1st, the other 27 students arrived, either really tired, or also used to European time as well. I had found a group of fellow hungry students and we went to another cafe down the streets from the university. After having a well deserved meal, a couple of us headed to the super market and picked up baguettes to munch on and got to know each other on the front terrace, and tell stories about our trips to Europe and trips of where we’ve been.
​Wednesday August 2nd, was when we started classes. Now this is the first time I had been back on an early schedule since summer break had begun, and our professor also noticed that as we all tired to stay awake with glossy eyes, which fortunately she had allowed us to end at noon. After class, a couple of us had seen it as a prime opportunity to head to the Eiffel Tower!! We sat in the Parc du Champs De Mars and munched on some more baguettes, and watch the Tower light up and shimmer at the 10pm. It was truly a spectacular sight, that i never even imagined I’d actually be seeing. Still being tired and groggy we then headed back and got back to the university around 11pm.
​Thursday August 3rd, we met in the lobby at a bright and early 7:30am and headed to breakfast next to Notre- Dame cathedral and then proceeded to climb over 700 steps to reach the top of the towers that over looked the Seine and the city of Paris. Then around 2pm we headed back to he university for 2 hours of French 210 (history of Paris class) and 2 more hours of French 390 (pronunciation and speaking class).
​Friday the 4th, we had the two classes again, but only until 2pm! Which meant the beginning of the weekend! We had done the touristy thing, and went on a boat ride on the Seine, and walked around the 1st arrondissement some more. One of the cutest sights that I saw there was the bridge and gates with the locks for lovers. There was sooo many, it’s really insane to see it in real life as well. We then continued our walk and we got to see the outside of the Louvre. And went back for some dinner around 7pm.
​Saturday the 5th, a few of my friends and I went to the mall, because I didn’t pack enough clothes and it was prime time for some cool french clothing and gifts for my family and friends. After shopping we walked around some more and found another cathedral to enter and admire. We returned around 4pm and I stayed in that night to do the load of homework that was due for Monday.
​Sunday the 6th was free musée day because it was the first Sunday of the month and it was definitely something to take advantage of. First, we went to the Pompidou, which was a modern art museum. Then we had some lunch a small Italian restaurant, and took the metro to the next stop. My favourtie musée of the two was Musée de l’Orangerie, where i was fortunate enough to see Claude Monet’s famous work of Water Lilies! Such beauty and detail within the art. We continued through the museum and saw other works by Monet, as well as Picasso, and Matisse. I ended the day by coming back to the housing and going to sleep in prep for the next morning! Now I continue to adventure and learn and hope to write more often so my entries aren’t as long! Wish me luck on my schooling and I’ll keep you all in the loop! Until next time!

(P.S. In case any of you were wondering, I’ve walked an average of 4.5 miles per day. So far these past two weeks I’ve walked 56.59 miles.)

Street food is the best food for you (and your wallet)

I am incredibly indecisive when it comes to food, and London doesn’t make it any easier! No matter what you are craving for, you will find it in a dine in restaurant or on the streets of London. My favorite way to satisfy my cravings is to hop on the tube to the nearest street food market and weave my way through the crowd to wherever my nose leads. Dining in a restaurant every day quickly adds up, so you will find many food stalls and chains at these markets that sell big portions for cheap (under 10 pounds). There is also something about seeing your food being prepared and cooked right in front of you that makes it even better.

Leather Lane is the go-to location for my classmates and I since it’s a short walk from our classroom. The street is lined with food stalls on both sides, along with the actual restaurants behind them. Here you will find naan wraps, shawarma, pasta, rice and vermicelli bowls, noodles, sandwiches, salads, fruits and more (that I haven’t discovered because I have yet to walk down the entire street).

My favorite place to go to is Yum Bowl. I order crispy pork with rice and steamed veggies, and it’s only for 5.50! They also have honey grilled chicken and the option to have your bowl with stir-fried egg noodles if you don’t want rice. You can also order your bowl with half chicken and half pork if you have a hard time choosing between the two. The vegetables include broccoli and Chinese cabbage steamed with a light soy based sauce in front of you. There is also someone chopping the meat into portions, then gives it to the last person who asks if you want sriracha sauce (which then you say yes!). I highly recommend going here if you want rice, meat and veggies that will definitely fill you up for a good price!

