The GoGlobal Blog

Month: March 2016

Sevilla: (Trying to be) The Bike Friendly City

Sevilla: (Trying to be) The Bike Friendly City

When I first arrived to Sevilla, I knew right away I wanted to buy a bike. One of my favorite hobbies is riding my bicycle and exploring new parts of the city, so after two weeks of longing for one I finally bought one from Decathlon (a Europe-wide sports store). The least expensive bike the store had was the one I chose. A simple, single-gear, foldable bike was what I was looking for and that’s what I got. I spent 160 euros for it and another 15 for a chain lock.

Finally, I was mobile on two wheels. The speed of travel that bikes provide especially in cities like Sevilla where there is only one metro line going east-west and a slow bus system that stop at every stop. Biking is the way to go as long as you know what your doing (and those around you). Another plus, is that the city of Sevilla has over 75 miles of designated bike paths all around the city center and outskirts as well which you would hope would make the city a great destination for bikers. But that is not all the truth, although the bike paths on city streets exist, locals and tourists alike do not respect the paths. People here are oblivious to their even existence which is extremely frustrating when trying to get Uni on time. I frequently find myself use my bell to inform people that they are about to get run over. But the truth is that I cannot complain I am glad that Sevilla is trying to become more like other Nordic countries and establish bike paths that serve the whole community but certainly more signs must be placed around the city informing pedestrians they are walking on a bike only path. Also, keep an eye out for cars. I have recently almost gotten hit by inattentive drivers who think they always have the right of way. Usually they turn and seeing there are not pedestrians they are good to go but bikers exist as well.

Although, these bike paths are extremely expansive and you’ll find them on a continuous network all throughout the city, the planners had to compromise with nature. Some paths are narrow slivers of green path and others in which you must avoid trees. Even sometimes they merge with the road but the green path will continue to guide you with convinient barriers to protect you from malicious cars. One other thing to note is that although there are many miles of bike paths in Sevilla, the city center is where it really lacks. The narrow, cobblestone streets do not make an ideal path for bikes and are extremely painful to bike on given their uneven nature but I suppose there is always a plus to things and consider it as an excuse to ride slower and enjoy the gorgeous sites.

Back to Reality!

Back to Reality!

After about three weeks of travel, I’m back in Santiago and have my first class tomorrow. But, obviously I do not want to think about that! So, I’ll share a bit about the month of February, which in this program is a month open for traveling! It took tons of planning and stress beforehand, but my trip included five main stops, Torres del Paine, Chiloé, Pucón, San Pedro de Atacama and Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

From this trip, we have our crazy stories of course, met interesting travelers, ran into the same travelers multiple time because South America is actually so small, ran into a few hostel problems and nearly missed a bus, but it was all so amazing!

Torres del Paine is a Chilean national park known for glaciers, mountains, rivers and lakes. It is known all over the world for the W trek and Circuit trek. These respectively are five or ten days each, and it is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers. We decided to take a tour – don’t judge – not everyone enjoys hiking. This allowed us to see the highlights of the park in one day and continue to travel to diverse areas of Chile during our vacation.

For lunch this day, we were supposed to make reservations to eat at the one restaurant that is in the National park. It turns out we did not make this reservation or bring a picnic for lunch, so we went to a small supplies store which is there for the hikers. Not having the reservation ended up being a blessing in disguise. We enjoyed the only food available in the supplies store for lunch which was chocolate and Pringles. But even more special was spending the time right on the water, of a Patagonian lake being so much closer to the nature than we would have ever been in a restaurant.

torres del Paine Chile

Our next stop was Chiloé, where upon arriving at our hostel we were told that they did not have enough beds for all of us, despite our reservation! It all worked out, but there is nothing like arriving at a hostel expecting a bed for the night and being told “surprise”. Chiloé was the most laid back destination over the month. We enjoyed a penguin tour, exploring the neighborhoods and waiting for sunsets which unfortunately never happened because of the cloudy weather.

The last stop on our “South” trip was Pucón, the adventure capital of Chile. We were able to white water raft at sunset, zip line across rivers and finally “canyon”. I did really want to either paraglide or skydive while I was there, but for the time we were there it was too windy and the conditions were not safe enough. Out of our three activities, “canyoning” was the favorite. It was an unexpected adventure, as none of us had heard of it before doing it. Essentially, early one morning we went to the office and changed into wet suits, booties, helmets and harnesses. After a short ride, we arrived at the start of our trek with the group. We walked along with the river, sometimes crossing it, other times using it as a natural water slide. And then at three points of our exploration we hit water falls. There we were able to repel down next to and within the water falls into caves. Pucón was absolutely amazing!

