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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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Time to say Goodbye

I was up packing until 3 am last night. It feels weird. Not sure how to respond to anything that’s really going on around me at this point. I don’t feel like I am leaving Cape town. Although, my room that I have been living in for the last 5 months is completely packed up, it still feels like I am just going on another spring break and I will return back to Cape town in just a couple weeks. This has become my home, so it’s weird to think I won’t be back here probably for a very long time. I’ve made this place my own. I feel like my family should be coming to visit me, not me returning to go back “home.” It’s a very hard feeling to really pin point a word for how to fully describe it. 

You really do grow up when abroad and not necessarily talking about maturity wise, but just learning everyday life things like learning at which grocery store contains your favorite cereal and which other one doesn’t or that the other grocery store has the best lunch meat, but then a completely different one will have the best banana bread. Or where you could go with your friends for quick, cheap drinks and great food and atmosphere. And to learn what is considered good deals and what is not. It’s just little things like that that one would only pick up on and learn at home which is what Cape town has become for me. 

When studying abroad there are so many little things that you learn or pick up over time. And each new mannerism subconsciously learnt or self thought all just builds up to a point where you now become completely comfortable in your new environment and it no longer feels like you are an outsider, yet instead someone who is now considered to be a local. It is a lovely feeling once you reach that level of confidence and comfortableness in your host country. Someone might ask what have I learnt while being abroad and there is SO much I could answer to that. I’ve learnt the obvious things like how to manage money, and to be responsible when it comes to class and school work. But I’ve also learnt some non obvious things too like to just laugh off condescending comments directed about Americans because I’ve come to terms that I can’t please every single person in the world and if someone isn’t going to give me the time of day just because I have the title of “American” then they aren’t worth my time anyhow. I’ve also learned that personal space is pretty non existent here and that I must be patient when out and about in public places. You learn so much while being abroad it’s hard to even describe in words, but I guess one way to put it is you literally learn how to live a different life. And that different life slowly merges to become your life and then soon when returning back home that will be the foreign country. The best advice that I would like to give to other students who want to study abroad is be ready for the best semester of your life. I’m not saying that the semester will be easy 100% of the time because more then likely it will be a challenge, but a good challenge. A challenge that I wish everyone could get the opportunity to experience. When abroad and on your own you really learn things about yourself that you never knew. It is an opportunity for growth and and most importantly to experience the world from a completely different view. Which in reality, it is quite impeccable.

My semester has come to an end and now it is time for me to start my long trek back home. My other home I should say. Time to finish packing and head to the airport. So, it is now time to say goodbye to this beautiful place; one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Cape town, South Africa, Thank you for providing such an exquisite place to study abroad to.

 Cape Town



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Echando a perder se aprende
Hey folks – This is Lisa Gibson coming to you from San José, capital city of the central American country Costa Rica. I’ve been studying her for about a month, and I have about two more to go. The first few days were quite tiring – as I went from theoretically speaking Spanish, to actually using it 24/7. Right now, my favorite part of the day is my 4-hour conversation class. It is with an extremely patient professor who helps me and the five other girls of the class as we stumble along with verb tenses and vocabulary. After class is my best moments for conversation, because I’m at the “top of my game”. I came to Costa Rica with a high school level of Spanish, and I quickly realized that I knew a lot less than I thought I did. In practice, I realized that I had gaping holes in my vocabulary knowledge, and my grammatical skills were more like guesses. This is not to scare you from heading to a country to learn the language! As the title of this post could be translated, “We learn through mistakes.” However, with the prevalence of English around the world, you may be wondering why it’s worth it to go through the sometimes embarrassing struggle of a new means of communication. (For example, the other day I accidently said “I eat cats” instead of “I feed cats”… a bit awkward!) In this post, I’d like to share a bit more about my experience with language learning and why I feel it’s important for you to learn a new language as well. Learning a language entails a lot more than memorizing verb forms; you also have to learn when to use certain phrases and their connotations. It’s really tough to meet new people without that subconscious knowledge… I miss using English at those times because I’m still learning to understand and project subtleties through the elements of language not found in a dictionary: vocab choice, tone of voice, stress on words, slang, etc. However, I am gaining a newfound appreciation for language learners everywhere, especially those millions of people learning English. My intended career is to teach English to language learners, and as I stated, now I can truly empathize with my hypothetical students. I also have a reason to teach English: communicating through a common language brings about relationships. Through the many positive and negative outcomes of globalization, one result has been the rise of English as a worldwide lingua franca. The beauty of this is that more people than ever are now able to communicate on a common ground. However, English is still not the heart language of every person on Earth, meaning that their most comfortable mode of expression may be Tagalog, Mandarin, Bulgarian, etc. To build a relationship, we ought to stretch ourselves to learn to communicate on someone else’s level. Nothing is forcing us to learn another language, except the urgency to live in peace with our neighbors. When we challenge ourselves to do so, we reject self-serving complacency… and the world benefits. So start picking up Somali or Urdu or Azerbaijani today! As for me, I’ve going to keep on trying to get the knack of Spanish so I can stop eating cats. Chau y buena suerte!

