The GoGlobal Blog

Month: October 2016

My First Day on Exchange in Sevilla

My First Day on Exchange in Sevilla

Where are you from? – Chicago What are you studying? – International Business

I was asked these questions about 200 times my first day of exchange and by the end of the day I knew where all the international students are from and what they study. My first day as an exchange student at Loyola Universidad Andalucia was pretty great. I met students from the U.S., Sweden, Greece, Germany, Argentina, Poland, Belgium, France, Italy, Cyprus, Mexico and of course the Netherlands which makes up half the exchange student population. Although we all speak different languages and have completely different cultures we all have one thing in common. We are all foreigners in Spain. We spent the first couple days together exploring the streets of Seville, drinking tintos and cervezas, eating tapas, and trying to figure out which bus goes where. The best part about being on exchange, other than living in beautiful Sevilla, is meeting other exchange students that understand the difficulty of being foreigners. The best way to broaden your international relations is to go on exchange. From what I’ve witnessed, Erasmus students are a little wild but pretty great. Go travel. Go study. Come to Sevilla!

Touring the center of Sevilla!


When Spring Break Comes 2 Seasons Early >>>

When Spring Break Comes 2 Seasons Early >>>

The Chinese National Holiday (October 1-7) is perhaps the craziest time in China because everyone is on vacation so everywhere around China especially in the cities is crowded … what is the best way to avoid this? Leave the country!! We got lucky this year because the first started on a Saturday and the 8th and 9th were also weeken d days, so we got an extra long vacation and chose to spend it in Thailand.

For having no idea what I was getting myself into (besides the fact that Thai Grill besides Loyola is where I go for my weekly Pad Thai fix), it was an (almost) perfect vacation, and was nice because we planned the whole thing by ourselves – I feel so adult now.

We spent the first 3 days hanging around Bangkok. We went to visit the Grand Palace, went to see a floating market via river boat, and went rooftop bar hoping – fun fact: the hangover 2 features Sky Bar which we obviously had to go see. My favorite thing are the little Tuk Tuk’s that drive around. They’re basically a little car, but kind of outside and they drive and weave in and out of traffic. There is about 33 baht to 1 USD, and you can get some fantastic street food, whether it be Pad Thai, Noodles, Pancakes, or fruit for about 30-80 kuai. We also liked to splurge for nice meals which were around 12o baht which is still only like $4 USD. Also, I tried a Scorpion if you want to add that to the weird foods list! Don’t think I’d eat that again.


We then hopped on a short 1.5 hour flight to Phuket. We decided to splurge and book ourselves 2 nights in a resort – which was the nicest present I could give to myself. The room itself had such a comfy bed, and came with an hour Thai massage. If you ever get massages, or want to get a massage, nothing can ever compare to massage Thai style where they literally sit on top of you and make your body pop in places you didn’t even know could be popped. While in Phuket we had some fun exploring the night life and the beach, but the highlight was riding the elephants.


After 2 days in Phuket, we decided to travel to Phi Phi Island, about 2 hours off the coast. No words to describe probably one of my favorite places I’ve visited yet. While it is an island targeted for tourists, it is completely isolated from the outside world and is absolutely gorgeous. There are no cars allowed on the island, and the main road is a little yellow brick path. We stayed at a hostel that was located on a mountain, and while we had to climb almost 200 steps to get to our room, we could see the beach and parts of the island from our room. The water was the nice green blue, not the murky brown you get almost everywhere else. The weather was a perfect 90 degrees. About a 20 minute ferry ride from the main island is a smaller one, that the government does not let anyone live on expect for native cave dwellers and park rangers. The movie “Beach” starring Leo DiCaprio (I’d never heard of it) was filmed on the island. We spent 6 hours on a boat exploring the different coves of this island via kayak and by jumping into the water and snorkeling and visiting the part where monkey’s inhabit. IMG_4141 IMG_4173

We treated ourselves to a spa day by getting a fish pedicure and all you can eat BBQ. Fish pedicures are indescribable – all I can say is that it is not a pleasant feeling – you can feel the fish nibbling at your feet, and if you concentrate hard enough, you can narrow in on each bite. However, my feet are so smooth and not gross – so I’d say it’s worth it.

