The GoGlobal Blog

Month: January 2018

“Losing Myself” in Immersion

“Losing Myself” in Immersion

Studying abroad this current semester is my first time ever leaving the United States. Before my departure I dreamt about the rolling vineyards in Chile and the extensive coastline, visiting Patagonia and having wild excursions up into Las Cordilleras. Although these daydreams are not at all impossible to experience, they have not necessarily been my reality thus far.  I have been in Santiago de Chile for exactly two weeks as of today, I have been lost, confused and bewildered beyond belief for 90% of the time, and I already know that this has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I am living with a host family for my 6 and half months in Chile whom I adore, even though they barely speak any English.  When I first met my host mom at the airport I was hit with unimaginable culture shock that still has not gone away. The people of chile speak so fast and use their own “chileansims” as figures of speech that makes it extremely difficult to understand native speakers. Although I have gotten a little bit more used to the Chilean accent, I still find myself asking people to repeat themselves over and over again. However, this doesn’t seem to bother the people of chile in the slightest.  The Chileans that I have met in my home, on the street, or even in my university are the most welcoming and friendly people who are excited to share their vibrant culture and are more than happy to help someone (me) who is lost find their way to the bus stop.

One example of this, and probably my favorite experience thus far, happened about a week ago when I had to go to a meeting for Nexochile, which is the program that organizes homestays.  This meeting was held at a country club located not to far from my home; however, on a different train line.  My host mother was at work when I had to leave so she called me from her office and gave me directions, telling me to take a specific bus to this club.  My Spanish is still in the works so I had a bit of trouble understanding her directions but eventually made it on the bus where I asked the driver when my stop was (the buses in Santiago are a bit unorganized).  He responded in Spanish so fast that all I could do was stand there and think “oh my god I can’t do this.” I asked him to repeat himself about 4 times until I was too embarrassed to continue and just pretended to know what he was saying.

I walked away from the front of the bus and a man sitting in one of the seats recognized the worried look on my face.  He too tried to tell me where the stop was but my anxiety had taken over and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. At the next stop the man got off of the bus and patted me on the shoulder as to say “you got this kid.” I appreciated the sentiment but still had no idea where I was going. Then, out of nowhere a women walked up to me, gave me her cell phone and told me to answer it.  I was extremely confused but I didn’t know what else to do so I put the phone up to my ear and heard a women’s voice so clearly speaking in English saying “Hey sweetie just wanted to let you know you’re getting off at the next stop.” My face immediately lit up,  and I was covered in chills as I returned the phone to the lady and thanked her endlessly for her help.  Sure enough I got off at the next stop right in front of the country club and made it to the meeting.

Studying abroad introduces the incredible diversity in the world and I have been fortunate enough to experience the amazing people that Santiago has to offer. I would highly recommend this experience to any other students who are interested (even though I have only been here for 2 weeks).



From endless fog to Etruscan fountains, the archaic rolling hills of the eternal city have entangled my highly abbreviated 21st-century attention span. The vistas and monumental lifestyles of the commonwealth are far beyond any expectation that I formed prior crossing the Rubicon. “I cannot go back”, I tell myself; even during those lonely moments of longing for the snow powdered streets of Chicago and Midwestern style breakfasts. Even then, amidst my hometown withdrawal, it seems all I need do is take a walk down the straggly brick-lined streets and shout “Ciao!” to the occasional passerby to feel the unconditional love and desire I so dearly miss. I am okay mom and dad, the people here (although sometimes they do give me the glare “silly American”) love me because I too love their culture. I came to a place that I am happy to be able to call home for some time, and you need not worry; my guardians here are not only the parental SLA’s but also my foreign neighbors and centuries-old monuments (more than twice my height and I’m pretty tall) all of whom look over me with caring eyes. I will be home sooner than perspective would suggest and when I am I will have stories to tell of the Farnese’s, Cesar’s, and many more statues of the past. Figaro! Arrivederci!

Culture Shocked: Transportation, Scammers, Making Friends

Culture Shocked: Transportation, Scammers, Making Friends

Thursday, January 18th, 2018.

