Adventures in London

London was an amazing city! I studied at London School of Economics for six weeks. LSE was tough. The classes were more challenging than I had originally thought. I took one finance class and one accounting class. The classes were set up with a three hour lecture with an hour and half seminar later that day.

London was an amazing city to be in. My flatmates and I found some amazing places to go to. We lived about a block and a half from the British Museum and about a street away from Oxford Street (The biggest shopping strip in London).

Some of my favorite restaurants in London: Benito’s Hat (A restaurant like Chipotle or Qdoba), The Flat Iron (A restaurant with amazing steaks for £10), Shakespeare’s Head (the best fish and chips I had in London).

I also saw some plays while I was there, The 39 Steps, The Play That Goes Wrong, and Phantom of the Opera.

I traveled a bit while I was there, and I went to Dublin, Ireland; Paris, France; and Edinburgh, Scotland. Scotland was my favorite place to visit besides London. It was quaint and much less crowded than the other places I visited.

International Summer School (Seoul, South Korea, 2015)

It was totally a life-changing experience for me!!! Never had more fun and never met such great people and bonded so strongly with them in such a short period of time (5 weeks).

Now I have friends from all across the globe i.e., China, Vietnam, Chile, Thailand, Turkey, Austria, Hawaii, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Sweden, Korea, Germany, England, Portugal, Finland. And the best part about this is that we all still keep in touch and are looking forward to planning another trip to somewhere in the near future again :) ))

We did some traveling as a big group but we also had sufficient time to travel by ourselves to anywhere we wanted. For instance, we took a field trip to Jeju Island, which is outside of Seoul and it was about a 45 min flight, for 3 nights and 4 days. Each day was fun, adventurous and exciting. That was just only one of those fun field trips :) )) there were a lot more……..

20150703 (550)20150703 (710)

20150703 (897)

The foods were FABULOUS!!!The best part about Seoul is that anything delivers there; McDonald’s will be delivered right to your dorm as you please.

Anyway, if you were to ask me what was the best part about the program? I would say that the people that I had met on the trip; traveling would not have been as fun without them. We learned how to share with the people who will be our life-long friends.

 

Departing Thoughts

Monday, August 24th

I fly out today. As my departure time nears, the easiest way to describe how I’m feeling is a mosh pit of emotions. Here’s what I’m experiencing:

Fear. This is almost an illogical, and possibly even a laughable one. I’m not exactly sure what it is that I’m fearful of…the culture shock, my inability to speak fluent Italian, or simply the fact that I’ve never been to Europe. My previous excursions out of the country include The Bahamas and Canada, and let’s be honest, those don’t really count as ‘cultural experiences’. All I do know is that this is will be a dramatic change from what I consider to be normal.

Nostalgia. I always try to be welcoming of change, but this is bittersweet. Things are going well for me, and I’m truly enjoying my place in life at the moment. I’ve been living in a loveable and diverse city, working on an awesome team of admirable mentors, and spending time with some amazing new faces whom I already miss. It’s hard to walk away from anything that makes you happy, but perhaps in this twisted sense of abandonment, I’ll uncover a renewed meaning of ‘home’.

Eagerness. Don’t let the first two fool you. My enthusiasm for going abroad is unparalleled to virtually all of my prior experiences. Consider standing in line for a roller coaster—the growing impatience as 10 minutes slowly turns into 45; the claustrophobic cozying up to crowds that are just as confused about your appearance as you are of theirs; the unwelcomed mob of butterflies that always seem to show up to the party. Nobody enjoys waiting in line, just as I never enjoy the controlled chaos that goes into preparing for such a trek. All I know is that this roller coaster looks like a hell of a good time, so I’m patiently waiting to get on.

Bregenz

Bregenz was my home for a month this summer and I enjoyed every second. It is in Northwest Austria on Lake Constance (or Bodensee as they call it). The town is home to about 28,000 Austrians. I had the privilege of staying in a family’s home while in Bregenz, with one roommate who was also studying. We lived in an apartment above a flower shop with a husband, wife, and 10 year old boy. They were wonderful to us. They made sure we had everything we needed, especially when our luggage had not arrived. Our home was only about a 20 minute walk from our school building. This is where I could always be found between the hours of 8am and 3pm.

School building

After classes and on the weekends, I would explore Bregenz and the surrounding areas. We took trains to nearby towns where we went to a cheese factory, women’s museum, churches, and local markets. Throughout my stay in Bregenz, I was also able to visit some larger cities including Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Venice, and Innsbruck.  I hiked a mountain, found small shops, and went grocery shopping. Grocery shopping was fun because I would always buy something I had never seen before. Venice

Every night for dinner, I was provided a meal at the Hirschen, a restaurant in a main square of Bregenz.  They would feed us a traditional Austrian three course meal with soup, an entrée, and dessert. My favorite meals included soup with pancake like strips, pork and rice, and a crepe with apricot jam. Once dinner was over most things in the town were closed. Therefore, most of the group would go down to the lake to hang out and watch the sunset. I loved being in Bregenz because I was able to really get a feel for the town. It was a very relaxing place to come back to each week after a weekend of travel. I can truly say it felt like home.

