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Asia

你好 from China!

The picture is so blurry, I apologize. The sign means Fortune.

Well, let me tell you! I am glad to be alive and well. 哈哈 (haha). It is like the second or third week in China, I think. Girl, I went through a lot the moment I landed at the Beijing airport. Also, ignore my grammar and punctuation. I’m like telling my experience as if I am talking to a friend. 哈哈 GRAB SOME POPCORN or something to nibble on. But first let me tell you that I wanted to live without mainstream social media (in China, they do not allow the mainstream social media, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc). A week into my NO MAINSTREAM SOCIAL MEDIA LIFE, I felt empty. This whole long distance stuff with my friends have to be the most difficult that I have ever had to endure. Like I’m awake and they have to go to sleep. Then I would stay up late just to talk to them but they have to go to class. I’M SO SAD.  I really do miss everyone. I NEED HUGS and VALIDATION. Anyways, I had no idea I was going to be stuck at the Beijing International Airport at all. It was COLD (not as cold as Minnesota though). By the way, if you plan on going to study in China, PLEASE DO NOT fly into China at all. Take an airline that will take you to Hong Kong from the states, if that makes sense. I also advise you to go explore Hong Kong too (although I did not, I will once the semester is over with Pang). I believe that 3 days would be enough. However, the hotels are VERY EXPENSIVE. I believe that will be the most costly thing, if you were to travel there. Back to me being stuck at the Beijing Airport, on Friday night February 8th. I did not bring too much sweaters because I knew that Hong Kong (I did not even get to explore) and Zhuhai were going to be HOT and HUMID, maybe rainy. Anyways, the security guards would not let me pass through to get into the TSA (where they check your luggage, I don’t know if this is what it’s called). They told me that since my Chinese visa was marked, I was not allowed to leave. Once I leave, I would have to reapply for a new visa. They also said that 3 days was not enough time to get a new visa. MY HEAD WENT BLANK. I just got off a 14 hour flight and you expect me to process everything that you just told me? My phone did not work. I could not call anyone. I tried using their phone booths but it did not work. Me and Pang were SUPPOSED to be in the same situation actually but the lady in her line let her go. The guy in my line did not let me go. I had to leave and go back into the waiting place, I called Jessica, the study abroad coordinator at United International College, and she helped me get a hotel, that allows foreigners. BUT GURL, the moment I left the airport and took THE CAB (which, obviously the cab driver spoke NO ENGLISH and he was also an older man) I was TERRIFIED. Obviously I thought of the WORST, which is probably a bad thing to do but I was in PANIC MODE. IT’S ALL ABOUT READING BODY LANGUAGE PEOPLE! I was struggling to communicate with the cab driver until I saw him point to his eyes and his hands were spreading apart and THAT MOMENT I knew he could not read the small label of the picture, which had the address of the hotel. So I increased the size of the picture and I was able to arrive at the hotel safely. The next morning, Saturday February 9th, I went back to the airport so I can fly into Guangzhou. I got there really early (my flight was not until 9pm), 10am (crazy, am I right?). I told myself if I got lost at the Beijing Airport, I would be able to ask for help without having to freak out because I did no have enough time. Like ENOUGH TIME. I basically lived at the airport for 24 hours, waiting for my roommate to come and get me. I saw the people sleeping there so I decided to sleep too. It was not too bad I tell you. Haha. I saw everyone else doing it, so I decided to do it too! I was at the airport reading some Webtoons online, writing in my journal and also watching some Korean dramas (surprisingly the wifi at the Guangzhou airport was good)! When my roommate finally came, Sunday night, it was like my prayers were answered. You know in those movies where light is shinning behind the person? Yea, that’s how I saw her. She took me to another hotel, I slept there for the night. Monday morning is when we were to head out to our school.
  • Interesting Fact – My roommate told me that some hotels DO NOT accept foreigners. You have to find specific hotels that accept foreigners. They only accept mainland Chinese. In mainland China, they have a specific ID and if you do not have that, you are not allowed to stay. I thought that was interesting.
Through this whole 3 days experience, I BECAME A NEW PERSON! I low-key wanted my mommy. Haha. I got to school Monday morning and I was happy! Now we in Zhuhai!  GORL, looking like a local is a struggle. Obviously people assumed I was Chinese until I’m like, “what?” I tried watching some Chinese dramas and learned a few words before I landed here but it all went into the trash in my brain the moment I needed it the most. ON TOP OF THAT, when I explain to them that I am Hmong and that we originated from China and that the government calls us Miao but in America we are Hmong, they still assume I am Chinese. So I just tell them, “it’s complicating.” ALSO, since my last name is Xiong (it means bear in Chinese), they still assume that I have some Chinese roots. But nope. Don’t get me wrong, I am minoring in Hmong studies and I LOVE IT A LOT. But phew, it has been the hardest thing to explain to people. You have bust out the history textbooks and go WAY BACK in time. MY ROOMMATE IS A MIAO FROM HUNAN. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I never thought that I would actually meet a Miao. Let alone have one as a roommate. By the way, she is a strong working student! She tells me I am a good student but she studies so hard. So proud of her! She’s such a nice person! Campus Life – UIC is such a beautiful campus actually. Bigger than Concordia but smaller than the U of M. Flowers are so beautiful. I don’t even like going to the library but their library is AMAZING. SO HIGH TECH. There is this small station that allows you to disinfect the book! WOW! IT WAS SO COOL. I was so amazed! The library also have the small peaceful area where you can go relax and just meditate! YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO STRUGGLE TO FIND A SPOT TO SIT AT THE LIBRARY! If I remember correctly the librarian said that there is about 2,000 (or even more) study desks for student, I thought to myself, “wow, that is enough for everyone back at CSP.” They even have movies that you can check out too. Wow. Food is pretty cheap here. The canteens are good! It is like 20RMB, which is like $2-$5USD. THEY GIVE US SUCH A BIG PORTION FOR A CHEAP PRICE. As a broke college student, I LOVE IT. The food is good! Take a picture of the food that you want. It’ll be easier to ask for that specific order since the food servers don’t speak English.

