Archive for July, 2010

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Thursday, July 15th, 2010

hm i wonder where this wil pop up om my blogggggg

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Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Finally back in VA after 5 1/2 months of traveling and studying and I have to say that these experiences have been some of the best I’ve had.

I met some really awesome people, saw amazing things, did things I have never done before and overall really enjoyed everything!

Still getting used to the time zone changes but it was so nice to drive my car today, though I did NOT miss DC traffic!!

I will attempt to update some more about my trip as the time fits. So much to do here before school starts again!

Home

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Finally back in VA after 5 1/2 months of traveling and studying and I have to say that these experiences have been some of the best I’ve had.

I met some really awesome people, saw amazing things, did things I have never done before and overall really enjoyed everything!

Still getting used to the time zone changes but it was so nice to drive my car today, though I did NOT miss DC traffic!!

I will attempt to update some more about my trip as the time fits. So much to do here before school starts again!

The Living Situation

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

When I first arrived in Seoul, I lived in a very cozy family-styled apartment close to Sungshin Women’s University.  The aparment that I and 8 other women shared was a part of a large family apartment complex, the school calls it their “International Student apartment,” however all the apartments that surrounded our apartment was occupied by families. It was a great experience to share elevators, interact with small childern, shop at the local apartment corner store, and participate in community recycling with the other familes.

Brazil: Part I

Monday, July 12th, 2010

I have put this off for too long and better do it now before it’s too late!

Elena, Anna (Elena’s friend from High School who studied in Quito this past semester) and I left Sunday the 20th in the afternoon for Porto Alegre.

That was our first mistake.

Due to finals and my non-accessibility to internet in the proceeding days and weeks, I had done zero amount of planning for this trip. Yes, that’s right, no hostels booked…not even for the first night. This was actually completely fine although definitely not recommended during the high season. Oh well, everything turned out just fine.

Anyway, the Porto Alegre mistake was that Porto Alegre is definitely not a city for tourists. It just didn’t really live up to it’s name. I believe it was decided upon due to its relatively close proximity to Buenos Aires. Everyone we met there asked us what we were doing there. But it was funny joke later. No regrets!

(If you are curious, most people seem to go from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls to Florianópolis and onward.)

So we had one day in Porto Alegre in which we spent on a day trip to Canela. It was a two hour bus ride away. Canela is a cute little town and we saw a waterfall.

We felt guilty we hadn’t seen anything in Porto Alegre, so we planned to wake up early and go for a run. Two birds with one stone. (Clearly this was not my idea.) We knew this was ambitious but we decided to try anyway. At 6:30AM the alarm went off and everyone was up and willing to go! Yet, it was still pitch dark outside! Whoops. Too dangerous. We fell back asleep, woke up again and were successful! I was very proud of us.

Tuesday the 22nd we leave for Florianópolis. I believe that was a six hour bus ride.

I know that only covers two days, but that’s all for now. Stay tuned!

Back to Cali and the US

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Just flew back to the US after 3 crazy weeks in Sydney with my friend Rose.

Despite the fact it was a 14 hour flight, it wasn’t too bad. Got maybe a hour of sleep and instead watched 4 movies: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (in Swedish with English subtitles), Valentine’s Day, Leap Year and How to Train your dragon.

They were all pretty good for what they where. I also watched 30 mins of the new Clash of the Titans which was so terrible I had to watch something else.

My sister picked me up from the Airport but when she got out of the car to give me a hug, the car locked itself, still running mind you. So we had to wait over an hour to have a tow company come and open it. Total damage= $65 dollars out of my wallet because my sister didnt have any cash.

Once that incident was over, we rushed to In-n’ out burger for the necessary burger, fries and milkshake. So good!

Hung out at my sister friends Apt at the Marina for a few hours, then met up with a family friend whose known me since birth. Then my cousin eventually showed up after a play she went to see and we went back to her new apt in the Hollywood Hills!

