The Training Center in Santiago

Saturday, July 28, 2018 Blog by Ronald Carrick, Guatemala

Today we traveled by bus from Guatemala City to the Santiago training center (2hrs) which is owned by Jennifer Hoock, our trip manager from the Guatemala Village Health (GVH) group. Jennifer does not live at the center, she has a local family living at the center which manages it. The center has a main house, which is in continuous improvements, we learned there were new kitchen cupboards placed and a new tile flooring in the last year. A new range stove and refrigerator arrived today at the center during our visit. The center had an example of a functional out-house toilet which is built in the rural villages. There were water purification systems (ECO system), which consists of a ceramic clay pot (clay is mixed with wood shavings and baked, this curing process turns the wood shavings into carbon, then the clay pot is painted with silver) housed by a plastic pale. Water is poured into the clay pot, and purified water is removed from the bottom via a spigot. There is also a carpenter training area too.

At the training center the UW group, the GVH group, and the Guatemalans unpacked the supplies that were transferred from Seattle, WA to Guatemala. The center houses medical supplies which are used during the clinic visits in the rural villages. The travel clinic supplies were stocked and sorted by systems, i.e., GI, Pulmonary, Cardiac by the three groups. This process allowed the groups to become acquainted with one another.

We then set up for a mock clinic which turned into a regular clinic, as locals turned up for medical treatments. The clinic visit started with registration, then vital signs, triage, group charlas, finally to see the doctor and/or pharmacy. It was great to treat the locals, about 43 patients were examined, this allowed a good practice for the planned village clinics. During this training session, I was a triage nurse, a Spanish interpreter was needed to complete the patient assessment, and data was entered into the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and on a papelitos (little papers). The patient moved through the clinic with the help of a runner. During the day’s activities, I learned how important it is to have a system in place to run a clinic efficiently. It takes many hands to prepare for a mobile medical clinic. 

In the heart of Matsuyama!

On to the Study Abroad segment!

For the Sustainable Energy study abroad trip, I stayed in the mountain city of Matsuyama. Matsuyama is very much a country city, compared to Tokyo or Kyoto, but It is not like American country cities. Matsuyama still had a Livid Night life and a ton of attractions for young people. Our group was able to keep busy every single day of the trip.

Matsuyama Castle!

We stayed in a shared housing provided by the university. We each had our own rooms, with air conditioning. Thank goodness! The Humidity is a little dreadful!

Since this course focused on Sustainable Energy in Japan, most of the studies in this trip revolved around different energy and technological systems in Japan. Each day yielded either a field trip, lecture, or cultural outing. We worked together with students from Ehime University and got to share in each other’s culture. During the Shinto Festival, we all assisted in hoisting the 2 Ton Kami Shrine for the day, with the help of 100 others from around the prefecture.

Tea Ceremony!

Ehime Engineering Laboratory

On our field trip to Yusahara, we traveled to a terraced rice farm in the mountains. Here we got to learn about the architecture involvement of irrigation in the terraced fields and learned about the culture aspect of Japan’s problems. In Japan, there is negative population growth, meaning that the youth are leaving the smaller cities, leaving only the elderly to perform jobs such as rice farmer. In time, this will have significant problems for Japan.


Mountain Restaurant Cuisine!

When I began the study abroad, I expected to learn technology in Solar farms, hydro power, etc. While we did learn about that information, we learned a great deal of Japan’s own culture. It was surprising to see different solutions to similar problems. For example, In America we are looking to solar power to increase our green clean energy. For Japan, solar power is not that applicable, so they are looking to Hydrogen facilities to assist in long term clean energy.

Studies aside, the most valuable information I learned was engineering from an international standpoint. It really opened my eyes to how things can be completed. Learning the cultural aspect turned out to be even more important than the engineering.

