See where the Global Engagement Fellows have studied abroad, and read their stories!
See where the Global Engagement Fellows have studied abroad, and read their stories!
I applied for this internship for a number of reasons, the foremost being professional development. I knew that I possessed relevant skills for the position and a background in the arts. Also, the chance to learn about Korean culture in such a direct and hand-on way was very appealing to me.
On an average day working at the DAC I would help generate promotional content on various media platforms for the DAC or specific events they hosted. I would also often aid in translation from Korean to English. My other duties included basic classroom management for some of the classes held on the campus. I also got to participate in these classes and learn how to play some traditional Korean instruments. One of my larger projects was helping to write an outreach and partnership letter to UNESCO and researching other music centers within their organization.
I was fortunate enough to be able to see and participate in a wide variety of performances. This gave me a very clear window into the Korean culture that people without this internship would not find as easily. Music has always been one of my deepest passions, and has deep meaning for me personally. So being able to hear and play the traditional music of Korea opened me up to them as a people more than many other things probably could. So, the jangu class was highly entertaining for me.
I absolutely loved being able to go to the concerts and plays. the work environment was very welcoming and my manager was eager to help the interns any way she could.
While I am definitely still getting settled into Meknes, I have had the chance to explore some with my class and on my own. Listing the places I can get to without getting lost gives a pretty good introduction to my time here.
Classes! The route from my apartment to the AALIM center and back is definitely the first one I learned. It crosses between the old, walled city, the medina, to the new city. The particular area I live in is called Hamria. There’s a large park in between I hope to explore at some point. The teachers are fabulous – they push us to learn but are friendly and encouraging while doing so. Hopefully I will be able to fully absorb all the Arabic being stuffed into my brain. Just a little ways up from the center through the winding streets of the medina is an excellent place to buy fruit. I got amazing peaches, plums, and apples there. Unfortunately it was closed for Eid, so I resorted to a giant bag of dates, which were nice and sweet.
The apartment I’m staying in is perfectly located about a two minutes’ walk from the only church in Meknes. How cool is that? The Protestant (Église Évangelique au Maroc) church meets in the Catholic church Notre Dame des Oliviers. The congregation is primarily made of immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, plus a couple of American students from two different Arabic programs, and the service is in French. Everyone has been so extremely welcoming there.
I am also only a few minutes’ walk from a bookstore, which makes me quite happy. I went once with my language partner and just browsed around. When I went back to pick a book to buy, it was closed for Eid, but I hope to go back soon so I can find a book to slowly stumble my way through.
Probably the most recognizable spot in Meknes is the Bab Mansour gate. Between the gate and the souq is a square, which was quite busy at night during Ramadan. There were booths set up where children would go, get dressed up in wedding attire, and get their pictures taken. Honestly that sounds much more appealing than sitting in Santa’s lap for Christmas pictures. One of the buildings off the square is the Dar Jamaii museum, a palatial home built by a vizier in the 1800s that showcases Moroccan and specifically Meknesi craftsmanship. There is a lot of carved and painted wood on the doors and ceilings, as well as tile and woven and embroidered fabrics.
Whenever I move to or travel to a new place, I tend to start collecting places I feel comfortable in. I look forward to seeing how my experience in Morocco continues to expand.
A characteristic Italian meal is later, longer, local, seasonal, and social. Before I left for Italy, I went to a sermon that talked about how meals are important to developing faith and blessing your neighbors, and that is something that really resonated with me on my trip.
Befriending tax collectors and prostitutes, Jesus sets an example for us by sitting down with people that were supposedly far from God. Sharing a meal with them is a very critical point in scripture and says so much about his character. Jesus, friend of sinners. When forming relationships with other people, eating together is a fairly common step that everyone looks to take. Inviting someone over for a meal with your family is a very precious invitation. I think that college students especially feel this way when sharing meals with other people. It feels weird to eat alone sometimes, and in college, it really means something when someone wants to meet with you for a meal or coffee. It means that they have gone out of their way to meet you and carve out some of their time to accommodate you. I think that anyone can agree that feeling of appreciation is unique.