 

 

restaurantsunset

 

 

End of Study Abroad – Reflection

The last four days of my study abroad in Shanghai experience I rented an apartment from airbnb.com which was ‘off-the-grid’ so I’m writing this blog after a 35 hour plane and airport experience, in Louisville, KY.  Studying abroad changed my perspective on life in ways I could not have predicted.  I have to admit I don’t currently miss China because I had become a bit homesick and was looking forward to coming home. (This probably relates to the graph we were shown in orientation.)

I absolutely LOVED the classes I took.  I took and intro to Chinese class which proved to be very helpful in getting around, asking questions or talking with the locals.  I also took an International Business class with two highly experienced expats as Professors.  I have to say this was one of the most valuable parts of my experience.  One professor was very experienced in the corporate world, the other in entreprenuership.  While I am an accounting major and plan to sit for the CPA exams, my real goal is to be a health/beauty/wellness entreprenuer (the vision is still in development).  I was able to talk to the professors about my interests outside of the conventional business school ciriculum and they connected me to people in Shanghai in the field.

As far as the group of students, I honestly didn’t stick with them much.  I was not much on sticking to an itenerary, preferring to follow my heart wherever it led.  I did so many amazing things in Shanghai.  I heard a few other students mention they didn’t feel they saw everything they wanted to see.  This is why I think not sticking to an itenerary was the right choice for me; I did literally everything I wanted to do and more.  I found it almost impossible to get lost in Shanghai due to the comprehensive metro system (believe me, I tried).

My fears about ‘making the first move’ have greatly decreased.  Studying abroad helped me see that if I have a clear goal in mind I can make it happen, even if I don’t know how yet, and given enough time to work with.  I was so fearful that I wouldn’t have the funds to go but working extra beforehand, budgeting well, and being open-minded caused me to have ample money while in China and lots leftover.  I also broke through some fears with a personal business project, as I took a few leaps and started building my website and purchased some small capital equipment.  These are two things I would have avoided because of the fear of failure and ‘not making the right choice’.

In the end, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.  I agree with Elizabeth, that travel is addictive, as I have made plans to go to Europe (or Brazil!) next summer.  I highly recommend China as a travel destination.

ShanghaiBread for Sale

Dobar Dan Y’all

When I signed up to go on this trip, I felt like I was checking off another box on my college “to-do” list. It was a two-week program, a scholarship was built-in, and I would now be able to say “yeah, I’ve done that” when asked about going abroad without making the physical, financial, and emotional investment of spending a semester overseas.
I suppose I prepared for a sightseeing trip, something that would be fun, but far from life changing. I was expecting to “do” a lot, but I don’t think I was ready to actually “experience” anything.

I am so glad to say that I was completely wrong.

Croatia is absolutely incredible. When I was researching this trip, I focused on my time in Prague, Czech Republic. The city of Zagreb, Croatia wasn’t a place that was really on my radar screen, and it was easier to just tell people that I was going to Prague rather than to explain where Zagreb was and that we were really there 8 days of the two-week trip. Lesson learned: one’s personal ignorance of a place does not correlate with that place’s worth.

Prague was one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever seen in my life, but if you asked me where I would return first, I would say Zagreb without question. Zagreb had everything and more that one could want out of a European city. The architecture, the culture, the cuisine, you name it. However, whereas Prague is a city full of tourists, Zagreb allowed us to actually interact with the Croatian people.

While I wouldn’t want to bore anyone with the details of our activities with our Croatian friends, I can offer some insight on their general qualities, interests, and opinions. As an overall rule, Croatian people are awesome. More specifically, they are remarkably intelligent, incredibly protective, and unquestionably brave. They have a strong national identity, vast knowledge and understanding of national and global events, and genuine curiosity about other cultures. Though there were vast differences between our upbringings, we found shared bonds and interests that brought us together.

As someone interested in politics, it was fascinating to be confronted with ideas that greatly contrasted with my own beliefs. Touring Croatia and the Czech Republic with College of Business faculty was enlightening, since capitalism is relatively young in both of these countries, and the imprint of communism still lingers in many aspects of life.

