Archive for February, 2011

First Uni Week

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Well, the first week of Uni has officially come to an end!  It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and I’m about to settle down and prepare some homework for the coming week.

The classes are extremely different from UMW.  Having class only once a week feels very strange, not to mention the fact that each class has a total of 3-4 assignments (final exams work 50%) that make up the ENTIRE GRADE.  It’s therefore probably very difficult to get a good grade. :/

The internet situation at the Student Lodge is getting to be ridiculous.  I’ve been unable to access this blog all week because the internet would just time out.  I will probably have to end up walking to the library on campus every time I need to actually do some work because literally nothing will nicely load here. -___-  How frustrating.

The slow internet prevents me from easily sending e-mail, loading websites, and even videochatting with my parents.  Remind me why I am paying for the internet access?  Ugh.

It wouldn’t be nearly so frustrating if 100% of my school material wasn’t posted online and I can only access it via the internet.  They better fix this crap soon. D:<

Pre-Production Blog

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Here’s a quick run through of the ideas I have for the opera:

  • Given that we have a large number of vocalists and a small number of instrumentalists I would suggest we focus on vocal melody over rich instrumentation.
  • Having looked over some of the other pre-production entries I think Sarah’s idea of using leitmotivs is a very good one and would play to the strengths of everyone involved.
  • I think it would best, and possibly easiest because we have no English majors in our group, to adapt a pre-existing text. We could either adapt it and create our own libretto or adapt say a play and take the libretto from the source. The latter is dependent on how comfortable our composers are with using already written text, but either way I think it would be a good idea to consider using something that’s already written as at least a foundation for our opera.
  • Finally, given our numbers and given the space we have available to us I think it might be a good idea to consider doing a more stripped down opera instead of something along the lines of grand opera or Wagnerian style music drama. While we could incorporate musical elements from both styles, in terms of staging and production it’s unlikely we could pull either style off well given the above restrictions and also the comparatively limited amount of time we have to put all of this together.

. Hopefully this will be helpful as we put together our opera. Nora

Elections campaigns

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Elections are coming up in April. There are campaign signs everywhere. The most visible campaign propaganda is the painted walls. Where ever one goes in Cuzco and even in the countryside, the sides of buildings are painted with the names and slogans of different candidates. Each party has its own vibrant colors so it is easy to identify were each candidate belongs.

"Always Forward" in Urubamba

From the Ollanta party. Seen on a building on a mountain road to Ccorca from Cuzco.


They also have different parades in the street. I have seen three so far. The one two days ago was for PPK, for Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. There was a long line of vehicles with colorful balloons stuck to the sides and on top. They were in his vibrant colors of blue, pink, and yellow. There were also signs hanging of the vehicles and the back of one truck was packed with smiling and waving people. They were moving kind of slowly and backed up traffic. This back up of traffic is what I noticed first since I heard lots of cars honking next to me before I saw the parade.

The two times before this I didn’t see the campaign parade itself, but the preparation. On my way home from school one day the road I normally walk through was packed with people wearing bright yellow. They were standing in clumps talking. There were several vehicles there, covered in yellow balloons and flags. Later that evening as I was walking back from the gym with my host sister, the street was packed yet again, but with different colors and different people. There was a festive atmoshpere.

Quechua en el Mercado

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

After two weeks of Quechua, I still do not feel like I can say much. However, what I can say is enough to break the ice with people and make them smile.

Two days ago I spoke Quechua with a woman selling tourist items in a local market and we ended up talking for at least half an hour. Lots of foreigners who visit her barely know Spanish, let alone Quechua. We talked about Andean culture, festivals in Cuzco, my studies in Peru, and her study of English. She had learned Quechua from her grandmother, not her parents even though they knew it too.

It seems to me that Quechua is normally lost after the second generation.  My Peruvian mom knows Quechua, as well as her siblings since their parents spoke it and were from a pueblo. My host sisters barely know any. I think I know more than they do even though I’ve only had two weeks of instruction.

When people move to the city, they often try to distance themselves from their campesino/indigenous past. They want and need to learn Spanish in order to get a job and to be accepted into the city and a higher status.

 There was a man who came to her stand a bit later. He was a Peruvian that now works as a dance instructor in central Europe. When I asked him if he missed Peru, he waved his hand around the market, as if to say “What this?” The market was a bit run-down. The meat section is especially unappealing with raw, unrefrigerated meat lying in the open and blood staining the floor.

 Then he complained about politics and how he would not vote since he doesn’t really care about what happens in the country since he doesn’t live here anymore and that politicians are all the same anyways. As he was saying this, the woman I was talking with and her husband were just silent.

Finally, it became time for me to leave. The woman told me that she hoped I would return tomorrow and she would see me again. I will definitely return to that area some other time and drop by.

Fujimori, the Shining Path, and Keiko

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

During orientation, we watched the movie “En la Boca de Lobo” or “In the Mouth of the Wolf”. It is an excellent Peruvian movie. I’m going to give some spoilers.

