Entering Lockdown

Kia ora!


I wish that I had a story of a big adventure, travel around New Zealand, or a fun day out with friends, but unfortunately, I am writing to you from a country wide lockdown. We are currently 6 days into a four-week-long lockdown. The whole lockdown happened pretty quickly. Two weeks ago, we found out that we would have a week off from school while the university transitioned to online classes to avoid the spread of Covid19.

Then, out of nowhere, international students started to leave. The lockdown was announced, domestic students from New Zealand were all asked to move out of the dorms, and within just a few days of the lockdown being announced, it had begun. The entire country has closed, domestic flights and many international flights have been cancelled, and we are all stuck at home for the foreseeable future. Only grocery stores and pharmacies remain open. Only essential workers like health care workers and grocery store employees can go out. Law enforcement officers are out during all hours, patrolling, stopping people walking and driving, questioning them, following them to make sure they were being truthful about their destination, and giving out fines and even criminal charges to people that are out without a reason.

I am staying with one of my mom’s friends, who lives in Thames, a town about an hour and a half from Hamilton. I know that I am right by the ocean, but I cannot even go out to see it! It is really nice to be staying in a house, but I had to pack up all of my belongings and move out of my dorm room, which was very sad. I am being cared for and I know that I am much safer and better off here, rather than being shuffled around at the university as they try to adjust to the situation or trying to return to the United States and getting stuck in an airport somewhere without a flight. 

A view of a cloudy sky with the sun shining through and the mountains in the distance.
The view of the mountains from the home I am staying at!

People seem to be taking the lockdown very seriously here, which makes me hopeful that the lockdown may end within four weeks and life might return to some sort of normalcy. However, I know that a true return to “normal” will not happen for many months. This is so overwhelming and it is hard to deal with the uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic.

A view of a cloudy sky above the green meadows which are used to feed dairy cattle.
The meadows on the way to Thames seemed to stretch forever. These meadows are used to feed dairy cattle.

I find that I am experiencing a wide range of emotions, which change throughout the day. I will wake up in the morning feeling one way, and by the time I have breakfast, my emotions have completely changed. This is truly exhausting and overwhelming, but I know that I am not the only person feeling this way, and I need to make sure that I keep feeling and processing through this experience.

I am experiencing disappointment, which is natural and makes a lot of sense. I had such high hopes and big dreams for my semester abroad in New Zealand and I feel crushed by how many trips I had to cancel and opportunities I won’t have the chance to take. I am also scared. I do not know what the future holds, how or when I will get back to the United States, and how long New Zealand will be in lock down.  Everything seems to be so uncertain, even how long we will be in lock down.  It is overwhelming, and no matter where you are in the world, I am sure you can relate to this feeling.  

A collection of beautiful blue ceramic pots on a deck
The beautiful outside deck of the house that I am staying at. I am trying to appreciate and soak up as much beauty as I can.

In a bit of good news, I got to try a delicious new fruit yesterday. It is called a feijoa and it is a well loved treat here in New Zealand. They are originally Brazillian but grow really well here in New Zealand. The outside looks a bit like a small avocado, and you cut it in half and scoop out the delicious fruit with a spoon. It is absolutely delicious! The flavor is sweet and sour, a bit like a pineapple, a guava, and a little bit of strawberry and kiwi. It is unlike anything I have ever tasted before! It was so tasty!! I am glad I got to at least try some new fruit, despite being in lockdown. At this point, it is so important to be thankful for the little things in life. 

A small green oblong shaped fruit being held by a hand over a bag of more fruit
A delicious feijoa!
A cut feijoa. The flesh of the fruit is light green.
The inside of a feijoa

Please take this global pandemic seriously. Wash your hands, do not go out unless you absolutely must, and please check in on the people around you, especially if you can do it virtually. We all need to do our part to flatten the curve and save lives and help the world move forward. 

Thank you for reading, I hope you are staying healthy!


終り (FIN)


To start, a really good song to understand my current situation is Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life.” 

Okay! Welcome! As you might have guessed, today’s blog will be about all of the things you can do INSIDE while corona runs rampant in your city.

