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The End Is Near
The idea of studying abroad is different and hard to explain. You make life-long friends in a matter of three or four months. You connect with people on a new level, you’re experiencing the same things for the first time, and allowing yourself to open up to people that would be considered acquaintances in the real world. However, this experience changes everything. You live together, you eat together, you travel together, and so much more. How are you expected to say bye to these people? Not even knowing when you’ll get to see them again. It is quite sad really, people start counting down the days when we still have weeks before we leave. People started getting upset that it was our last trip together when we went to Barcelona with our program. This was in early November, and we leave on December 15th. Of course it’s understandable to see and understand where they are coming from, it’s an emotional experience. To put it in perspective, if we did want to meet up when we got back, it would take a minimum of six months to plan, and even then there’s no way would be able to coordinate everyone to meet up on the same date. You can hope that staying in touch over the phone will keep you close, but that always gets harder once schedules start clashing, time zones get in the way, and the obvious fact that you just can’t see each other whenever you please. Having said that, there is nothing I would change about this semester. I wouldn’t change the location, nor the people that I’ve met, for anything. It’s incredible to think that if we all didn’t choose this program, during this semester, in this year, we probably would have never even come close to meeting each other, and now we consider each other best friends. From day one there was an instant connection, something that went unsaid, but let us know we would get along. The addition of people to the group never changed the dynamic of the group, it only brought us closer together. It is a harsh reality realizing that our time together is coming to an end. The friendships that have been made don’t feel like friendships anymore, it feels like family. It’s experiences like these that make me appreciate life. For the longest time I thought the reason I fell in love with Spain was for the country, but as it gets closer to the end, I realize it’s the people on this journey that has taken hold of my heart. They are the type of people you’d travel across the world to see and do anything to make time for. I don’t know what is in-store for our futures, but what I do know is that I will cherish every moment I have with these people. I can’t thank this group enough for everything they’ve done for me. They’ve made me laugh to the point of tears, they’ve expanded my mind from different experiences and cultures that they’ve been raised by, and they made me feel a level of comfort that usually takes years to attain. I would do anything for this family, and I can only hope that other people studying abroad experience something similar.

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Florence, Italy: Not much time left..
Where did the time go? It feels like just yesterday that I got on that flight to come to Italy and now I have less than 3 weeks to go! I can’t believe it! This past month has been incredible with more travels and continuing to get to know the culture. With the cafés that I regularly go to I’m starting to be able to have short conversations in Italian. Saying things like how are you and being able to order. With one of my roommates this weekend, we also went to our first church service in one of the many churches in Florence, Santa Croce. This was a really cool experience to both see the church but also because the entire service was in Italian. We didn’t know what they were saying but it was still something that was fun to experience. It was also at the church that is just down from our apartment (not even a 5 min walk). The church was beautiful inside. One big cultural difference that I knew coming in was that Italy doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I didn’t think it would be that hard but it was harder than I thought to be away from family. On Thanksgiving, instead of getting time off, I still had to go to class and it was just like any other day. It was fine, but I just wasn’t used to it. I believe last time I wrote was right after fall break and since then I have been to Prague, I did a Tuscany Wine Tour and went to Ireland for a weekend. Highlights: Prague:
  • John Lennon Wall
  • Charles Bridge
  • Old Town Square
  • Wenceslas Square
  • Jewish Quarter

John Lennon Wall

Tuscany Wine Tour:
  • View and tour of the first Winery
  • San Gimignano
  • Meal at the 2nd Winery

San Gimignano

Ireland:
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Galway
  • Dublin
  • Traditional Irish Meal

Cliffs of Moher

Dublin

Traveling around Europe has been incredible. It’s so cool to be able to see so many different cultures in such a short period of time. Traveling is also something that I love to do and it never gets old. You always continue to learn so much about the cultures and also about yourself. I’m so happy that I ended up in Florence because there are so many different cultures within Europe. This coming weekend I will be going to Morocco with my roommates which will be our last weekend trip. We are all so excited! I have gotten really close with my roommates over the semester and it’s going to be hard to leave them. Although I don’t want this entire experience to end and just want to continue traveling, I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to come home. It’s going to be very bittersweet. There are no words or pictures that can describe this experience but it has been so great and has gone by so fast. I can’t believe it’s almost over. I know there is still going to be lots of learning from now until after I get home. I love getting to know the locals and to see what they have to say. My favorite gelato place is right under our apartment and my favorite café is Café Rosano which is near one of my classes. I’m excited to see what this last part of this experience will consist of. Until next time.. Ciao, Kacie Lorenson  