Cantonese Food.

WECHAT or ALIPAY is EVERYWHERE. EVERYWHERE! YOU NEED ONE. YOU NEED! LIFE WILL BE MORE CONVENIENT. But you have to have a Chinese bank card and a Chinese number in order to use WeChat. Even the elders at the supermarket will bust out their QR code for you to scan so that you can pay them. I find that to be so shocking. My parents don’t even know how to use a cellphone. Sometimes it’s inconvenient too because I have cash and I really want to pay in cash but nope, they’re like, “WeChat or Alipay Only.”
  • When you come here, it’s best to get a Chinese number. It’s much more convenient. On top of that, if you don’t have a Chinese number, there is no way for you to use WeChat or Alipay. So if you have AT&T, make sure that you unlock it before you come here. You don’t have to go through all the hassle. Also, I got a Chinese phone for 400RMB, which is like $70-$80USD. Also, it’s best if you buy the SIM card at the university. I believe that it is 5GB for 5 months? But you’ll have to instantly turn off your data when you’re done using for the things that you need to use it for.
It was so hot one day and I mean hot. I think it was like 70F and that is hot to me but I saw that some of the students were wearing sweaters or thick clothes. I came back to the dorm to ask my roommate, “Why are you guys wearing sweaters? Aren’t you hot?” She explained to me that they might have cold gas inside of them. If they went to the elders, who owns those herbal shops, they would check your pulse or your chi and determine what kind of herbs you need in order to make yourself feel better again. I thought that was fascinating. I’ve only seen that in dramas. Haha OVERALL –  The moment that you come here you have to be THANKFUL for all the things that you have back in the states and I’m also talking about even the small stuff that is there. Like I really miss my bed mattress so much. Here you’d have to buy your own mattress, the frame of the bed is hardwood. This is like something that is not that important but I do miss naturally watching my Korean dramas with a stable WiFi. This is so weird but I do miss the laundry dryer too. They do have a dryer here but it is not that strong enough to dry the clothes. It’ll eventually start making your clothes smell. It’s natural for them to hang up their clothes once it’s done being washed. I also miss the food. Like even the basic chicken with the pepper sauce. OH MAN. I thought about it one night and my stomach was growling. I’m pretty sure they have the Korean Shin Ramen here but I have not been able to find it.   My laptop broke too. I’m trying to use their laptops at the school but I honestly don’t know how to use an apple desktop. Haha.      

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Hello, from China!
Hey Everyone!! I had been here in China for 3 weeks so far and everything has been great. I have some issues with my visa entering into Zhuhai because they said I only have one entry to China, so I have to make another visa. Other than that everything is great so far! I first landed in Hong Kong and stay there for two days and have the best time there. Hong Kong has always been one of my favorite city and I have always wanted to go there. I met up with a high school friend, who went to Augsburg University in MN  and is now studying abroad  in Hong Kong.  We didn’t get to visit all of the attraction or places in Hong Kong because there wasn’t enough time, but we did get to see some of them, which was really cool and amazing. Seeing the Yik Cheong Building (aka the Monster Building/ Transformer Building) was totally amazing. We went to see the Victoria Park, which was really nice. They have all of the activities and everything you could do in the park, such as skating, basketball, swimming, volleyball, badminton, etc. I thought it was really cool how all of their parks and public spaces have wifi. Its easy to connect to wifi anywhere you go! We visited Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong Island, and more! We literally went and walked around the city and I just got to say that seeing the Victoria Harbor view at night was totally amazing and you cannot miss it when you come to Hong Kong. The MTR (The Mass Transit Railway) was really fast, easy, and convenient  to use and also very cheap. It was interesting  to know that millions of people take the MTR everyday to go to work.

Yik Cheong Building (aka The Monster Building/ Transformer Building)

Avenue of Stars

Victoria Harbour view!!

One of my favorite photo from Victoria Park.

In Zhuhai: I met a lot of the exchange students and we all are became good friends. It was interesting to know that many of them are from the U.S. I was expecting more from different places of the world (lol). Anyway, we all met with each other roommates and got to know each other. On the first day, me along with the other exchange students  went  to visit the Putuo Temple in Zhuhai. It is one of the famous temple in Zhuhai and it’s so huge! We also went to see the Fisher Girl in Zhuhai. It was amazing to know how the statue still remains up and strong after the typhoon from last year. After, that we went to a mall in the city, where we do our own shopping. The Lantern Festival was celebrated this month at UIC as to ended the Chinese new year and I got to see the Chinese lion dance for the first time!! This month, we haven’t visit any other places  yet because many other  exchange students are also applying for a new visa with multiple entries, so we will do more traveling after we get our visa. The language was a struggling for me because I do not speak Chinese and many  people assume me to be Chinese or just local people. Many people here, in China do not speak English, so it’s always better to go out with a Chinese friend.

The Fisher Girl

Putuo Temple UIC: The school is like one hour from the city, but I think it’s really nice because the view is amazing and the air is great here, in Zhuhai. The campus was really nice and pretty big compare to Concordia. The UIC library was huge. They have up to four floors and you will never struggle finding a spot to sit. It was cool to know that they have a book sanitizer in the library to  clean germs or just to make the books clean. The dorms were really nice and my room got such a nice view , where I got to see the beautiful mountains. The University did not provide a mattress in dorm so I have to purchase one by my own.  But, is okay this  just  makes me feel more appreciate of the things that I have back in the states. The courses here, are really different compare to the courses we have at Concordia. They have some courses, which I thought was pretty interesting because we don’t have at Concordia. Some of the classes are up to 3 hours which is pretty long, but they do have breaks in between and you only met once in a week, which I thought was really nice because I got Friday and the weekend off. Thursdays are my busiest day because I have four classes to attend and they are literally right after one another and I  have 10 minutes to get to the next class. I actually like it because it keeps me busy. Overall, my first month has been great so far! UIC Campus Library  