After this fourteen day trip all of us were quite tired, but we still had a week until school started. So I met with a friend and within two hours we had booked a four day tour in Bolivia to see the Salar de Uyuni! Ironically, near her host family’s house the only place that was open for us to meet up and plan the trip was Fuddruckers! I don’t think I have ever gone to a Fuddruckers in the States, but I will say their milkshakes are not bad! So for this trip we took a 24 hour long bus ride from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama. Now, flights are available but obviously were very expensive when we booked two days before leaving. I liked to believe we are young and can rough it sometimes! Overall, the bus ride was not terrible, except for the fact that the AC broke three hours into the trip.

The Bolivia tour was absolutely amazing. We saw white lagoons, green lagoons, rock valleys, a train cemetery and the Salar de Uyuni. No words can describe it.


So, I’m back to reality pretty soon, after two trips of a lifetime. Classes start tomorrow and the goal is to get a schedule with class times and room numbers before they start in the morning (this is my reality in Chilean time).


Beach Town Mui Ne

Beach Town Mui Ne

We were warned that Mui Ne would be a beach town for foreigners by our friends, teachers, and every review we read online. Still, when we alighted from the bus and looked around, we were still managed to be a little bewildered by the number of blonde-and-fair-skinned visitors we saw walking around. However, like almost everyone else who stopped in Mui Ne, we were there for the pristine beaches.

And pristine they were. Unlike the beaches in Vung Tao, these beaches were uncluttered, unlittered, and utterly clean of garbage. Sure, the walk along the back road had its fair share of trash but as soon as we stepped onto the soft sand, we were in a different world.

While the beaches were postcard-worthy, the wind discouraged us from staying too long. The coast of Mui Ne is a popular spot for wind sports; kitesurfers dominated water while the other beachgoers suffered from sand daggers. We were among those who felt the pricks of miniscule grains of sand piercing our skin, and left to head back to the hotel before the sun had set.

Mui Ne offered a number of attractions in addition to its beautiful beaches. We visited both the white and red sand dunes as well as a small fishing village and Fairy Stream in one organized morning. We opted to go for a sunrise tour that began at the white sand dunes. Mui Ne is the easternmost point in Vietnam, and therefore is the first part of the country to see the sunrise. Not quite the same as being the first part of the world to experience the new day, but isn’t that pretty amazing?

Although our stay was short, it offered just the right amount of relaxation and calm for us all to recharge our batteries. These next two weeks will prove to be an interesting struggle – we will attempt to complete midterms while in vacation land – and the brief respite in Mui Ne before the storm was just what we needed.DSC_7217 DSC_7234DSC_7269DSC_7313 DSC_7340DSC_7349

International Homestay Observations

International Homestay Observations

Kia ora, Namaste, Aloha, Hola, Hello!

This post is more informative and will cover the dynamics you may possibly experience within your study abroad community if you choose to live in a home-stay. I was pretty real in this post, and I did so in order to be candid and not sugar coat anything for the reader seeking information. I didn’t really look at any blogs before coming here (I probably should have), but I’m sure my situation is not unique to me. I’m sorry for the length (again). A “Too Long; Didn’t Read” (TL;DR) sentence-long summary of this post is at the bottom, and I think I’ll keep that a habit with my entries as I just like to type. 

Now, I’m no weirder than the next person, and my host-mom has confirmed this happening to her other “homestayers” in the past, so I know it’s not just me.

Homestayers, don’t expect to be BFFs with your study abroad crew staying in the university apartments. In a worst case scenario, expect to be ostracized by at least half of your group. You have chosen to be completely submersed in the country of your choice. It can be terrifying and invigorating at the same time. You’re not in a little village of apartments with around half of your direct study abroad crew and other international students feeling the same things as you. You’re a part of an actual real-life family, and if yours is/will be anything like mine, you will feel loved and accepted by these absolutely wonderful people. Very in-depth research is done by these study abroad professionals to ensure that you truly are paired with the best family possible. IES does a really fantastic job of this. Thus, you may not be informed of your homestay assignment until about 5 days before you’re set to leave (instead of the 2-3 weeks that the IES website says).

At least with the IES Auckland program, the first weekend you’re here, you go to a Marae, which is a sacred Maori (native peoples) meeting house. You participate in different outdoor activities, and get a basic understanding of Maori cultural practices and values. Plus, it’s a bonding experience for you and the other students in your direct IES program. They do a great job, you learn and bond together, create a Facebook page, and friend all of the people in your program because you genuinely think that you’re all friends, now. 

