With midterms and a plethora of activities underway, it can be difficult to balance travel too. Luckily, us Linfield students have managed to do a bit of everything. As promised, many of us have gotten involved with clubs and societies here at NUIG. I was cast in a student written one act, Catraz Park by Sinead Ryan, and we just had our performance this past weekend! Lexi Kerr and Carole Thomas have taken their soccer skills abroad and joined the women’s soccer team. Lexi has gotten involved with the Mountaineer Club as well for some outdoor adventuring.
Getting involved on campus has been a great way to meet Irish students as well as students from all over the world. I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such talented individuals during the one act performances. Nothing makes new friends like show lights and a murder plot.
I was also able to support some of my fellow cast members by attending the Musical Society’s production of Pippin along with Kristen Burke and Paige Phillipson. (Sorry, trying to be inconspicuous is not conducive to photo quality).
Kristen, Paige, and I put aside the extra-curriculars for a weekend, however, to travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland. We took an incredible Black Taxi tour where we got a taste of the city’s vast collection of street art and learned a bit about the political and cultural history that has shaped Belfast into what it is today.
After the tour, we wandered through the city, enjoying the beautiful architecture including numerous cathedrals, landmarks, and art installations.
Taking the recommendation of a kind pair of women on the train, we took a break from the bustle of the city to watch the Ireland v. Scotland rugby match. Having never watched rugby, I missed some of the finer points, but the local restaurants and pubs were packed with people invested in the excitement.
After the game, we took some time to explore Queen’s University. The campus was absolutely stunning, and the brick buildings reminded me a bit of our own campus at Linfield. We were also pleasantly surprised to discover its Tropical Ravine, a garden paradise within the Botanical Gardens.
Most importantly, throughout all of these activities and travel adventures, wherever we are, we haven’t forgotten to have a bit of fun, or as they say here, a bit of craic!
It has been wonderful getting to know the members our Linfield program, other international students, and Irish students while at NUIG. However, sometimes, it is also nice to see a familiar face, and I was lucky enough to connect with several friends who are studying abroad in other countries in the last few weeks.
My first trip out of Ireland took me to Alicante, Spain, where my close friend and sorority sister, Kristen Huth, is studying.
It was so much fun getting to hear about Kristen’s experiences and see first hand where she has been spending her semester. Between catching up and her acting as my translator, we enjoyed the sights of the beautiful city, and I got to meet several of her new friends.
Not to mention, after several weeks of rain (think Oregon in the fall) the sunny Spanish beach was a welcome break. Although it was a little too chilly to swim, it was nice enough to spend the day on the sand, watching the sailboats and playing guitar.
During the trip, we also explored The Castle of Santa Bárbara, perched over the city. The castle has a long history and boasts a museum, restaurant, and most importantly, stellar views. Photos can’t do justice to the watching the sun set over the city.
Sadly, we had to part all too soon, but I’m looking forward to showing her around Ireland in April! One of the great things about studying abroad at the same time as my friends is that making travel arrangements with them is both simpler and has the added benefit of great company. Just ask Phoebe Whittington and Micaela Levesque, high school friends of mine studying abroad in England, who came to visit me in Ireland the following weekend.
Day to day life in Galway is great on its own. It’s a new city, my classes are great, and there is always something going on. But having visitors encourages me to try out the journeys I might not always think to take on my own. For example, Phoebe, Micaela, and I decided to venture out to the Aran Islands for the day.
We selected Inis Mór for our destination and decided to take a bike tour around the island. Now, I won’t say how long it’s been since I’ve ridden a bike, but let’s just say I was a little intimidated. I quickly got the hang of it though, and I’m so glad I decided to try it out! This trip provided the perfect blend of scenic views and outdoor exercise. I don’t hesitate to say it was my favorite adventure yet, a testament to what can happen when you try something new!
Our target landmark for the day was Dún Aonghasa, the oldest stone fort in Western Europe. Dún Aonghasa sits at the top of a cliff and is a comfortable bike ride away from the docks. On the way, we enjoyed the beautiful coastal views, paused for some dramatic photos, and left a small mark on the island.