During one of the weekends, each student stayed in a homestay with a local family. My family was an older couple in their 40’s with no kids. I was unsure of what to expect, but upon meeting them, I had a spectacular time. Although the husband couldn’t speak good English, his wife was able to translate for us, and we had a lot in common. Conversation proved to be very fruitful and we had to force ourselves to stop talking in order to go to bed. On our day out, we traveled to Kurusan Observatory up on one of the mountain Islands, yielding one of the best views I have ever seen. The Islands of Japan are very mountainous and numerous. Pudget sound Islands look like child’s play in comparison.

Staying with a local family and eating something other than at a restaurant or 7-11 goodies was a refreshment and a learning experience at how a Japanese household operates.

When the homestay was completed, every student had a positive experience with their homestay.

Hiroshima was another big highlight of the trip for me personally. Given the situation of WW2, it always amazed me how far Japan and America have come as allies and I was humbled by the memorial. Seeing ground zero in person was surreal.

Hiroshima Ground Zero

1,000 Cranes Memorial       

In summary, staying as part of the Japan study abroad taught me a lot about the international community. I learned about English teaching in Japan. Which I might consider if my current career plans fall through.

Advice that I would give for any students looking into a study abroad. I would say to experience as much as you can. Studying outside of America is a limited opportunity and you should take advantage of everything. If it is your first time traveling alone to another country, just remember that it is only a finite period of time. Soon you will return to your home and look back at your experiences. Make sure you fill your time with as many experiences as possible while traveling abroad.

Half Way Through!


Welcome Back!

It has been 1 week in Matsuyama and 2 weeks in Japan. I entered Japan a week early to do a little solo exploration.

Before starting the school study abroad program, I traveled to the busy city of Tokyo, Climbed Japans tallest Mountain of Fuji san, and explored the cultural heritage in the city of Kyoto.

Immediately after landing I traveled to my Air BnB. Air BnB is a website in which locals can submit their houses/ rooms for rent, resulting in an affordable and comfortable way to stay overnight in cities. Only costing me $15 US dollars per night, I stayed in a small room with 4 others, but there were private showers and the locals were very polite and helpful in guiding me to tourist sites. If you are traveling short period to multiple cities, I recommend this method. Most of the day I was out and about and only came to the room to crash in the evening.

The first item on the agenda was climbing Mt Fuji. I took the highway bus to Fuji, which was very easy to do. And then climbed and stayed over night halfway up the mountain. I woke at 3 am for the famous sunrise summit, and it was well worth it. The climb itself was very long, but not too difficult. A definite recommendation to any hikers out there.

Cold and tired after the Sunrise Summit!

Traveling back to Tokyo, I visited all the main attractions in the city, Shibuya, Ueno, Imperial Palace, Akihabara, and more. Tokyo is a bustling city of modern sophistication. The train system in Tokyo alone was mind-blowing. But to soon learn that the trains connect all of Japan together made me a little jealous that Seattle lacks a rail system. I was nervous that the language barrier would have resulted in large issue. But surprisingly, most of the signs have English translation and I was able to order food by simple pointing and proper greetings.

Shibuya Crossing!

20 meter Gundam at Diver City!

I quickly realized that 7-11 stores are your one stop shop for everything you need. They are everywhere. You cannot walk one block without seeing one of these stores. They carry a larger supply of food options compared to US counterparts. They also have ATM’s for when you run out of cash. Always keep cash on you, because not every store will accept American Debit or Credit.

Another Helpful Item is Google Translate and Google Maps. Google maps was able to get me to any location I needed to and was very accurate in which train and platform to take. There is a phone app called google translate with real time video translation that will translate foreign signs into English almost instantaneously!

Finishing with Tokyo, I traveled to Kyoto via the High Speed Bullet Train, called the Shikansen. From my seat I got to see much of Japan’s countryside which was spectacular. Japan is very mountainous with lots of rivers, making for a beautiful sight.

