Seoul, a Place with Interesting Smells. – A Study Abroad Blog by Ryan Guy

So I started out the day waking up at about 2AM out of a dead sleep for no reason. I was able to fall back asleep until about 8:00 then get up and start the day. I decided that today I was going to stay in and get some much needed work done today. So I slouched around answering many emails from people asking if I had made it ok as well as answering and making a few phone calls to get a few things changed around as my cell phone wasn’t working over here.

IMG_0076In the Mid afternoon I decided that I needed to get some food again so I got ready and headed over to McDonalds as I wasn’t sure what my stomach was going to do. After going out to get something to eat I continued to work on some paperwork and connected with 1 other person who was already here that is studying at Konkuk University as well. I finally laid down as I thought I will just lay here and watch some TV. HA! Next thing I knew it was 2:50AM. Oops. I had fallen asleep at 7:30. So I got up and started the day by doing some reading up on South Korea and finding out a few interesting cultural things about it and it’s upcoming holidays. Finally I got ready and decided that I needed to continue working on Homework to keep my self caught up.

At about Noon after making a quick phone call. I started to venture out for the day. One Thing that hits me right after I leave my apartment is this smell that I couldn’t handle. I keep wondering what it is and why it is only around when I leave the apartment but then as I got closer to the Subway Yesterday I noticed that it was around again. (HMM! Need to figure out what that smell is. Will mention later in the blog.) I boarded Train Line 7 to Konkuk University Station. There is one interesting thing about the Subway here. It literally LURCHES you when you take off because they take off so fast. I arrived at Konkuk University Station where I was meeting one of the other students who will be studying here. We walked around Konkuk and stopped to take a few pictures as well as introduce ourselves.

After saying goodbye to Alfonso who I met to tour Konkuk I boarded the train back to my place. I got back go Gangnam-gu Office Station and decided that I was hungry. I found a little place that had Chicken that smelled amazing. So I popped in there and checked it out for a Late Lunch/Early Dinner. There was someone in there who actually spoke English (HALLELUJAH!) I order chicken pieces as she told me that they are like American Chicken Tenders so I thought it would be worth the try.
IMG_0074
After getting my lunch I proceeded back to my place to eat my meal. I have to say the first few bits were really spicy but I am learning that I love alot of Spice so it kind of just didn’t bother me.

I was planning then to lay down for a few hours as I was getting up at Midnight for an all day Conference via video so I laid down and ended up falling asleep at 4:30 (YIKES!). I then woke up at 3:20AM again.  I got up and jumped on my Conference. After my conference I was able to lay down and sleep again for a little bit. I also was entertained by YTN Weather. I got showered and dressed for the day. Did my own style worship with a wonderful repeat message from my home pastor on Grace.
After that I lounged around during the afternoon and ended up watching Korean version of Spongebob (All that was interesting on TV for a Sunday Afternoon).
Later on Sunday Evening I had asked my host to take me out to someplace where I could get some Authentic Korean Food. Curt said I know just the place to take you. So we met at 7:30PM and got a taxi and headed to Gangnam Main Area.
IMG_0086
After getting out of the taxi in the Main Street and heading over Curt told me that we were going for Korean Barbecue. I was throughly excited. We sat down at a Table and they came and brought us many add ons for the dishes were going to enjoy. We then were brought a plate of meat, Grill Plater and Table fire. We tossed the meat on the Grill and got some rice to eat with the Meat.
After dinner Curt and I caught a taxi back to my place where I asked What is that smell that I am smelling every time that I leave the apartment and he said “It’s the Sewer System”. I thanked him for the information and for dinner and we parted ways as he only lives 2 blocks from where I am staying. Came back to my Apartment and checked out a few things, told Connor I would see him soon, and fell asleep.
As I finish this blog it is now Monday at 8:30 in the morning and it is Moving Day for me to Konkuk University. Will update Soon

Is this Still America? – A Study Abroad Blog by Ryan Guy

Well I have safely arrived here in Seoul, South Korea. Have to say that the Goodbye was the hardest as it really hit home that I am leaving and won’t see my family in person for 4 months. WOW!! I boarded my plane in Chicago. Sent the last few goodbye texts to people. We took off right on time from Chicago O’Hare. I didn’t sleep much on the Flight but was kept well entertained for 14 hours with the Entertainment devices on the back of our seats.