First! You can drastically change your sleep schedule. My take on this is that when you can turn off all of your alarms and just sleep until you naturally wake up, DO IT! The only downside is that if you stay up late one night you will wake up at 5pm — but hey! cheers to 15 hours of sleep 🙂

Friends, Tyler and Tim, at our last dinner together
A few of my friends, Tyler and Tim at our last dinner together 🙁

Second! You can set health goals and ACTUALLY achieve them! For example, I am learning to do the splits within the month, and learning how to dance (not tiktok, no disrespect but I can’t look at another tiktok dance again), and learning more Japanese and French 😀 CAN YOU TELL I’M BORED???

Fun fact! When I started this post I was in Japan, living my best life with some of my best friends avoiding the impending doom (reality) that is Corona. That very evening, all of our bubbles were popped very quickly and without remorse (I understand the rationale I am just stating this for dramatic flair, I appreciate everyone who has helped and supported me throughout this — shoutout IPO). Long story short I packed up and left Japan two days after I thought I convinced my dad to stay, but alas, I had to depart.

All of the international students at the last gathering.
All of the international students at the last gathering with all of us there ***who’s cutting onions???***

To quickly describe why it hurt so much: I have learned that a semester abroad is a lot like a vacation. You learn a lot, but at the end of the day you’re still trying to absorb information as quickly as you can, still holding a veil over most of the “bad” because you’re so entranced by the “good.” With a year abroad, the sense of urgency isn’t there. The exchange is a walk rather than a run, you’re more willing to stop and smell these flowers because you know you’ll get to the next flower patch in two weeks time.

Your relationships are deeper and more solidified because when you’re staying in a dorm like I was, these people become who you see everyday. Who you cry more with, who you have more inside jokes, you stay up all night to watch the sunrise more with these people that are now your family. All of this was heightened because of Corona. All in-bound exchanges were canceled to AGU so it was just the same people in the dorms — kind of bad it you want to meet new people all the time, but I was okay with it because I was able to strengthen my relationships. Acquaintances were now people that you cooked with every day, laughed with, went to onsens together to become the “naked buddies” (they are the best group of girls I could be around haha).  I guess, in a way, it became a mixed-gender Greek house? I don’t usually support Greek life, but if it’s like this then I get why people do it.

I’m hurting because the day I found out I had to go home was the best day of the semester. I was with all of my friends saying goodbye to “season 1,” and celebrating the coming adventures of “season 2.” It was like a bucket of water over my head. I was going home after four of my friends, and then myself, and then two other would follow, and at the time of me writing this, Tokyo has an impending lock-down and everyone might be going home immediately. My family says “I got out before the worst of it” and I agree with them. But just because I agree doesn’t mean that my chest doesn’t ache.

family photos of us Facetiming playing catchprase together.
I have been FaceTiming my family from quarantine to play catchphrase together for the past 4 days of my isolation (there are fewer than 10 people)

The hardest part is talking to everyone and not wanting to lie when they ask “are you happy to be home.” I know I may be entitled and sound like I don’t understand the severity of the situation, but I think it’s okay to understand the truth of the situation and still hurt.

So as I am no longer in Japan this will be my last blog. I’m sorry I’m not a ray of sunshine in every post like Korea, but I’d like to think I’ve become a bit more observant. That being said, it was lovely to write for you, I am extremely privileged to do what I have done and I hope you enjoy your experiences traveling.

Sometimes I think I lost out on a lot of Linfield connections and missed out of the “power of a small college” experience, but if that’s what’s holding you back from seeing the world then,  know that Linfield is a forever kind of thing, the friends you make there are a forever kind of thing, and it would be unfortunate if you didn’t want to go make some forever kind of friends internationally. You’ll help make Linfield and yourself better that way. Grow the understanding of our community. And Linfield is so unique in the opportunities it provides. Go travel by yourself, feel alone, and then feel the creation of community. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.

My one last bit of advice is to just go experience things. Waiting for the “right” experience isn’t going to help because you’re going to miss every other crazy thing with your tunnel vision.


Over and out,


p.s. seek discomfort 🙂

What Is Going On??: COVID-19 and Coming Home

Hiya, folks!

Soooo, a lot has happened since my last post—both in terms of my life and the world. With much sadness in my heart, I decided to come home to the US because of the COVID-19 outbreaks in South Korea and all around the world. I really wanted to have my semester abroad, but I know that it’ll happen someday, and I’m grateful for the time I had abroad while it lasted.

Me showing a thumbs up outside a bus stop, wearing a mask.
My first time outside after my two-week quarantine! Waiting for my bus to the airport.