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First Month in South Korea
This first month in Korea has gone by so fast, the only way I have been able to remember anything is by looking at the pictures I’ve taken! One thing that surprised me about life here at SCH is how every year, there is something that I can only explain to be like a “Welcome back to School” festival. This festival lasted three days and everyday there were different performers. The second day was the most “hyped” up day because a more famous group, iKon, was coming to perform. As well as iKon, there was my FAVORITE Korean band, Epik High. I could not believe my ears when my roommate, Minseon/Bella told me that they were coming! So this festival not only had more famous performers, but also more food trucks then I’ve ever seen all selling different Korean street food! This festival I was able to enjoy with my roommate and some of her class seniors as well as with the friends I have made here. Living here in Korea has been such an exciting adventure, everyday there is something different, new, and fun to do. I was able to visit a nearby lake and park with my roommate and one of our mutual friends, Trace, who is from Vietnam. Living in Global Village has given me so many opportunities to meet and converse with people from all around the world! Bella and I have become close and enjoy spending time with each other, we eat together a lot and even will just go for walks and exchange out cultures. The classes I am taking have all been very engaging. One of them is Taekwondo. Actually during Midterm we have our first test, which if we pass will mean we are able to go up a belt. Another class is Intercultural Dance. In this class we have learned dances from all around the world. I included a picture of me and my friend Kyra from Tennessee in our traditional Korean skirts which that day we learned the traditional dance that the King and Queen used to perform for their people as a way to bless them since, as we learned, most Kings and Queens were also Shamans. Overall, the first month here in Korea has been very fast paced but also filled with many fun memories, laughter, and great friends. I cannot wait to see what October holds for me.
안녕!
안나 <3
     

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Student Teaching Overseas?

Yes, you CAN student teach overseas!!

When I was going through my orientation as a transfer student about 4-5 years ago, I shared what I wanted to do after I graduated, which was to teach overseas. I was informed that I could student teach overseas as long as the schools were accredited and approved by Concordia. The time finally came! I was going to student teach and put every effort into getting myself to student teach overseas. It was not easy! I really wanted to student teach in countries Concordia does not have partnership with. There were only a few countries, but I was set on Thailand. I decided to email schools all over Asia, asking if I could student teach. The process was long, and, again, not easy! Thankful for Dr. Conrad and Kate’s patience and help that I get to be in Thailand as a student teacher. I am currently in Bangkok, Thailand student teaching at International Community School. A week of student teaching has been nothing but confusion. It is normal to be confused when you’re doing something for the first time. It is all a learning process! You get better and understand more as you keep your chin up and persevere ASKING questions.

Inside the school

 
  I have been in Thailand for only a week and four days and I am already homesick, however, that doesn’t stop me from fulfilling student teaching to the fullest and exploring. It helps that I have friends from Minnesota living in Thailand doing ministry work with the local Thai. They have shown me great hospitality as they take me out getting a SIM card, showing me how to take public transportation, and taking me around all day long to keep me awake so I can adapt to the time. Being around friends from home helps me to not miss home too much!

Overview of Bangkok from a friend’s apartment on the 17th floor.

Mo Chit, Bangkok, Thailand. The place you go for the weekend night market. This area is always so busy with traffic. Even the bus stop is busy!

Behind a coffee shop church I attended. This is the true picture of what it’s like in the city of Bangkok.

  Living alone is definitely stretching me in many areas of my life. I’ve gone overseas before to study abroad, but I lived with 11 other girls in Korea. There were also programs to assist me in anything I needed help with. However, I am living the independent, adult life right now figuring everything out on my own and making sure I’m being fed. I have to make sure I am communicating both here in Thailand and back at home in regards to my daily life AND student teaching. I have learned to be bold and travel on my own if I have to. I live quite far from downtown Bangkok, which is where a few friends live and I go there during the weekends. Last night I had to learn how to take the BTS, or skytrain, home and catch a taxi telling them where I need to go in Thai. The little things like this teaches you a thousand life lessons!! Although challenges are frustrating and uncomfortable, I love them. They help you grow and mold different perspectives on life.

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The end of an era..

After almost a year of studying abroad in South Korea, I had to say goodbye. I’ve been back home for two weeks, and luckily, I am well adjusted to the time zone, after struggling for a week! Reverse culture shock is definitely REAL, and I almost can’t believe I’m actually back in Minnesota now. Honestly, I did happen to cry once I landed at the MSP airport!! I don’t know..there was just a surge of confusing emotions. Was I..sad? happy? relieved? I couldn’t exactly pinpoint my feelings at that moment! Studying abroad is like a dream, or more so like you’re living a second life. My life in Korea was totally different than my life here back in Minnesota, and being re-connected with one, but having memories of the other is just..so..weird? There’s no other way to put it. It’s like I’ve lived two lives! 

It’s funny how my life has drastically changed while being in Korea, but once I arrived home, nothing has changed and everything is the same! It’s just an interesting realization..but also so bizarre. I don’t know! It’s something you need to experience for yourself. This did make me realize that there’s a whole world out there outside of Minnesota, so I hope you all take advantage of that!! 

Oh, and here are some study abroad tips that I highly recommend you all take into consideration! 