While it feels like a “big” statement, I would be comfortable saying that my two weeks in Europe were amongst the best in my life. I can honestly say that I’d go back tomorrow. I don’t know exactly when or how, but I will go abroad again before graduation. That’s a promise.
park

Preparing to leave Seoul

It was an incredible six weeks that I was able to spend in Seoul. Every day was a new adventure. The classes definitely kept me busy, but I still was able to invest all of my free time into seeing as much of the city as humanly possible. People often asked me near the end of the trip if I had seen everything that I wanted to see in Seoul. The answer was complicated, yes and no. Seoul is a mind bogglingly large city. I got to see everything I planned on seeing before getting there, but every day that passes you discover something else in the city you want to see, and your list just keeps growing. I could spend a lifetime there and still leave the city thinking I missed something. And that’s what made finally having to leave such a somber moment.

The last day of my trip, I remembered a quote from Edward Higgins White (first American to walk in space) that stuck with me for the rest of the day. As he began his return to Earth, he said “I’m coming back in… and it’s the saddest moment of my life.” My whole life my goal had been to travel to Asia. It was such an odd feeling achieving this dream, and reaching the point in my trip where I realized it had to come to an end. I had to return to my normal life. Never before had I been able to relate so clearly to this sentiment from Mr. White than in that moment.

Regardless of how regretful I was to leave Seoul, I know that it will not be the last time I will have the opportunity to explore another part of the world. And until that day comes, when I can have new exciting adventures, I will always have the memories of the past six weeks I spent in Seoul.

In the land of bad ketchup and great beer:

If you’re reading this, then you need to know how to survive a study abroad. Keep reading to learn a few rules to follow in order to have a great trip.

  1. Go study abroad. This is the cardinal rule, and there are no excuses for breaking it.
  2. Be open to going to a place you’ve never heard of before. During my trip, I went to a small city I had no clue existed (Zagreb, Croatia) and a large city that I did know existed (Prague, Czech Republic), and I would choose the small city every time. The experience that I got there was so much richer than the experience in the Westernized city; the people were genuine, the culture was more distinguishable, things were cheaper, the streets felt safer, and the city itself was more navigable.
  3.  Order the fish with the bones and head, the seared squid, the goulash, the schnitzel, the sauerkraut. Whatever it is that sounds super gross and weird (yet oddly enough, everyone else in the country likes), ORDER IT. Because even though the fish has eyes, I promise it is the best fish you’ve ever tasted; and even though you hate sauerkraut, I promise it tastes a million better in the Czech Republic.
  4. Go to McDonald’s, but only do it once. This is just to experience how different it can be in another country. For example, have you ever heard of the “McCountry”? I hadn’t, either.
  5. Talk to your friends and family, but not every night.
  6. Stay out way later than you probably should have. Maybe even watch the sunrise in the park when you have class in just three hours.
  7. When your friends want to play in the fountain, let them. It’s not as frowned upon in Europe, and you’ll get great pictures of them.
  8. Within the first few days, at least learn how to say “hello,” “goodbye,” “please,” “thank you,” and “bathroom.”
  9. Ask locals to teach you phrases, but also make sure to double check what they tell you. You may be trying to learn “I love this pizza,” and they’re teaching you something far, far different.
  10. Be prepared to point at the menu when you order food. Your index finger is your new best friend.
  11. Realize that you will be the loudest person in the room and that you do have an obvious American accent.
  12. Pack a rain jacket and a few light sweaters, even if you are going in July. Louisville isn’t the only place where the rain creates a temporary river.
  13. Do not expect the bread on the table to be free, and never order mineral water.
  14. Pack a jar of peanut butter to keep in your room. (Unless you’re allergic to peanuts. If so, then this rule does not apply to you.)
  15. If you are used to having a washcloth, pack one. Because you may very well not get one in your European hotel bathroom.
  16. If no one wants to go with you to a specific site, go anyway. This may be the only time you’ll ever be in this location, and if you want to go see the John Lennon wall, then by golly, DO IT!
  17. Jot down notes of all the things you do every day. They don’t have to be full sentences, and they can be in your Notes app on your phone, but do at least write something down to remember what you did.
  18. The nights that are the most fun are the nights where you’re all together. I know this doesn’t apply to every one, because few study abroads are in groups, but the best dinners were the ones with 6 or more people.
  19. Always carry cash. Aside from not being able to use your card in some places (because they may give you a funny look when you say “do you accept Discover? Diners Club?”), our bills were always grouped together. And if you have the nerve to ask for a separate check, expect a glare.
  20. Follow the cardinal rule.

 

There you have it. Follow these simple steps, and you’re all set!

My time in Zagreb and Prague was easily two of the best weeks of college, and they’re two weeks that I will always remember. Yes, after food, a passport, insurance, airfare, tuition, and souvenirs, they were two expensive weeks, but they were worth every penny.

Hvala, and good luck with wherever you go!

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!