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The adventures of South Korea
October was pretty hectic. Midterms, dances, performances, and so many places to go to. I would say this was the most eventful month. I honestly felt like I could not get a breather. So this month we had to prepare what was called global day where people who were from different parts of the world would do a booth explaining about their country/state or do something like a game. So my days consisted on preparing for midterms, getting ready for our dance performance, and global day. I was honestly very surprised on how intense preparing for midterms were. Many Korean students we basically living at the library and  rarely got any sleep and I noticed I was picking up on some of their studying skills. I noticed that the teachers do not really tell you what will be on the test so you have to overall study every single thing you have learned. Now because of midterms, dance practice was really hard because many people were absent for practice because of it. So we were very worried we were not gonna make it for global day but we ended up doing a great job and everything went according to plan. One thing I will say is that I am super happy that I joined this dance group because it’s so diverse , and we all work together to understand each, even when there is a language barrier, we still work together to get through it. I have also been trying to use Korean a lot more comfortably, but it’s still nerve wrecking because I forgot certain phrases or the specific words but basically every Korean person that I have met has really helped me understand and helped me use the correct grammar and they were also very patient, because they really want you to learn and they want to help you understand. For Global day I worked at the Hawaii booth and we did a photo booth and surprisingly it was very popular, we played Hawaiian music, had flowers and props for people to use for the photos. But unfortunately we were not able to go to any of the other booths. Everyday has been a different experience still and I am happy that I am constantly able to meet new people and get new experience and go to different places. I honestly thought by now I would be bored and there would be almost nothing for me to do. These last couple of months is gonna be very hard but very wonderful at the same time.

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City by City, Place by Place
One of the beautiful aspects of being in Europe is how easy it is to travel. In the past month or so I have been very fortunate in that I have been able to travel to three different places: Portugal, France, and Belgium. It is incredible how different each place is and how memorizing different aspects of each country is. For example, I was absolutely shocked when I saw the Eiffel tower. It was just incredibly surreal, and something I had only seen through movies or pictures. Belgium on the other hand, had a completely different feel. Firstly, it was a lot colder and it was something I had not encountered yet. However, good friends and the two beautiful cities of Brussels and Gent can fix any weather. Brussels had a vibe I had never been apart of before, it was both relaxed and vibrant at the same time. Gent was another place in Belgium that was beautiful, I thought it was a more aesthetically pleasing city than Brussels. The architecture of each building encompassed by the river flowing between was just beautiful. It was a smaller and quieter city but I very much enjoyed it. When we went it was so beautiful even though it was freezing, so we went into this pub to get a hot chocolate. The pub in itself was a library, it was incredible. Visiting places of course is fantastic, however, the company can make all the difference. One of the best parts of travelling to so many places is not only seeing a new country but seeing a new country with different people. It is not everyday you get to travel places with your best friends. I think travelling with people is how many people realize how close or distant they are from each other. You see different sides of each other that you’ve never seen before since you’re experiencing something completely different together. Travelling is one of those things that never gets old. Seeing a new country and experiencing it’s culture is something that will forever stay close to my heart. It gives you perspective on how different people live and what their expectations are. That is something I believe more people need to do in their lives as many people are so closed off to what the rest of the world sees. There are so many different places to see and so many people to travel with. I plan to keep travelling for the rest of the time that I’m in Europe.  

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The Joys of Overseas Life
I made a quick transition to my next placement because the first placement did not have many interactions with students. I spent most of my time sitting in a classroom with my cooperating teacher for a few hours or walking from room to room observing and assisting secondary classrooms. All of this was possible with communicating to Dr. Conrad and making sure all participating parties are aware of changes. Student teaching overseas has its own pros and cons, its own difficulties that shapes you as a professional educator. Every morning before school starts, the Thai national anthem song is played and we end with prayer. I love that we start our day as an entire school with prayer! Today, being a Friday, the elementary students had chapel and it brought a familiar atmosphere to me. Chapel reminded me so much of VBS at church with my little kids I volunteered my time for the whole week. Elementary definitely has a different atmosphere environment and I’m realizing more and more that I am definitely fit for primary than secondary. This is what it looks like to student teach. It helps you get a feel of where you fit best as an educator. It is all about trial and error, and learning from those experiences. It is actually quite interesting student teaching overseas because you get to compare and contrast US schools and international schools. They are very different culturally and a few other things in the school, but the system of schooling is almost as identical as western schools. One great thing about student teaching overseas for myself right now is that my school is actually opening a second campus in Udon Thani, and they hope to open by 2020. Udon Thani is in the North Eastern part of Thailand, close to the board of Laos, just right below Vientiane. As they are in the process of finding students and building the school, ICS is also seeking individuals to work for the second campus. This is quite exciting for me because I am interested in being a part of this second campus. The location and reasons for a second campus in Udon Thani aligns with my career and life passions. I have been told that ICS does not accept first year teachers, however, the only first year teachers they would accept are student teachers at ICS. I hope and pray for an opportunity to come back to Thailand for this reason of being a part of this school community.  
  This past week was October (Fall) break for Thailand, so I decided to take a week vacation trip up north to Chiang Mai. I was greeted by familiar faces and stayed with someone who I call “Phee” (พี่). This word is commonly used in the Thai culture, as well as “Nong” (น้อง) . “Phee” is referred to someone older than you and “Nong” is to call on someone who is younger. If you add them together, “Phee, Nong” it means brothers and sisters (of all ages). It doesn’t matter if you know the person well or not, every one uses these two words. I have known my Phee for six years. I met her when I went to Thailand for a mission’s trip and have always kept in contact with her.