  1. BE OPEN MINDED. 
    it’s definitely easier said than done. You’re in a new country, and you probably know nothing of it besides the things you read and see in the media. That’s only a fraction of what the country really is, so be prepared for anything!!  Also, be mindful of the cuisine in the country you’re studying abroad in. Being in South Korea, I know some exchange students were not as adventurous and nervous to eat Korean food, but know that the culture’s cuisine helps you connect with the country and people, and you’re studying abroad!! so you should be prepared to try new things! Granted, you don’t have to try everything, but I advise you all to at least try the basic, well-known food items in the country that you’re studying in! It’ll definitely enhance your experience! 
  2. LEARN THE COUNTRY’S LANGUAGE
    Now, i’m not telling you to stay in your dorm and study 24/7! But, you should definitely take the time and energy to learn enough of the country’s language to get by. (especially if the primary language isn’t English) Sure, most people can survive the country with having no knowledge of the language..as TOURISTS (joking!), but as someone who lives in the country, whether it be four months or a year, I think it’s beneficial, and you will definitely feel more connected to the country you’re studying abroad in! // Also if the country you’re in has common curtesy gestures you’re not familiar with, definitely learn that as well! 
  3. RESPECT THE COUNTRY YOU ARE STUDYING ABROAD IN
    Please be mindful and respectful of the country as a whole, and try not to get into any serious conflicts while abroad! I know specifically in Korea, there are some places where foreigners aren’t allowed in because of a past event or conflict having to do with foreigners. Sure, you may think some things are strange or not right, but remember, you’re a guest in the country, and any disruptive things you do will not only reflect you, but your nationality, host school, and home school. So, just be mindful! 
  4. HAVE A GREAT TIME AND EXPERIENCE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!
    Studying abroad was the best experience ever, and I enjoyed it so much. It was also so easy being able to study abroad through Concordia as well, so I really hope you all take advantage of studying abroad as a university student!! 


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A Year Experience Away From Home

It’s been about two weeks since I arrived back to Minnesota, and I have to say that it feels like nothing has changed. I feel that coming back, it’s the same as usual, and that my year in Korea went by too fast. Even though, I did many different and fun things during my year away from friends and family. 

After finals ended, I went on another out of country trip; this time it was the Philippines. I went to Palawan because one of my global village friends suggested it, since she also solo travelled a lot too. It was exciting to travel alone again, but I was more nervous because Palawan is still developing. But it was so beautiful, and I definitely don’t regret it. I did island tours in El Nido, and I met other solo travelers too. This trip allowed me to do more self discovery and also relaxation; it served as a great getaway for me. 

Being back home, everything is the same as how I left it. Not much has changed, and I don’t feel too sad about leaving Korea, surprisingly. Many of my friends are sad to have left, but I’m okay with it. Being abroad a year, I feel that I experience Korea so greatly, that I know for sure that I’ll be back. Something I’d tell to future students who want to study in South Korea, is to have fun but be responsible. South Korea is GREAT for us younger folks! There’s so many fun things to do and meeting people, but learn to be responsible and know that it’s ok to say no in front of peer pressure. Also, I urge that all students should keep an open mind and be understanding of people of different opinions. Even if you experience some ignorance, try to educate others and be the bigger person. Also, don’t be afraid to do things by yourself! Travel to other countries with friends or solo, either way if you keep common sense with you and be safe, it will be worth it. Anyways I’ll be ending my blog here, and I hope you enjoyed reading my experiences abroad! Thank you for reading!



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My Korean Home Experience

Shortly, after midterms were over, my friends and I realized how many weeks we have left until the semester was over. It feels like it was just yesterday when we arrived here in Korea. It’s amazing to see how close my suite mates and I have gotten within these few months and it is sad to know that I only have a couple weeks left with them.

My suite mates had become my family. We enjoy doing things together, making fun of each other and supporting one another. A few weeks ago one of my Korean suite mate invited me and a few foreigner suite mates to her home in Suncheon which was about 4 hours south from Sinchang by bus. I definitely enjoyed my weekend there. Her parents were so nice and sweet, they gave us their room to stay in because there was a bathroom in their room. She also has two dogs, Maru and Geumdong. Although throughout the weekend, Maru did not really like us as much because he kept growling and barking at us from time to time. Geumdong however, loved us as he kept playing with us and coming over to us to pet him. While being in Suncheon, my suit mate took us to The Suncheon Bay National Garden. It was beautiful and took us an entire day to go through the entire area. I thought about my mom as I was there because I knew she would have loved the gardens there. 

Adorable Geumdong!

It was definitely easier to play with Geumdong!

There were many gardens designed to be a certain culture or country. This was taken in the French Garden.

Very beautiful flowers (and people too)!!

This past weekend I went to another Korean suite mates home along with my other foreigner suite mate. Her hometown was in Pocheon north of Sinchang and took about 2-3 hours by bus. Her family owns a restaurant so we were able to eat some of their dishes which was delicious!

Being able to go to my suitemates home town is definitely an experience to remember! I feel like we are able to do more things and go to places where we would have never thought of going. It was really cool to experience different kinds of Korean homes. Plus, eating home made Korean food!! It was also really nice to interact with my suite mates parents as well. They were all really kind and made us feel welcome. If more people were able to receive the chance of staying with a family, definitely take the opportunity! It is a wonderful and memorable experience.  



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As the second semester goes by, I can’t help but compare both my semesters here so far. They’ve been so different from each other despite me still living in the same dormitory, going to the same school, and having the same friends! (plus new ones!) One’s experience in Global village really depends on, of course, how they make it out to be, and also the other people who are apart of GV as well! I’m so glad to have been able to experience two different semesters here, and I can definitely feel the difference. They’ve both been interesting in their own ways!

I know for sure, I am more confident in speaking Korean and also traveling around Korea with my current language skills! I’m still amazed that I can actual read hangul, comprehend Korean (most times), and speak Korean (to an extent haha..) It’s a great feeling and I definitely want to continue studying Korean once I get home! Especially because I do want to pursue a career here after graduation! 

These days, I’ve just been living the life of a normal student, going to school, eating with friends, and working on homework! But, I did take some time off school to travel Japan for a week! It’s definitely got a different vibe compared to Korea, but also beautiful and amazing in it’s own way! I traveled to Tokyo! So i visited areas like Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Akibahara, and Asakusa!

Here are some pictures from my trip to Tokyo! 

Asakusa!!

Tokyo Sky Tree

Japanese Crepes! that are super delicious and cute.

Japanese Ramen and Gyoza (Dumplings)

Squid Nigiri!! I love Nigiri, but this was a little TOO slimy for my taste!

At the moomin cafe, we were able to sit with this little cute Moomin! (actually it was the mother moomin!)