I found myself liking Kyoto a little bit better than Tokyo. Kyoto had an older cultural feel to the city with a lot more attractions to my liking. Whereas Tokyo was modern, technological, and fast paced. Kyoto was ancient, old, and a slower setting. There must have been a festival of some sort, because all the locals wore Kimono’s. I traveled throughout Kyoto via the city bus, which was also very easy to use. The temples of Japan hold a very serene and ancient feeling. I couldn’t help but stare in amazement at the architecture. It was more appealing to learn how advanced the buildings really are. They are constructed to be earthquake proof. Built without nails so that the wood beams can mingle together during a quake.


In summary, traveling solo in Japan was a great time, I was able to cover a lot of ground that wouldn’t have been possible in a group. I felt safe at all times and never felt lost because the locals are very polite and willing to help. Japan’s primary tourist attraction is food. There are a lot of items that have strange appearances, but you must try everything!




Writing with the benefit of hindsight, and a little extra sleep after the end of the study abroad program brings into sharp relief how much of a once-in-a-lifetime experience it was. It was, perhaps, the single greatest twenty-five-day period that I’ve had thus far, and it is certainly the highlight of my time at UW Bothell. As I head into my final year here I believe that the lessons I learned and things I saw and felt will prove to be of incalculable benefit to my education as well as my career after I graduate.

The Tokyo Skytree—incredibly, mindbogglingly tall, so tall in fact that the observation deck is fully within the clouds on overcast days; a very kind staff member dissuaded me from paying the admissions fee to go up in this weather.

One of the greatest strengths of this program, compared to simply going on a vacation to Japan which would have been at least somewhat cheaper, was the sense of unity that came from travelling with a group of one’s peers. I am a bit of a shy person, so I felt much more comfortable going out and exploring when I knew that there was a stable base acting as an anchor. Obviously, there are numerous other benefits, especially in the opportunity of going to places and talking to people that any random person on vacation can’t visit or speak to; the five academic credits also sweetens the deal.

One course of our final group dinner together. Needless to say, it was delectable.

Cameron’s blog

Blog by Cameron Locke, environmental studies, Japan Renewable Energy.

My name is Cameron Locke, and I’m an environmental studies major in my junior year. This program originally piqued my interest because of two words: “Japan” and “Renewable”. I’d heard of this program for well over a year as I did orientations for my job on campus and I finally decided that I would apply.

Mechanical engineering and environmental studies sounds as different as apples and oranges. Yet there I was, hoping to see the environment from a couple new perspectives. The image that many people have of Japan is this amazing, high-tech society, and I was curious as to where Japan stood in their efforts to put renewable energies in place.

Pre-departure travel tips

• Pack light! You only need about 5-7 days’ worth of clothes. You’ll have access to a washer and a dryer while
you’re at the share house (trust me, you’ll want to wash your clothes often).
• A few quality of life suggestions: bring breathable clothes, an umbrella, bug spray and at least 2 pairs of walking shoes

Pre-departure and travel experience
The pre-departure for this study abroad was probably the most worried I have ever been when traveling. I travelled with a couple other classmates, and we were due to arrive in Matsuyama a day earlier than most of the other students in the program. It wasn’t so much the packing and making sure that I didn’t forget anything as much as it was Typhoon Jebi passing over Japan during the days of my flight. I fully expected delays in LAX, but our flight departed as scheduled.

The typhoon seemed to have scared off quite a few passengers because our plane was fairly empty. This allowed passengers who were cramped together to take a different seat of their choosing for the duration of the flight with no extra cost.
Upon our arrival in Matsuyama, we were greeted by one of the Ehime University students who would take us to the share house.


Welcome to my 2018 Japan travel abroad blog

Sept 25, 2018, Blog by Jessica Gray, Mechanical Engineering, Renewable Energy in Japan.

Welcome to my 2018 Japan travel abroad blog.


Name.  Jessica Gray

School.  University of Washington Bothell.  Senior Mechanical Engineering student.

Engineers are trained problem solvers, and thats what I want to do. I want to make a positive contribution to the world.

Me.  i am an artist.  an engineering student.  a soccer player.

I completed an internship with A.I. Solutions/NASA this summer before this course.