First, I wanted to address a few things regarding COVID-19. While it’s most dangerous for older folks and immuno-compromised people, it’s still important to take care of yourself and others to help stifle it before it spreads to an astronomical level. You can help by washing your hands for 20 seconds, coughing/sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue (and then dispose of the tissue), keeping a physical distance between yourself and others, and being considerate of others. Click on this link for more information from the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

I understand that it’s easy to be scared of what’s going on—you just want to protect yourself and your family, so you resort to behavior that might not be normal for you. Or, you don’t want your life to change so you continue doing what you always do.  Fear does that. But, I encourage everyone to think past themselves and about the bigger picture. There are shortages of toilet paper, masks, and other supplies that many people and, especially, healthcare professionals need in order to do their jobs. By limiting contact with others, you can help stop the spread of the virus. Please think about the consequences of your actions is all I’m saying.

Another thing that this fear and panic have brought out in people is subtle and overt racism towards Asian people—especially Chinese folks. Asian businesses have been suffering from a lack of customers, Asian people have been verbally and physically attacked, and Asians all around the world have been denied certain services because they’re Asian. As an Asian-American, this is all extremely disheartening for me to hear and read. To be honest, I was a little afraid of coming back to the US for fear of being looked at weirdly or treated badly because I’m obviously Asian. Just hear me out—try to recognize and acknowledge your biases and fear and then think about how you can not let those control you and your actions.

OKAAYY, so what have I been up to, you’re wondering?

Well, it’s been weird and ironically funny. So I was in South Korea doing my two-week self-quarantine in the dorms mid-February. There was someone that delivered food to me and left it in front of my door, and I wasn’t allowed to leave my room at all (except to open the door to get the food). Fast forward to a few days before the end of the two weeks. I had been mentally preparing for anything to happen because the COVID-19 situation was escalating in South Korea, and I knew it made my parents nervous. So a few days before the end, my parents and I decided that I should come back to the US. With the help of IPO, I was put on a flight back to the US the day I got out of quarantine in South Korea. Then when I arrived home in Alaska, I was put into another two-week quarantine because I had arrived from a high-risk country. FOUR WEEKS of quarantine…like I said it’s kind of funny how it worked out.

So, now I’m done with my two-week quarantine/isolation, and I’m planning on taking online classes until the fall. Part of me has been not wanting to write this because I don’t want to admit it’s all over. But, alas, even as the world is on fire, the show must go on. Thank you all for the support, whoever is reading this. I wish you all the best in these times of uncertainty. We can get through this together.



Weekend in London

Buckingham Palace
Me + Buckingham Palace

Last weekend, I went to London with a couple of friends. Originally, this trip started out with five people but then grew to around 11. Since it was a big group, we all did our own thing but we all had such a great time! I spent most of the time with Kimi, Katie, and Elaine. Mostly everyone going on this trip took the same flights and stayed at the same hostel.

On our way to Dublin airport, Kimi and I took the bus that left Galway at 4:15… It was not a good idea. According to our ticket, we were going to arrive at the airport at 7, giving us an hour at the airport before the gate to our flight closed. That was not what happened. We arrived at the airport at 7:30! At that point, I was freaking out. Once we got off that bus, we ran to our gate. The good news was that we made it! After this incident, I have decided to take earlier buses to get more than an hour early to the airport. We arrived at Stansted airport at around 10 p.m. and took a bus to get to the city. Once we arrived,  a couple of us decided to get food before going to the hostel. We went to a kebab place that was open until 3 a.m. It was great because it was late and we were hungry. Also, kebabs have kind of become our go-to food for late nights.

The next morning, we woke up early to go on an all-day walking tour of the city. Our tour guide was great! She knows her history and made it interesting for us. We learned about the monarchs, the city, and the history of the city. She also gave us recommendations for things to do over the weekend. Part of our city tour included looking at the changing of the guard. We were not in front of Buckingham palace because it gets crowded there, instead, we were more further away and were able to see at a good distance.

Ceremony with the guards marching at Buckingham Palace.

Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
Changing of the guard

We then had a little break for lunch. For lunch, our tour guide recommended us to go to a pub called the Princess of Wales. The girls got the pies and I ended up choosing a chicken dish. The food was amazing and if I go back, I would definitely go back here. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the food or else I would have posted one. After our lunch break, we finished the rest of our tour. We walked by St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower of London, and more.