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Matthew 11:19
In Italy, it is not uncommon for meals to last hours on end, letting people laugh and talk and savor both the food and each other’s company. One Friday night in Arezzo was spent getting late night crepes at Crepes di Lune, and walking through town at 23:00 or so, there were so many people out at dinner. The town felt alive. I felt warm inside, as I watched people eat with their families, or sip on some wine with their friends, or enjoy some live music with their significant other. As I ate my crepe alongside two of my new friends, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of spending precious time with loved ones and slowly eating my crepe.
I have found that I and a lot of my classmates eat much, much faster than Italians. Perhaps it is because we are absolutely famished all the time, but I think it is also something that we have become acclimated to. Most places in Italy do not serve anything “to-go”, and it is fairly hard to find a fast-food restaurant anywhere. Bars (coffeeshops) generally do not serve coffee in to-go cups, and there is only one Starbucks in all of Italy. Americans always seem to be in a hurry in comparison, and that even shows when we walk 10 times faster than the locals here. Sitting down and enjoying your food is something that I have fallen in love with here. Dinner has more than one course, and things are served very slowly sometimes, allowing you to focus on one course at a time, and chat with your friends and family in between courses.
Eating means so much more here than it does in the United States, and I hope that I will be able to retain some of the values that I have learned here when I return.
I’ve seen many beautiful things while I’ve been in Korea. I got the opportunity to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom and cover the city in pale pink petals and bring green back to the previously barren trees. I’ve seen conversations between friends break down into five separate languages and eventually devolve into laughter. I’ve seen Seoul lit up at night and people who perfect strangers not a few weeks ago forge deep friendships and let go of most of our inhibitions. Thanks to my internship at the Daegu Art Center, I’ve been able to watch a number of classical and contemporary performances from violin and piano sonatas to modern dance, along with several traditional Korean pieces.
But I have experienced all of this form a unique position of privilege that I didn’t really think about before coming here. South Korea is a culture in transition. their country has gone through incredibly rapid urbanization in the past few decades. This relative leap into modern industry has also pushed them to the forefront of fashion, cosmetics, and the beauty industry. However, their beauty standards are extremely westernized. A large percentage of the population gets “double eyelid” surgery, which basically makes their eyes fit into general white beauty standards. plastic surgery of all kinds is actually quite common and relatively inexpensive in South Korea.
In a bizarre and somewhat compelling turn of events, I found myself now held in a higher esteem of beauty. I had a lot of mixed feelings about this and didn’t quite know how to handle some situations. From complete strangers stopping me on the street to my boss saying she envied me, I was confronted with these awkward scenarios. This feels self-aggrandizing and narcissistic, which is why it was so uncomfortable to deal with. But it got me thinking about the beauty industry on a global scale and how it differs from country to country. I already had a some awareness of this topic, but being exposed to a completely new culture really deepened my understanding of how profoundly the ideas of beauty and success can affect a culture.
For these months I’ve been abroad I’ve been able to try a wide array of new food and explore a bit of the alcohol culture in Korea. I find it really interesting to find out how different cultures view drinking and see how it fits into the society. I found myself surprised at the very prevalent drinking culture here in Korea. Along with all of the amazing food I was able to try, soju and beer were available at practically every restaurant, but there is a wide and rich cuisine to explore outside of the party scene. (Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed)
My favorite Korean dish was probably jjimdak (see below) but it’s honestly really hard to pick. As far as desserts go, bingsu definitely takes the cake!
Studying abroad in general can be a somewhat stressful experience, but it can open your eyes and broaden your horizons in so many ways. And while all of that was very true for me, I am also someone who struggles with anxiety. So, living in such a fast-paced dense and bustling city with over two million people who are part of this extremely homogeneous society which was completely new to me was definitely a challenge. Nearly all of the buildings are made up of three of four separate businesses all stacked onto each other. everyone of them equipped with a flashing neon sign all fighting for attention.
After the first month however, everything started to click for me. I started branching out more and exploring as much as I could. I tried to eat at a new restaurant every day, and talk to as many people and take as many pictures as possible. Some days definitely needed to be rest days though.
This exchange program has been the longest I’ve been away from home by far. Although I’ve been out of ten country twice before, it’s never been for more than a month. So getting the chance to engrain myself in a culture for an extended stay is very new to me. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my home since I’ve been here. I’ve grown more independent and confident in my abilities. I now have friends from all over the world who I can keep in touch with by the touch of a button. So the seemingly endless list of things to do ended up being just enough. It’s been overwhelming in the best possible way, and I’ll be sad to leave, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience.