Program.  Sustainable Energy in Japan.  This summer consisted of field trips to electric and power companies, power plants, and looking into hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cells, and nuclear power.


This course focused on both current and proposed energy solutions–both in the US and Japan. It introduced me to something crucial:  the larger picture.

When looking at realistic energy solutions, the technology itself is important, but the success of a developing technology is heavily dependent upon so much more than that.

Location.  Safety.  Sustainability.  Reliability.  Politics.  History.

These are just some of the topics that influence the power generation industries in vastly different ways depending on where you live, and I got to learn so much about all of these issues.


I will post again soon with pictures from the US field trips, and then from Japan.

Until next time!


English Phrase:  I am Jessica
Japanese Phrase:  Watashi wa Jeshika desu

London Bus Tour

During week 1, our class had the opportunity to do a bus tour of the city and because our program is about Race, Health, and Society in Britain our program director specifically asked the tour guides to include important landmarks that highlighted historical events related to race, immigration and minorities into our tour. The first stop was Westminster where Buckingham Palace is located along with Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, Trafalgar Square, National art museum and etc.

(Here is a picture of Palace of Westminster, unfortunately Big Ben is under construction and won’t be open until 2021. Fun fact I took this picture 6 days before the car crash outside of House of Parliament and I was actually in the area the day before the crash).

(We had the chance to watch the Horse Guards Parade and see them walk to their shift at Buckingham Palace).

Then we moved to the area where the first Caribbean’s in London settled and the council homes (public housing). It was interesting to learn about how council homes began in UK and the changes it made. I was unable to take pictures of the council homes because this was bus portion of the tour and there were was a lot going on in the streets. We visited Brick Lane as well since we’re are reading the book Brick Lane by Monica Ali. It’s a city in South London where a large population of South Asians who are mainly Bengali reside and is known for it’s authentic food and Sunday Market.
After our tour, we had a guest speaker from the National Health Service (NHS) come to our class room to speak about the Healthcare system in UK. He did a great job informing us on the history of NHS, what it stands for, and how it has impacted the country. At first it made me wonder what America would be like if everyone had free healthcare access like the UK then, as I learned more and heard about the experience one of my classmates had in the ER in London, I’m glad and proud to say the care we receive in the U.S is better than UK.

Anisa Moallem’s blog

Blog by Anisa Moallem


Hello beautiful people,


This is my first time blogging so bare with me as I get the hang of this. This blog will also be posted after I return from my trip because I chose to keep a journal of before and while abroad. 


A little background about myself, my name is Anisa and I am a Health Studies major and minoring in Health Education and Promotion at UWB. Two years ago, I would’ve never imagined myself being a Health Studies major and let along having the opportunity to study abroad. I was finishing my prerequisite for Nursing School when I realized it wasn’t for me but I pushed myself to continue thinking maybe by the end of my prerequisite classes I will be happy with my choice. I completed my Associates Degree and there I was dissatisfied with my accomplishment. I’ve spent two years taking courses for nursing to only find out that’s not what I wanted as a career. I made the decision to take time off to find myself and find what made me happy. I’m glad I made that choice because a year later, I found a major that is the perfect fit for me and allowed me to Study abroad. 


In February, I came across a Study Abroad program about  Race, Health, and Society in Britain taught by an African American professor from UW Seattle. How cool is that? I thought. I have only had one black teacher before and that was in 6th grade. So I was excited to take this course with Dr. Spigner. The only problem was this was 3 days before the deadline. I stared the application right away and minutes later I got an email from the program director notifying me I was applicant number 97 and the program only allowed 30 students, if I were serious about the program to submit my application ASAP. I had to quickly ask two of my professors for letters of recommendation and begin the application process. After I submitted my application I was interviewed by the program director and his TA and weeks later I received my acceptance letter. 