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Mi Casa Es Usted Casa
Three weeks abroad and I already feel at home! BUT it definitely did not start off that way… Upon my arrival in Costa Rica I felt many different emotions: reluctant, scared, anxious, humbled, at peace, hungry, in awe, thankful, safe, not so safe, excited, thrilled, adventurous, proud, encouraged, and full of life.  I’ll admit it- there were moments were I found myself questioning why I even chose to study here in the first place, as well as moments were I was so excited for the adventure to begin. The first week was…. hmm- bittersweet. Lessons I have learned (the hard way) within the first month: 1. To accept discomfort not as a challenge, but as an opportunity.                          Every morning I have the joy of waking up to 5 different alarm clocks. Why? Well, the walls are really thin, my window doesn’t completely shut, and plus I am a pretty light sleeper. The alarm clocks in order of experience: 5:20 The neighbor’s rooster 6:00 The neighbor’s alarm clock 6:25(ish) The birds pecking at my window and their little tripod nails clanking on the tin roof 6:40 My housemate’s alarm clock 7:00 My alarm clock (but by then I am usually already dressed for the day). No worries, I have learned to laugh at this. Also.. I have been waking up at 6:50 morning to shower. I have been suffering through cold showers for 10 days. I have been taking 2 minutes shower to avoid frostbite. Today, I found out the hot water gets turned on at 7AM. Curse. 2. A life lesson we’ve all heard before: “It’s not where you are, but who you’re with.” I don’t think I ever fully understood or appreciated this cliche phrase until now. Costa Rica is great and is full of beautiful places, but even when I am standing in front of the blue waters of the Pacific or peering across San Jose admiring the mountains in the distance, I still feel a sense of sorrow and miss the people back home. Every rare opportunity that approaches me here I take, but I don’t doubt that the experiences would be ten times greater if the people who are dear to be were able to experience it with me. As time progresses I am able to fully enjoy each experience and so sharing the stories with friends and family is more rewarding. 3. Learning a new language is TOUGH. That is all. 4. Culture Shock is a real thing. They say many study abroad students go through a pattern of cultural shock in which they experience 4 different stages: free, flight, fight, fit. Traveling to Costa Rica and the first night here I felt very “free” and excited for this experience. Day three I was already feeling the “flight” stage. I felt uncomfortable and really disliked the uncertainty of what I was doing. After the first week, these feelings fluctuated. By the second week, I only felt homesick after skyping friends or family and I was genuinely beginning to feel happy to be here. Its now already been over three weeks and I don’t want to leave. I have some basic Spanish now, more friends, a sense of independence, freedom, and an establish routine. Before I left home I made some goals for my time in Costa Rica:
  • Learn how to surf.

    Learn to surf: CHECK

  • Pick a coffee bean. (In progress)
  • Learn Spanish (In progress)
  • Be open to all things adventurous (Continuous goal… but have already repelled down waterfalls, ziplined, done yoga on a cliff, mini-bungee jumped..)
My reasoning for studying abroad was purely for adventure. However, I have found myself loving this experience for so many other reasons as well. This first month has been life changing and I am excited to see what the next 2 months bring. For now, PURA VIDA!!!!! – Nette Schulze