 (Rice, both meats, steamed veggies)

If your stomach craves pasta, then head on over to The Cheese Wheel at Camden Market to satisfy those cravings. What is a better way to make the cheesiest fettuccine alfredo than in a real wheel of cheese?! Yep, these guys HAND MAKE their noodles (right in front of you), cooks it, then the noodles are tossed into the cheese wheel to be thoroughly coated with the perfect amount of cheese. I added pancetta to my dish, but you can have to plain or add other toppings to it as well. The pasta-bilities are endless!

Here’s another cheesy favorite of mine if you prefer mac and cheese. I believe this place was rated one of the must eats in London by Buzzfeed or something. It was definitely worth the hype though!

Korean Burrito is another place to go to when in Camden Market. Yep, you read it right. I was jumping with excitement when I found a place that fused my two favorite foods together; Korean food and burritos! In this toasted tortilla wrap, you will find kimchi fried rice, cheese, Korean hot sauce, red cabbage, choice of meat (or no meat for the vegetarians) and some more ingredients that I cannot think of at the moment. It wasn’t as messy as I expected, but this definitely satisfied my cravings of Korean food at that time. The ladies there were incredibly nice and helpful since I didn’t know which ingredients to add in my burrito. Either way, it was delicious!

Alright, I don’t know how to make curry in a box look flattering, but don’t let looks deceive you! Pictured below is lamb curry with their house spicy sauce from the Soul Food stall at Borough Market, and it was absolutely delicious. This is Caribbean cooking with strong earthy flavors and sweet spices that is loved by many. If you’re not looking for box food, they also have the option of wrapping it up for you in a toasted tortilla with the same great ingredients just in wrap form. They also have different meats to choose from, as well as chicken curry if you don’t want lamb. It is very easy to pick and choose what you want to fit your liking. The people are are super nice and are willing to answer any questions you may have!

This is the end of my food post. I hope this gives you some idea of your options for food in London! These are just a few of my favorites that I have tried during my time here, so I hope this encourages you to try them too, and discover your own favorites!

“Distance means so little when someone means so much.” – Unknown

I find it uncommon among students to talk about being in a short term “long distance relationship” while studying abroad. Before I left, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether or not my boyfriend and I will stay together while I’m in London. I found the question strange because why would we break up if I’m only going to be gone for three months? I learned that there are couples who actually do that, but my boyfriend and I decided to stay together while I’m away. Three months is the longest time we’ve ever been apart from each other, so it was definitely hard to break away from our hug at the airport. Although this distance is temporary, I think it is important to think about your relationship with your significant other while you study abroad whether it’s for three months, six months, or even one month. Some relationships weaken with distance, but others get stronger. I believe that two people can overcome this challenge if both are willing to put in the same time, effort and love to make the relationship work.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve had is time. Guess what? The world has time zones and the difference from Seattle and London is eight hours. When I’m awake, my boyfriend is asleep and vice versa, so the time we have to talk to each other is limited. I sometimes catch myself getting annoyed at how long it takes him to respond to me, but then I remember we are not in the same time zone and he also has a life at home. It is tough to go from constantly seeing and talking to each other to a few hours of texting back and forth and facetiming every once in a while. One thing that we do to get our minds away from the time difference is to keep ourselves busy. We are currently both in school, so any time spent on homework and/or studying helps. I am constantly doing something here in London, therefore, it is easier for me to keep busy while I wait for my boyfriend to wake up or finish with his classes. Being busy will kill time and getting that “goodmorning” text in the middle of the day always lights me up.

We live in a time in which technology (more or less) dominates our lives. Social media and smartphones especially make it easier to communicate with anyone, anywhere. I am grateful for FaceTime because 1. I don’t have to rack up my phone bill with minutes and 2. looking into each other’s eyes and hearing their voice makes everything feel alright again. It is hard to find time that works for the both of us just because I’m usually busy 10-12 hours a day doing London things, and he has both this personal and school life to live. I also live in a room with two other people so when my boyfriend and I do FaceTime, it has to be a time that works for us all. Usually, neither of my roommates mind since we each do our own thing when we’re laying in bed, but some nights are short depending on what we did that day, so obviously we would be tired and head straight to bed. It’s easier for him to squeeze an hour or two in his day to FaceTime me, which is usually before bed, so that would happen every couple of day or so. Remember that it is okay to not FaceTime every night, or text each other constantly throughout the day just because it isn’t so practical. As much as it kills me, I have learned to be patient and to simply look forward to his name popping up on my lock screen. Time works differently for everyone of course, so it is best to communicate possibly even more than usual with your significant other while abroad.