When we finally arrived at Dún Aonghasa, it was incredible. It was a clear day, so we could see the cliffs extend for miles around the island. The wind whipped at our clothes and whistled over the water, and in the distance we could just make out a bit of Galway.
The sun hid beneath and broke through the clouds in cycles, gracing the sea with light. It was truly a spectacular experience, and well worth the trip.
Once again, the weekend came to a close, and I had to say goodbye to my friends. But even last year, I never would have thought I would get the chance to travel around Europe with them or share these experiences together. The memories we have created are what I came here for: fun, educational, lasting.
My name is Isis and I’m studying abroad in South Korea. I’ve been here for three days but honestly it feels like forever. The plane flight was extremely long but I didn’t, and still don’t, think that I’m in a foreign country. I thought there was going to be a massive amount of culture shock, but everyone here just keeps to themselves, and are super friendly and helpful if you need anything. On the first day I moved in and met my roommate. I was most concerned with not knowing anything about my roommate, but I got really lucky and my roommate is one of the coolest people I know — and we have the same birthday!
Since classes haven’t started my days are filled with just exploring the country as best as I can before I have to focus on school, and I have a really great group of friends that are from all over the world to help navigate where we are.
There’s a really cool place about ten minutes from campus where you can get shaved ice and shop. I’m not a big shopper — and this place is definitely a giant shopping mall — but my roommate is (that’s her in the picture above) and it’s fun just exploring with her.
These are my friends! They are from Mexico, the USA, Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland! It’s really cool because I’ve known them for two days but they are already life-long friends 🙂
Yesterday we went to Myeong-dong to shop to get food and figure out the subway system which, as an American, was really complicated, but luckily we have a lot of friends from Europe and they showed me how to navigate it. One thing to know about Korea is that they have shopping malls inside the Metro so you could walk for hours and not even go near the subway unless you know specifically which floor you’re going to.
Thanks for reading this far! I’ll make sure to keep updating everyone, and I just want to say that I think this semester is going to be hard class-wise, but I know I have a really supportive group of people here to make sure I’m successful.
Simple, rich and natural are three words I’d use to describe Chilean culture, but even more specifically, the food they eat.
When people ask me about Chilean culture, one of the things I think of first is the cuisine. And it’s because, perhaps unlike the capitalistic and fast-paced mindset that most North Americans are born with, Chileans express their love through food and drink. Some of the most raw and pure things I’ve learned about Chileans and their culture I’ve learned when when I was sitting around a table at an asado (barbecue), eating the famous longaniza sausage from the central valley and sipping smooth Chilean red wine.
Since I started college almost three years ago, my relationship with food has become a little estranged. That, in part, has been the drastic change in diet from the home-cooked meals I grew up on to the mass-manufactured food I’ve had to eat my first two years at school. Putting on weight, becoming self-conscious, then working out regularly and eating flavorless salad for dinner was my cycle for the past two years. Until now.
At first I was shocked by the differences in culinary practices between the United States and Chile: here we eat a modest breakfast of yogurt or cheese and bread before school or work, gather for a grand and home-cooked lunch between one and three in the afternoon, eat a snack or small dish called “once” in the late afternoon, and then eat a combination of leftovers for dinner between seven and even 10 at night.
Eating later was the first thing that took awhile to get used to, and the whole city putting itself on pause for lunch time was another. Parents, kids, grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles– virtually everybody– leave school or work to come home and share a hearty lunch. This was another thing that started out foreign to me, because at school or at home I rarely even eat lunch at all, but here it represents Chileans’ commitment to gather with their loved ones around something homemade almost every day. In the end, it demonstrates their commitment to conserving their culture.
Another thing that caught me off guard at first is that Chilean food, by American standards, would be considered under-seasoned. Think about your favorite dishes in the US. Some of mine include sweet barbeque ribs, pasta carbonara and chicken enchiladas. All of these plates contain thick sauces and a lot of ingredients but in Chile, and although I’ve indulged in some elaborate dishes since being here, some of my favorite foods are made with only a few components.