Today was basically a sleep in sort of day to make up for barely sleeping the past day (s). We ended up going to Santa Monica with Christina’s friend for a nice lunch/dinner thing. I love how long the sun is out in CA because in Syd it got dark around 5pm and here it gets dark at 8pm. I know Syd is in the Winter right now, but still even in the summer, it seemed to get darker earlier compared to the US.

Things that are bothering me about the States:

1) Driving= now im used to driving on the left side, so when my sister keeps driving on the right it kind of freaks me out for a second. Hopefully that feeling will disappear soon and once I start driving.

2) the coins seem so small compared to the OZ ones. Not like this is a problem because I don’t really like their money, but still it seems strange.

3) Tax isn’t included in the prices of things! Seriously if it’s going to cost me $6.70 including tax, I rather know that straight away rather than figure that out at the end.

Coming to an End… and the Epilogue

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

So it is now July… the month of my departure. I have 2 more days here and tonight (Thursday) I will say goodbye to most of my friends as we go out for the last time. I don’t know how to sum up such an amazing experience into words or even into a long and rambling post, but perhaps I will try. I have met so many amazing people and made great friends over the past months- by far I will miss them the most. I will also miss the atmosphere of this city- to hustle and bustle but also the sense that time is kind of irrelevant, there always being something to do or somewhere to go and the freedom to do as I wish.

I wrote that before leaving the city… now I shall try to compile my thoughts as of returning home.

So the journey to get home was incredibly difficult. It began with possibly the hardest step- saying goodbye to my friends. By far my friends were the most important aspect of my study abroad experience. We spent lots of time together and forged friendships that bridged language and cultural barriers and came to mean the world to me. To say goodbye to these people who I came to rely on and some to love was possibly the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my life so far. I have never felt so incredibly conflicted in my emotions and my desires- I longed to stay with my friends and remain in Argentina but I also wanted the comforts of home and a return to reality.  My American friends and I used to talk about when we got back to our real lives (aka when we got back to the states) and now the struggle is to integrate my amazing experiences and friendships that were so different from the realities here at home into my “real” life in the states.

Even once I got home things were still very emotional. I cried as I unpacked my suitcases- not because I was sad to be home but because I missed my amazing friends. Unpacking meant my journey was really over. A harsh reality is also that yes, Argentina will always be there if I want to go back but my study abroad friends and the circumstances will never be the same if I go back- the experiences I had may no longer be available to me. I guess realizing that circumstances and lives are constantly evolving is a hard pill to swallow. It makes me treasure the time and experiences I have had all the more.

By far the things that have made the transition easier has been my family and the people that care about me. It feels right to be at home but it feels like something is missing- my friends who I fit in with and who cared about me. So to have the people here that care about me show it and to see their excitement to see me after all this time makes me feel like this is really home. The personal interest people have shown in my trip and the welcome home balloons & banners makes it that much easier.

Upon returning to the states I could predict some of the things that seemed overwhelming or incredibly different to me but some I had no idea. I think I saw more fat people in the first 5 minutes in Atlanta than in 5 months in Argentina.  My first meal was a cinnabon in the airport but to my dismay I could not eat the whole thing- portion sizes are enormous. My parents camry seemed enormous. Basically everything seemed enormous- my bedroom, our house, wide open spaces, stores.  It is amazing how little things change or maybe nothing changes at all. Receiving side dishes, a bottle of ketchup, salad dressing, free refills, and having the check brought out immediately were all new to me at a restaurant.

I owe a huge thank you to my parents for putting up with my bad moods and sadness lately and for being understanding. I knew this would be a rough transition since I had such an amazing time abroad. But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Although it kinda sucks right now, I loved every second of my time in Buenos Aires and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. It was everything a study abroad should be and so much more.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and thanks for commenting and showing an interest in my time abroad. I love you all!