 

 

Themed Moomin Cafe!! Which was SUPER ADORABLE!!! I’m a huge moon fan.

Limited Edition American Cherry Pie Frappucino only made in Japan! the top is pie crust! it was super delicious!!

SAILOR MOON THEMED EYELASHES!!! It was way too cute for me!

A elaborate Disney Store in Tokyo! It really was magical~!

Purikura Pictures! These photo booths make your eyes bigger, and face..way smaller than usual hahah

The famous Shibuya Crossing!

Me and Mayna made our own ramen at the Cup Ramen museum! it was super cute and fun!

Japanese Curry!!! A super popular dish in japan is Katsu curry and it definitely wasn’t a disappointment!

Some more Nigiri! It was just so delicious, my friend and I ate so much during our trip.

 

This was definitely the highlight of April!!! Now we’re in may and school is nearing towards the end, so from now until the end of the semester, I will be making the best memories with my friends here in Korea!! 



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As the Season Changes

It’s crazy that its now really hot (perhaps I’m exaggerating too much). I still can’t believe it that I’m in Korea, seriously. After coming back from Seoul this morning, I just thought to myself, “Wow, it’s so crazy that the folks here are all Korean.” I know it’s dumb, but I’m just so thankful to have the experience to be abroad. A topic I’ll be talking about in a part of this post will be about the limited diversity within Korea. Global village is wonderful, and everyone is really kind to one another. Which I’m glad to have chosen a culturally immersed program. Last year, I had wanted to go to Tokyo and study there with local students. Looking back at it now, it would have been extremely difficult to only be exposed to a certain group of people who may not share the same values, as well as interests as you. Here in sch’s global village, it’s a perfect mix of local students and people who you can share similar interests with(and not to mention language). 

But getting to the point, you’ll find that outside of global village, there are still many people with skewered perceptions of foreigners. Even though I don’t even look “Korean” in my eyes, I have had many comments from friends and strangers that I look Korean. That is to say, in a sense, I physically look like an Eastern Asian ;which is different from someone from Southeast Asia. Not to generalize certain ethnicities, but a being an Asian myself, there are physical differences amongst Asian peoples. But continuing onto the point, I don’t receive as much backlash from being a foreigner when compared to my other friends (Americans, Chinese, etc.). On a subway ride to Seoul, a older male stranger came up close to my friend from Tennessee, who is white american. He asked her if he could get a picture with her, but she politely said no. People can view this scenario in two ways. One: He’s just a creepy guy who objectifies someone of a different color. Or two: He’s never seen someone different and is just amused or wowed. Regardless, in Korea, if you live somewhere in the countryside, expect stares and strange things to happen because you physically look and act different. 

One thing I definitely don’t like is that, there are some Koreans who won’t interact with you if you’re not from western countries. I have noticed that in Korea, usually older or conservative people, look down on other Asians. Especially Chinese or Southeast Asian peoples. They put themselves in a higher regard and make assumptions that sometimes people from there are primitive or rude. I know some of my Korean friends sometimes have these complaints, but I usually have to tell them that they shouldn’t categorize a whole group of people from the actions of few. That may be an issue here in Korea, you may encounter some people who are judgmental and very pro-Korean. This is personal but, I hate it when people say I look Korean, but in the context that it’s a compliment. I don’t mind if someone was confused and said I looked like a Korean, that’s fine. But I hate it when someone says it as if it was a compliment, such as when I dress nicely and wear makeup. It’s in a sense wrong, because it puts expectations of immigrants and exchange students to change the way they are just to be complimented and accepted; And I’d like to CLARIFY, NOT ALL KOREANS DO THIS. There are only a small group of folks who may not be exposed to other people and values enough that they would care to respect it. I love my Korean friends, but if they have a question pertaining different ethnicities or cultures, or if they say something judgmental, I’ll just educate them about the issue. 

I have also noticed that here in Korea, because we’re in a place where it’s not as diverse, some people from Western countries may think it’s okay to say prejudice things and such. Usually when this happens, of course I’m going to call you out. They should know better and definitely shouldn’t push prejudiced ideals onto Korean students. Other than that, Korea has a big problem with ethnocentrism, and although it’s still globalizing there are still some people who are very ethnocentric. If you don’t know what Ethnocentrism is, it pretty much judging other cultures from one’s own culture. 

With each post, I hope to educate some aspects of being in a different place to students interested in studying abroad (and especially South Korea). Otherwise, I had my Grandma and Aunt come visit me! I mean, I guess a lot of my family members must have thought, “Hey now that we have a relative studying abroad in Korea, we can finally have a chance to go there and she’ll probably know the hot spots and stuff!” Well, I hate to break it but I don’t go to Seoul often to explore it considering that my campus is a dreaded 2-3 subway train ride away. Haha, but I really am appreciative that I had so many family members visit me over the course of this year. I have had my Brother and Sister in Law visit first, and a week after my Mom and Sister came; so we spent time together(all of us for a week) and then my Brother and Sister in Law left, leaving me with one week left with my Mom and Sister.At that point I didn’t really miss home when they came AND left, and I’m smiling as I write this haha. In the next semester around late March, my Aunt and Uncle came to visit, and they came in a group with 10 other people. It was a lot of pressure kind of being a tour guide, but I had much more experience with Seoul and it was fun for just three days. With my Aunt and Grandma, we spent about a week together. They came the day after my Birthday so that was really great(on another note my suite mates and good friends are all sweet people to have celebrated my birthday with me). My Aunt had booked us to go to Busan, and so we went there for a half of the trip and It was my third time there except longer. Afterwards we went to Seoul, and the area we stayed in was really nice. This is something I tell all of the people coming to Korea for travel. BOOK IN THE JONGNO AREA AND AVOID GANGNAM. I REPEAT AVOID GANGNAM. There’s really not much in Gangnam but shopping and it’s like 40 minutes away from the touristy and sightseeing stuff. 

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Wearing Hanbok at Changdeokgung. In Seoul, if you rent a Hanbok, you can get in all the palaces for free!