Choripan: longaniza sausage in a toasted ciabatta bun
Empanadas vegetarianas: cheese, tomato and basil baked in a bread pocket
Tortilla: carrots, green beans or tuna sauteed and then pan seared with eggs to turn it into a frittata
Sandia con harina tostada: Watermelon under a toasted flour sprinkle
Humitas: Fresh corn mixed with onion and basil, wrapped in a corn husk and cooked in boiled water
Chileans eat simply, and they eat well, and part of that is because they buy the majority of their food at traditional open-air markets. When I think of Farmers’ Markets in the U.S., I think of them as a rarity or a mirage that we see once or twice a week before we consume our GMO-laced food from a corporate grocery store. But here, people sell their all-natural home-grown fruits and vegetables on the street, and they are simply delicious. The phenomenon of the South American mercado complex is yet another reflection of Chilean culture in the sense that most don’t worry about trivial formalities like permits to sell products, obsessive sterilization or digital record-keeping. They grow (or butcher) their products and sell them after a few minutes of haggling with customers, and that’s it. There’s only really one step in between the countryside and the consumer, and that is something so unique and unfamiliar from most people’s experiences in North America.
I’m going to miss the food at Chilean asados: the array of fresh and fermented cheese appetizers and the cuts of steak so rich with flavor that they only need a pinch of salt before touching the grill, the fluffy eggs cooked in hollowed out peppers and the sliced tomatoes seasoned only with salt and olive oil. But more than all my favorite Chilean foods, I’m going to miss watching my host parents prepare it mindlessly, my host brothers making fun of the way I cut vegetables, and all the laughs we’ve shared around the table.
Linfield’s study abroad opportunity to Aix is unique because they pay for pre-orientation (called early start), which means you arrive a week prior to the first day of class. Over that week you can take a cooking class, go wine tasting, visit nearby monuments, get a tour of town, and get extra French practice. I highly enjoyed my time at early start and met most of my friends here during that time. I especially appreciated the information we received regarding French and American cultural differences.
During pre-orientation, IAU Dean Leigh Smith said his advice for us was to get a perspective on American politics and to form that opinion now. Everyone from your French friends and host families to your professors want to know exactly what is going on in the United States. One professor, and head of the school of Business and International Relations, then reminded us of the prevalence of American politics and the power of our elections on other nations. He is an Arab Muslim and a journalist. He described how recent policies and statements from the United States government had impacted his and his family’s life. He reiterated the statement made by the dean: have an educated opinion. Understand how interconnected we all are.
During the study abroad orientation put on by IPO last year, we role played what it would be like to be asked about American politics so we had a semi-prepared response. I was reminded of this at early start. People are going to expect you to be an expert on American politics even if you aren’t.
Last weekend I was in Nice for the Carnival de Nice. The carnival is a 160 year old tradition that celebrates the city. It involves a massive parade with floats and entertainers. This year the theme was cinema. The culmination of the parade, the curtain closer, was a massive float of Donald Trump styled after Pennywise the clown from “It.” In his hand he held a figurine of French president Emmanuel Macron. Running underneath the float were entertainers wearing costumes of paper boats. The boats were made out of executive orders and international agreements Trump has either made or bowed out of. Marching alongside the Trump clown, were various dictators also dressed as Pennywise but not as large. Directly preceding this was a float of Russian president Vladimir Putin carrying what appeared to be Trump (dressed in drag) in his arms over the Kremlin.
It’s humbling to watch the president of your country act as the punchline of a joke while crowds of French people around you laugh. And he will be. American students studying abroad should anticipate this and know how they to appropriately react.
It has been exceptionally cold for the typical winter in southern France. Or so I’m told. I’ve found it rather mild without too much rain. To poorly paraphrase a French saying “it can’t be a Saturday without sun,” so most days have some sun. The wind here is notorious. They call it the mistral and it blows down the river from the alps. There is a plethora of urban legends about the mistral. Some say that in the 1600’s people who had committed a crime while it was windy would blame the wind saying it made them do it. It was like an insanity plea. They also say that the wind only blows for an odd number of days. I have not necessarily found that to be true. The decent weather has made me want to spend all day in one of the lovely parks, but alas school is an essential component of this process.