 

Here are a few things that I like to remember and have helped us these past couple of months:

  • Think of this as an opportunity– instead of thinking the distance is pulling you two apart, view this short term long distance relationship as a test of love for each other. Not a lot of couples go a long period of time away from each other unless you are in a real long distance relationship of course, but treat this time and distance as a measure of how much you two are committed to one another. Like I said earlier, the distance will either weaken or strengthen a relationship.
  • Expectations– be clear and open with each other about what you expect during this time apart. None of you would want to do things that will catch the other person by surprise, so it’s important to talk about these things.
  • Know each other’s schedules– I touched on this a little bit in the last paragraph, but yes, tell each other when you are busy or free so you can text or call at the right time. Know the small and big events in each other’s lives such as midterms/finals, birthday celebrations, job interviews, academic progress etc. This is important especially when living in different time zones.
  • Communicate regularly and creatively– My boyfriend and I like to play those iMessage games with each other (corny, I know), but it’s fun to do things together when you aren’t together, yaknow? Also, sending pictures or short videos of what I am doing or eating makes it more personal rather than him seeing it on Snapchat, Instagram or any other social media platform.
  • Avoid “dangerous” situations– In London, pubs (bars) are a part of the social culture here that my peers and I have partaken in quite regularly. If you know you and a groups of friends are going out drinking or to a nightclub late at night, then telling your significant other ahead of time is imperative. Do not be careless about this matter because your partner will be extremely worried (or suspicious), and of course upset if you put him/her in a position where they feel extra powerless/lacking in control. They won’t be there to take care of you, so you need to be responsible and take care of yourself. Recognize the dangers before entering into a situation.
  • Enjoy your time alone– you might be alone, but you are not lonely (unless you chose to feel like it). You don’t have to let your world revolve around your significant other. Take this time to hang out with friends, family (for the person at home), or find a new hobby.
  • Honesty is the best policy– Talk about your feelings (yes, you have them) of fear, insecurity, jealousy or whatever else. Don’t hide these feelings from your significant other. Let them give you the support you need and this also gives points in the communication category too.
  • Stay positive– Inject positivity in this long distance relationship to keep it alive. Yes, waiting is painful and you will feel lonesome, but just keep reassuring each other. Be grateful that you have someone to love and who loves you back. Be thankful for the little things.

 

There’s my two cents in what I have learned during my time abroad (apart from academics). I hope someone finds this post useful, I know it’s corny and not a lot of people talk about it, but I guess I’m one of the few who do. After rereading my post, this can definitely apply to people who are truly in a long distance relationship, or starting one. If you are studying abroad and in a relationship, remember that not everyone has or takes the chance to do what you are doing. Be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and that you are creating these life-long memories and experiences. Each day I am out and about, I always think of my significant other and how he would like to eat crispy pork belly from the street food market, shop around Oxford or Soho, take walks with me along the River Thames, and so much more. Although your partner is not with you now, there is a chance you can do these things together in the future. For now, enjoy your time studying abroad and share your memories and experiences when you get back home.

GETTING READY FOR YOUR TRIP!!!!

ADVICE try to pack clothes that you do not want to use anymore, so you can leave there and have more space in your luggage (I wish I would’d done this).

You are going to get a packing list, and I going to tell you what I use and what I did not.

  • Definitely you need more than $200. There are amazing things you want to bring back home, and sometimes it gets really difficult to get money out + you want to save the extra charges that some banks have for using your card in a different country.
  • Knowing the India currency or the currency of any other country it is very important and interesting!
  • Money belt (never used it). I have a small security purse that REI sells, and you can safely keep your more and other stuff in there. $65
  • ALWAYS BRING BACKUP DOCUMENTS; copy of your passport, insurance, the card you are taking, and your airline itinerary.
  • Mosquito net (never used it).
  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes or sandals. I used sandals of the time because of the heat. We did not walk too much, so they were perfect.
  • 1 pair of flip flops for showering. I did not bring them and did not need them. The showers at the places we stayed were very decent.
  • CLOTHES like I said bring the clothes you do not want. Bring something that you are comfortable and fresh, the heat makes you really tired. Bring something nice for a night out. Extra t-shirts!!
  • The first week was a little cold, so bring something light but warm (most of us were not ready for the cold).
  • Socks (never used it) 1 pair is enough.
  • UNDERWEAR, I brought underwear for every single day because I do not feel comfortable somebody washing my underwear, and because I did not know who I would be sharing the room with. Days were really long and sometimes you did not have time for small things like this, and I had to share the room with the boys. I am so happy I had underwear for every single day! My girl roommate regret not doing it.
  • Pijamas
  • I brought my own, but each place had clean towels. You can save some space here.
  • Camera OF COURSE!!
  • Ziploc bags, I never used them, but it is important to have some just in case.
  • Tissues, disposable wet wipes YES!!! I brought 1 roll of toilet paper which was really important. I bought small wipes to carry with me all the time and a big package that I left at the hotel (Used them all).
  • A thin collapsible duffer if you plan to purchase souvenirs. If I was you I would just leave all the clothes I do not want and put everything in your luggage, that way you are more comfortable on your way back. Many of us did not have the space, and it was very uncomfortable to travel with so many things.
  • Facial care (sunscreen)
  • Personal care (dental, hair,eye body) HAND SANITIZER, DEODORANT, RAZOR, INSENT REPELENT
  • Over the counter drugs. PLEASE bring something for a cold or cough, I got some kind of cold and had nothing for it.