The house I stayed in Chaing Mai. We were 30 minutes away from the city, in a province called Mae Rim.

  Bangkok is always so busy with its constant traffic, so I was able to enjoy a quiet and slow paced life. During my trip, everything I did was all planned the night before or on the spot. I really had no plan and it felt good to truly be spontaneous. I had great rest and spent good quality time with my Phee’s family in Chiang Mai. I had the privilege to eat Hmong-Thai food. I boast about the chicken I ate because it is a specific kind of chicken that only Hmong people raise and it is one our parents and grandparents back in the States crave to eat. I also had the opportunity to go to the mountains in Chiang Mai and check out a few coffee shops I found on Instagram. I tell you, instagram is your best friend when traveling. It helps you find aesthetic locations, which, I guess, is the new trend in today’s society. One of the highlights from my trip in Chiang Mai was that my aunt and grandma from the states were visiting as well and they were staying in Chiang Mai for two days. On their last night in Thailand, I went to go see them with the help of my Phee’s husband driving me late at night. It was such a great feeling to see family and be around them even if it was for only a few hours.

Went to eat in a hut by the river.

Grandma and aunt

A beautiful coffee shop next to the mountain in Hang Dong province. I could spend all day there if I could.

I am loving Thailand more than I did before. The longer I stay here, the more I want to stay in Thailand forever. I am continuously telling my family that I do not want to go back. Friends in Thailand are always asking “What’s next?” I honestly don’t know, but my hope is to come back to teach in Thailand. I would love to work in international schools to pay off my student loan debt and eventually work in local schools because that is where my passion lies. I hope to someday be able to accomplish this dream!

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South Korea Adventures
The first month here in South Korea has been one of the best experiences i have ever had in my life. There is always something new to do every day, and by thee time i notice a month has already gone by. One thing that I did notice that was different when I was attending concordia is that the amount of people and how much more social I have been here, usually at concordia University I just goto class then when my classes are done I go home but here as soon as classes are done I right away go and hang out with all my friends or my suitemates. Another thing that I noticed is that as the days go by I was always doing something every day. I am always on the go, going for lunch/dinner, going different places like Cheonan or taking a 2.3hour subway ride to Seoul(By the way there is a train that is only 1.3hrs long but my group and i missed it lol). I went to this place called Suwon and that is where the Hwaseong Fortress is. The fortress was absolutely breathtaking, even though it was hard basically hiking it but the views were amazing you were able to learn some of the history behind it and that is one place you really have to go to if you come here. We were also able to bring one of the bells and was able to go to a museum they had more background of the location and even had a video that showed how each weapon worked which made it really interesting. This past month or school had a festival called the “Welcome back to school”. Now this festival lasted for three days and we had a few K-pop artists perform at her school. We had Epik High, IKon, and Hyolyn. The performances were amazing, and it had so many food trucks that I really thought I was going to get that after these three days Hehe! On the third day after one of the performances they had a dance party where you just go in front of the stage and they played music for almost 2 hours and you’re just dancing with a bunch of people and it was really exciting moment for me. Also this was my first time being away from home and actually traveling ever and my experience has been great, I haven’t been feeling super homesick because everyone around me is super friendly and the Conda do help keep your mind off of home. This is also my first time actually sharing a room with someone who is around my age group who is not a family member, she has been the sweetest and the most fun roommate I ever had. Even though we aren’t able to talk as much because sometimes our schedules do not clash together. At night we usually do find time to talk before bed and try to see what each other has done that day. Also the people who live here on global village which is the building that has all the foreigners and the Korean roommates for us, they have a been absolutely so welcoming, everybody knows each other, and we all hang out at some point. They also introduce you to their roommates so you’re able to meet more people as time goes by and you’re starting to feel more like a family. The classes have been so much fun, my Korean speaking and writing teacher is the sweetest woman I have ever met, she makes a class very exciting and it doesn’t make me tired like some classes do. I’m also taking into claustral dance class and that class has been so much fun, I love to dance so been able to do different dancesis so much fun. Like the second week of this class we learned to K-pop songs, The following week we learned a traditional Korean dance, and this past week we learn salsa, and next week we’re supposed to be lonely African. Some of the variety of dances that relearning makes me excited for the class every The following week we learned a traditional Korean dance, and this past week we learned salsa, and next week we’re supposed to be learning African. Some of the variety of dances that relearning makes me excited for the class every week. This has been the most active I’ve ever been as long as I can remember, this past month has been incredible and I can’t believe how much stuff I’ve been doing, this trip has really made me a lot more social and has brought in my views on life. I can’t wait to see what will come in the future!                     