What I’ve Been Doing

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Hey everyone! It’s currently about 10:30 pm here, which makes it 11:30 am there! The time difference is really confusing at times, especially because we lost a day in travel, so sometimes I’m not sure what day it is or how long I’ve actually been here for. My days have been fairly jam-packed, and the subjects we talk about differ from day to day, but for the most part this is about what my days consist of:
I wake up at 6 am (I’m still not on a normal sleep schedule), then go to breakfast at 8 am. Breakfast so far has consisted of rice, soup, kimchi (a fermented cabbage dish popular in Korea), and some “American food” such as toast, or eggs. After that we go to Korean class. Korean classes start at 9 am and are 4 hours long, with a 10 minute break after every 50 minute period. Classes are a lot of fun, and my teachers are very energetic. They teach in Korean, but it’s suprising how much you understand from body language. After classes we have an hour break and then lunch at 1. After lunch we have some sort of business meeting that generally has to do with Korean culture or teaching. Those meetings tend to last until dinner at 6 pm, and after that the day is free – for now. Pretty soon we’ll be able to participate in extra-curricular activities! I signed up for Taekwondo and for GLEE club (not what you think). This GLEE club is a conversation club between the ETAs and the Korean students at Jungwon University. Anyway, after dinner I’ve been studying Korean/reading/hanging out with other ETAs/passing out. Which is what I’m probably going to do right about now. I finally went through and took pictures of the gorgeous campus we’re staying at, so I should be putting those up in the next few days.

Home from Brazil

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Wow what an amazing trip! Brazil is magical and amazing and beautiful. I should be able to write more about it later once I’m not so tired (and also because I have internet in my apartment again!)

The route was from Buenos Aires to Porto Alegre, Florianópolis, São Paulo, Paratí, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro and back to Buenos Aires. 16 days. A whopping 90+ hours of bus travel in total. Vale la pena. Absolutely.

It feels wonderful to have a nice clean bed and a hot shower…clean towel…they certainly are luxuries. I may go watch a movie and then get some real sleep.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
  1. The view: There is nothing more fabulous here than looking around at the mountains – whether it be a beautiful clear sunny day where you can see the snow capped mountains and volcanos (Cotopaxi!) some distance away, or the clouds wrapping splendidly around Pichincha and the mountains surrounding the city. It takes my breath away almost every day.
  2. Clouds of Doom: Quito weather is funny, you can have four seasons in a single day. The best is when it{s a bright sunny day, and then you notice the huge, ominous Cloud of Impending Doom gliding towards you, bringing with it an impending deluge. Then of course, right behind the dark black mass, is further deep blue, cloudless sky. Fabulous.
  3. Fruits and Veggies: All fresh, all grown within driving distance. Delicious.
  4. Fresh Bread: Bread from neighborhood bakeries is cheap, and cooked fresh several times a day. At about 3 or 4 cents a roll, with a cup of tea it makes the most declicious breakfast. Hot, cheap, delicious bread…all the time.
  5. Illegal movie stores: They{re so bold, they advertise themselves by displaying their illegal, incredibly cheap movies outside their stores. And, they{re everywhere. I donñt think i{ve seen a store selling legal movies yet. It{s hysterical. At 3 movies for 5 dollars, any requests?? :) lol
  6. Colonial Quito: Amazing. That is all.
  7. Freshly fried peanuts: It is impossible to tell you how good these were. Except that I couldn{t stop eating them.  Each bite is like being struck by deliciousness. Next time i{m in the colonial center I will def. get more.
  8. My host family: They{re so great. Over protective, yes. Is that hard for someone as independent as me, yes. But they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. I{m really glad i{m staying with them.
  9. Artisenal Markets: Gorgeous. Lots of fun.
  10. Menu: Full course meal for between $1.50-3. And generally really good. A great way to eat.
  11. The language school: Great people, great students, very helpful.
  12. Futbol: World Cup Fever – you try being in a room with four Ecuadorans when Brazil lost and resisting the urge to laugh at their reaction – it{s hard. But seriously: Brazil, Argentina – WTF
  13. Museums and Helpful Museum guides: The museums I{ve been to have all been beautiful and really interesting. And they always seem excited to offer you a guide.

…more to come.