After being a month in Italy, I’ve tried a lot of different Italian food but definitely not everything, especially the squid ink pasta. I’ve come to the conclusion that Italians are really good at making a specific selection of food. Italians are amazing at making pasta, pizza, and dessert, but the rest of the selections are decent. I feel like that nearly all the restaurants I’ve been to in Italy, whether it was in Rome or Arezzo, all serve roughly the same selection of pasta and meats with a slight variation between restaurants. Most restaurants serve the same types of pasta such as tagliatelle, ravioli, gnocchi, and tortellini with mix and match of various sauces. I’ve also noticed that their diet mainly consists of carbohydrates through pasta and pizza. I wonder how Italians stay in such good shape with all the carbs in their diet. It might be due to the fact that Italians walk nearly everywhere while in America we drive our cars to a place that is 3 blocks away. They also keep their vegetables very plain with simple ingredients. At many places, the only vegetable options are either a mixed salad or grilled vegetables. In America, especially in Couch Cafe on campus, the vegetables are often drenched in a thick creamy sauce to make them taste better but takes away the vegetables’ nutritional values. We definitely can learn from the Italians on how to make more nutritional vegetables.
I’ve had some very good culinary experience such as trying gnocchi and carbonara for the first time. Before coming to Italy, I’ve never even heard of gnocchi or knew that pasta can be made from foods besides wheat flour. The first time I had gnocchi was at a restaurant in Pisa. The taste and texture was very different than regular pasta; it was softer and more chewy with a stronger starch taste. It definitely took several bites to adjust, but afterwards it has become one of my favorite pasta. The first time I tried carbonara, it was a restaurant called Tortello and it sadly didn’t go well. Not only did the restaurant run out of all types of pasta expect for penne, but also they really under-cooked the pasta to the point where the inside of the pasta still had a ring of white. Despite the pasta disappointment, the carbonara sauce was amazing. I could definitely taste the eggs in the sauce, and I was surprised that I actually liked it since I normally detest any egg-tasting foods. When I had the next opportunity to replace my first bad experience with carbonara, I immediately took it. That dish was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had. I know for a fact that I will never be able to emulate the same quality of carbonara I had in Italy back in the United States.
The only major culinary disappointment that I have had was when I was in Naples. Being located so close to the coast, I had high expectations for their seafood dish. On the second night, I ordered a seafood risotto which had calamari, mussels, clams, and shrimp. The risotto wasn’t fully cooked so that every time I took a bite of the pasta, it was really chewy and slightly hard in the middle. I expected the risotto to be a lot more softer and didn’t require so much effort to swallow it. Due to my bad luck, a lot of the seafood such as the mussels and the clams still had sand in it. There would be times where all I would taste would be gritty sand which I had to spit out in my napkin. I spent the rest of dinner trying to pick out pieces of risotto to eat while trying to avoid getting mouthfuls of sand. The seafood quality was just decent; they weren’t particularly fresh.
Overall, Italian cuisine is very complex with its many courses, but each dish is very simple. For the first course, it is the pasta with some type of sauce with an occasional meat in the sauce. The second dish is usually just the meat. If one wants a side, they must order it separately. In the United States, the side dishes normally come on the same plate as the main course. I think by keeping the food on separate dishes, it prevents people from overeating since all the food isn’t on one dish. One major difference that I noticed is the pizza. I’m so used to having take away pizza that is pre-sliced into eighths that I can eat with my hands. In Italy, I have not seen a single restaurant or cafe that serve sliced pizza. You have to buy the whole pizza and the pizza isn’t cut. I’ve noticed a lot of Italians who would eat the entire pizza using a fork and knife. The pizza, especially the bottom crust is very hard to cut through so sometimes I would cut half way through and then use my hands. I guess the Italians don’t see pizza as finger food. With Italian’s slower pace of life, I’ve noticed that dinner normally takes about nearly two hours long and the waiters are in no hurry of making customers who have finished their food to leave. Back at home, I’m so accustom to eating dinner at home in 30 minutes, so the pace of dinner was definitely a change that I had to get accustomed to.