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Weekend Travels and Other Things
Where did February go?! What a busy month – though I have a feeling every month will follow the same pattern until I am back home in Minnesota. My weeks were full of class and exploring Barcelona, while my weekends were full of adventuring to different cities and countries. It is tiring, and I got the fever flu somewhere in the midst of it all, but I am happy to be living life and taking in the world! Barcelona Business:
  • National Art Museum of Catalonia: My class took a field trip to the MNAC on Montjuic and had access to the roof where we could take in the view. Afterward, I wandered the exhibit with a classmate. Montjuic is where most of the 1992 olympic stadiums are located, and from the steps of the MNAC you can see the famous four pillars that reflect the Catalan flag, the magic fountain, and the old bull ring that was converted into a mall.                                                                                                                
  • Bowling: Some friends and I found a bowling alley close to Camp Nou and had a fun night!
  • Castelleres: This is a tradition that Catalans are known for, and I was very interested in seeing it in action. Castelleres, known as human towers, teams are made of nearly 100 people with towers reaching 10 levels at times. I was able to join in a practice, and even had someone stand on my shoulders. It was a very neat experience.
  • Parc Güell: Gaudí is a celebrity around these parts. Besides Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell is another notable project of his that is a must see. Sadly, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time here as I had to catch a bus, but it was also under construction, so I will have to be back later on to take it all in. However, the fairy tale style buildings were amazing, and the mosaic bench was magnificent. 
  • Sant Pau Hospital: Sharing a block with the University I attend, this Hospital is a beautiful facility. It was constructed to help patients heal not only by providing medicine and care, but also a welcoming environment that would boost their spirits. The walls and ceiling are colorful and the grounds are wonderful to stroll.
  • Park de la Cuitadella: Green space is hard to find in Barcelona, but this park provides a nice escape. There are trees, a green house, a fountain, a pond, and grass!
  • Valentine’s Day: I love holidays and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Sadly, it is not as big of a deal to Spaniards. That didn’t stop me from getting together with some friends, baking a cake and watching RomComs.
  • Palau de la Música: This was another site my class visited. It had exquisite architecture with very detailed ceilings. I may try to make it to a concert here sometime.
  • Claire’s Parents: My fast friend Claire had her parents come visit her, so we showed them around our favorite sites and climbed Mount Tibidabo again to enjoy the sun and take in the city spread out before us. We ate well and even found my favorite Tapas place with the best Patatas Bravas so far!
  • Protests: The King of Spain came to inaugurate the congress causing a divide between Barcelona residents as some welcomed the King and others protested him. It was all peaceful, but rather loud, as a common way to protest in Spain is by banging on pots and pans. It was also a bit inconvenient as the metro closed down so the police could keep it contained. It is rather fascinating listening to my teacher’s views on the subject, and it runs a lot deeper than one might think.
  Andorra  This was my first travel getaway and I left the country! Some friends and I took a bus to Andorra – a small country in between France and Spain, and we stayed in our first AirBnB, which was delightful. Our host gave us great recommendations on places to eat and advice on how to reach the mountain to ski. It was a rather spontaneous trip, but surprisingly it all worked out! I rented skis and enjoyed an afternoon on the slopes of the Pyrenees – it was amazing! Then I warmed up at Caldea Spa and finally scarfed down a delicious pizza. Hiking was also in our itinerary, and we left with high spirits and a fondness for this small wintery country. Morocco This was a packed weekend full of traveling, eating traditional moroccan food such as couscous, exploring the “Blue City” of Chefchaouen, descending into Hercules Caves, riding a camel, and more! Morocco was full of life and color, the weather was beautiful, and the people were friendly. I highly recommend a trip to Tangier in the future. Seville This was a weekend trip with my program, Academic Study Abroad (ASA). We took a train and stayed in a hotel. We watch a Flamenco show, toured the Cathedral of Sevilla (where Christopher Columbus’ tomb is), enjoyed the sunshine, beheld the wonders of the Real Alcazar de Sevilla (so beautiful Game of Thrones used it as a filming location for Dorne), ate gelato x3, roamed around the city square, and ate REALLY good food. Seville is a beauty <3   Overall, February was a great month. I took midterms this week, and it’s weird to think of how fast my time abroad is going. I am proud of myself for all I have done so far, but I have a goal to immerse myself among Spanish people a bit more in the coming weeks. Luckily, I think that is possible as I will be taking a weekend trip to Valencia with my friend Claire to stay with her old exchange student’s family soon. In the meantime, I continue to talk Spanish with my host mom and take in all I can from my surroundings. Until next time! <3 If you would like to see a visual representation of my travels, check out my youtube video about January in Barcelona: https://youtu.be/z2Nw6Xxpf6g If you would like more details about my Morocco trip, check out my other blog: https://allthingsedenblog.wordpress.com