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At Dongbaek Park in Busan

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On the road to Haedong Yonggungsa in Busan!

Back at campus, the blossoms full bloomed and people went crazy. The little road next to campus had some street food vendors open up. The fields were full of students just having fun both day and night. Lots of students took photos and families around Sinchang came out to the fields during the week too. I regret not taking any photos with the blossoms, but it really was a beautiful sight to see!

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About two weeks after my Aunt and Grandma left, Me and Lumena went to Tokyo. Tokyo was so nice, but also similar to Seoul, because there’s lots of shopping. It just differs a little by some factors, such as it being so clean and the massive amount of tourists. I did so much compulsive shopping in Japan, and …. I don’t regret it. Because I know, back in the states you can’t find these type of stuff, and if you do, it’s usually expensive. Anyways, I had a great time in Tokyo and I really enjoyed the different vibe I got form there. 

not sure why they’re being uploaded in poor quality, but we got a view of all of Tokyo from the Tokyo Skytree!

Uobei, a popular and cheap sushi restaurant in Shibuya. Luckily, both times we went there was a either a short or no waiting line! I definitely recommend this place for sushi lovers on a budget!!!

We wanted to go to a special themed cafe while in Tokyo, so we went to a Moomin cafe! Tokyo has a lot of special themed cafe’s and restaurants, which one should try at least once when there!

I can’t believe there’s another month left, and by that time it will go back to how it started. Hot and humid. BUT I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT IT. So, this is the end of my post and I hoped some folks learned a little about places with not as much diversity when compared to Western places. 



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New semester, New me...just kidding

It’s finally spring semester at SCH~ actually it’s been spring semester, I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t been able to blog. But, finally, here I am! This semester, there are a bunch of new faces, and I really have made some new great friends! This semester is my last semester at SCH, and I definitely don’t want to think about it.. so I guess I’ll recap my winter break in Sinchang! I think this will be especially useful for students who want to stay two semesters, but have no idea what to do during the long breaks in between. 

SCH offers teacher assistant positions for an English camp for children during both the winter and summer breaks for global village students. With the TA position, you get free boarding over the whole break, and you do get paid at the end of the camp. Camp lasts three weeks, and you’ll basically be managing a whole classroom full of kids. I was chosen as a TA for the winter break term, and it was probably one of the best experiences ever!!! I had a lot of fun and I’ve gotten to know a group of kids, who are now dear to my heart! Our days would start from 9am to 5pm, everyday excluding weekends, of course. Everyday was full of energy and fun. I have to say, these kids had extremely impressive english skills, and my kids were only 11-13 years old! I think they were even better than some of my university friends at english! That goes to show how much work kids have to do in school here. 

Here are some pictures!! 

They made me a powerpoint for our last day of class! it was so touching!! 

some of my students artwork!! 

It was a really great experience, and I definitely recommend applying for the winter/summer camp if you’re able to in the future! It especially helps if you actually want to be a TESOL teacher! 

Another thing that’s been happening is..the cherry blossoms!! In Korean they’re called “벚꽃” (beotkkot) and they’re absolutely beautiful!! The spring vibe in Korea is so different compared to the spring vibe back home. I feel like spring is such a huge event in Korea, and I can see why. These blossom all over campus, and of course all over Korea, and it’s just such an amazing sight! Soon chun Hyang is actually the 3rd most beautiful campus with Cherry Blossoms in Korea, so I’m definitely blessed to be showered with all this beauty as I walk to class! 

 

That’s all I have for now. Midterms are coming up, and I’m also going to Japan in 7 days, so i’ll make sure to blog about it!!! 

 

 



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你好 from China!

The picture is so blurry, I apologize. The sign means Fortune.