Fast forward to the end of July I had to pack and get ready for the program. That’s when it hit me I’ll be in London for 4 weeks away from my family and friends for the first time. I was excited for the experience of being independent in a foreign country but I was also anxious about what it will be like traveling as a Hijabi. Will customs give me hard time? Will I face problems in London even though it’s very diverse? Were some of my worries. My parents were supportive and assured me this will be an opportunity for growth no mater what happens. They encouraged me to be positive and be myself. 


Now it was time to pack and boy do I wish I listened to Dr. Spigner. One tip that was repeated over and over again during my pre-departure meetings was “packing lightly”. We were advised to do so because when we get to London we would have to take public transportation from the airport to our flats (dorms/apartments). I did exactly the opposite of that and  ended up overpacking, mostly clothes I didn’t even wear once I got to London. So my tip for any future students who plan to study abroad is PACK LESS you can always buy an item or two when you get to your destination if you really need to. 


That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading my get to know me/pre-departure. Stay tuned for my next blog about London 🙂

A Typhoon in the Ancient Capital

A curious benefit of traveling abroad is one is able to experience natural disasters which are not particularly common in the region of the world in which they live. During this trip to Japan our study abroad group has been able to experience the rage of a typhoon for the first time in many of our lives. Unfortunately, it also served to interrupt a fair amount of the middle portion of our trip. We had traveled to Hiroshima via the Shinkansen, an ultra-fast high-speed rail system while we watched the ominous arrival of Typhoon Number 21 (In Japan, typhoons are not given names but instead are numbered sequentially for each typhoon season) in the southern islands of Japan. We decided to cut our trip to Hiroshima short and stay overnight only because we learned that there was a virtual guarantee that all the train systems would be shut down the next morning in anticipation of the typhoon’s landfall. Therefore, we woke up early and attempted to catch the very last train to Kyoto, our next destination, before this happened. It was actually fairly exciting “racing” the storm to our next hotel, a race we managed to win.

The weather on the day after the typhoon left no evidence of the destruction of the day of.

The storm itself was a little bit terrifying especially when you start to hear the lashing rain and feel screaming wind shake the concrete building you’re in. We did survive it though, none worse for the wear and the next day was beautiful and tragic, as the weather was lovely but the damage from the typhoon was apparent in the trees toppled, glass shattered, roofs damaged, and shrines collapsed.

A small part of Fushimi-inari Shrine, which extends far up to the summit of a nearby mountain; unfortunately the damage from the typhoon was severe so most of the shrine was closed off because of fallen trees.

Kyoto was an amazing city to behold especially when you consider that the city, having avoided destruction by bombing raid during the Second World War, was filled with buildings which long predate the United States’ existence. Something that may seem somewhat unlikely in the United States since there is relative dominance of Christianity within American religious practices was, in Kyoto, the relative parity between numbers of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples (two of the major religions of Japan) and the mixture of them within similar spaces. I heard a saying once that 70% of Japanese people are Buddhist and 70% of Japanese people are Shintoist, something that is born out the places of worship in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan.

Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion is one of the great temples of Kyoto, and a tremendously popular tourist attraction.

Hospital Roosevelt Aug 10th


Today was a very hard day. I did not feel comfortable in the hospital at all, it was very upsetting for me to see. It might be that in general I do not like the hospital (hence why I do clinic work now) or I think that the conditions of the patients and the very little resources they had made me sad. There were no private rooms or even rooms for that matter. The halls were littered with gurneys that looked like they were hundreds of years old, all with body fluid stains and torn fabric. In the critical ICU there was one nurse for all the beds with a few nursing aids. The patients all looked so sick and miserable and they had to be all jammed into a room with others who were feeling the same impending death. One of the rooms we walked into there was a woman foaming at the mouth, a dead person that was covered with a drape, and a passed out patient who was on a cardiac monitor that looked eminent. As we made our way through the hospital, I kept feeling sicker and sicker. How could the healthcare system be in such a way that it seemed to be more dangerous for the patents to be in the hospital then out of the hospital? All of the doctors were super young, Juanita said it was because they made no money there and the older more experience docs had private practices.