The reason why I say this trip was ALMOST perfect was that, on our last leg of our flight (after 30 hours of traveling), our plane got delayed. Somehow, after taking a ferry and 2 planes, our last plane decided it wanted to have mechanical failures – so after sitting at the gate for 2.5 hours we unboarded and did not get on the plane until 9 hours after the intended takeoff. 40 hour day with no sleep. As miserable as the experience was at the time – it taught me how to utilize my Chinese to communicate with staff, and how to be flexible when traveling without my family and the guidance of my all-knowing parents.

I learned a lot about myself and study abroad on this trip – It’s such a nice experience to be able to travel with some of your new (and old friends) and you learn a lot more about who they are as people. As much as I love China, it’s nice to be able to experience new cultures (get some fresh air) and to explore places I don’t think I will get the opportunity to travel to in a long time. Planning the trip and booking the hotels made me feel more and more like an adult with responsibility.

Now I’m back in Beijing missing my Pad Thai (which we *surprise surprise* ate at least once a day) and the fresh mangoes and juice and pancake crepes and fried ice cream and thai omelets and coconut water in a coconut but all in all, super refreshed and happy and ready to survive and enjoy the next 2 months I have left here.


Eating my way through Osaka

Eating my way through Osaka

After taking a cooking class in Bangkok back in August, I was hooked. It’s one thing to chow down on some local food, and quite another to learn about the ingredients and prepare it yourself. The experience provides such a unique insight into the cuisine and culture.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Japan for a long weekend and take another cooking class. Being one of the top destinations for foodies, Osaka proved to be a perfect place to explore my taste buds. Although the class cost almost twice as much as my class in Bangkok, it was worth every second of it.

We had the option to choose between a home style food course or a street food course and while both sounded intriguing – and challenging – we ultimately decided on the street food course which gave us the opportunity to cook chopstick okonomiyaki, udon noodles from scratch and chicken yakitori. All of which were delicious and not too overly complicated to make.

To make chopstick okonomiyaki (my favorite snack from our class), which is typically served and eaten at festivals in Osaka, takes a lot of skill. Our instructor told us that some of the vendors you’ll find at festivals have been practicing for over a decade. I can’t imagine spending decades preparing the same dish multiple times a day, every day, unless it was my Mom’s pasta salad or mashed potatoes.

The recipe itself starts off pretty simple with a batter of egg, rice flour, dashi and water before adding in finely chopped carrots, spring onions and cabbage. After mixing well, you pour the batter on the griddle evenly over a Shiso leaf. You can then add bean sprouts, tempura and pickled ginger to taste (the pickled ginger was by far my favorite part of the entire dish and probably the flavor that sticks out most in the finished product).

Then comes the difficult, I mean fun, part. Once the pancake is mostly cooked, a pair of chopsticks need to be pinched around one end of the pancake and used to help roll the pancake as tightly as possible. If done correctly, the recipient should be able to walk around and eat this delicious treat off the chopsticks. Of course, none of us were quite that good yet and made a bit of a mess when it came time to chow down.

To top it off, you can add chili powder, Bonito flakes, mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce. So. Many. Ingredients. My first bite was an explosion of flavors I would have never thought to put together, but extremely rewarding all the same. My next few days in Osaka I looked for a place to buy some chopstick okonomiyaki to compare, and to get one more taste before leaving, but with no luck.

Although some of the ingredients we used may be hard to find in the States, I am excited to try some of the things I’ve learned again… as soon as I have access to a kitchen.

There’s no place like home

There’s no place like home

Growing up I watched Dorothy navigate through Oz, making friends and enemies along the way.  Dorothy eventually realized she was the only one who could find way home and she had it in herself all along.

One of the hardest parts I have found of being abroad is not knowing anyone.  My roommates and everyone I have met have been very friendly.  Even though I have all these connections here, there is not really anyone who knows me well. I think this has made me more aware of how I come across to other people.  It can be hard not having anyone to vent to about my frustrations and I certainly do not want to be constantly complaining to my new friends.  Nobody wants to be around negative people.  I sometimes have to stop myself from only talking about my frustrations.

Last week I discovered Regents Park.  On my morning jog I discovered I live very close.  It is such a beautiful place and a great stress reliever.  Each time I’ve run since I’ve gone to that park.  If I spend a little time alone exercising or relaxing I think I become less negative.  I enjoy having that time to myself.