What am I doing here.


Prior to arriving in Rome, I had this notion that I’d be living in the middle of a postcard. Everything beautiful all around me all of the time. That wasn’t the case. Here at the John Felice Rome Center, we’re on the hill. It’s sort of the outskirts of Rome called Balduina and is on top of a hill. If I take the 990 Bus, for example, I’m 45 minutes from Vatican City. That is if the bus ever comes, of course. This is the first culture shock: public transportation works how and when it wants to. There is no use in understanding it. This is just the way it is. Understanding that Rome has no logic is the hardest part of adapting for me, but now I’m two weeks in and I’m over it. Need more dependable transportation? Take the metro.

Culture shock two: Scammers. They’re everywhere. This is a huge obstacle to making local friends other than the language barrier. The second night in Rome, a group of friends from at the JFRC and I went out to Trastevere. All of the locals know this area for their American pubs and clubs so some often times locals will come to swoon the International Students. Its also known by JFRC staff as an area

for students to be more cautious in. While hanging out near a bar, a group of locals approached my friends and I. They seemed really friendly and we had a lot of fun trying to overcome our language barriers. They knew as much English as we do Italian. One of the guys offered us a drink out of his cup. Red Flag. Its important to remember, especially if one’s been drinking, to stay aware of possible harm. I don’t know whether he was being amicable or malicious in his offer; however, I did know I did not want to find out. This isn’t to say making friends here outside the JFRC is impossible

because there are so many warm and loving people in Rome. More-so, never forget to stay aware.  During the first two weeks of orientation, the JFRC staff takes all of the students on trips and diners. One trip we went on was to The Colosseum and to the Roman Forum. It is one of the most astonishingly beautiful areas I’ve ever been in. Around these tourist areas specifically I’ve noticed, people on the street will approach me with roses, selfie-sticks, bracelets, ect. and try to put them in my hand essentially to get me to buy. At first I found it shocking, but now I’ve learned to say, “Non, grazie,” and be on my way. One place I noticed scammers weren’t as prevalent are the Villas. As a group, JFRC visited Villa Farnese other known as Villa Caprarola where we were privileged enough to tour the mansion. Sometimes the coolest places in Italy are in the middle of nowhere and its amazing.


This week I met someone named Ben. He’s an International Student studying medicine at a neighboring university. One night, we walked all around Rome hitting all of the tourist spots that just have to be seen and he explained the history of each spot. It was fascinating. We saw the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti (The Spanish Steps), and Villa Borghese gardens. Days like this where the weather is beautiful, tourism is down because its later in the evening, and great friends surround you are days where Rome is absolutely lovely and the fact that buses may or may not ever come doesn’t matter to much. Making new friends, in my opinion, is my favorite part of being in Rome. I generally trust new people, but taking precautions such as telling my roommate or SLA where I’ll be, who I’m with, ect. to stay safe is vital. We drove back to the JFRC to drop me off at the end of the night on a scooter and in that moment I actually felt like Lizzie McGuire.




So, what am I doing here?
Living my best life.


Bienvenuto a Roma!

Bienvenuto a Roma!

Week one has officially come and gone! I have to say, it feels like I’ve been here a lot longer. From the 24 hours of constant travel to full days of orientation to my first few days of classes, the reality of studying abroad still hasn’t sunk in. As I wait for the feeling of being at summer camp to wear off, I’ve managed to become open to as many weekend trips and late night gelato runs as possible.

Before arriving in Italy, the only expectations I had of the country were based off the movies I’d seen (Lizzie McGuire, anyone?) and posts I’d saved on Pinterest. Italian culture has always drawn me in and a dream of mine is to live in Italy once I graduate college. The beginning of junior year I had come to terms that I was stuck in a rut that felt impossible to climb out, so I took my study abroad plans off the back burner, did my research, and signed up. The process was stressful so if you’re a procrastinator like me, get everything in order ASAP, it’ll save you a headache later.

