Arrival in Seoul,Korea (Yonsei University)

      Alright so this is my first time writing a blog so if I do something thats not right or is not the blog norm, please don’t blame me. This first week as been 5 days of blissful chaos. I arrived in the afternoon from Bejing and decided that Id try to take the subway to the place I was staying( P.S. the bus is better but I didn’t know about.) Anyways I arrived at my hotel, and decided to walk around a bit before I realized how bad my Korean really was. It’s something to get used to for sure, but I was able to buy myself some convenince store sushi and ramen. It was the next day when we were to set out on a 3 days field trip across Korea. I woke up and as I went to checkout I found 6 or so other foreign students floating around in the lobby trying to figure out how to get to the university. See their wide eyes in confusion, I decided to confront them and together we set off to try to find Yonsei. I had thankfully scoped out the ways before, and erroneously thought that walking with our luggage would be as easy as when I strolled to the place myself. Unfortunately as we took the underground tunnels the escalators had stopped and everyone had packed enough stuff for a year. And it was really bloody hot……Anyways we got there, went to orientation, and got onto four respective buses to set off to wherever they told us to go. Our tour guide started off with a story that made us all question her sexuality. She gave us all a story about some indonesian girl she met that gave her a gold ring to wear. I would confront her about this later but for now I was simply confused. Our first destination was a Korean folk village which mixed old Korean culture with modern vehicles and shops. Here we got to experience a masked dance, an ancient  wedding ceremony,ancient Korean drumming, and create Hanji(the create of special paper). all of this was fun but Im going to try to keep this blog entry relatively short since its my first one, so if you want details you can ask. Also, Im supposed to keep this blog clean so Ill leave out some of the inappropriate parts of this trip which you can also ask about it you want. So far though, everyone has gotten along with almost no problems, and it seems like everyone just wants to be friends. the atmospheres been great and I havent anyone up to this point I particuraly dislike. I know this blog is dry too but I really dont know what I should be doing to spice it up. Maybe Ill cut out some parts. Anyways Ill guess I should finish up now. After two days at the folk village, we went on to Magoska temple, a small buddhist shrine hidden within the backwoods of Korea. Although, simple and small it had a nice atmosphere of a place not seen by a large majority of eyes. Stream quietly crisscrossed between the temple building, only being able to be crossed by carefully placed stepping stones. It was after this temple, that I went up to our tour guide to ask if she was gay. I was direct with it, which caught her off guard, and she laughed into a no. Still I wasnt convinced but I guess I will never know. The next days we when to some palace in Seoul( I dont remember what it was called) that reminded me of a smaller, dirtier Forbidden City. Those have been my first days, I know its been boring so far, but my follow-up blogs should get better.   -Warren 

Back for a Second Time

Adam and Aurelia in Bregenz 

 Above is a picture of Adam and me on our hike up a hill that overlooks Bregenz, Austria. 

So I’m back for my second time studying abroad in my undergraduate degree! Last year, I studied in Bordeaux, France for six months, and this time around, I am doing a summer study abroad in Bregenz, Austria. When I returned to Louisville last year from France, I couldn’t wait to have the opportunity to study abroad again, and I’m very excited to be back!

So far, Bregenz has been an amazing trip. We have only been here for 3 weeks, and we’ve already traveled to several towns around Bregenz and to Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna. The first weekend we were in Bregenz, we travelled to Feldkirch and Lindau. The second we visited Munich and the Neushwanstein Castle near Munich. The third weekend, we visited Salzburg and Vienna. My favorite of all of these cities has definitely been Salzburg. I didn’t realize how much there was to do in Salzburg, but once we arrived there, I didn’t want to leave. People played music in the streets as we walked the streets where Mozart was born, we visited a castle that overlooked the city, and we visited the beautiful dome in the city center.

This coming weekend, Adam (the other UofL student on this trip) and a few of the other students from the KIIS program and I are going to Interlaken, Switzerland and Stresa, Italy. Interlaken is in the Alps, and we will be taking a train to the tallest mountain in Europe. Stresa is a small town on the Italian Lakes but near Switzerland. There, we will take a boat tour to an island and take a cable car to a mountain that overlooks the town and lake. I can’t wait!