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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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Echando a perder se aprende
Hey folks – This is Lisa Gibson coming to you from San José, capital city of the central American country Costa Rica. I’ve been studying her for about a month, and I have about two more to go. The first few days were quite tiring – as I went from theoretically speaking Spanish, to actually using it 24/7. Right now, my favorite part of the day is my 4-hour conversation class. It is with an extremely patient professor who helps me and the five other girls of the class as we stumble along with verb tenses and vocabulary. After class is my best moments for conversation, because I’m at the “top of my game”. I came to Costa Rica with a high school level of Spanish, and I quickly realized that I knew a lot less than I thought I did. In practice, I realized that I had gaping holes in my vocabulary knowledge, and my grammatical skills were more like guesses. This is not to scare you from heading to a country to learn the language! As the title of this post could be translated, “We learn through mistakes.” However, with the prevalence of English around the world, you may be wondering why it’s worth it to go through the sometimes embarrassing struggle of a new means of communication. (For example, the other day I accidently said “I eat cats” instead of “I feed cats”… a bit awkward!) In this post, I’d like to share a bit more about my experience with language learning and why I feel it’s important for you to learn a new language as well. Learning a language entails a lot more than memorizing verb forms; you also have to learn when to use certain phrases and their connotations. It’s really tough to meet new people without that subconscious knowledge… I miss using English at those times because I’m still learning to understand and project subtleties through the elements of language not found in a dictionary: vocab choice, tone of voice, stress on words, slang, etc. However, I am gaining a newfound appreciation for language learners everywhere, especially those millions of people learning English. My intended career is to teach English to language learners, and as I stated, now I can truly empathize with my hypothetical students. I also have a reason to teach English: communicating through a common language brings about relationships. Through the many positive and negative outcomes of globalization, one result has been the rise of English as a worldwide lingua franca. The beauty of this is that more people than ever are now able to communicate on a common ground. However, English is still not the heart language of every person on Earth, meaning that their most comfortable mode of expression may be Tagalog, Mandarin, Bulgarian, etc. To build a relationship, we ought to stretch ourselves to learn to communicate on someone else’s level. Nothing is forcing us to learn another language, except the urgency to live in peace with our neighbors. When we challenge ourselves to do so, we reject self-serving complacency… and the world benefits. So start picking up Somali or Urdu or Azerbaijani today! As for me, I’ve going to keep on trying to get the knack of Spanish so I can stop eating cats. Chau y buena suerte!

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Mi Casa Es Usted Casa
Three weeks abroad and I already feel at home! BUT it definitely did not start off that way… Upon my arrival in Costa Rica I felt many different emotions: reluctant, scared, anxious, humbled, at peace, hungry, in awe, thankful, safe, not so safe, excited, thrilled, adventurous, proud, encouraged, and full of life.  I’ll admit it- there were moments were I found myself questioning why I even chose to study here in the first place, as well as moments were I was so excited for the adventure to begin. The first week was…. hmm- bittersweet. Lessons I have learned (the hard way) within the first month: 1. To accept discomfort not as a challenge, but as an opportunity.                          Every morning I have the joy of waking up to 5 different alarm clocks. Why? Well, the walls are really thin, my window doesn’t completely shut, and plus I am a pretty light sleeper. The alarm clocks in order of experience: 5:20 The neighbor’s rooster 6:00 The neighbor’s alarm clock 6:25(ish) The birds pecking at my window and their little tripod nails clanking on the tin roof 6:40 My housemate’s alarm clock 7:00 My alarm clock (but by then I am usually already dressed for the day). No worries, I have learned to laugh at this. Also.. I have been waking up at 6:50 morning to shower. I have been suffering through cold showers for 10 days. I have been taking 2 minutes shower to avoid frostbite. Today, I found out the hot water gets turned on at 7AM. Curse. 2. A life lesson we’ve all heard before: “It’s not where you are, but who you’re with.” I don’t think I ever fully understood or appreciated this cliche phrase until now. Costa Rica is great and is full of beautiful places, but even when I am standing in front of the blue waters of the Pacific or peering across San Jose admiring the mountains in the distance, I still feel a sense of sorrow and miss the people back home. Every rare opportunity that approaches me here I take, but I don’t doubt that the experiences would be ten times greater if the people who are dear to be were able to experience it with me. As time progresses I am able to fully enjoy each experience and so sharing the stories with friends and family is more rewarding. 3. Learning a new language is TOUGH. That is all. 4. Culture Shock is a real thing. They say many study abroad students go through a pattern of cultural shock in which they experience 4 different stages: free, flight, fight, fit. Traveling to Costa Rica and the first night here I felt very “free” and excited for this experience. Day three I was already feeling the “flight” stage. I felt uncomfortable and really disliked the uncertainty of what I was doing. After the first week, these feelings fluctuated. By the second week, I only felt homesick after skyping friends or family and I was genuinely beginning to feel happy to be here. Its now already been over three weeks and I don’t want to leave. I have some basic Spanish now, more friends, a sense of independence, freedom, and an establish routine. Before I left home I made some goals for my time in Costa Rica:
  • Learn how to surf.

    Learn to surf: CHECK

  • Pick a coffee bean. (In progress)
  • Learn Spanish (In progress)
  • Be open to all things adventurous (Continuous goal… but have already repelled down waterfalls, ziplined, done yoga on a cliff, mini-bungee jumped..)
My reasoning for studying abroad was purely for adventure. However, I have found myself loving this experience for so many other reasons as well. This first month has been life changing and I am excited to see what the next 2 months bring. For now, PURA VIDA!!!!! – Nette Schulze

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