Along with that Facebook page, your peers will probably create a group text (via text message, GroupMe, etc.) within their own little separate apartment communities to plan outings and whatnot. But remember in elementary school when you were planning or invited to a birthday party, and your parents taught you not to talk to everyone about it because maybe not everyone was invited? Well, it’s good advice, and these apartment folks may not follow it.

Outings will still be planned on the Facebook group, and, hey, take advantage of it! I just went to the Waitomo Black Water Rafting Cave tour (Program I did: to see the cave’s glow worms with some of my direct IES group memebers, and it was awesome! However, the dynamic of the group had changed. Before, when we were all out at the Marae, anyone could strike up a really nice conversation with anyone.

Now, not so much. If you try to strike up a conversation, maybe the other person will only give very short answers, or perhaps they try their best to have the shortest conversation with you and walk away. Confusing and disheartening, to say the least. Do they not like you because you’re not in the apartments? Do they just feel awkward around you, now? It’s only been about 2 weeks since our bonding experience. However, there are still some very lovely people in the group who will talk to you first, and you’ll still have good conversations with them.

Well, this is an opportunity to step even further outside your comfort zone, my friend. Join some clubs to meet more Kiwis. I’m going to the next Tramping (Hiking) Club and Canoe Club meetings to mingle with other university students. Also, there are socializing apps (Tinder, Primate [an exclusively NZ, platonic friends app], etc.) that allow you to meet people in your area. Just be smart about it. I’ve already met a pretty incredible Kiwi off one of those apps, and it’s only Tuesday of my third week here. Meeting locals can seem intimidating because, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to seem like the out-of-place dumb American. Well, fun fact, you’re not. And there’s no reason to lose hope. 

If I had an appropriate opportunity to ask some of these folks what’s up, I would because that’s just who I am. Though, it is a matter of picking your battles and using my social energy wisely. Shit happens, and you can’t let anyone get you down. You are a damn lovely person with that amazing thing that makes you YOU! Plus, you’re in an amazing country with so many opportunities at your feet.  This is your experience, and you get out of it what you put into it. 

With Love and A Bit Less Sweat,

TL;DR: Staying in a homestay may make your other study abroad peers not talk to you anymore, but who gives a damn because you’re here to be submersed in the local cultural goings-on, anyway. (Word count: 960. I’m so sorry.)

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Ramblin’ Around Roma

Ramblin’ Around Roma



Surprise, surprise, being in Rome is fabulous and I’ve explored and had loads of fun and loved every second of it. I’ve seen Papa Francesco, been to an AS Roma game (vs. Real Madrid aka Cristiano Ronaldo & crew), and eaten enough gelato for a lifetime. However, I still am studying abroad. Contrary to popular belief, or at least what my friends and family’s think I do with my time, studying abroad in Rome does actually involve studying. Between the bowls of pasta and glasses of wine (with dinner, of course), school is the reason why I am here. I still take a full-time course load, my classes are still challenging, and I continue to work hard for my grades. Being in Rome doesn’t automatically make my academic life easier. However, as with most other things, classes in Rome are still a quite a bit better, and that is for one reason: on-sites.


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“On-sites” are classes that will meet on-site at a location somehow related to the material the class covers. I’m currently enrolled in Roman Catholicism, Writing Rome, and Honors: Encountering Europe, all of which are at least partially on-site. I cannot stress enough how amazing these classes are. Though it may be a little frustrating to make time during the day to get up early and take the hour-or-so public transport ride to the site of the day, on-site classes are the perfect opportunity to get out of the classroom and experience Rome while learning a bit more about it.


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Through my on-site classes, I’ve been lucky enough to visit several churches and basilicas (including the biggest one of them all, St. Peter’s), places where famous writers lived and worked, and sites with incredible histories. I’ve explored the trendy Trastevere, tasted new foods, soaked my senses at markets full of fresh foods, and had a blast learning at the same time. I’m also able to move away from campus regularly, which can be hard when you’re wrapped up in assignments and trip-planning, and get to know the city I came to enjoy. For any of my readers who are interested in studying abroad at the JFRC, or even another center with on-site courses, I highly recommend them. The ability to return to campus every other day with more stories to tell of the new things seen while just being in class is a blessing that should be taken advantage of.


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Still, beyond my beloved on-site classes, there are other opportunities to get out and experience Rome, its surrounding areas, and even other countries while getting a good education at the same time! Study trips, aka school sponsored and organized educational trips, are available to all JFRC students. I myself took a day trip to Ostia & Antica to visit coastal ruins and some of Rome’s most impressive catacombs. The chance to explore both and pretend to be Indiana Jones for an afternoon is one I’m happy I didn’t pass up. At the same time, I also got to learn about the lives of the everyday Italians of centuries ago and their burial practices, broadening my knowledge and understanding of my place in the world. If this doesn’t sound appealing to anyone going to the JFRC, don’t fret – there are plenty of other study trips offered that would offer a day or several days of enjoyment for someone with any set of interests.