The program in Bregenz ends in a week, but I can’t believe it! It seems like we arrived here just a few days ago! The two classes I’m taking here are International Business and German 100. I love my International Business class because we’ve been learning about business practices in different cultures, and I’m definitely enjoying my German class. The two languages I speak fluently are English and French, but I’m excited to learn German and hopefully be fluent one day. As regards to the German language, being around people who don’t understand me and where I can’t express myself has definitely put me out of my comfort zone. Although it has been difficult, it has been an opportunity for me to learn a new language! I had never been interested in learning German as a third language before this trip, but after these past few weeks of speaking German in Austria, I am planning on taking classes when I get back to Louisville!

Travels in Spain.

Hello all, this is my first post. I have a lot to say but I’ll try and keep it short and sweet.

I arrived in Madrid a few days before my program started, and I recommend this to everyone. I stayed in a hostel with guys from venezuela, australia, and south korea. We explored the city by ourselves, and had a blast. You learn so much more and enjoy things more when a tour guide is not leading you around everywhere with 80 other students. We got lost for a while, but it didn’t matter as we had no schedule to keep.

After a few days of doing whatever I pleased, the rest of my group arrived and we had a a lot of fun in Madrid and Toledo before going south to Sevilla where we met our host families for the first time. One thing I was looking forward to most was trying new foods at my homestay. The first night scared me a little, as I was served pasta with sauce that tasted way too much like spagettios. After that though, things got much better. One thing to keep in mind as you travel abroad, TRY EVERYTHING!! The food will be different than at home, even the Ketchup, but look through the menu and order the wildest thing you can find, usually you will not be disappointed.

Another recommendation, bring more money than you are told you will need! If other programs are anything like mine, you will spend every night out with others in your program, as no one wants to stay at home doing nothing – we only have so much time here and want to enjoy it as much as possible. You may also meet many other American students in you city with other programs who are also out every night so plan on running into them many places you go.

Sevilla is a lot of fun, as is Lagos, Portugal. I spent a weekend on the beaches there, and will never forget it. If you study in europe, try as hard as you can to get to Lagos, It is a great place. Do not worry if you know absolutely no portugese, the locals know a lot of english, and dislike it very much if you try to speak spanish to them. One last thing, although the Irish pubs are plentiful in europe, avoid them, there are enough back home. Experience the local places, which are cheaper anyway.

If you hate the rain, Sevilla is the place for you, have had nothing but clear skies.


Host family

I got to meet my host family two days ago finally and they’ve been very great.  Everyone is really nice and they make sure I’m never hungry.  At dinner they just keep the food coming until I’m full.  They don’t speak English but they want to learn so we’re all teaching each other our language.  There’s a family friend who drops in from time to time and he knows some English so he acts as somewhat of a translator.  There are still some things he can’t explain or understand in the English language.  For the most part though I’m really enjoying myself.  I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better family to be matched with.  I look forward to the weekend where all of the KIIS students are supposed to spend the whole day doing activities with their families.

china trip

i have already been in beijing for three weeks. before beijing i went to shanghai for a week to go to the world expo. on the day i went with my group there were approximately 300,000 people there. now there are suppose to be a million each day. i can’t believe that. it was fun to see all of the country’s expos and to see people from all of the world i normally wouldnt see. after a couple of days in shanghai we came back to beijing and started classes. it is so much fun here. i would love to come back and do a semester if it is possible. the dorms are really nice and are close to a lot of things especially shopping malls. this past weekend we went to xi’an to see the terracotta warriors which was advertised as one of the “eight wonders of the world”. we have gone to see so many things here in beijing like tiannamen square and the great wall. i never imagined i would see all of this in my lifetime.

Shrines and New Students

So far we have visited a few shrines one of them being the largest shrine that is still in existence.  I will be able to write more about the details of the places we`ve visited when I figure out more information on it.  I wasn`t really able to understand what it was about but I will have that information shortly.  I want to be able to explain what everything was.  