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A Different Perspective

My life has completely adjusted to the Korean life here. Language is still a barrier, but it has become another problem in life that I have to deal with. The only way to adjust life here is to put yourself out there and make an effort to meet people who are willing to help you. You have to use your resources!! Surely, I have been taking advantage of the resources around me. For example, I recently signed up to be apart of the tutoring program the Global office offered for foreign students. The tutor helps us with our Korean language learning and as well as helping us adjust our lives in Korea. I have met my tutor three times only, but it has been quite helpful. My tutor has become more of a friend than just my tutor.

Not only has my tutor been a helping hand, but I have found a Korean best friend. I never expected to find a best friend here, but at least just a friend. It’s funny how we met! My suitemates and I were heading to Daejeon and took a subway station early in the morning. At that same time my Korean suitemate, Mi Jeong saw a friend who she had not seen for a year because this friend went to study in Mexico for one year. After that day I met this girl in the subway,  we began to see each other every day and messaged each other about every single hour asking what we’re doing. Her name is Surin Cho. She has been a great help while I am in Korea. She makes Korea less lonely. Part of it is because her English is almost perfect, so I don’t have a huge language barrier with her. But, mostly because we’re so much alike. She has become like a sister to me! I am so thankful that I unexpectedly found a best friend in Korea.

However, I believe all the Koreans I have met here are very kind. Even the restaurant owners are kind to us foreigners. I remember going to the mall to shop with my friends. We went without a Korean, so we did not know that we had to have a membership card in order to receive discounts. The clerk was kind enough to scan a barcode, which allowed us to receive the discount. But, I cannot say that all Koreans are this kind. I just so happen to have encountered very kind Koreans. This could be because I am living in the country side and they do not see foreigners often. 

Overall, when I think about it, my life in Korea is not as bad as I think it is. Just because there is a language and cultural barrier, I should not let that get in the way of enjoying my time in Korea. I should make the best out of it and enjoy every moment that I have because I am only here for one semester. The thought of leaving in two months is beginning to make me sad, so after midterms week I am making the best out of every day that I have with the people here.

 

I am quite late with my bloggings, but below I have a video of when I went to Seoul a few weeks ago with a few of my suitemates, friends, and one of my suitemates mom and brother visiting from Seattle. We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jongmyo Royal Shrine (a place where the king goes to pray to his ancestors). I also have a few photos of the spring Cherry Blossoms that bloom for about a week and disappear after that. Soonchunhyang University is known to be the prettiest place with cherry blossom trees. 

 



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What Is Life?


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November in South Korea
Live Octopus

Live Octopus

Halong Bay, VIetnam

Halong Bay, VIetnam

Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam

Street art in Vietnam

Street art in Vietnam

November has been my busiest month so far. In the beginning of the month I decided to visit Vietnam with a friend of mine for a week and explore Hanoi. Vietnam was probably the most chaotic place I have ever been to. We knew that this trip was going to crazy as soon as we exited the airport. All we saw was a huge sea of traffic that went on for miles. About 90% of the traffic was people riding on scooters. While in Vietnam we tried a bunch of different types of street food from locals. In addition to trying local food we also got a chance to try some of the local beer which was pretty good. Some of the best food places that we found were in the smallest alleyways.

The beer in Vietnam is very different than the beer in Korea. The beer in Korea tends to more like a Pilsner and beer from Hanoi is more like a Lager. One of the coolest things that we did was kayaking in the ocean in an area called Halong Bay. This area was filled with miles and miles of mountains. Many of these mountains had hidden caves and tunnels running through them. A day or two after our visit to Halong we decided to rent scooters and really explore Hanoi. During our scooter adventure we found some really good places to eat on the outskirts of town.

