The GoGlobal Blog

Month: November 2016

Mr. President….again

Mr. President….again

Trump won last night. I am angry. I am sad. I truly did not believe he would win. I woke up to the news I feared and never thought would happen. Trump has done little except incite violence and foster hate towards so many groups of people.

I was looking forward to helping vote our first women president into office. I was looking forward to progress. Clinton was experienced, she has seen what the job of president entails, I think Trump will be in for a great shock when he realizes the hard work the president must do.

I understand that Trump won. I recognize that I am a white female and Trump’s presidency will likely not change my life that much.  However, he has continually put down others, fear monger and spread hate.  He will negatively affect so many lives and I am sad for our country today.  All I hope is that he will not follow through on everything he has said throughout his campaign. Lets hope that Trump can become a composed and level-headed leader. BUT one reality is that now many bigot and ignorant people feel empowered to spread their hate. We do need to unite as one people, I hope Trump can be the man do that but I am not convinced. Even his acceptance speech was rambling and I thought not well done at all.  As a leader of a country the least you could do is talk to your people with poise.

For now, I need time to be angry.  Soon, I will have to return home and face the reality of him becoming president.  But for now I reserve the right to be angry and confused. Patriotism is stupid. It is. Americans need to stop believing they are the best because of where they come from. We are all people living in the same world and trying to get along. Why are you “better” than anyone else? America needs a reality check and this might be it…

I hope as the younger generation we have realized the importance of politics in our lives. We all need to actively participate for democracy to work.

For now, anger and sadness.

My First, Real Italian Conversation

My First, Real Italian Conversation

“Fai una foto?”-  You take a photo?

It was a Friday afternoon, and I had been journaling along Passeggiata del Gianicolo. It was a beautiful day, and I had found the most perfect view of the Vatican to inspire the day’s journal entries. Interrupted mid-sentence, I looked up at the older, Italian man who had spoken to me. He was holding out his phone.

“Conosci parlare italiano?” – You know how to speak Italian?

I smiled, and responded, “Sì, un po’.” – Yes, a little.

“Ah, un po’.” He noticed I was journaling, and said, “Scusa!” – Excuse me!

I smiled again and got up to take his picture in front of the Vatican.

“Bene?” – Good? – I asked.

He took his phone.

“Conosci italiano?” he asked again.

“Sì, un po’.”

“Scusa, grazie.” – Thank you.

“Prego.” – You’re welcome.

I sat down and picked up my journal, but he kept talking.

“Dei dove sei?” – Where are you from?

“Stati Uniti…a Chicago.”

“Ah, America.”


We both smiled and I continued to journal. When I finished about ten minutes later, he was still there.

“Scrivi in italiano o inglese?” – You write in Italian or English? 

I laughed, and told him I was writing in English.

“Studi italiano? – You study Italian?

“Sì, studio in Balduina, at Loyola.”

I started to pick up that he was impressed by my little knowledge of the Italian language when he asked, once again:

“Parli italiano?”

“Si, un po’. I miei amici e i mie insegnante parlano inglese.” – My friends and my professors speak English. 

Leggi italiano?” – Do you read Italian?

I responded yes. He told me it was important that I knew how to speak and read in Italian.

He asked, “Che cosa tua nome?” – What is your name? 

“Mary Beth…Mary. Maria”


I’ve found it’s easier to just say Mary, or Maria, if they can’t understand me. Then I asked his name. His name was Franco. We shook hands. By this point I had stood up. I was anxious to practice my Italian outside the classroom.

“Uh, come si dice, ‘nice to meet you?’ I forgot, um, oh! Piacere!”

He laughed. Then he said something about how I don’t speak Italian at school, but I could in Rome. He asked me when I had classes.

I started, “Dalle lunedì–” and he cuts me off, laughing. He prompts me to continue listing the days of the week in Italian, so I do.

“…lunedì, martedì, mercoledì, giovedì.” – Monday thru Thursday.

“Finito? No venerdì, sabato, o domenica?” – Finished? No Friday, Saturday, or Sunday?


He asked me when I was leaving Rome. I got excited because I was using phrases I learned in class.

“Sono arrivata in agosto e torno in dicembre.” – I arrived in August and I return in December.

My Italian professor would be so proud.

He jokingly said something about how in December “andiamo,” or we go, back to this spot and he can see if my Italian has improved.

“Ho lavorato ma…” – I worked, but…he said, then pointed to his head and said a word I did not recognize. He said he had an Italian/English dictionary in his car and went to get it. He then pointed at a word that translated to remember and I concluded he had a poor memory.

Then I figured I better continue on with my day.

“Ho bisogno andare.” – I need to go.

“Ah, sì.”

I thanked him for letting me practice my Italian. Then, like a true Italian, he pulled me in for a kiss on either cheek, and said:

“È importante, sì.” – Is important, yes.

And that was my first, real Italian conversation. Despite stumbling on my words and not always being grammatically correct, I was able to communicate with him.

These are the moments that make study abroad so extraordinary.