At Linfield I study journalism and international relations. While I am in Aix, I am primarily focusing on the international relations component. IAU, the program here in Aix, has a school specifically for business and international relations. This means that there are many other students who are IR majors here, and the IR classes are strong. I am taking classes on monotheistic religions, the history of French colonialism in North Africa, the European Union, and refugees and immigrants into the EU. I am also taking a French class which is required for every IAU student. I am excited to learn more about France’s role in the European Union and about their policies on refugees and immigration. I think that a lot of students believe that the classes you take abroad are easier than the ones at your home university. This is not necessarily true. Classes are just as intense when you’re abroad. Some consider it more challenging, because while taking classes in a different setting than you’re used to, you’re also growing accustomed to a new culture and a new country. My advice would still be to challenge yourself with classes. The course offerings at your location are as unique as the location, and offer a new perspective on things you’re learning about.
Hola from Galápagos! Here is a look into the first couple weeks of my study abroad experience!
After a adventure-packed and quick month on the Mainland in Quito, I have finally made it to the Galápagos! I am staying on the island of San Cristóbal, and attending the University of San Francisco’s extension program here. I am on the Marine Ecology track, so I get to spend the next 3 months learning all about the marine wildlife here on the islands and doing research to know more about them. Traditional class schedules aren’t offered here, instead we take 5 classes in intensive, 3-week intervals (kind of like mini Jan Terms!). I am currently taking a Marine Life class, which includes lectures in the classroom about identification, anatomy, conservation status, and other facts regarding endemic species of the islands, and then time spent out on the island and in the surrounding ocean studying the species. Earlier this week our class took boats out to scuba dive and snorkel with hammerhead sharks and manta rays (let me add that there were no cages present, we were free diving with sharks and I was terrified)!
Aside from school, life in San Cristóbal has been a blast. It is obviously very different from the United States, and even mainland Ecuador. With only 6,000 people, it is a very small, tight-knight community where everyone knows everyone. So much so that you can get into a cab, tell the driver the last name of the family who’s house your going to, and they will know exactly where to go! I live with a host family here, which has been another adjustment, but also one of my favorite parts! I have had kind of a unique experience, and only had host moms both in Quito and here in San Cristóbal, with no host siblings. However, spending time with my host moms has been the best way for me to get immersed in the Ecuadorian and Galápagos cultures, and has presented me with so many learning opportunities. You become so close in such a short time! It is also summer here right now, which means heat and humidity. Much different than the polar vortex that is the United States right now, but it’s not too big of a problem when campus is right across from the beach!
Here’s a couple photos from my time here:
I am enjoying island life more and more every day, and am so excited for all the other adventures that await me in the coming months!
As first semester came to a close, a new journey would begin for me. A mere days after the semester wrapped up, Jesse–my roommate from last year, a previous exchange student from The Netherlands to Linfield–came to Beijing. I couldn’t wait to begin our travels together! I took him everywhere I knew around the Capital, all the best spots–The Forbidden City, Tiananmen, the Great Wall, etc. Having some more local knowledge, I also brought him to more obscure places, hoping to give him a more authentic feel of Beijing. We didn’t come across any major issues until one night. In order to save some money, we decided to stay at a hostel. The hostel was fine, especially since we were out and about nearly all the day anyways. One night however, we had a bit of an experience. We had just laid down to go to sleep, it was probably about 11:30 pm or so, and it was just us two and one other patron. Minuets away from falling a sleep, a noisy, middle aged man barged into the room–and not only once. For whatever reason, he went in and out of the room for around a half an hour, terribly noisily. Finally, he laid down to go to sleep. Thank God we all must have thought as he finally drifted off. But just as we thought it was over, the nightmare began. Within 10 minuets of the man passing out, a snore began to emit from his mouth–a snore that only grew louder and louder. After about 30 minuets, the three of us just got out of bed. I spoke with our fellow patron and asked what we should do about it. We decided to talk with the desk lady–she merely told me to whack him and tell him to can it. I figured this wouldn’t do any good, because it would just continue when he went back to sleep. Therefore, we simply decided to go out in order to avoid the loud drawl. After hanging around a McDonalds (the only place open at the time) for what seemed like an eternity, we finally returned to the hostel in wee hours of the morning in the hopes that our newest roommate would already be gone. After a few seconds of silence, our hopes we dashed when it was broke by a loud snore. We groaned, went to bed, plugged our ears, and eventually fell asleep. The next day, I asked the lady behind the counter about it and she said, thankfully, he had left.