This past weekend I visited Seoul and I ate live octopus for the first time. When eating live octopus you have to have it cut into tiny pieces so that it doesn’t kill you as you eat it. Eating the octopus was kind of hard to get used to. Not only do you have to fight to get it off the plate, you also have to fight it once it’s in your mouth. Once it’s in your mouth you have to pull it off of your tongue and cheek while attempting to chew it for what feels like 5 min. I am still undecided about how I feel about the whole experience but I feel like I would probably try it again.



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The End Is Near
The idea of studying abroad is different and hard to explain. You make life-long friends in a matter of three or four months. You connect with people on a new level, you’re experiencing the same things for the first time, and allowing yourself to open up to people that would be considered acquaintances in the real world. However, this experience changes everything. You live together, you eat together, you travel together, and so much more. How are you expected to say bye to these people? Not even knowing when you’ll get to see them again. It is quite sad really, people start counting down the days when we still have weeks before we leave. People started getting upset that it was our last trip together when we went to Barcelona with our program. This was in early November, and we leave on December 15th. Of course it’s understandable to see and understand where they are coming from, it’s an emotional experience. To put it in perspective, if we did want to meet up when we got back, it would take a minimum of six months to plan, and even then there’s no way would be able to coordinate everyone to meet up on the same date. You can hope that staying in touch over the phone will keep you close, but that always gets harder once schedules start clashing, time zones get in the way, and the obvious fact that you just can’t see each other whenever you please. Having said that, there is nothing I would change about this semester. I wouldn’t change the location, nor the people that I’ve met, for anything. It’s incredible to think that if we all didn’t choose this program, during this semester, in this year, we probably would have never even come close to meeting each other, and now we consider each other best friends. From day one there was an instant connection, something that went unsaid, but let us know we would get along. The addition of people to the group never changed the dynamic of the group, it only brought us closer together. It is a harsh reality realizing that our time together is coming to an end. The friendships that have been made don’t feel like friendships anymore, it feels like family. It’s experiences like these that make me appreciate life. For the longest time I thought the reason I fell in love with Spain was for the country, but as it gets closer to the end, I realize it’s the people on this journey that has taken hold of my heart. They are the type of people you’d travel across the world to see and do anything to make time for. I don’t know what is in-store for our futures, but what I do know is that I will cherish every moment I have with these people. I can’t thank this group enough for everything they’ve done for me. They’ve made me laugh to the point of tears, they’ve expanded my mind from different experiences and cultures that they’ve been raised by, and they made me feel a level of comfort that usually takes years to attain. I would do anything for this family, and I can only hope that other people studying abroad experience something similar.

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Florence, Italy: Not much time left..
Where did the time go? It feels like just yesterday that I got on that flight to come to Italy and now I have less than 3 weeks to go! I can’t believe it! This past month has been incredible with more travels and continuing to get to know the culture. With the cafés that I regularly go to I’m starting to be able to have short conversations in Italian. Saying things like how are you and being able to order. With one of my roommates this weekend, we also went to our first church service in one of the many churches in Florence, Santa Croce. This was a really cool experience to both see the church but also because the entire service was in Italian. We didn’t know what they were saying but it was still something that was fun to experience. It was also at the church that is just down from our apartment (not even a 5 min walk). The church was beautiful inside. One big cultural difference that I knew coming in was that Italy doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I didn’t think it would be that hard but it was harder than I thought to be away from family. On Thanksgiving, instead of getting time off, I still had to go to class and it was just like any other day. It was fine, but I just wasn’t used to it. I believe last time I wrote was right after fall break and since then I have been to Prague, I did a Tuscany Wine Tour and went to Ireland for a weekend. Highlights: Prague:
  • John Lennon Wall
  • Charles Bridge
  • Old Town Square
  • Wenceslas Square
  • Jewish Quarter

John Lennon Wall

Tuscany Wine Tour:
  • View and tour of the first Winery
  • San Gimignano
  • Meal at the 2nd Winery

San Gimignano

Ireland:
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Galway
  • Dublin
  • Traditional Irish Meal

