Shanghai

Yu Gardens, Shanghai

Shanghai is a wonderful city. There is so much to do here; so much good people watching. At times i lose myself in wonder, as i try to take everything in. My favorite thing to do is get a general idea about a place to go, find out which metro station leads there, and just leave for the day, a few hundred RMB in my pockets. Yes, sometimes i make plans, like when i went to Tea City (giant tea mall) or the four story medicinal herb pharmacy, but I prefer to allow my heart to lead me whereever it wants. I find all kinds of neat things this way.
Today i’ve done it again. I’m headed to south shaanxi road where i heard there was good shopping. Im forever looking for dresses and shoes. Its very dfficult to find shoes here because the Chinese people simply have a smaller frame than americans. When i tell them i need a 41, or a US 9 i usually get laughed at or taken to the mens department.
I was able to find a pair of ‘Chucks’ (fake version, found at the faux market) for about $10.00 but as far as cute sandals or dress shoes go, I’m usually out of luck.
Last week on one of my ‘adventures’ i ended up in the heart of the financial district on a thrill ride, ill call it. Literally, there was a small amusement park right in the middle of the city.  It swung back and forth, seemingly about to hit the trees, and then started to whirl around. All i remember was seeing the huge George Clooney poster on the side of a building and feeling comforted by that.

The traditional urban style of buildings hereI got to tutor two nine year olds!I will definitely go back to the Bund before I leave!
Afterwards, I found street dancers, musicians, people trying to sell me more fake goods, and more.  I don’t know that I would necessarily want to live in Shanghai, due to the rediculous number of people, the humidity, and the questionable food.  However, I have gained a lot of gratitude for my relatively priveledged Western upbringing.

A ‘touristy’ bar is called ‘Perry’s.  I met 3 Chinese friends (Tina, Alina, Wu Jian) but Perry’s has people from all over the world.  On any night you will find hundreds of people, Columbian, Italian, Spanish, African, French, …okay you get the idea.  One person I met invited me to and American Chamber of Commerce meeting, which I will attend next week.

My favorite places to eat are ‘Guy with Cart who Comes out After 11pm’.  He sets up a dozen different types of skewers, a grill, and viola, hot meat on a stick.   I also like ‘Super Chicken’ and ‘Coco (Taiwanese bubble tea.)

More later..

Internship in Chile

I’m doing an internship in my hometown in a B-corp called Smartrip. This business is a travel agency with a social focus that sells hotel rooms with huge discounts. The company gets the discounts because hotels aren’t always selling their rooms specially in their low season, so they give these rooms to Smartrip. The unique thing about this company is that it gives 80% of their profit to social programs which helps people with low resources to start their own entrepreneurship.

I’m in my third week and I’m so happy!! I’ve learned so much and I can’t believe it’s almost over. I’ll miss the people and the work I’ve done!

Ha’Luego España

I return from my trip to Spain different than when I left. I heard over and over how amazing of an experience study abroad would be, how I would make some of the best friends I would ever have, and how I would create memories that last a lifetime. I was skeptical at first–how could every single person have such a wonderful time without at least one complaint? I was skeptical during the trip as well. Sure, I was abroad. But I was living my life exactly how I would have if I were at home, right? Wrong. It would take me until now, a week after my return, to realize that.

Overseas, I did a lot of things for the first time. I lived outside of my parent’s house for the first time. I used a metro system for the first time. I didn’t work a part-time job while taking classes for the first time. I ran a 10k! I did all these things without the stress of what comes along with them. I didn’t have to worry about making rent–I had scholarships for that. I didn’t have to worry about paying for gas–I had the metro. I didn’t have to worry about balancing school, work, and social life–I only had two out of three anyway. I could focus on having fun and splurging on Zara and the midterm coming up instead of rent and bills and the other stresses of “real life.”

And I learned so many lessons abroad. I opened my mind and let the things around me influence my thinking processes, my judgments, my take on the world around me. It was like my trip was a miniature lifetime–I was born in Spain, I became comfortable and grew up in Spain, I went to college in Spain. I was able to experience “real life” in this utopian, stress-free environment. I went through hard times, but I also went through elation; there was so much good to out-way the bad that all-in-all I would rave to the next freshman class about how study abroad is one of the most amazing experiences of your life.