Childlike Imagination

Childlike Imagination

It’s been a little over a week since we returned from our last long excursion to the wonderful Kingdom of Cambodia. To put it lightly, I fell in love with Cambodia and was sad to leave. Since we returned to Saigon, we’ve been pushed back into the swing of school again. With only 4 weeks left in the program, it’s crunch time.

I’ve been a very avid student throughout most of my undergraduate degree: I do my homework, start research papers early and hate missing class. I didn’t know if senioritis was a real thing for college students until this semester. With the last four weeks of my BA upon me, it is bad to say, but I feel like I have sort of checked out prematurely. Real life, adulthood (although to we ever really feel like adults?) and all that doom and excitement await me on December 8th – the long-awaited last day of class ever. Wrapped up in these strange, adult things like graduate school applications and job searching, Emily and I were given the ability to be children again this morning and it was magnificent.

After a quick walk along the obstacle course that is Saigon’s streets and sidewalks, we arrived at the bus stop just in time to catch number 14. In true Vietnamese fashion, we hopped on the bus while it was still slowly moving forward, found two empty seats towards the front of the bus and paid the bus monitor 2,000 dong (9 cents) for the ride. In front of our row sat a young girl, probably around three years old, her mother and another woman. The girl was immediately very playful with us and started right in with a lot of smiling and giggling. After sharing some waffles and playing a few rounds of peek-a-boo over the seat  with us, she stood up on the seat, her arms resting on the top of it and began making strange hand motions.

It took us some time to realize what was happening but soon the motions looked very familiar – she was playing food cart. The back of the seat became her food cart and Emily and I her customers. She would gather imaginary ingredients (her cart must have quite the variety), put them all together and then hand them to us. In the spirit of childlike imagination, Emily and I played along, taking her food, holding it up to our mouths and making ‘nom nom nom’ sounds as we nibbled on it. She was thrilled and so we continued like this for a while longer. Before we arrived at our bus stop, Emily pointed out how cool it was to be part of a Vietnamese child’s imagination. In the U.S, children would have been playing house or drive-through. This little girl’s game of choice was food cart.

Study abroad is wonderful because of the grand adventure it is, but in reality, it is these little moments that make the experience complete. It is the little girl and her food cart and all the other little things that I will remember the most in years to come. Someday it will be watching my own children play imaginary games that will cause me to remember the four months I spent living in Vietnam and that one time on the number 14 bus that I ate the best imaginary food of my life, prepared with all the love and care in the world by Vietnam’s best imaginary food vendor.


A different ride on the number 14 bus but I'm sure you get the picture.
A different ride on the number 14 bus but I’m sure you get the picture!
How to Take Barcelona in 3 Days

How to Take Barcelona in 3 Days

Image-1I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but seriously, every place I visit is better than the last.

This weekend, it was in Barcelona, Spain where me and a few friends did some real adventuring. I have probably mentioned this before, but traveling in Europe is SO ridiculously cheap, and it seemed like there was a catch when our flight to Spain was only 80 euros round trip (we booked it a week before). Within just a couple hours of arriving to Barca and exploring the sights, two of my friends had their phones pick pocketed out of their purses on the metro. At first there was panic, then it was “ok, let’s figure this out,” and then we all collectively agreed we would Image-2still have amazing weekend, phones or no phones. We were, after all, in BARCELONA. These are moments where I’ve learned that it really does matter who you travel with. To quote my friend who got her phone stolen,

“If you’re with positive, wonderful human beings, the worst situations turn out to be the most epic adventures.”

I know what you’re thinking. Is it even possible to fall in love with a city in three days? The answer is yes, DUH, and I wrote a list explaining how. So listen up, here it is.

How to Take Barcelona in 3 Days:

1. Embrace being a tourist. We started off our weekend by seeing one of the most touristy spots in the city: The Sagrada Familia. This basilica is way bigger than you think or see in pictures, trust me. It was still under construction, but still incredible. A couple other places worth visiting are Park Guell, and La Rambla. I don’t see anything wrong with visiting the sights that many people do. From my experience, the crowds and waiting in line is totally worth it.

2. Utilize the train. It is surprisingly easy to navigate, unlike most train systems of cities I’ve visited. There are metro stops leading to all of the famous parks and monuments. It saved us a ton of money in the end; it was fairly safe to take at night, too. Only negative is watching out for pick pocketing, as I mentioned before. R.I.P. to the phones of Alex B and Alex K.

Screen Shot 2016-11-06 at 10.25.00 PM3. Go out at night. I was told before going to Barcelona, “You just have to go to Opium!” (It’s a famous club located on the beach). It was fun, but I had a better time at Dow Jones, one of the many local bars. It’s decorated inside to look like Wall Street in NYC, and the drink prices are shown on TV screens all over the bar. When the stock market “crashes” the bar gets crazy and all of the prices go down! It was as fun as it sounds.

4. Shop. Here’s where I personally fell in love with this place. La Rambla, which is a famous shopping street located in the city center, has multiple smaller streets off of it with local stores. The one we found ourselves on was all vintage and tatoo shops, bike rentals, and graffiti-covered buildings.  I think I need to live on that street someday.Image-4

5. Eat tapas. Tapas are basically Spain’s version of aperitivo, where they serve small food portions of Spanish dishes with drinks. The best part: the cheap prices. Sangria and patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) pair nicely together!!