Tower Bridge in the background
Tower Bridge
Friends with Tower Bridge in the background.
Elaine, Katie, Me, Kimi
Student standing in front of tall church in London.
random pic
Girl in red phone booth with St. Paul's Cathedral in the background.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
















After our tour, we were soaked and tired of walking around all day so we

Taxi ride with friends
Taxi ride around London

decided to take a taxi to Peggy Porschen. One of the reasons I wanted to go to London was because of the place called Peggy, which sells tea and pastries. After walking around ALL day, it was nice to sit down and enjoy the views from the windows.


Peggy Porschen cake and tea house with lots of flowers decorating the door.  Girl posing in front.
Me + my fave place in London

At Peggy Porschen, we got some cakes, cupcakes, and teas. It was a good place to relax and just talk. looking back at it now, I am so glad to have been able to spend time in London with this amazing group of friends. We spent that afternoon laughing, getting to know each other more, and enjoying the tea and pastries. We also talked about our future travel plans while studying abroad. After tea, Elaine went to go meet up and spend the night with one of her friends studying abroad in London.

Tea and cakes at Peggy Porschen's tea house.
Tea at Peggy’s

Later that night, Kimi and I decided to walk around the city and go to different pubs. On our walk, we ended up in a pub with karaoke. We also walked across many bridges and I took a pic on Tower Bridge. Walking around without any plans was so much fun. At one point, we did not know where we were but we had our maps on our phone to get back. We got to see the city at night and we were able to get some sick pictures!

People walking on the tower bridge with St. Paul's in the background.
Over the bridge towards St. Paul’s
Girl sitting on Tower Bridge at night with bridge lights in the background.
Tower Bridge at night









The next day, we did a Harry Potter tour (which was short) and we went to different museums.  We went to the National Gallery, Tate Modern, and another museum that I do not remember. It was also sunny throughout the day, so we tried spending time outside as much as we could. I did not charge my phone or portable charger before the day started, so I do not have as many pictures like the previous day. Overall this trip was amazing and I can’t wait to go back one day. After this trip, Kimi and I had to get ready for a trip to France with another group of friends.

Jessica Lopez

Blue Skies in London sailing down the Thames river.
Blue Skies in London
Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square
Inside the National Gallery of Art.
National Gallery

New Classes and Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Kia ora!

Classes are underway and I am exploring New Zealand more and more! I am really enjoying all of my classes so far. I am taking an Anthropology of the Polynesians course, an Introduction to Māori Culture course, and a Food Writing course. Here, classes are called papers, and what we might call a paper in the US is an essay assignment here. I have had to figure out when to schedule tutorials for all of my classes, because there are two lectures for each class every week, and then a one hour long tutorial, which is where discussion happens, questions are asked, and assignments are addressed. All of my classes are much bigger than I am used to at Linfield, my Introduction to Māori Culture class has 113 students in it! In tutorial, there are only about 10-20 students, so this is where students have the chance to talk and ask questions.

There are several options for tutorials each week but they filled up fast! I had to figure out how to schedule the tutorials around my classes and other tutorials. At Linfield, I am used to classes being at the same time every day, such as a 9:00 AM-10:40 AM on Tuesday and Thursday, however, here, one of my Maori Culture lectures is from 9:00-11:00 AM on Tuesday, and the other is from 2:00-3:00 PM on Thursday, in completely different buildings! I am really thankful I am not trying to organize my classes around a work schedule here, because it feels almost impossible! 

Two girls smile for the camera
My pod mate and friend, Anusha, and me!

I have also been working on obtaining my Kiwi Access Card. This is an ID card that proves your birthdate and your residence in New Zealand, either as a foreigner or a New Zealand citizen. I visited one of the local shops that carried the application, brought my visa, proof of enrollment, passport, and a passport photo, filled out the application, and the shop verified my application and sent it off for me. The card is $55.00 NZ dollars, and essentially eliminates the need for me to carry my passport to prove my identification and age.

I think this is a wonderful alternative to carrying my passport, and keeps that priceless document safe, while still allowing me to prove my identity in whatever situation asks that I do. My card should arrive within two weeks, and I would recommend that all students studying in New Zealand work on obtaining the Kiwi Access card as soon as you can! 