I even hope to be able to tell my take on the trip to others who are interested. I want to sit them down, take their hands in mine, and say “do it.” I overcame hesitancies about money, living alone, and faith in order to make this experience real. And I would love to be able to ease the minds of others with the same hesitancies.

My intention of this post was not to be vague, but to talk about a bit of the overlying themes and changes I saw in myself throughout my study abroad experience. I’m still me, but I feel wiser.

I am so glad I did this.

Adventures in Seoul

I have entered my third week abroad in Seoul, and can’t believe that I’m already nearing the halfway point of my journey. Six weeks will be far too short of a time to explore a city as massive as this. Luckily with the aid of the subway system, every week I’m able to travel to each end of the city to see as much as possible. I’ve gotten to see massive and dense shopping districts like Myeong dong. The colossal World Cup Stadium here in Seoul. I’ve explored the endless Yongsan Electronics Market. And atop the giant Namsan Mountain I was able to go into Seoul Tower, with a view so incredible that I’m sure if I looked carefully, I could find all of the sights I just listed.
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One thing that has stood out to me while I’ve been here is how kind everyone has been to me. You might be surprised to learn that despite choosing to travel across the entire world to get here, Korean is not the Asian language that I studied at UofL. I actually studied Mandarin, which as you can imagine has not been remotely helpful. As a result I have relied heavily on the help of others. Sometimes it was a restaurant employee who had to be incredibly patient as I tried to communicate, praying for a picture on a menu that I could point at. Sometimes the help came from a friend of mine who actually lives here, who was kind enough to translate between me and his friends so I wouldn’t feel so out of the loop during their conversations. I feel very fortunate to be in a city full of such hospitable people, not unlike Louisville. I can’t wait for the coming adventures I’ll have here, and I’ll update you soon with stories of them.

Things I’ve missed during and after my travles

One week after returning home from my 155 days abroad in the endlessly fascinating city of Den Haag, The Netherlands; I am finally moved back into my house and resuming life back in the good ol’ U S of A. Turning the page to another chapter of my life has obviously has come with a mixed bag of emotions. I thought that now would be a good time to come up with a list of both things from the U.S. that I am happy to see again, and a list of things from Den Haag that I already miss.

First off the things from home:

  • Obviously seeing my family and friends again
  • My (very comfortable) bed
  • Not paying for water and toilets
  • Driving a car
  • Owning a dishwasher
  • Being able to call people on the phone
  • My dogs
  • Actually having hills in this country
  • Thunderstorms
  • Being able to read signs/ packages at the grocery store
  • Chipotle and Skyline

Things I miss from Den Haag

  • My bike
  • Being able to walk to the grocery store
  • Meeting people from all over the world
  • Public Transportation
  • Easily being able to go to new countries
  • Living 20 stories up
  • Kapsalon
  • Dutch DJs
  • City centers
  • Seeing things older than 1776
  • Sampling international foods
  • All of my international friends

Of course these list show only a fraction of the things that I have grown to love and miss about my two homes, but you get the general idea. One great thing that this trip has taught me is appreciation; appreciation for the things that I have here in Kentucky and the  for things I had In Den Haag.

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Footprints in the Sand- Trini and Tobago