Other than that experience, things went well with Jesse in Beijing and Xi’an! I took him to all the places I know in the Capital, including many areas already featured on this blog. After 2 weeks of traveling China together, Jessie and I boarded the plane bound for Tokyo, Japan. Upon arriving, we immediately began hanging out with some of our closest friends we have been so lucky to meet, entirely thanks to Linfield. Our friend and fellow Linfield student Yuria Osawa picked us up at Haneda, and thank god she did; it’s unlikely either of us could have navigated the complex Tokyo train system without her to our hotel. The next day, Yuria took us to visit nearby Yokohama, where we saw the pier, the famous ferris wheel in Yokohama, the Yokohama Chinatown, and the Cup Noodle Museum. Chinatown, for obvious reasons, intrigued me a lot. What would a Chinatown in Japan be like? Why was there such a concentration of Chinese there? I had a lot of questions! It certainly didn’t disappoint me; I got to speak with some of the locals, who directed me to a Hunan restaurant where we got lunch and I got to talk with the waiters a bit. I learned that they mostly moved to Japan to earn some extra money, but just ended up staying after enjoying life there. The waiters I spoke with were from Fuzhou (福州), capital of the southern Fujian Province (福建省). They all also spoke excellent Japanese! We then met up with some of our other incredible friends (Asahi, Rei, Yuria, Edna) at Shibuya for some food later that night, reconnecting and catching up after half a year of being apart.
A day later we met up with our good friend Nono, who took us to see the Tokyo tower, which was incredible! I noticed the colour got more and more yellow and less and less red the closer you got to it for whatever reason. Regardless, the tower is truly and icon of Tokyo, and the view from up top is absolutely stunning. The three of us then met with Kiki and Zeno, two other previous Linfield study abroad students. We all got some dinner and caught up. A day later, me and Jesse planned to go to a Comicon in Tokyo and meet Yuria there, however we ran into some trouble on the way there; we got horribly lost on the Tokyo trains. See, in Beijing, the subway system is run by a single state-run company, keeping a single, integrated system extremely convenient and easy to understand where to go. The Tokyo system, while very fast, efficient, and clean, is instead ran by multiple competing companies such as Japan Rail and others. This means if you get a ticket to ride on one line, that ticket is only good for that company. Additionally, there are dozens of different maps, each only showcasing the lines ran by the company of that line. Thinking the Tokyo system was integrated like Beijing, you could imagine the confusion when I tried to navigate the two of us across Tokyo. Lines that appeared to be transfer stations on my phone weren’t
displayed on maps, our tickets could only be bought so far, etc. Long story short, we spent so long trying to get to the convention we unfortunately missed it, arriving as it closed. Despite this, we didn’t give up on the day. We decided to go to the Skytree and see what it had to offer. We took a cab and went into the line. An American lady working for the tourist group running the Skytree tourism approached us to sell us our tickets; I noticed on her name tag she could speak Chinese! I spoke with her using Chinese, and interaction that granted many stares from onlookers. We discussed Japan and China’s differences, and then talked price. After learning going up the Skytree was nearly $40, me and Jesse decided to look at the aquarium instead. While our first two attempts to do anything had failed, the aquarium was well worth it. The main tank showcased a large shark, three massive rays, and a smattering of other sea creatures. The penguin enclosure was awfully cute!
Pretty soon, the New Years holiday was upon us. As planned, we went and stayed with our amazing friend Emi and her incredibly kind and welcoming family. The moment we walked into that house, we could feel the love and kindness from her siblings and parents, who were excited to return the favor many American families had given Emi while she was at Linfield by hosting us for a few days during the New Year. After meeting with her family, settling into our rooms, etc, we had some incredible home-cooked Japanese curry, which was to die for. Emi’s mother really knows how to cook! On New Years Eve, we all ate traditional Japanese New Years Eve food, watched the New Years program, and Emi’s family was even gracious enough to include me and Jesse in the tradition of the parents and elders giving their kids packages with money inside, a tradition carried out in many East Asian cultures and known as Hongbao (紅包) or red packet in Chinese. After the clock struck midnight, Emi took us with a few of her friends and her friend to a nearby shire where we participated in Japanese New Years activities, such as paying a small penance then praying, ringing a large bell, and others. After New Years, Jesse and I went to some other nearby shrines and interesting places where we got some food and just did other touristy things. A day or so later, Emi took us, Zeno and her sister to Mt Fuji and its surrounding areas! We visited the infamous suicide forest, which was far less creepy than the movies make it out to be, a nearby village with a gorgeous view, and of course the famous hot springs later that night. That day was one of the best we had during our time, and I can’t thank Emi enough for giving us the opportunity. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay at Emi’s house forever, despite not wanting to leave the kindness of her and her family. We went back into Tokyo to the hotel a few days later for the later half of the trip.