Cliffs of Moher

Dublin

Traveling around Europe has been incredible. It’s so cool to be able to see so many different cultures in such a short period of time. Traveling is also something that I love to do and it never gets old. You always continue to learn so much about the cultures and also about yourself. I’m so happy that I ended up in Florence because there are so many different cultures within Europe. This coming weekend I will be going to Morocco with my roommates which will be our last weekend trip. We are all so excited! I have gotten really close with my roommates over the semester and it’s going to be hard to leave them. Although I don’t want this entire experience to end and just want to continue traveling, I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to come home. It’s going to be very bittersweet. There are no words or pictures that can describe this experience but it has been so great and has gone by so fast. I can’t believe it’s almost over. I know there is still going to be lots of learning from now until after I get home. I love getting to know the locals and to see what they have to say. My favorite gelato place is right under our apartment and my favorite café is Café Rosano which is near one of my classes. I’m excited to see what this last part of this experience will consist of. Until next time.. Ciao, Kacie Lorenson  

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City by City, Place by Place
One of the beautiful aspects of being in Europe is how easy it is to travel. In the past month or so I have been very fortunate in that I have been able to travel to three different places: Portugal, France, and Belgium. It is incredible how different each place is and how memorizing different aspects of each country is. For example, I was absolutely shocked when I saw the Eiffel tower. It was just incredibly surreal, and something I had only seen through movies or pictures. Belgium on the other hand, had a completely different feel. Firstly, it was a lot colder and it was something I had not encountered yet. However, good friends and the two beautiful cities of Brussels and Gent can fix any weather. Brussels had a vibe I had never been apart of before, it was both relaxed and vibrant at the same time. Gent was another place in Belgium that was beautiful, I thought it was a more aesthetically pleasing city than Brussels. The architecture of each building encompassed by the river flowing between was just beautiful. It was a smaller and quieter city but I very much enjoyed it. When we went it was so beautiful even though it was freezing, so we went into this pub to get a hot chocolate. The pub in itself was a library, it was incredible. Visiting places of course is fantastic, however, the company can make all the difference. One of the best parts of travelling to so many places is not only seeing a new country but seeing a new country with different people. It is not everyday you get to travel places with your best friends. I think travelling with people is how many people realize how close or distant they are from each other. You see different sides of each other that you’ve never seen before since you’re experiencing something completely different together. Travelling is one of those things that never gets old. Seeing a new country and experiencing it’s culture is something that will forever stay close to my heart. It gives you perspective on how different people live and what their expectations are. That is something I believe more people need to do in their lives as many people are so closed off to what the rest of the world sees. There are so many different places to see and so many people to travel with. I plan to keep travelling for the rest of the time that I’m in Europe.  

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The Joys of Overseas Life
I made a quick transition to my next placement because the first placement did not have many interactions with students. I spent most of my time sitting in a classroom with my cooperating teacher for a few hours or walking from room to room observing and assisting secondary classrooms. All of this was possible with communicating to Dr. Conrad and making sure all participating parties are aware of changes. Student teaching overseas has its own pros and cons, its own difficulties that shapes you as a professional educator. Every morning before school starts, the Thai national anthem song is played and we end with prayer. I love that we start our day as an entire school with prayer! Today, being a Friday, the elementary students had chapel and it brought a familiar atmosphere to me. Chapel reminded me so much of VBS at church with my little kids I volunteered my time for the whole week. Elementary definitely has a different atmosphere environment and I’m realizing more and more that I am definitely fit for primary than secondary. This is what it looks like to student teach. It helps you get a feel of where you fit best as an educator. It is all about trial and error, and learning from those experiences. It is actually quite interesting student teaching overseas because you get to compare and contrast US schools and international schools. They are very different culturally and a few other things in the school, but the system of schooling is almost as identical as western schools. One great thing about student teaching overseas for myself right now is that my school is actually opening a second campus in Udon Thani, and they hope to open by 2020. Udon Thani is in the North Eastern part of Thailand, close to the board of Laos, just right below Vientiane. As they are in the process of finding students and building the school, ICS is also seeking individuals to work for the second campus. This is quite exciting for me because I am interested in being a part of this second campus. The location and reasons for a second campus in Udon Thani aligns with my career and life passions. I have been told that ICS does not accept first year teachers, however, the only first year teachers they would accept are student teachers at ICS. I hope and pray for an opportunity to come back to Thailand for this reason of being a part of this school community.  
  This past week was October (Fall) break for Thailand, so I decided to take a week vacation trip up north to Chiang Mai. I was greeted by familiar faces and stayed with someone who I call “Phee” (พี่). This word is commonly used in the Thai culture, as well as “Nong” (น้อง) . “Phee” is referred to someone older than you and “Nong” is to call on someone who is younger. If you add them together, “Phee, Nong” it means brothers and sisters (of all ages). It doesn’t matter if you know the person well or not, every one uses these two words. I have known my Phee for six years. I met her when I went to Thailand for a mission’s trip and have always kept in contact with her.