11212777_10204078146973849_2921730839099710007_n 21830_10204078955794069_7973271409810037239_n 11203279_10204085357034096_4559643193176631774_n 11072697_10204085357794115_7268340834725697909_n 17091_10204085358394130_5997569024747811142_n 11210448_10204085358954144_4742766088390736916_n 11209639_10204085360074172_2418628344401536191_n 20893_10204085360274177_2361691280268234903_nAs I reflect over my first trip abroad, my memories are nothing but joy, love, and happiness. Preparing for my first trip abroad left me anxious yet so excited to see for myself what the world outside of the United States has to offer, and boy, was I in for a treat. On April 30th, 2015, myself and about 15 other students and staff ventured over the Caribbean Ocean to the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my 21 years of life. When we arrived, we were all so excited and overjoyed to finally be in Trinidad, the place we had been dreaming about during our entire spring semester. A couple of days after our arrival in Trinidad, we flew over to it’s sister island, Tobago, for some relaxation and fun. The bond that I got to develop with each of the students and staff members on the trip during this time was absolutely amazing. We connected so well, and many of us stated after our return that it was one of the best times of our lives. We even got to swim and scuba dive in the Caribbean Ocean. The people were so friendly, the food was delicious, and the resort that we lodged at was beautiful. When we returned to Trinidad, we started our service work within the elementary and high schools. The children were all wonderful and so, so, so, well mannered. A group of the kids at the high school connected with us so well that we exchanged our Facebook information so that we could keep on touch. Our saying for the remainder of our time there was “Only Facebook!”. On our last day of service, we volunteered at an orphanage were we met the most cheerful, upbeat, and beautiful souls. It was really eye opening when the realities of some of the children’s lives were shared with us. Many of the children would stay at the orphanage their entire life because in Trinidad adoption isn’t very common. Many of us hated to leave the kids and owners of the orphanage after we volunteered. Trinidad and Tobago are such rich cultured countries with many different religions, colors, and heritages. The most beautiful aspect of Trinidad is that despite the many differences the people may have, they all live together so peacefully and are one. Trinidad and Tobago has definitely started my passion of traveling and I am so glad that my fire was able to come to life from my time there. My heart was so full when I returned back to the states, and I was even more ready to make a difference in the lives of others!

- Nitaya Walker, Senior

Capea

What is a capea you might ask? A capea is defined as an amateur bullfight. These are the kinds of field trips you get to take while in Spain. On a Saturday morning in April we loaded up four charter buses full of students and headed out to a ranch in the outskirts of Madrid. Basically what happens is, they release a baby bull into a ring and you’re allowed to go in the ring and attempt to dodge it. It’s not like a real bullfight where the bulls are harmed. The first bull that was released was so small that it hadn’t even developed its horns yet. Then we stepped up our game and moved onto bulls that were this size. image

They don’t look that large or intimidating until they are charging you. Many of the international students were hesitant to enter the ring, but the Spaniards were eager as many of them have done this before with much larger bulls. The spaniards had finesse while the international students just looked terrified for the most part.

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This was one of my favorite days because the Spaniards were able to share their culture with the international students and it was an event that helped to bring us all together.

Tour of Bejing – 2015

Side street near the hotel in Beijing

Side street near the hotel in Beijing

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Rooftop

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Ni hao from Beijing, China!  I arrived here on Monday morning after a 24 hour plane adventure from Louisville, KY.  The last 5 days in Beijing have been organized as a tour and the actual classes haven’t yet started, so the group has hit a lot of major tourist sites.  I will tell you about those later, but first I want to mention a few things to note about China:

-There are very few actual toilets in Beijing.  Also, you need to bring your own toilet paper and sometimes even soap.

-Many Chinese people will want to take pictures with or of non-Chinese people.  It’s actually quite fun.

-Always bargain at the markets.  The prices are way over-priced and you can usually bargain quite a bit for souveniers.  Someone in my group said ‘People usually have to overpay a few times before they realize this’.  I think this is true.

-’Pinyin’ is the alphabetical pronounciation of the Chinese characters and is written on street signs in the busy areas of the city.  This is very helpful when ordering food or telling a taxi driver where you are going.

-The subway system is surprisingly easy to navigate and safe.  I can’t say for sure how safe Beijing is, but I have felt just as safe as on the Louisville, KY public transportation system.  It is also only 4 Yuan per ride, which is less than 1 US Dollar.

-You either need to buy bottled water or boil your own.  There is no drinking out of a tap here.  At restaurants, they will bring a teapot of boiled water.  Do not expect a glass of ice-water here.

I’m leaving for Shanghai tomorrow, but have really enjoyed Beijing.

Audi Exclusive Q7 Release Party

On Thursday, June 18th, I was invited to the New Audi Q7 Release Party by the CEOs of King & Mayr. The party was held at the “Cobra 11″ race track where a popular German TV show is filmed. I was able to ride in an Audi R8 around the track with a professional driver who took turns at 100MPH. I drove the Audi Q7 on an off road course which tested the degree of the vehicle. Over all this was a very entertaining and interesting event. We were only granted access to this exclusive event because of the CEOs business relationship with the Audi dealership in the Nordrhein-Westfalen Region of Germany.936688_10155734325255597_3501835962972329818_n