Unlike Dorothy, I’m not homesick yet.  I’m still enjoying my time here and not missing too much at home.  Hopefully I make a few good friends during my time here, just like Dorothy did in Oz.

Gorgeous Grit: Naples and the Amalfi Coast

Gorgeous Grit: Naples and the Amalfi Coast

“Hey, just so you guys know, I was reading some of the guidebooks, and apparently, this place is kind of dangerous. So watch out.”

My friend Joy did not reveal this fun fact until we were in the cab, well on our way to a hostel…IN NAPLES.

With an audible gulp, I cleared my nervous throat and peered outside the rain-streaked window. The coastal city seemed harmless enough, with its plethora of pastel colored buildings and its sidewalks lined with palm trees. The only offensive thing so far was the faint smell of fish market. Little did I know, these fish markets would produce some of the best seafood I’ve ever tasted in my entire life…and I grew up in Maryland!

Our hostel was located off Piazza Dante, a town square of sorts that was adorned with a statue of none other than (you guessed it!) Dante.

What if Naples inspired the seven rings of hell described in Dante’s masterpiece Inferno? I shuddered at the thought as we strolled through the neighborhood.naples night

Almost immediately, mynaples castle fear melted away into fascination. Naples exhibited a handsome hodgepodge of handmade crafts and historical artifacts!

The most impressive Medieval monument we saw in the city was Castel Nuovo (which translates to New Castle). Situated on the Port of Naples, with the backdrop of mountains and the Mediterranean, this castle was home to many noblemen and women, most famously Charles I of Anjou. It amazed me that this castle was still standing after all this time, considering that it was first built in 1282! The inside of this humongous structure contained beautiful artwork, precious crown jewels…and even skeletons!

In order to spend our Saturday in Sorrento, a beach town on the Amalfi Coast, we took a 40-minute ferry ride across the Bay of Naples. After eating a seafood lunch of pasta with squid and clams (it tastes way better than it sounds), we climbed a fortress to the top of the mountain and peered out at serene Sorrento. Colorful striped umbrellas dotted the shore, and speedy Vespa motorcycles streaked the cobblestone streets.

How could someone experience this much beauty, I thought, and not believe there is a God?

amalfi 2 

Finally, it was time to dive into the perfect Mediterranean Sea. I am not exaggerating when I say it was perfect! I felt like a mermaid submerging myself underneath the cool salty waves. Peering with squinted eyes, I examined shells and barnacles through the clear abyss.

I wish we could have stayed longer (forever, actually), but we had to catch our ferry back to Naples before sundown. You can probably guess that the seafood we had eaten, combined with the violent rocking of the boat, reaped some interesting results. I’ll leave it at that.amalfi 1

That night, to calm our uneasy stomachs, we ate dinner at a pizzeria that was over 100 years old!

We woke up bright and early Sunday morning to go to Mass at the local church. Although it was relatively small compared to some of the churches I’ve visited in Rome (especially the Vatican!), this little church still possessed the ornate flourish characteristic of European Catholic churches. One thing I really admire about Catholicism is how the Mass is the same all over the world. So even though the priest spoke in Italian, we whispered the corresponding responses and said the same prayers under our breaths in English. It was truly a spiritually transcendent experience.

However, my spiritual bubble burst shortly after leaving the church.

As our small group explored the older section of the city, we were coaxed in by a passing parade. These Naples natives looked like they just left the Renaissance fair, dressed in historical garb. Beating drums, waving flags, and blowing horns, they seemed to be celebrating some cultural event. As the parade people climbed the steps of a nearby church, we noticed other spectators plugging their ears, so we tentatively plugged ours as well. This was a smart choice because, all of a sudden…


Men dressed as soldiers shot antique rifles that sounded like cannons! After about ten shots, the crowd applauded and the parade marched on.

naples parade

Joy had to rub my shoulder in order for me to return to consciousness. They burst my spiritual bubble, after all!

But I think that event really sums up this place. Through all the gorgeous castles, coastlines, and cuisine, there lies a gritty undertone that makes Naples notorious!

A Riddle of Time

A Riddle of Time

A brief apology for being so absent and sporadic and random with my unsystematic posting but…due to an eventful, active, and on-the-go life here in Chile, I don’t allow myself to sit down, gather my thoughts, and put my words down on paper as much as I should. That being said, I made time to write about my past weekend of hiking and camping, as I believe it to be one of my most prized experiences yet.