We then met up with a few other of our friends in Japan, including Hitomi, Marina, and others we had seen previously. Marina took us to the Tokyo zoo one day, which was really fun. We got to see a lot of really gorgeous and fierce animals, and we tried Takoyaki–a snack involving fried octopus–for the first time! On the last few days, Jesse and I made it a point to hangout with all of our friends and say goodbye. I bid farewell to Jesse after a month of travelling together as he took off to catch an earlier flight–a flight he ended up missing due to confusion on the trains, although he later got a different one. I met up with my friends that morning before I left for Narita, and was soon welcomed back to Beijing with it’s bitter wind. I was glad to be back home, so to speak, although I missed Japan. I was, however, extremely grateful for the amazing experience I was given by going there. I’m so thankful of my friends there and to Linfield for bringing us all together in the first place.
I’ve been back in Chile for about a month now, and to my pleasant surprise, it has been mostly like nothing’s changed. I moved houses, which has been a little bit of an adjustment; I’ve traded the wild energy of having three teen and 20-something brothers in the house everyday for a more tranquil environment with a couple and my French friend/roommate Augustin, but other than that it has been like I haven’t skipped a beat. The two families still gather to dine, and my brothers very kindly ask me to hang out with them and their friends pretty regularly.
One of the best changes about this semester so far was that I got to spend time with the Linfield group that came through Chillán for a couple weeks, and now the students from Oregon State who are studying abroad here until the middle of March. It’s been one of the greatest things to have both of my lives collide like that, because I’m always telling my friends and family back home how much I’m in love with Chile and its people, but for my friends at Linfield and now my friends at OSU to experience it first hand for themselves, for them to meet my host families and eat at my favorite restaurants and dance at my favorite clubs, has been almost like a personal validation that this all isn’t just a dream.
One weekend I went to the “woods” outside the city called las Trancas. We found a waterfall and didn’t hesitate to jump into the icy water after a climbing down withered stairs and through plush bushes. Another weekend I went to the surfing capital of the world, Pichilemu, and swam in the salt water before eating some of the best, freshest sea bass I’ve ever had.
After about six months here in Chile, I have been to a few more places, have gotten close to a few more people, and have fully established this as my second home.
When I first came to college I knew I wanted to do something continuously during my time at Linfield that would challenge me. I decided that that challenge would be learning French. I believe that learning a new language is one of the most beneficial things you can do no matter your major or career. It allows you to connect with new people and places on a deeper level.
Studying abroad factored strongly into my plan to learn another language, and I’m appreciative of how easy Linfield made this process. The importance placed on international study was one of the reasons I was drawn to this school. After speaking with my French professors and other students, I decided that Aix en Provence was where I wanted to study. It’s location in the sunny south of France was appealing, as well as the numerous courses on international relations offered at the university. I also liked the appeal of the home stay because I felt like this was a great way to improve my French outside of the classroom.
The hardest part about studying abroad so far has been the visa application process. I was not prepared for how long it would be or how many steps there were. There were multiple application processes that all seemed to ask me the same questions. Getting my visa involved me going to San Francisco to officially submit my application and be finger-printed. The location of the office that you go to depends on where you live. For most west coast residents San Francisco is where you will be going. My advice for anyone about to go through the visa process is to do everything immediately and quickly. Have extra copies of everything and make check lists for each step you need to do. Also have about $300 saved up for the fees affiliated with the process. This is much more than I ended up actually spending, but it accounts for any issues or mistakes arising. I hope this information helps future students navigate this process.