IMG_0052We had many different meals on the Plane. First was lunch which was a Rice Dish with Eggs mixed in as well as some Chicken along with some Vegetables. Also had a fruit cup as well as I was hungry having not eaten all morning. After that they turned the Lights it was Movie time for me. Watched Ricky and the Flash, Before we Go, Steve Jobs, Mike & Molly, How I met your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Hotel Transylvania 2, & The Intern. All of which were great movies.

The 2nd meal was a Penne Pasta with Vegetables mixed in which was very good.

We finally got word that we were landing in Korea very soon.

After Landing in Korea we proceeded to Immigration and I found out that I had no Cell Reception which was a MAJOR problem.. Which was the longest line I have ever seen. 1 hour later I was finally through Immigration and had my passport stamped and was ready to find my luggage and enter Korea. After I found my luggage it was time to get on the Bus. I boarded the Express bus to COEX or what is also know as City Airport Terminal where I was to meet my host of the AirBNB that I was staying at.

When I finally arrived at COEX it was almost an hour and 15 minutes later. Then Curt, who’s Apartment I was staying at, took me to where I was staying. Which was a wonderful apartment. I do have to say that I am spoiled especially with Wisconsin and Korea winters but this apartment has heated floors which was amazing for warming up clothes while showering and getting ready for the day.

IMG_0059I was able to notify Family when I arrived safely at my AirBNB that I was safe in Seoul. After talking with them for a few minutes I was able to fall right asleep. I was up at around 1AM the first night with 2 conference calls but after that was soon back to sleep until 7AM when more conference calls had to happen. We are now in Thursday here in Seoul and I contacted my ISA contact here to let him know that I didn’t have any Cell Phone Service. We decided that we needed to get me a Korean Phone number so I could connect with him as if I wasn’t connected to Wifi I wouldn’t be able to contact anyone. So I had to venture to the Subway and learn how to use that without anyone so that was an adventure in and of itself. I got a transit card and boarded the subway bound for Wangsamni which is were I was meeting Sungjo.
After meeting with SungJo he took me to get a Korean Cell phone with the Korean Provider olleh which also came with Free Access to the wifi even on the public transit system. I made my way back to Gangnam-gu Office Station which is close to where my apartment is and decided that I was hungry. I found a Local McDonalds for Lunch.

After getting my lunch I went back to my apartment and ate my lunch since there really wants any place to eat there. After eating my lunch I laid down for just a short nap which ended up being me falling asleep about 6:30 PM. So that was the beginning of the 1st full day in Seoul. YIKES! It was an adventure but I do have to say that I have to get used to the smell.

Chao from Rome! – A Student Blog Series by Lexi Westphal

Where does one even begin to talk about the first three weeks here in Rome?! With all the pretty sightseeing and gelato, school is hard to take! The weeks are flying by as it is already the start of week 4!

Westphal 3

I arrived here on January 12th at approximately 9:15 a.m. The flight was quite long, but not as bad as I had thought! Adjusting to the time change was a bit difficult. The first couple of days we were napping all the time and then after the 3rd day, I told myself that I couldn’t nap anymore so that I could sleep through the night! It took me probably 7 full days to get over the jet lag, but I sooner or later got used to it!

Rome is a beautiful city, from the gorgeous churches, to the Coliseum and the Trevi Fountain; there is so much to see! I visited the Vatican and toured St. Peter’s Basilica and the museum and the Sistine Chapel of course (which is a must see, it’s breathtaking). The first week we saw the Coliseum and the Trevi Fountain, which was amazing! It definitely will not be my last time visiting the Trevi Fountain. This last weekend we visited Florence, which was the best city ever. The people were so friendly, the food was amazing, and I experienced the best pizza that I have ever had in my entire life (Gusto Pizza). Not to mention I had the best gelato that I have had yet! It was a scoop of the almond milk flavor and pink grapefruit, which was like talking a grapefruit directly off the tree and taking a bite (omg yum)! It definitely will not be my last time visiting Florence either; I loved every second of it. This coming weekend we are going to Dublin, Ireland and we couldn’t be more excited! We also booked our flights to Santorini, Greece for spring break! Can you say sun, beaches, and beautiful!