A group of students sitting at a group of tables
My pod mates and I at a popular nightclub in Hamilton. We all live in the same section of the residence hall and share a bathroom and kitchen.

I also visited a club fair on campus, where I had hoped to find some clubs to sign up for. I did not have much luck signing up for clubs, and I am still looking for some groups to join, however, I was able to sign up for a group focused on being environmentally friendly, and they are running sessions with eco-friendly DIYs, and educational information each week. This week, we made beeswax wraps! It was a ton of fun, and I brought home my own beeswax wrap, as well as the knowledge to make them again.

Beeswax blocks and grated beeswax in a bowl
Beeswax blocks and grated beeswax for making beeswax wraps

Last weekend, I went to visit Waitomo Glow Worm Caves with the International Office, which was amazing! We toured the Waitomo Caves and learned about the processes which formed the limestone caves. Then, we took a boat through the dark, and gazed up at the millions of tiny blue glow worms. It was absolutely magical to see all of the glow worms, they looked like beautiful little stars. They were on the walls and ceilings of the cave, and it was like constellations in the night sky. We all had to remain very quiet and we could not take photos because the noise and light could disrupt the glow worms and they might stop lighting up if they are disturbed. With only the sound of the water lapping at the boat in the dark, the whole experience was unlike anything else. I had such a wonderful time there! 

Milky blue water at the entrance of a cave
The exit of the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. This was actually the entrance that the Māori chief and European explorer who found the cave used.
Emmaline standing outside of the cave entrance
After getting off the boat ride inside the cave!

Then, we visited an area in the Waitomo region where we went on short hikes, and then enjoyed lunch. Afterwards, we went to Marokopa Falls, a beautiful waterfall in the Waitomo region. We hiked down to the waterfall and looked up at the spray coming down from the falls and dipped our feet in the cold water! Then, we visited a natural limestone bridge, which was very interesting and a unique natural phenomenon! I really enjoyed the trip and I am looking forward to more adventures with the International Office!

A waterfall with greenery on the sides and a blue sky above
Marokopa Falls

I am doing my best to soak up as much as I possibly can while I am here in beautiful New Zealand. I have been having such a wonderful time here and I love the University of Waikato, Hamilton, and New Zealand! I am monitoring the Coronavirus situation, and really hoping that nothing escalates here so that the University stays open and continues in-person classes.

New Zealand has closed their borders, which means that both others and I have had to adjust travel plans. A festival for Pacific culture that I wanted to visit was cancelled in order to try to eliminate large gatherings, so I hope that this does not continue for the rest of the time that I am here! I will just continue to participate in as many events as I possibly can! 

A group of students at a table
Out to dinner with my hall mates and friends!

Thank you for reading! I can’t wait to share more of my adventures!


Port Douglas, Emerald Creek Falls, and Tropical Cyclones

G’day everyone!

The 12th of March marks one month since I first arrived in Australia, and it has been a wild ride! Since my last update, I have attended more classes, visited a coastal town, and participated in a group hike to a waterfall! 

Classes are in full swing here at James Cook University. Monday of this week marked the beginning of week three, and I have already learned so much! In my Myth, Ritual, and Religion class, we are learning about flood myths from areas such as Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Northwest of the United States. We are also expected to discuss the topics and participate in group activities that will supplement our learning. My Indigenous Australians class discussed Indigenous astronomy this week, which was an incredibly fascinating topic. Yesterday, we learned about an Indigenous rock formation which was designed to calculate the placement of the sun during the equinox and solstices. In fact, this creation was formed before Stonehenge, which makes it a fascinating anthropological and scientific discovery. Finally, my Forensic Archaeology class is discussing bones and burials this week, and next week we are talking about assessing trauma on bones!

In the last week of February, my apartment complex (Cairns Student Lodge) hosted a trip to Port Douglas, a coastal town north of Cairns. Port Douglas is known for its fantastic markets, which we had the privilege of visiting! At the markets, tourists and locals can purchase food, Indigenous artwork, jewelry, animal products, and much more. I purchased some beautiful Indigenous boomerangs and platters for my family back home, and I also found some stunning Aussie jewelry. After the markets, we were planning on going to the beach, but the stingers (deadly jellyfish) were at a high, so we went to a swimming hole instead! We had an amazing swim in the cool river water, and then we drove back to our apartments.