Well, let me tell you! I am glad to be alive and well. 哈哈 (haha). It is like the second or third week in China, I think. Girl, I went through a lot the moment I landed at the Beijing airport. Also, ignore my grammar and punctuation. I’m like telling my experience as if I am talking to a friend. 哈哈 GRAB SOME POPCORN or something to nibble on. But first let me tell you that I wanted to live without mainstream social media (in China, they do not allow the mainstream social media, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc). A week into my NO MAINSTREAM SOCIAL MEDIA LIFE, I felt empty. This whole long distance stuff with my friends have to be the most difficult that I have ever had to endure. Like I’m awake and they have to go to sleep. Then I would stay up late just to talk to them but they have to go to class. I’M SO SAD.  I really do miss everyone. I NEED HUGS and VALIDATION. Anyways, I had no idea I was going to be stuck at the Beijing International Airport at all. It was COLD (not as cold as Minnesota though). By the way, if you plan on going to study in China, PLEASE DO NOT fly into China at all. Take an airline that will take you to Hong Kong from the states, if that makes sense. I also advise you to go explore Hong Kong too (although I did not, I will once the semester is over with Pang). I believe that 3 days would be enough. However, the hotels are VERY EXPENSIVE. I believe that will be the most costly thing, if you were to travel there. Back to me being stuck at the Beijing Airport, on Friday night February 8th. I did not bring too much sweaters because I knew that Hong Kong (I did not even get to explore) and Zhuhai were going to be HOT and HUMID, maybe rainy. Anyways, the security guards would not let me pass through to get into the TSA (where they check your luggage, I don’t know if this is what it’s called). They told me that since my Chinese visa was marked, I was not allowed to leave. Once I leave, I would have to reapply for a new visa. They also said that 3 days was not enough time to get a new visa. MY HEAD WENT BLANK. I just got off a 14 hour flight and you expect me to process everything that you just told me? My phone did not work. I could not call anyone. I tried using their phone booths but it did not work. Me and Pang were SUPPOSED to be in the same situation actually but the lady in her line let her go. The guy in my line did not let me go. I had to leave and go back into the waiting place, I called Jessica, the study abroad coordinator at United International College, and she helped me get a hotel, that allows foreigners. BUT GURL, the moment I left the airport and took THE CAB (which, obviously the cab driver spoke NO ENGLISH and he was also an older man) I was TERRIFIED. Obviously I thought of the WORST, which is probably a bad thing to do but I was in PANIC MODE. IT’S ALL ABOUT READING BODY LANGUAGE PEOPLE! I was struggling to communicate with the cab driver until I saw him point to his eyes and his hands were spreading apart and THAT MOMENT I knew he could not read the small label of the picture, which had the address of the hotel. So I increased the size of the picture and I was able to arrive at the hotel safely. The next morning, Saturday February 9th, I went back to the airport so I can fly into Guangzhou. I got there really early (my flight was not until 9pm), 10am (crazy, am I right?). I told myself if I got lost at the Beijing Airport, I would be able to ask for help without having to freak out because I did no have enough time. Like ENOUGH TIME. I basically lived at the airport for 24 hours, waiting for my roommate to come and get me. I saw the people sleeping there so I decided to sleep too. It was not too bad I tell you. Haha. I saw everyone else doing it, so I decided to do it too! I was at the airport reading some Webtoons online, writing in my journal and also watching some Korean dramas (surprisingly the wifi at the Guangzhou airport was good)! When my roommate finally came, Sunday night, it was like my prayers were answered. You know in those movies where light is shinning behind the person? Yea, that’s how I saw her. She took me to another hotel, I slept there for the night. Monday morning is when we were to head out to our school.
  • Interesting Fact – My roommate told me that some hotels DO NOT accept foreigners. You have to find specific hotels that accept foreigners. They only accept mainland Chinese. In mainland China, they have a specific ID and if you do not have that, you are not allowed to stay. I thought that was interesting.
Through this whole 3 days experience, I BECAME A NEW PERSON! I low-key wanted my mommy. Haha. I got to school Monday morning and I was happy! Now we in Zhuhai!  GORL, looking like a local is a struggle. Obviously people assumed I was Chinese until I’m like, “what?” I tried watching some Chinese dramas and learned a few words before I landed here but it all went into the trash in my brain the moment I needed it the most. ON TOP OF THAT, when I explain to them that I am Hmong and that we originated from China and that the government calls us Miao but in America we are Hmong, they still assume I am Chinese. So I just tell them, “it’s complicating.” ALSO, since my last name is Xiong (it means bear in Chinese), they still assume that I have some Chinese roots. But nope. Don’t get me wrong, I am minoring in Hmong studies and I LOVE IT A LOT. But phew, it has been the hardest thing to explain to people. You have bust out the history textbooks and go WAY BACK in time. MY ROOMMATE IS A MIAO FROM HUNAN. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I never thought that I would actually meet a Miao. Let alone have one as a roommate. By the way, she is a strong working student! She tells me I am a good student but she studies so hard. So proud of her! She’s such a nice person! Campus Life – UIC is such a beautiful campus actually. Bigger than Concordia but smaller than the U of M. Flowers are so beautiful. I don’t even like going to the library but their library is AMAZING. SO HIGH TECH. There is this small station that allows you to disinfect the book! WOW! IT WAS SO COOL. I was so amazed! The library also have the small peaceful area where you can go relax and just meditate! YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO STRUGGLE TO FIND A SPOT TO SIT AT THE LIBRARY! If I remember correctly the librarian said that there is about 2,000 (or even more) study desks for student, I thought to myself, “wow, that is enough for everyone back at CSP.” They even have movies that you can check out too. Wow. Food is pretty cheap here. The canteens are good! It is like 20RMB, which is like $2-$5USD. THEY GIVE US SUCH A BIG PORTION FOR A CHEAP PRICE. As a broke college student, I LOVE IT. The food is good! Take a picture of the food that you want. It’ll be easier to ask for that specific order since the food servers don’t speak English.

Cantonese Food.

WECHAT or ALIPAY is EVERYWHERE. EVERYWHERE! YOU NEED ONE. YOU NEED! LIFE WILL BE MORE CONVENIENT. But you have to have a Chinese bank card and a Chinese number in order to use WeChat. Even the elders at the supermarket will bust out their QR code for you to scan so that you can pay them. I find that to be so shocking. My parents don’t even know how to use a cellphone. Sometimes it’s inconvenient too because I have cash and I really want to pay in cash but nope, they’re like, “WeChat or Alipay Only.”
  • When you come here, it’s best to get a Chinese number. It’s much more convenient. On top of that, if you don’t have a Chinese number, there is no way for you to use WeChat or Alipay. So if you have AT&T, make sure that you unlock it before you come here. You don’t have to go through all the hassle. Also, I got a Chinese phone for 400RMB, which is like $70-$80USD. Also, it’s best if you buy the SIM card at the university. I believe that it is 5GB for 5 months? But you’ll have to instantly turn off your data when you’re done using for the things that you need to use it for.
It was so hot one day and I mean hot. I think it was like 70F and that is hot to me but I saw that some of the students were wearing sweaters or thick clothes. I came back to the dorm to ask my roommate, “Why are you guys wearing sweaters? Aren’t you hot?” She explained to me that they might have cold gas inside of them. If they went to the elders, who owns those herbal shops, they would check your pulse or your chi and determine what kind of herbs you need in order to make yourself feel better again. I thought that was fascinating. I’ve only seen that in dramas. Haha OVERALL –  The moment that you come here you have to be THANKFUL for all the things that you have back in the states and I’m also talking about even the small stuff that is there. Like I really miss my bed mattress so much. Here you’d have to buy your own mattress, the frame of the bed is hardwood. This is like something that is not that important but I do miss naturally watching my Korean dramas with a stable WiFi. This is so weird but I do miss the laundry dryer too. They do have a dryer here but it is not that strong enough to dry the clothes. It’ll eventually start making your clothes smell. It’s natural for them to hang up their clothes once it’s done being washed. I also miss the food. Like even the basic chicken with the pepper sauce. OH MAN. I thought about it one night and my stomach was growling. I’m pretty sure they have the Korean Shin Ramen here but I have not been able to find it.   My laptop broke too. I’m trying to use their laptops at the school but I honestly don’t know how to use an apple desktop. Haha.      