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All in all, the studying part of studying abroad may continue to be as rigorous as back on my home campus, but there’s nothing like being able to learn and explore new surroundings all the time. Check it out for yourself in this video. Ciao for now!

P.S. to those going to/interested in going to the JFRC: Seriously, on-site classes are amazing. Take them.

Napoli, Monte Vesuvio, Ercolano, Pompeii

Napoli, Monte Vesuvio, Ercolano, Pompeii

The bustling streets follow you wherever you go, a maze of stores.  Amidst the castles and the seaside views, you find yourself going back to trains, for this bustling port, is just that, a layover for your adventures. You get to know it for a while, and then embark to travel back in time.

Two days you ride in the beaten tracks. Two days the skies cry. Two days you are met with clouded views. But there lays the heap of rocks, the giant, Vesuvius. You climb it.

Descend only to come face to face to the remains of the city the giant has destroyed. Subtle hints of life peek behind the occasional ray of sun and then splattered against the wall, lies in brushstrokes the daily life of an ancient town.

You see the remains of the cities that once were. Everything still and soundless, until you take the train back to the bustling streets.



Crash Course: Auckland

Crash Course: Auckland

Greeting from Auckland, New Zealand! It’s around 72F here, but it feels so much hotter…as do most days. It’s humid, and there is LITERALLY a HOLE in the ozone later above us. No, that’s not us trying to be cute and make you put on your sunscreen. There is a hole. right. above. us. So put on your sunscreen, dammit.

I guess I started my post off a bit negative. Hot is great! It beats Chicago’s snow! Plus, the people are so wonderfully friendly here! We hold doors open for each other just like at Loyola! But that is just a standard for NZers. Too bad it’s not a standard for Americans.

Something about my experience so far: I’m in a homestay with 2 wonderful parents (Samantha and Jacko [pronounced Yah-ko]) and their 2 hilarious kids: Bella who is 9 and Pim who is 6. Pim calls me “his student” and gives me a hug. It’s freaking adorable. Sam’s dad comes over a lot with his little dog, Mister (who certainly helps when I’m missing my doggy!). Mister follows him around like, well, a dog. It’s the cutest thing you ever did see. The neighbors are also super welcoming and wonderful! Even the neighbor kids greet me when I get home with “Hannah’s home!!!” and give me hugs!! I just get little mini hugs all day. What’s not to love??

Some other facts, I’ve accumulated so far:
-Auckland drivers are the worst. I’m not being overdramatic. Please look both ways several times before you cross because even Auckland drivers admit that they’re bad. **Take special note of this if you’re biking around Auckland. Heavy Traffic + Crazy Drivers + Bike Lanes = Still Dangerous.** At least helmets are required by law?
-The bus drivers are on strike to keep their jobs. They have scheduled strikes where they don’t work. No one bothered to tell me this right away, so I thought they would have an indefinite strike like in the US. In that case, I would be SOL in getting to uni (university). Now they’re operating, but striking in such a way where they follow the rules to a T. That includes stopping the bus to “stay on schedule,” taking their time to switch out bus drivers, or sometimes they just don’t show up at all. You can just imagine the grumpiness. **Always allow at least an hour to get anywhere if you’re taking the bus.**
-Portion sizes are smaller than in the States. A large coffee is about the size of our small, but the coffee is the best I’ve ever tasted. And chockfull of caffeine, too. It’s a bit smaller, but it gets the job done.
-There is a very high population of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean folks, so really good sushi is never far!
-Being “PC” hasn’t really come to NZ yet, so don’t be too surprised if people say something that someone would freak out over in the States. It’s just not a thing here. As an Anthropologist, it’s confusing but also refreshing.

One other (sort of related) note. I was talking to the other American in my home stay (Alex) and a NZer (Heide) who was babysitting the kids. I don’t know how it came up, but Alex and I were talking about how we (unfortunately) always have to be on our guard when trying to make friends because maybe they only want to use us, or they’re a fake friend, and so on, so we have to be careful what we tell these people. And Heide chimed in with “Wow. You guys are really over-thinking this. That has never even crossed my mind.” Damn. How refreshing. Think about it. Really.

TL;DR: NZ is different. Drivers are crazy, and they’re not very politically correct. People are just freaking nice. I love it here.

With constant sweat and smiles,