Carins Student Lodge residents standing in front of a beachfront lookout
All 45 Cairns Student Lodge residents who went on the Port Douglas outing.
Cairns Student Lodge residents in a swimming hole
Cairns Student Lodge residents were able to cool off in a fun swimming hole!

Last weekend, Cairns Student Lodge went to the Kuranda markets, and on a hike to a waterfall. It was slightly rainy, but what else can you expect when you live in a rainforest! Once we arrived at the markets, we had some time to walk around and purchase goods. The markets were comparable to the Port Douglas markets, but the Kuranda ones are open every day. I had some yummy lemon gelato, and we went on our way to the Emerald Creek waterfall. Access to the waterfall requires some (slippery) hiking, but it was entirely worth it for the stunning view and experience. The water was cool, and we could see an incredible view of the rainforest while sunbathing on the rocks.

Christina and a group of friends sunbathing by the waterfall
My friends and I had an amazing view of the waterfall and the rainforest while we were sunbathing!
After we went to the waterfall, we stopped for some ice cream
After we went to the waterfall, we stopped for some ice cream!

While the weather in February was bright and sunny, March has been the exact opposite. Back at home, people say the Oregon weather is unpredictable–but it is nothing compared to the weather here! I can count on both hands the amount of times that I have left in the morning to sunny, hot weather, and when I walk back it is uncontrollably pouring rain. Word of advice to travelers–bring your raincoat/umbrella because these tropical cyclones are no joke!

Sunny, warm weather in Australia
A beautiful and sunny day in Australia.
A cloudy and rainy day in Australia
A cloudy and rainy day in Australia.



O Week and Week One of Classes at Otago!

Kia ora everyone!

These last two weeks have been packed full of events, fun trips, and of course classes.

Phoebe and I with a stuffed Moa at the Otago Museum.

Orientation week was packed full of fun events for students like tent city, club day, and the international food festival. These events were for students to get to know the school, become involved in clubs and groups, as well as meet other students on campus. These last two weeks have been a great opportunity to get to know my flatmates. My flatmates and I explored the Otago Museum, the close by Botanic Gardens, and of course the Saturday Market. I was able to go on a blue penguin tour with my parents and watch the penguins waddle up on to the beach as they came in from the ocean for the night.

Going to events, parties, and getting involved with a club leading up to the first week of class and was a great way to get involved with the Otago community. A day at the beach with my flatmates was the perfect way to end the week before classes began. I think we all got a sunburn no matter how much sunscreen we put on.

Becca in orange jacket in front of dark blue museum exhibit poster.
Me in front of the Otago Museum about to visit the James Cameron exhibit.
Group of five students standing on a sandy beach in front of the ocean and under a blue sky.
My Flatmates and I at St. Clair Beach.










The first week of classes was hectic like they typically are, as we are all running around trying to find buildings and classrooms. By Friday

Six decorated signs with the flatmates' names on them.
The door decorations we made for each other in our flat.

we had all figured out the quickest routes to our classes and whether or not it is worth coming home in between classes. Of course, all of the best food trucks are strategically placed themselves on campus so naturally, I had to give them a chance. A few of my flatmates and I joined the AAPES (Animal, Aquatic, Plant, Ecological Society) which led us on an amazing journey to the glow worms about an hour walk outside of Dunedin. The whole flat went, except for our kiwi host who had traveled home to Wanaka for the weekend, and not only was it a fun walk but the glow worms were amazing. In the dark, they looked

Black photo with little white dots representing the glow-worms.
The Nichols Creek Glow-worms.

like white string lights or stars in the sky. The glow-worm walk was a great way to get the weekend started on Friday night before starting into our second week of classes. Somehow we all managed to survive the weekend without our kiwi host (there may have been a few close calls).

Wish us luck!


Aran Islands: Inis Mór

Inis Mór - looking over rocks out to blue ocean, cloudy skies
Inis Mór

Hey everyone! I have been so busy with midterms, facilitating at the local elementary school, and going to explore new places. Around two weeks ago, my friend Kimi and I decided to go to the Aran Islands on a Saturday. We booked our bus tickets and the ferry ticket. However, we completely forgot to check how the weather was. Obviously, it was going to rain, but there were no warnings for a storm that weekend so we were feeling confident.