To be on the road means life holds some essence of destination, that life expects there to be movement from within you, a shift of time and matter from present to future. A travel, a journey, an experience, are all products of time; Time as a composition of earthly and cosmic turns, as an unattainable concept that we strive to perfect. So, if time is created by man, is socially constructed, and is as abstract as abstract seems to get, how does it seem to dictate and shape every aspect of living. Time is thrown away, laughed off, ostracized, and shoved into the corner. Simply taken advantage of. Yet, time is an obsession, a daily regiment, the global dictator whose reign is adamant and always demanding. It relays and regulates every millisecond of our every single day, yet we seem to be both over-aware and ignorant of its concept and its ever-lurking presence. It’s the elephant in the room that many do not seem to accept with full awareness and recognition. We have a sense of living time, of human time, of constant earthly time, beating in seconds, minutes, hours, turning into days, months, years. Yet every single one of these is limited. Each one is both a miniscule and a grandiose representation of our tread upon earth, of the effective sinking of our footprints into the soil, whether it be in forward or backward motion.We expectantly project into the future and hesitantly reach deeply back into our past, believing both will help us in our current situation. Yet we don’t seem to allow ourselves to focus on the beating time occurring at the fleeting moment of our current situation. If the Now is disregarded, neglected, simply overlooked, are we then solely living for the future, or simply living in our past? What happens, then, when the Now is all we live for, is all we believe to be relevant?

In reverence to this, September 24th, 25th, and 26th were impeccable paradigms of moving simply and willingly with the ebb and flow of life’s unpredictability and passage of time. It was three of us dropped on the side of a dirt road—one with trickling traffic, mind you—with hiking packs in tact and thumbs greeting passing cars in hopes of meeting a willing soul. After 22 minutes, 57 seconds, and 15 cars, a cloud of dust shrouded us as a truck pulled off the road and aided the first leg of our trek up the mountain. We met willing souls for three days straight, riding in the beds of numerous pick-ups, and hitchhiking our way up, down, in, and out of the national park. We waded through glacier water, stumbled upon a rock beach island forward-facing a cascading waterfall, napping in the beating rays with the cataract exploding at our toes. We camped directly next to the rushing river, the sun setting low on the rapids, the sound of tires on gravel road, the beam of intermittent headlights, and the stars opening up the sky through the tree line profiles—like perforations in black paint—once nightfall hit. We used discarded aluminum cans to boil water for dinner over our campfire flames, we snuggled up with hot stones in our sleeping bags and tent, and we continuously paused in awe over the idyllic spread of landscape that was panned out before our very eyes.

No plan, just a leap of faith into the arms of time.

To truly make the most of the time that is given unto us, do we simply find a balance between over-awareness and ignorance? How is it that we can simply master an art of timely equilibrium?



Six Flags or Oktoberfest?

Six Flags or Oktoberfest?

Ciao a tutti!

Another weekend spent traveling, but this time, it occurs outside the borders of Italy. Wherever could I have gone next? The title probably gave it away, but I went to Germany! Munich to be exact, to attend the ever famous, ever raved about, Oktoberfest. All I got all week from everyone was, “You’re going to Oktoberfest? OMG you are going to have so much fun. It was the best weekend of my life.” Safe to say, expectations were high. And I am happy to say that these expectations were met and then some. But let’s start from the beginning.

Munich is probably one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. I feel like I’ve said that about everywhere I’ve gone so far, but in all honestly, I’m ranking this place at number one. Upon arrival, I instantly knew I was going to enjoy this weekend. Everyone was so kind, from the lady who helped us at the train station to the man making our coffee in Starbucks (Yes, you heard me correctly. STARBUCKS PEOPLE. I never ran so fast in my life to order that peach green tea lemonade.) On top of all of that, the city was so cute and homey feeling. Flowers in radiant colors of red and purple hung from the side of the buildings, which were carved with intricate designs that provided an ancient yet modern feel. I felt like I entered a Disney movie. I kept saying, “Does it not feel like we are in Tangled right now?,” which, by the way, is my favorite Disney movie, so you could say I was in heaven.

Rapunzel, where you at?

Every turn led to another breathtaking view, and I knew in that moment that I never wanted to leave. I was and am plotting my return because I want to spend the entirety of my life there. I know absolutely no German, but I think I can manage.