 It followed one soldier who was stationed in a pueblo to fight against the Shining Path. The Shining Path was a terrorist group during the years of Fujimori. This movie showed how almost impossible for the army to figure out who was a terrorist and who was not. During the day, there were just campesinos (farmers), but during the night, members of the Shining Path would terrorize the army and pueblo.
Near the end of the movie, the soldiers disbanded a wedding party at night. The party resisted, and they were brought to the barracks for detention. Several of the men were tortured, but they did not reveal anything either because they knew nothing about the Shining Path or were trained to withstand torture. Most likely they were innocent. One was tortured to death. After his death and the rest of the detained party found out, they were very upset.
The soldiers then herded them out of the barracks and they marched to ravine. The campesinos, composed of men, women, and children of all ages were made to stand at the edge of the ravine. The soldiers stood opposite in a line. The captain ordered his men to shoot. The entire wedding party was massacred, their dead bodies tossed into the ravine. Then, to cover up the incident, explosives were set-up to explode part of the ravine so the bodies could be buried under rocks and earth.
The director of my program told us that the killing of innocent people in pueblos was a widespread occurrence in that era. A commission for truth was set up years later in Peru to investigate the role the army and government played. It determined that about half of the deaths of innocent people in pueblos were caused by the Shining Path. The army made up the other half. While the movie made it seem as though the massacre of campesinos resulted from the decisions of mentally and emotionally disturbed individuals, the widespread nature of these occurrences shows that there were probably orders from higher up.
It is for human rights abuses like this and other acts of corruption that Fujimori is in jail. However, he still holds the admiration and support of many Peruvians. My host father for one really admires Fujimori. Fujimori brought both economic prosperity and security to Peru. Before Fujimori, Peru was doing poorly. They lacked roads, schools were few and underfunded, electricity and telephone lines were almost non-existent, and the economy was very weak. Fujimori built up the infrastructure, strengthened the economy, and cut back inflation.

He also put an end to the Shining Path, which was terrorizing both the countryside and cities. People were afraid to travel to other cities or towns, since they might be killed by the Shining Path along the way. I went to Ccorca the other day (a district of Cuzco) and my host dad told me that during the age of the Shining Path, such a journey would not be possible. People would not go there since it could be a dangerous journey.
In the eyes of my host dad and other Peruvians, Fujimori was not corrupt. Instead, it was his advisor Montesino that was corrupt and made lots of illegal deals with businesstmen. Montesino is considered a traitor.
It was really interesting for me to talk to my host dad about Fujimori. After watching “En la Boca de Lobo” and hearing stories of corruption, I had a very negative view of Fujimori and could not understand how any Peruvian could like him. After talking to my host dad, things became more complex.

Now Keiko Fujimori, Fujimori’s daughter is running for president. She is asked if she will pardon and release her father from jail. Her current stance is that she would like too, but that she will let the people decide. If they decide that he should remain in jail, then she will have him live with her under house arrest.


Sunday, February 20th, 2011

This semester, I am studying abroad in Peru with SIT. The program is titled Indigenous People and Globalization.
I am living in Cuzco with a Peruvian family of a mom, dad, two daughters, two dogs, one puppy, and one cat. The mom runs a café in the Plaza de Armas, the historic and tourist center of Cuzco while the dad is a policeman in the airport. Both of the daughters help out in the café, the oldest one also works at a bank while the youngest in still in university. They are all really nice and enjoy laughing.
In the mornings I have language class and in the afternoon we have lectures about different themes. Our lecturers are men and woman who are specialists in the day’s theme.
The first week we had orientation in the rural land outside of Urubamba, a small city close to Cuzco. The next few weeks were spent in Cuzco, where we live with host families and attend classes. The first two weeks of class we were taught the basics of Quechua, the indigenous language of the Andes, roots tracing back to the times of the Incas. Our exam was to go talk to a pueblo and ask Quechua-speaking families basic questions about their families and farms.
The upcoming two weeks, we will be traveling around Peru to various cities, pueblos, and rural areas. For about five of those days, we will each be living with an indigenous family in the Andes, helping them out with their daily tasks and practicing our Quechua.
After this, we will return to Cuzco and out families, learn Spanish is the morning instead of Quechua, and continue out lecture series. For our final month here, we will begin out independent study project on the topic of our choosing and the place we want. We will then reunite in Cuzco and present our findings.
My current theme to research is whether or not immigrants to the city from el campo (the countryside) vote in the interests of el campo and indigenous people, or in the interests of the city, their new environment and why. I still need to refine my topic much more, but that is my present interest.

London, London, London

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Let me just start off by saying that this trip is slightly jaded because I am a scatter brain and left my passport on the plane.  Because of that I had to miss a few hours of sight seeing and make a trip to the US Embassy to get a temporary passport and yada yada yada.  It was a wee bit stressful but I got it figured out, and if anyone loses their passport in the future I am ready to handle the situation.

Other than that, I LOVED London.  It is such a cool city.  My favorite part was probably the markets.  We went to the Portobello Market (the one from Notting Hill!) and the Borough Market.  The Portobello Market had everything, it must have been close to a mile long.  The beginning is clothes and crafts and things like that and then you get to the food.  Oh my gosh, it is painful to walk through that market and not buy everything you see.  The Borough Market is exclusively a food market, with samples might I add.  That was really cool too, a lot of us ended up getting fish and chips there which were really good.  I also got an eclair that didn’t quite measure up to the parisian eclair but still delicious.