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Hello, from China!
Hey Everyone!! I had been here in China for 3 weeks so far and everything has been great. I have some issues with my visa entering into Zhuhai because they said I only have one entry to China, so I have to make another visa. Other than that everything is great so far! I first landed in Hong Kong and stay there for two days and have the best time there. Hong Kong has always been one of my favorite city and I have always wanted to go there. I met up with a high school friend, who went to Augsburg University in MN  and is now studying abroad  in Hong Kong.  We didn’t get to visit all of the attraction or places in Hong Kong because there wasn’t enough time, but we did get to see some of them, which was really cool and amazing. Seeing the Yik Cheong Building (aka the Monster Building/ Transformer Building) was totally amazing. We went to see the Victoria Park, which was really nice. They have all of the activities and everything you could do in the park, such as skating, basketball, swimming, volleyball, badminton, etc. I thought it was really cool how all of their parks and public spaces have wifi. Its easy to connect to wifi anywhere you go! We visited Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong Island, and more! We literally went and walked around the city and I just got to say that seeing the Victoria Harbor view at night was totally amazing and you cannot miss it when you come to Hong Kong. The MTR (The Mass Transit Railway) was really fast, easy, and convenient  to use and also very cheap. It was interesting  to know that millions of people take the MTR everyday to go to work.

Yik Cheong Building (aka The Monster Building/ Transformer Building)

Avenue of Stars

Victoria Harbour view!!

One of my favorite photo from Victoria Park.

In Zhuhai: I met a lot of the exchange students and we all are became good friends. It was interesting to know that many of them are from the U.S. I was expecting more from different places of the world (lol). Anyway, we all met with each other roommates and got to know each other. On the first day, me along with the other exchange students  went  to visit the Putuo Temple in Zhuhai. It is one of the famous temple in Zhuhai and it’s so huge! We also went to see the Fisher Girl in Zhuhai. It was amazing to know how the statue still remains up and strong after the typhoon from last year. After, that we went to a mall in the city, where we do our own shopping. The Lantern Festival was celebrated this month at UIC as to ended the Chinese new year and I got to see the Chinese lion dance for the first time!! This month, we haven’t visit any other places  yet because many other  exchange students are also applying for a new visa with multiple entries, so we will do more traveling after we get our visa. The language was a struggling for me because I do not speak Chinese and many  people assume me to be Chinese or just local people. Many people here, in China do not speak English, so it’s always better to go out with a Chinese friend.

The Fisher Girl

Putuo Temple UIC: The school is like one hour from the city, but I think it’s really nice because the view is amazing and the air is great here, in Zhuhai. The campus was really nice and pretty big compare to Concordia. The UIC library was huge. They have up to four floors and you will never struggle finding a spot to sit. It was cool to know that they have a book sanitizer in the library to  clean germs or just to make the books clean. The dorms were really nice and my room got such a nice view , where I got to see the beautiful mountains. The University did not provide a mattress in dorm so I have to purchase one by my own.  But, is okay this  just  makes me feel more appreciate of the things that I have back in the states. The courses here, are really different compare to the courses we have at Concordia. They have some courses, which I thought was pretty interesting because we don’t have at Concordia. Some of the classes are up to 3 hours which is pretty long, but they do have breaks in between and you only met once in a week, which I thought was really nice because I got Friday and the weekend off. Thursdays are my busiest day because I have four classes to attend and they are literally right after one another and I  have 10 minutes to get to the next class. I actually like it because it keeps me busy. Overall, my first month has been great so far! UIC Campus Library  

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Student Teaching Overseas?

Yes, you CAN student teach overseas!!

When I was going through my orientation as a transfer student about 4-5 years ago, I shared what I wanted to do after I graduated, which was to teach overseas. I was informed that I could student teach overseas as long as the schools were accredited and approved by Concordia. The time finally came! I was going to student teach and put every effort into getting myself to student teach overseas. It was not easy! I really wanted to student teach in countries Concordia does not have partnership with. There were only a few countries, but I was set on Thailand. I decided to email schools all over Asia, asking if I could student teach. The process was long, and, again, not easy! Thankful for Dr. Conrad and Kate’s patience and help that I get to be in Thailand as a student teacher. I am currently in Bangkok, Thailand student teaching at International Community School. A week of student teaching has been nothing but confusion. It is normal to be confused when you’re doing something for the first time. It is all a learning process! You get better and understand more as you keep your chin up and persevere ASKING questions.

Inside the school

 
  I have been in Thailand for only a week and four days and I am already homesick, however, that doesn’t stop me from fulfilling student teaching to the fullest and exploring. It helps that I have friends from Minnesota living in Thailand doing ministry work with the local Thai. They have shown me great hospitality as they take me out getting a SIM card, showing me how to take public transportation, and taking me around all day long to keep me awake so I can adapt to the time. Being around friends from home helps me to not miss home too much!

Overview of Bangkok from a friend’s apartment on the 17th floor.

Mo Chit, Bangkok, Thailand. The place you go for the weekend night market. This area is always so busy with traffic. Even the bus stop is busy!

Behind a coffee shop church I attended. This is the true picture of what it’s like in the city of Bangkok.

  Living alone is definitely stretching me in many areas of my life. I’ve gone overseas before to study abroad, but I lived with 11 other girls in Korea. There were also programs to assist me in anything I needed help with. However, I am living the independent, adult life right now figuring everything out on my own and making sure I’m being fed. I have to make sure I am communicating both here in Thailand and back at home in regards to my daily life AND student teaching. I have learned to be bold and travel on my own if I have to. I live quite far from downtown Bangkok, which is where a few friends live and I go there during the weekends. Last night I had to learn how to take the BTS, or skytrain, home and catch a taxi telling them where I need to go in Thai. The little things like this teaches you a thousand life lessons!! Although challenges are frustrating and uncomfortable, I love them. They help you grow and mold different perspectives on life.

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