The house I stayed in Chaing Mai. We were 30 minutes away from the city, in a province called Mae Rim.

  Bangkok is always so busy with its constant traffic, so I was able to enjoy a quiet and slow paced life. During my trip, everything I did was all planned the night before or on the spot. I really had no plan and it felt good to truly be spontaneous. I had great rest and spent good quality time with my Phee’s family in Chiang Mai. I had the privilege to eat Hmong-Thai food. I boast about the chicken I ate because it is a specific kind of chicken that only Hmong people raise and it is one our parents and grandparents back in the States crave to eat. I also had the opportunity to go to the mountains in Chiang Mai and check out a few coffee shops I found on Instagram. I tell you, instagram is your best friend when traveling. It helps you find aesthetic locations, which, I guess, is the new trend in today’s society. One of the highlights from my trip in Chiang Mai was that my aunt and grandma from the states were visiting as well and they were staying in Chiang Mai for two days. On their last night in Thailand, I went to go see them with the help of my Phee’s husband driving me late at night. It was such a great feeling to see family and be around them even if it was for only a few hours.

Went to eat in a hut by the river.

Grandma and aunt

A beautiful coffee shop next to the mountain in Hang Dong province. I could spend all day there if I could.

I am loving Thailand more than I did before. The longer I stay here, the more I want to stay in Thailand forever. I am continuously telling my family that I do not want to go back. Friends in Thailand are always asking “What’s next?” I honestly don’t know, but my hope is to come back to teach in Thailand. I would love to work in international schools to pay off my student loan debt and eventually work in local schools because that is where my passion lies. I hope to someday be able to accomplish this dream!

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South Korea Adventures
The first month here in South Korea has been one of the best experiences i have ever had in my life. There is always something new to do every day, and by thee time i notice a month has already gone by. One thing that I did notice that was different when I was attending concordia is that the amount of people and how much more social I have been here, usually at concordia University I just goto class then when my classes are done I go home but here as soon as classes are done I right away go and hang out with all my friends or my suitemates. Another thing that I noticed is that as the days go by I was always doing something every day. I am always on the go, going for lunch/dinner, going different places like Cheonan or taking a 2.3hour subway ride to Seoul(By the way there is a train that is only 1.3hrs long but my group and i missed it lol). I went to this place called Suwon and that is where the Hwaseong Fortress is. The fortress was absolutely breathtaking, even though it was hard basically hiking it but the views were amazing you were able to learn some of the history behind it and that is one place you really have to go to if you come here. We were also able to bring one of the bells and was able to go to a museum they had more background of the location and even had a video that showed how each weapon worked which made it really interesting. This past month or school had a festival called the “Welcome back to school”. Now this festival lasted for three days and we had a few K-pop artists perform at her school. We had Epik High, IKon, and Hyolyn. The performances were amazing, and it had so many food trucks that I really thought I was going to get that after these three days Hehe! On the third day after one of the performances they had a dance party where you just go in front of the stage and they played music for almost 2 hours and you’re just dancing with a bunch of people and it was really exciting moment for me. Also this was my first time being away from home and actually traveling ever and my experience has been great, I haven’t been feeling super homesick because everyone around me is super friendly and the Conda do help keep your mind off of home. This is also my first time actually sharing a room with someone who is around my age group who is not a family member, she has been the sweetest and the most fun roommate I ever had. Even though we aren’t able to talk as much because sometimes our schedules do not clash together. At night we usually do find time to talk before bed and try to see what each other has done that day. Also the people who live here on global village which is the building that has all the foreigners and the Korean roommates for us, they have a been absolutely so welcoming, everybody knows each other, and we all hang out at some point. They also introduce you to their roommates so you’re able to meet more people as time goes by and you’re starting to feel more like a family. The classes have been so much fun, my Korean speaking and writing teacher is the sweetest woman I have ever met, she makes a class very exciting and it doesn’t make me tired like some classes do. I’m also taking into claustral dance class and that class has been so much fun, I love to dance so been able to do different dancesis so much fun. Like the second week of this class we learned to K-pop songs, The following week we learned a traditional Korean dance, and this past week we learn salsa, and next week we’re supposed to be lonely African. Some of the variety of dances that relearning makes me excited for the class every The following week we learned a traditional Korean dance, and this past week we learned salsa, and next week we’re supposed to be learning African. Some of the variety of dances that relearning makes me excited for the class every week. This has been the most active I’ve ever been as long as I can remember, this past month has been incredible and I can’t believe how much stuff I’ve been doing, this trip has really made me a lot more social and has brought in my views on life. I can’t wait to see what will come in the future!                     

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