We saw all of the main sights, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Platform 9 and 3/4 (which is a fake wall by the way, kind of disappointing).

Buckingham Palace:

Big Ben and Houses of Parliment:

Westminster Abbey:

View from London Bridge:

Portobello Market in Notting Hill!

Weekend in Switzerland

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

I went to Zurich two weeks ago to hang out with good ole dad because he was there for business.  Turns out there isn’t too much to see in Zurich.  I got there Saturday afternoon, after we checked into the hotel we went into town to look for some grub.  Found a nice Italian place that had delicious pizza.  Who know Switzerland had such good pizza? Then we walked around Lake Zurich (as dad named it) for awhile.  We saw some interesting people and heard at least 4 different languages being spoken.  We also learned that chestnuts are a huge thing there, there were little chestnut stands everywhere.  The lake was really pretty, and gave a great view of the mountains.

Then on Sunday we wanted to go the Lindt chocolate factory and the zoo, but the chocolate factory was closed.  So we headed on down to the zoo.  We walked around the entire zoo, I haven’t been to a zoo in ages and I forgot how cool they are.  We saw all the usual animals plus lions and tigers and bears and elephants.  It also happened to be a beautiful day in Zurich.

Now for the most important part of the trip, great food!  We had pizza both days for lunch, which was superb both times.  And for dinner I had a burger one night and ribs the next night. So good.  And finally I got a full breakfast both mornings! There is nothing better than eggs, potatoes,  toast, and bacon to start off the day let me tell you.

And another important part of the trip, dad got me hooked on sons of anarchy.  I watched 10 episodes on his computer while were there (I watched them instead of sleeping), and told my roommate to download the seasons and now we are on season 3. Great show.

Off the Grid

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Don’t worry everyone (family + spambots), you haven’t been missing my blog updates, I just haven’t been writing them. It’s a combination of travel-filled vacation time, taking an intensive Korean course, and having either a sprained wrist or tendonitis (I’m not sure which). Also the things I find myself most wanting to write about are Korean culture or school, and up until just recently (with my Korean language courses) I haven’t been experiencing that as I’ve been traveling with American friends.

To give you a quick summary, I went to China for 20 days with my friends Felicia and Amy, then came back and taught a winter camp for a week. After that I went to Busan (the San Fransisco of Korea, an absolutely gorgeous south-western coastal city) for a little less than a week. After that I spent the weekend in Seoul, went back to Yesan for a few days, had a tea party with my friend Joelle in Hongseong, and then came back to Goesan for an intensive Korean language class named CLEA (Critical Language Enhancement Award) where I’ve had class for 6 days a week, 6 hours a day, and not really been sleeping. This language class ends in 8 days, and then I go back to Yesan for my 2nd semester teaching, which I’m excited about but also nervous.

China in a nutshell: Amazing, but really really cold. I went to Beijing, Shanghai, Luyoung, Kaifeng, Xi’an and Chengdu. In Beijing I saw the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Sun Temple as well as other things, in Shanghai I did some shopping and saw the Bund, in Luyoung I saw this amazing place called “Longmen Grotto” which is an area filled with miniature caves much like Cappadocia in Turkey, except the caves are cut into and there are 10,000 Buddha images of ranging sizes all over the
caves. In Chengdu we saw pandas! Xi’an we saw the terracotta warriors, and in Kaifeng there was a really amazing night market. Traveling in China was so different than traveling in Korea… Korea is so small that there isn’t a SINGLE night train with sleeper cars! China is so large that we only took night trains, or flew. Knowing the language while traveling makes a huge difference! It became very tiring to try to travel in China because we couldn’t speak, read or write, and we couldn’t even copy down things to show other people, because the script was so hard to duplicate. Basically, while I would highly recommend China for anyone to travel around, I would choose to live in South Korea over China in a heartbeat. Traveling really made me appreciate how much I’ve grown to love South Korea.

In the same vein, I did decide to apply to stay in South Korea for another year. I’m enjoying teaching but I’m also really invested in learning Korean language, and enjoying the culture. My biggest regret with Turkey is that I didn’t get involved enough with the culture and I didn’t stay for a full year… 6 months was just too short. F*bright is really an amazing opportunity, and I feel like a year’s too short of a time in Korea. I’m still dealing with some culture shock and I feel that it’d be a little bit of a letdown to finally adapt and then leave. I’m not sure if I’ll stay at my school or go somewhere else, but I’m excited for next year.

As this blog post was supposed to be a short study break and turned into a long one, I must go, but expect more entries the first week of March when I’m back at school.

화이팅! 사랑해요!

Palm Cove

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

My roomie Lauren and I went on our first beach trip today!  We decided to go to Palm Cove, the farthest beach on the bus route, because the closest beach apparently had some stray stingers inside the swimming nets yesterday. =X  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  I am living in paradise.

Lauren and myself.

A super cute 'roo figurine thing.