On another note, today we are meeting up with students in Nara University.  We get the opportunity to try to communicate with them in the attempt to make new friends.  I can`t wait.  Also later on today we will be meeting our host family.  I share the details on how all this goes after I`ve had the experience.  Until then…�

First Blog about Japan

Hey everyone.  The trip to Japan so far has been really great.  The flight was very long, about 14 hours, but after finally reaching Japan I’ve really enjoyed myself.  The food is really good.  I haven’t had a meal yet that I haven’t enjoyed.  The people here are very friendly and polite.  One thing I’ve noticed though is that so many of them walk or ride bicycles here compared to those in the states.  It’s also weird to see kids as young as 8 or 9 walking around by themselves trying to make it to school.  The classes so far have been pretty exciting as well.  My Japanese language class is very interactive.  In addition to learning to write the Japanese language and speaking, we have activities at the end of class where we go out as a group to practice ordering food at a restaurant.  It’s a very cool experience and so far I would recommend this to anyone interested in studying abroad in Japan.  I look forward to writing more about my experiences here after I’ve done a few more things.  In a few days I’ll meet my host family and write about what it’s like staying in a Japanese home.

Mainz in Spring

Tomorrow is Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi), and as such, we poor stressed out students are given the day off from Uni! Giving us a nice little break during the middle of the week, and a well earned day off – or at least an opportunity to catch up on a little overdue homework or reading. Or maybe just the chance to go down to the Rhine and relax with friends, either way… the Summer Semester is full of one day holidays and random protests (preventing us from going to uni – as an example, when the public transportation strikes… very difficult to get around then). Just this weekend there was a great protest/party in the city – Night-Dance-Demo, in english – this was 500-600 people literally dancing their way through the old part of town with three large trucks carrying suspended mixing tables and a slew of dj’s to entertain the crowds. Definitely one of the most interesting ways of taking an issue (literally) to the streets. It was so bizarre watching hundreds of people with live music dancing through the city – past buildings that are hundreds of years old, past statues of Johannes Gutenberg and Friedrich Schiller – juxtaposition if I have ever seen it!

In addition to my regular university courses I have been auditing a few courses this semester (I can’t enroll in them for credit as I lack some serious prereqs, BUT I am here to learn, so that is what I am going to do!). One of the absolutely most interesting of them is Exchange Rates and International Capital Markets, the professor works in Swiss Finance and is just a wealth of information, especially considering Germany’s role in the current Euro Zone economic troubles. The professor knows his material, and tries to represent as balanced a view of world Capital Markets as possible. Even though I am not taking the ‘Klausur’ (the exam), but I have definitely been trying to learn as much from this course as possible. Like last semester I have been really focusing on my German and taking a lot of courses about the language and the german literature – I have been trying to take advantage of every possible opportunity to learn the language while i am here. I do an English-German Tandem with a friend of mine, I live in a German-speaking WG (Wohngemeinschaft – apartment), and I am taking a courses about the language, that I simply can’t take back in Louisville. I had signed up to take ‘Business German’ (Wirtsschaftswissenschaftsdeutsch), but the course was unfortunately canceled after 3 sessions due to lack of interest. I did manage to get into ‘Scientific German,’ which has been unbelievably helpful.

I have been learning a great deal from my job in the International Office – just like last semester – but this semester I feel that my German has really gotten to the level that I can talk to the people I work with at a mature and appropriate level. Just yesterday my boss and I spoke about the events unfolding with Israel and the humanitarian aid ships, which has certainly taken a lot of people’s minds and discussions off of the European financial crisis, at least for a little while. I am still translating documents and preparing an online portal for all the new exchange students, like last semester, but I would gladly do it for free just for the experience! I can not describe how great of an experience it has been working in a German office, even if it is only one or two times a week. You can read all about how an office should work, and how you are supposed to act in intercultural situations, but to actually work in one… that is something totally different, something totally unique. Definitely making my experience here worth it in my mind, without a doubt!

Liebe Grüße,