6. Wander. Lastly, My advice for any and every city, always. This weekend, I was having the best time when were completely lost together, wandering into random shops, restaurants, parks, and bars. These are the stories I know I will still remember years from now.

In conversation, I am constantly asking the people I meet abroad to name three places they’ve traveled: the most beautiful, the most fun, and the one they could see themselves actually living in. This question usually comes to mind when I return to Rome after a weekend of traveling. The answers are always changing for me, ever since stepping foot in Europe. I add more and more cities to the list and interchange them out for one another. But they are starting to become complicated in my mind. Each city is so wonderfully different than the last.

Optimized-ImageI was positive I wouldn’t see a place more beautiful than Switzerland. Then, Greece was different than anywhere I had ever imagined. The Amalfi Coast and Capri were undeniably stunning. Now, it’s Barcelona that has made its way onto my list somewhere.

I don’t know how I’ll ever decide. I just know I’m a lucky girl.

Livin the (Shang)High Life

Livin the (Shang)High Life

This past weekend we treated ourselves to a nice little post-midterms vacation … to Shanghai. (I’m really digging the one academic break a month life, though this was the last one so that’s kind of sad). Shanghai is such an international city that compared to Beijing, it felt like we weren’t in China at all. Walking down all the roads and seeing the tall skyscrapers all lit up and streets surrounded by modern buildings, the only thing that reminded me that I was in China was the food and the signs themselves.

Highlights of our trip included spending the day at the Shanghai Zoo, viewing the famous skyline during both night and day, going to the top of the 2nd tallest building in the world, and sleeping in an actual bed with a shower with actual hot water. Non-highlights include sitting on the highspeed bullet train for 5 hours smashed next to a sick girl one way and a man polishing his nails for 30+ minutes the other.

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I hadn’t been to a zoo in such a long time, that it was fun to be a kid again. Additionally, the Shanghai Zoo boasts species that are super endangered and specific to Southeast Asia. Some of the animals we were able to see won’t be in existence in the next 10-12 years. What I found funny was the lack of regulations there were at the zoo. All the animal cages especially the pits where they housed mammals, we could get right up to … there was no real gate. Despite the signs saying don’t feed the animals, people at these zoos still fed the animals whatever they wanted. Below is a picture of someone literally pouring the Chinese equivalent of Gatorade into this bears mouth. Please note how close we were to the bear.

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While Halloween in Shanghai was pretty anticlimactic, the views from the rooftop we went to celebrate it made up for it. It’s funny how Halloween is a holiday that is only celebrated by foreigners in China, so finding a costume is pretty hard. And I miss the whole American candy part of it as well.

We also visited Shanghai Towers which just recently opened up and is the second highest building in the world. It takes 55 seconds to climb around 118 floors which is just ridiculously fast. We went on a pretty clear day so they view was astounding. I live my life whether it be in Chicago, or Kansas City, or I guess Shanghai now taking pictures of different views of each city, but I have to say this 360 degree walk around building had to be one of the neatest.

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Some other fun facts:

  • Food wise the best food I ate was at a street cart where this lady would whip up noodles or rice.
  • Since they want to keep the skyline in tact, really the only ways to cross the river are via a 2 kuai ferry ride or the subway. BUT they also have a sightseeing tunnel. Originally it was supposed to be built as a glass walkway, but then the developers discovered that the muddy water wasn’t anything special and that there were roller coaster car things in Europe, so now you can take this ride under the water through a tunnel that is filled with lighting and sound effects. It’s one of those things that you walk out of being like that was so weird it was cool.

Besides that, we had a nice more western vacation. But now it’s back to below freezing temperatures. So exciting.

Until next time … peace


The European mindset

The European mindset

During my recent mid-semester break from school I did a lot of traveling. I started traveling to a few cities in England with my friend Heather. My favorite place was Bath. It was exactly what you think of when you think English countryside. Also that night I ate one of the best dinners of my life. Next it was off to Italy by myself. I spent 3 days in Cinque Terre alone. I did enjoy traveling alone when I didn’t have to wait for anyone to get ready in the morning, but I found eating in restaurants rather sad.

I spent the last half relaxing at a family members home in Tuscany. During these days I really started noticing the different in American and European lifestyles. I think Italians have it right; they eat good food, spend a lot of time with family and generally it is a slower pace of life. They slow down to smell the roses. Being a student, always having what’s coming up on my mind, I really enjoyed having this time to think about what lifestyle I want when I get out of school. I liked in Italy that meals were long. You are supposed to enjoy the food and the company. There are many courses, but they are small and in between you have conversation. It’s hard to picture my future after school because it is so up in the air right now. Being abroad has really challenged my thinking about growing up. It is nice to take a step back and have time to myself to reflect upon these things. When traveling it’s fun to try to get to know a place and ask yourself if you could live there.

Whatever ends up in my future, I hope I enjoy it as much as I am enjoying being abroad. However, this morning I started to miss home more than I have since I’ve been here. Living far away permanently would be hard, but it may be the adventure of a lifetime…the search continues.