On the day of that trip, it was sunny and the sky was blue. However, when we arrived at the docks to board the ferry, the sky was turning grey. It was also starting to get a bit windy… The boat ride was a bit bumpy and I got seasick. When we got off the ferry, I started to feel a bit better. We then decided to take a tour with a local from the island. He drove us around the island and told us a bit about the area. Inis Mór is the largest (in size and population) of the Aran Islands. According to our tour guide, the population of Inis Mór is around 900 (I don’t remember the exact number, but it’s small).

On one of our stops, the tour guide let us explore Dún Aonghasa, which is an archaeological site. It is located on some of the cliffs that are safe for sightseeing the ocean. We had to walk on the path for 30 minutes to get to the top. Once we got to the top, the ocean looked so beautiful. It didn’t matter that the skies were grey. It somehow made the ocean look clearer.

Dún Aonghasa - looking over rocks out to blue ocean, cloudy sky
Views from Dún Aonghasa
Views from the cliff - looking over rocks out to blue ocean, cloudy sky
Cliff views
Picture with the ocean - looking over rocks out to blue ocean, cloudy sky
Had Kimi be my personal photographer.

After the walk at Dún Aonghasa, we stopped for lunch at the cutest place ever!

Cottage on the ocean with a rock wall around it.
Lunch at the cottage

We got a vegetable soup (mainly because we did not want to eat a heavy meal and deal with it during the boat ride… There was no way I was going to get seasick on the ride back). We also got a homemade pie and the lovely owner gave us a free slice of cake! If you ever find yourself in Inis Mór, make sure to stop for lunch at this place!




Preparing for Irish dancing.
Irish dancing at Monroe’s

In Galway, I have been busy working on midterms and projects. Thankfully, they are all done now! I just need to get through finals and classes. Starting next week, I will start on one of my final essays so I don’t stress out about it. I have also crossed one more thing off my Ireland bucket list! Last Tuesday, I went to Monroe’s, a local pub. Every Tuesday night, they have traditional Irish dancing. Sometimes, the dancers allow the audience to join them in dancing. Luckily, that Tuesday, they let the crowd join! I joined, even though I knew I was gonna suck. Anyways, it was SO MUCH FUN! I will definitely go back soon! The dancers were so patient and friendly when they were teaching us the steps to the dances.


Coronavírus in Italy

You know how sometimes when life is going beyond perfect and every moment has the equivalent feeling to a summer drive with the windows down, hair blowing in the wind with music blasting over the radio? Yeah you know what I’m talking about… that was Italy.

Girl standing in front of the Duomo in Milan, Italy.

Thanks to Lizzie McGuire growing up and Under the Tuscan Sun until I die, I’ve dreamt of Italy for a very long time. I’m happy to report the short two-week introduction I got did not disappoint. I had a nice apartment with a beautiful room all to myself that let sunlight in nearly all hours of the day, I bought a succulent to keep on my windowsill, did yoga in the warm glow, liked my roommates, loved the food, had just bought a bike, and was absolutely loving my class lecture topics. My mom had just bought her plane ticket to come visit, and my sister was planning to buy hers the next week. It all felt like a summer evening until class was being shut down for 2 days, then a week, and now in the second week due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Now before this starts sounding too serious, just know I’m laughing while writing this because I just can’t get over how crazy these past months have been and regardless of all the not-so-good things I’ve had to deal with, I’m still having the best year. I know looking back at this time of my life in a few years will be a complete hoot.
We were located in the middle of Northern Italy in a city called Piacenza which is right below were Europe’s largest outbreak of the virus had started, and it of course spread fast putting 11 cities into lockdown with the infected count in the thousands and fatalities starting to add up. Now I am well aware that influenza kills more people every year and I am a young and healthy individual; I am not concerned with contracting the virus for my personal health reasons, but it is now a pandemic and I am, however, not okay with the responsibility I would hold spreading it to others… especially the elderly, and there were a lot in my apartment building, all over Piacenza and Italy.
Girl in her room with all her luggage.
We were told to leave Italy and to quarantine for 2 weeks, so here I am in France bored out of my mind doing just that. Even though I’m pretty certain I don’t have it, I certainly wasn’t going to be known as the “dumb American who brought it with her to France”. So, the past week and a half has consisted of sleeping, waiting for news, eating, waiting for news, daydreaming, waiting for news, not wanting to study, and more waiting for news in my roommate’s holiday home.
Repeat, repeat, repeat…
School is supposedly supposed to start back up this Monday in Piacenza, which means these 2 weeks will have been for nothing. The US State Department sent out a travel advisory through a program called STEPS for US citizens to retrieve travel news and so your whereabouts are known. In short, they’ve put Italy at a level 3 and 4 threat level and are saying not to travel to and through Italy. US schools have brought back their students and terminated their spring and summer terms abroad in Italy. But my situation is a little tricky since I am also getting a master’s degree while being a study abroad undergraduate student through Linfield.