When I return back to the States, I don’t know if I could go back eating store-bought pasta and frozen pizzas. There is no Italian restaurant in America that can compare to the quality of food in Italy. However, I’m definitely looking forward to my mom’s home-made Asian food and the large variety of food that America offers. Though I’m might wait several months before trying to open a box of hard, processed pasta or ordering Papa John’s pizza. Italy might have ruined Italian food for me…in a very good way.
Last night I ordered lemonade at a restaurant and I was surprised when I was given a glass with ice in it. It was kinda funny honestly that I was already so accustomed to chilled or lukewarm beverages. Having lived in Germany for over a month now I figured it would be interesting to comment on a few differences between Germany and the United States, or at least the things that struck me during my time here. Full disclaimer, I’m not saying these are negatives or bad things, I’m just saying that they’re different from my experience growing up in the U.S.
Firstly, in this summer heat, NOTHING IS COLD.
Ok, yeah, that’s hyperbole. Seriously though, Germany is an incredibly eco-friendly country (more on that later) and I’m blaming this for the lack of cold things. A/C is very uncommon, most of the houses are built with thick walls to keep energy costs down. When there is A/C, it’s weak. Not that weak, but almost nonexistent when compared to the overkill A/C you find in Oklahoma. You know that blast of cold air you feel when you walk into a store? You really won’t find that here. Furthermore, I’ve been pretty hard pressed to find fans. I expected there to be ceiling fans to move the air around or something but I honestly haven’t seen that many.
Circling back to the drinks though, ice isn’t popular. I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve consumed ice on this trip. Unless you’re going for an iced latte, it’s best not to count on it. On a similar point, I didn’t realize how often I drank water for free. Not only do you have to pay for water in restaurants, there aren’t water fountains. When you do order water, you have to be very clear so that you don’t get sparkling water, although to be honest, even then you still get carbonated water half the time. The soda has a very different taste as well. Fanta, which is a German brand, is actually flavored with real orange juice and is far less sweet than the cloying taste of the U.S. version. Most of the soda I’ve tried has been made with real sugar and is far less intense than the bolstered fake flavors I’m used to. I quite like it to be honest. Oh, and have I mentioned the coffee? Rather than the drip coffee you find everywhere in the U.S., lungo is very popular here. It is actually impossible to make drip coffee with the coffee machines at my host family’s house and in the student lounge at school. I really don’t know what I’m going to do without it.
Although we spend our weekdays working hard here in Barcelona, taking dance classes from 9 am until 5 pm, we have weekends free to explore! This past weekend we had a fantastic slew of adventures, beginning with the celebration of Día de San Juan on Friday night. This holiday honors the summer solstice; bonfires are built on the beaches and fireworks are set off all night long!
On Saturday, we woke up early to see Sagrada Familia, the breathtakingly beautiful church that has been in the process of being built for more than 100 years! Antoni Gaudí is the mastermind behind the architecture, who wanted to design the church in such a way as to harmonize elements of nature and liturgy. After gazing at the multitude of brilliant stained glass and taking in the majestic interior structure, which is built to look like a forest, we headed to lunch, opting for a lovely restaurant with traditional Spanish food. In true Spanish fashion, we spent a long time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company over a three course meal. I got to try Crema Catalana, a sweet delicacy of the region, and found it to be absolutely delicious. With full and happy bellies, we made our way to a virtual reality exhibition on the singer and songwriter Björk. It was quite an experience – we wore special headsets that put us in an entirely different 3D space, with Björk’s music playing and wild images and colors flashing around us.
After a packed Saturday, Sunday rolled in with a new wave of excursions! Our day started with a visit to Park Güell (pronounced like the word “well”). Also designed by Gaudí, it features an iconic mosaic bench that winds its way around a large interior section of the park. There were also many incredible mosaic sculptures, including a giant lizard! From here we went to the Picasso Museum, where we got to see many of Picasso’s incredible paintings and learn about his process as an artist, and also the different periods he went through. I was excited by his series “Las Meninas”, based on the work by Velazquez, because in my 10th grade Spanish class we spent a great deal of time analyzing that particular Velazquez painting! We finished the day with a a creamy and delicious gelato pit-stop.
Below is a photo of me with some “crimson and cream” tiles we found at the park!