       TAKE THEM ALL, YOU NEED TO BE READY!

Under the counter medicine

  • Vitamin C
  • Dramamine $7.89
  • Melatonin $6.57 (jet-lag) (if you have never taken this before buy the 3mg).
  • Alka-seltzer $6.29
  • Pepto-Bismol $6.29
  • Imodium $9.49
  • Ibuprofen
  • Earplugs and eye cover (optional). I did not bring any, plus the airline (EMIRATES) gave us earplugs and eye covers.
  • DO NOT BUY THE ONE IN MARSHALLS IT DOES NOT WORK EVERYWHERE!
  • Map of India (YOU DO NOT NEED IT!). $15
  • Sense of humor and flexibility (bring extra of those).
  • Bring your own snacks!! The time between meals it’s a little long

    This is the one you should get!!

This should be part of your kit. I took the picture because when I went I had a hard time, so if you do too you can just look at the picture and i will be easier to find them.

Before Your Trip

This is my first time writing a blog in English, so I am so sorry if I make any mistake. However, at the same time it is a representation of me as an immigrant whose first language is not English. So here is the process that I wanted to have before and during my time in India.

Process before your trip…

 This is a process that we should all enjoy, although it is stressful, once you get the congratulation letter everything will have a different face :).

Interview…

For this I do not have much to say more than be yourself. If you do not know something it is okay to say it, you do not need to have a perfect answer. From this, you will learn (like I did) to be okay with who you are with your answers even if they sound silly sometimes. For a while I was worried that I was not going to be selected for the program because of some of my answers, but I got the good news and that opinion about myself changed….and if you are wondering about the picture in my congratulation letter, yes we took it while in India!

Visa

If you are like me and do not read the instructions, you are going to be very frustrated. For this, you will need:

  • A picture of yourself with a white background. What I did… I took a picture of my passport picture and change the size of the picture to what it was required and it work!
  • A clear picture of your passport

I thought it was going to be easier, so please take your time to do at once. However, if for some reason you can not finish it when you started it DO NOT FORGET to write down your application ID number which is on the middle top of the page. It happened to me, and I had to start over again and learn the hard way.

These were the mistakes I did while filling out the application:

  • DO NOT write your social security or your driver license enter NA.
  • DO NOT use punctuation marks. If your name is hyphenated then use a black space instead. Do not use a period if your name has a sux such as “Jr.”
  • AND write the address as they show it even though the space is not long enough. Copy and paste what they give you, and if it does not fit IT IS OKAY!

…and here goes your first investment on your trip $61.50 for you visa!

IMMUNIZATIONS

DO NOT WAIT TILL LAST MINUTE…

Go to the doctor as soon as possible so you will know what your insurance is able to cover. If you do not have insurance Bartell Drugs store and Walgreens offer the service of the immunizations that are required to enter to India. Bartell Drugs have an international nurse that will help you with the research and the decision with some the ones that are optional (malaria).

Hepatitis A $139

Typhoid $102

For me, my insurance covered the Hepatitis A, and with my doctor we decided that I was not going to take anything for Malaria. However, I paid for the Typhoid at the community clinic in North Gate and I paid $76.78, so it was more convenient.

DO NOT FORGET to ask your doctor for CIPROFLOXACIN for traveler’s diarrhea. Most insurances cover this. WHAT I DID TO NOT USE IT… I was really worried about getting sick during India, so my cousin who traveled to Nepal recommended to take probiotics as much as possible BEFORE and DURING the trip. I was eating two yogurts everyday, kombucha, and I bought some probiotic pills called “Pearls Complete” that he recommended. I got them through Amazon for $15.49…. and I never got sick of my stomach!