Linfield was relieved when I told them I was in France, as was my mom. And neither of them want me returning to Italy.


I’ve asked if an online option could be available for me if classes continue in Italy after receiving the news from the US government and while I have not received any clear news, the three options I think the school is deciding on are:
1) Classes in Italy
2) Classes in France at their Angers campus where my third term is located
3) Classes online
Going back to Italy simply sounds ridiculous to me since it’s the hotspot of the virus and wherever we go we could unknowingly be giving it to other people. It means that if my classmates travel home to France on the weekends, they could be giving it to their families. There is no hand sanitizer or masks for sale in Italy anymore. I don’t have Wi-Fi, so I haven’t been looking at the news but last I heard Trump was considering canceling all flights from Italy to the US and the Schengen countries were talking about border control. Which means if that were to happen, my roommates and majority of the class would be able to go home easily but I wouldn’t have priority or special reasoning to leave and would be stuck.
Now I am really good at going with the flow and making whatever situation I’m presented with work, it’s probably one of my better traits, but being stuck in a foreign country no matter how romantic and dreamy Italy is… doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

I’ll hopefully hear some more concrete news soon, but until then, sending my love and healthy thoughts from the west coast of France! (We got out of the house one day to see the beach)

Looking out over the ocean on the west coast of France with a large white house and tree in the foreground.Student's journal about France.Girls hand wearing a ring with the ocean and rocks in the background.


Let’s Talk Corona

Hey, Hey, Hey,

I’m in my room! Again! How fun!

So this won’t be long, it’s just a brief update on the happenings of Coronavirus.

Okay so, coronavirus is in Japan (obviously) and there are (I think) over 800 cases and counting. “Scary!” you say, “why don’t you come home?” you follow with. In response, I simply don’t want to. I am personally unconcerned. I think the panic in the United States is both laughable and concerning because all it’s doing in the US (and internationally) is allowing people to be racist, and the panic is causing more problems than solving them.

*GASP* “I am not racist! I have a friend who’s Asian.”

Chill homie, I’m not calling YOU racist, I’m calling your discriminatory actions racist. If you’re in the US you have great (extremely expensive) healthcare and most importantly, most Americans just have ACCESS to healthcare professionals. Anyone can have corona, just because it started in Wuhan doesn’t mean you need to be rude to anyone who looks Asian (this isn’t just a rant, this is happening to my friends). The coronavirus is a flu. You can’t eradicate it, but you can be healthy.

Here is Japan I am unconcerned because:

  • I have had swine flu before. Was bad, don’t want to do it again, but I figured it out.
  • I am a healthy person. Try eating healthier, getting lots of rest, I cannot stress the importance of hydration enough, and working out.
  • The onsens here are genius for preventing illness. You just go to the hot pools or rooms and burn any diseases away

Over the weekend, the Japanese government asked people to stay inside so they could do an extra count of cases, but that genuinely did not stop anyone and everyone from taking that as a “the world is burning down” and bought all of the toilet paper and ramen.

As a side note, I kind of like Japanese panic. If you just came here as a tourist, you would never think that people are becoming concerned. Because there’s this idea that people need to be polite here, there is rarely any verbal exclusion. With that, I’ve talked to a woman who’s in her sixties and she says it’s worse for her. Older people have a higher rate of getting coronavirus (and men are more likely to die — there’s a fact for ya), and this woman said that she coughed on a bus (she was wearing a mask) and someone in front of her got up and moved away. Now, that was just her situation, and I haven’t coughed in public in a while, but I’ve noticed more discrimination towards Japanese people from Japanese people than any other demographic.

just briefly on masks, there are two schools of thought:


“masks don’t do anything for corona so why would I even bother?”

Choose your fight folks! Don’t be discriminatory (no matter where you’re from) and please be healthy.

Until next time,