I live in an apartment that is only a 6-minute walk from our school. I live with five other girls and we are so blessed because our apartment is probably the closest one to campus! This definitely comes in handy when running late in the morning to class! JCU has two campuses, but I am blessed to have all my classes at the Tiber campus, which is the closest campus to my apartment. My roommates are not as fortunate; as one of their classes is a 40 minute walk! Classes are going well, I am taking an International Business class, web design, Italian 101, and Immigration to the United States, which is very interesting. I only have classes on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, so I got very blessed to be able to travel every weekend for 4 full days!

westphal 2

With such a cultural difference to the US, getting adjusted to the road system, using public transportation, and the food is the hardest part. We were barely here for a week and we were all craving cheeseburgers and french fries. For me, I am missing Goldfish and Cheez-It’s. We realized that we missed everything that we take for granted when we are at home. We know that as soon as we return, we will be hitting up Buffalo Wild Wings, Qdoba, and Taco Bell. Spoiled Americans, I know!

Eating pasta, pasta, and bread at every meal is hard. I am trying to buy chicken and veggies everyday to balance my diet. Free tap water is non-existent here. At each meal, they offer you water (natural or sparkling) and it comes in a glass bottle, for 3 Euros. We walk everywhere to burn off those carbs that we constantly eat!

Aside from the food, transportation, school, and sightseeing, I am adjusting well. Time is flying and I will be on the flight back to Wisconsin before I know it! I thank God all the time for this experience that I get to have before graduating college. I wouldn’t be here without the support of my friends, family, and CUW. Ciao!

 

Welcome to Spain – A Study Abroad Blog by Rebekah Eddy

Wow.

There really is no good way to describe the chaos, confusion, and challenge that comes from orientation week in a study abroad program. Each day is packed with excursions, visits to museums, and the never ending walking. For a culture that is well known for its “tranquil” attitude, the week was exhausting.

The first two days were in Madrid. For some odd reason, the directors thought it was a good idea to have meetings on the first night. Half of the students slept through it with their eyes open. Others didn’t even bother to keep their eyes open. Our itinerary of tours started with El Palacio Real. After that cam the Prado Museum, famous for its paintings from El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya.

After Madrid came San Lorenzo del Escorial, a monastery/palace that holds the second largest basilica (the first being St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome), one of the oldest libraries in the world, and a crypt that holds the deceased Spanish Royal Family. It was the general agreement of the group that El Escorial was the most astonishing place we had seen. That is, it was until we reached Toledo. Toledo was the capital of Spain for many years until it was moved to Madrid in the 1500s. The city is built on a small mountain with the Tagus River encircling the base. Every building is a similar shade of orange/yellow/brown due to the building materials. The city skyline is breathtaking. The next day we left for Cordoba, location of the Great Mosque Aljama. Before we knew it, we were driving the last stretch of road to Sevilla.

Meeting a host family is terrifying. Will they like me? Will I know any Spanish? Will I remember to breathe? These were the questions voiced by all of the students who chose a homestay as their living conditions for the upcoming semester. For those who chose a residencia, this arrival at Sevilla was exciting, but not terrifying. Two hours before we reached the city limits, the students started panicking. Was it too late to switch to a residencia?

It is important to remember that host families are nervous too.

The first conversations are slow, especially if the knowledge of the language is the equivalent to the knowledge of a baby. After the necessary introductions, the two kisses on the cheek, and the arrival of luggage, the awkward silence ensues. Finding the vocabulary needed to maintain conversations is the foremost thought in one’s mind. Somehow dinner passes without too many failures in human speech. We were finally free to collapse from the mental exertions.

Despite having survived the first night with our future families, we were still bombarded with orientation events. In the following days, we toured the API office, Sevilla’s Cathedral, some of the bike trails in the city, Plaza del Espana, Alcazar Palace, and still found time for international student orientation at the University. Our cultural liaisons even made an impromptu event to tour Metropol Parasol and see a Flamenco show. Thus ended orientation week.

Now please excuse me while I pretend to know where my classes are.