We went to the Hofbräuhaus for dinner, which was a very unique experience. We walk in and basically everyone is screaming chants, pounding on tables, and standing on their chairs. I thought maybe we had entered the wrong building, but nope, this was it and I was a bit scared. We eventually found a table in the far back, away from all the noise, which was kind of a relief. I’d normally be down for dinner and a show, but after being on a bus for 10 hours, I kind of just wanted to enjoy my food and the conversation with my friends without developing a massive headache. Yet, the headache came anyways when we ordered a beer, and it appeared in front of me in a stein (glass) bigger than my head. It was called the Radler, which is lemonade and beer, and it was gross. I hate beer, so you may be asking yourself, why even bother going to Oktoberfest? Because it about so much more than drinking!

Had to use two hands to pick it up, it was THAT big

We went to Oktoberfest on Saturday, wearing our dirndls (shown in the picture below). I felt absolutely ridiculous, but mostly everyone was wearing one, so I didn’t feel too out of place. We walk in, and my friend turns to me and says, “Did we just enter Six Flags?” I had to think for a second because it truly felt like I was about to go ride Superman (I haven’t been to Six Flags in 6 years, please tell me that’s still a ride there- it was the best!) But the entire area was filled with rides, such as rollercoasters and carousels, booths with games and food. It was like a little kid (and my) heaven.

Dirndls aka the most uncomfortable article of clothing on this planet

We walked around and ended up in a “tent,” which aren’t tents at all. I might be the only person on the planet who didn’t know this, but when I pictured Oktoberfest, I imagined literal tents that everyone stood underneath and drank. Nope! They are actual buildings, full of tables and music. I was a bit overwhelmed because everyone was standing on the tables, and it was SO loud. German music was blasting, and I knew I wasn’t in Rome anymore. It was such a weird experience, but a lot of fun. Everyone was so kind, dancing and singing with us. A little advice, make sure to find a table because you won’t be served beer or food if aren’t sitting down.

The whole day consisted of hopping between tents, singing with others (we met people from Austria, Germany, Russia, everywhere!), eating lots of food (I don’t recommend the brats because I got food poisoning (: ), and having lots of fun. Also, don’t think you need to drink to have fun. I didn’t buy a drink the entire day because 10 euro on a stein of beer just didn’t seem worth my money. What did I buy? An apple strudel, duh. The best apple strudel on this planet at the dessert tent. You can have fun if you allow yourself to. I didn’t want to leave Germany because it was one of the best weekends of my life!

Tents I Recommend for Future Oktoberfest Goers: 

1. Schottenhamel- This was the first tent we went to, and it was definitely the most German in my opinion. Even though they played some ABBA, which was the highlight of my day, it was 99% German music, but so fun! We were able to easily find a table, and the waitress was always nearby in case you wanted to buy a beer. We met a lot of nice people at this tent, even a few older Italian men who weren’t shy to dance on the tables with us.

2. Café Kaiserschmarrn- Not a beer tent, but it is truly God’s gift to humanity. It’s the dessert tent! They play live music and have the most delicious and beautiful looking treats I have ever seen in my life. You can order outside, but I recommend going inside because the line is always shorter. We went in there twice that day because we couldn’t get enough. I got the apple strudel, and as I said before, it was incredible. I think it was 4 euro, so not terrible when compared to all the other expensive food at Oktoberfest.

3. Hofbräu Festzelt- This is the counterpart to the infamous Hofbräuhaus. Go here early because by the time we went, they claimed it was full and weren’t letting anyone in. We went and hung in the beer garden in the back, but from friends, I heard it was such a fun tent. So, unfortunately I don’t have an opinion to give, but considering it’s one of the most famous tents, it must be worth checking out!

4. Löwenbräu-Festhalle- It’s considered the favorite “meeting place” of Oktoberfest, which seems fitting, since that’s where we met up with most of our friends. This tent was the most fun in my opinion because they played a bit more “American” music, such as Sweet Caroline (which was an awesome moment, may I add).  We sat at a table with a few guys from Holland, and they were the funniest people I have ever met. They were dancing with us, as was everyone behind us. I thought it was the most social tent, although the waitresses were a bit more mean here. It’s rather hard to find a table here, so come early!


Danke (“thank you” in German) Germany, back to Rome I go!

Arrivederci i miei amici! <3