As a commuter, I’ve never had a true “college experience” in the sense that I’ve never had a roommate that wasn’t my sister, I haven’t had to deal with dorm drama and eating cafeteria food was never even a passing thought. So far, I’ve gotten lucky. My roommate is the sweetest, my dorm has the best view, and as for the cafeteria…well, I guess that’ll still take some getting used to.

Seeing the beauty of Rome firsthand is something that no picture can ever fully capture. I still have a long way to go on my list of things to see, but the mindblowing reality of the historical significance is almost too much to handle. Walking the streets and taking in the monuments I’ve only read about in textbooks is an experience unlike any other.

If you’re on the fence about studying abroad, or if you’ve never left home before (like me), just go for it. Don’t be one of those people that gets caught up in the 9-5 and comfort of home! Go out and explore! See the world! Wear whatever you want! Talk to people you wouldn’t usually talk to! Eat weird food! …just make sure to pack some snacks from home. I wish I did.




Hello Ho Chi Minh City!

Hello Ho Chi Minh City!

Hello all! These past few days in Vietnam have been absolute chaos, but in the best way possible. Classes have just started, but I have already learned a lot just by living in Vietnam for around a week now (I don’t even exactly know how many days I’ve been here due to the time change, but we will get into that in a little bit). For this first post, I think I’m just going to talk about some of the experiences I’ve had on my way over and the first few days, so if you want to follow me along my 8,697-mile journey to Vietnam just keep reading.

In classic Emily style I didn’t start packing for my four-month journey until the week before I left. I tried to pack light knowing that Ho Chi Minh City can average around 30 degrees Celsius, so you know, only 86 degrees Fahrenheit. That is quite the change from the frigid and now snowy weather in Chicago. I don’t think I’m adjusted to the heat yet, but the key is to drink a lot of water and have Gatorade packets to keep electrolytes up. We are very lucky to have air conditioning and we sure do use it.

Saying goodbye was a lot harder than I had thought and one highlight from the airport included my goodbyes. Before I left the US, I wanted to make sure I had Vietnamese dong with me when I landed so I don’t rack up too many international ATM fees. I didn’t realize I needed to go through security to get to the correct currency exchange location and I only knew this as I was almost to the front of the line. Almost like a movie, the camera pans and you see me dash out of line to find my mom and boyfriend to say goodbye before I go through security and not have to go through everything again and end up being late and miss my flight. After a good tearful goodbye, I was off on my way!

Let’s get things straight: a 22-hour flight is not fun. I know, shocking? I flew to Shanghai and had a layover which was interesting to say the least. You meet so many people while in long lines to go through security again which I do think was my highlight of my flights. One girl was just backpacking and didn’t really have a plan for when she lands in Vietnam and my mind still wanders to what she is doing right now. The second flight was not as rough as the first as it was a lot shorter and I slept through it like a baby. Once I landed at the wonderful time of 2:00am Vietnamese time, program members picked me and a few other Loyola students I had met up with to bring us to the dorm we are staying at.

Prepare yourself because I’m about to rant about Vietnamese food and drinks now so hold tight. Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá) is a staple here and a great way to socialize as there are so many coffee shops around Saigon (another name for Ho Chi Minh City by the way). It’s iced coffee with condensed milk and tastes nothing like the bitter coffee experiences I’ve had at home. Street food is also a vital part to my experience. Street vendors are almost everywhere selling various kinds of food, which by the way are all delicious. I’ve eaten so much phở this past week its ridiculous, but I’m not even mad because its so good.

I came to Vietnam without many expectations as I have never visited Southeast Asia before, but I have been surprised many times over. Motorbikes are a huge part of the city here. They are certainly the majority in the streets over cars and do there own thing all the time. They are a very convenient way to get around, but man do they like to not follow any rules. Driving on the sidewalks are not out of question as well as ignoring traffic patterns. They do seem very scary, but slowly I’ve gotten used to them. Walking through the streets with “predictability and a slow pace” is how to attack getting one place to another. The bikes will go around you and it is very safe and kind of fun after a bit of an adjustment. The public buses are also something very soon. They slow to almost a stop when they pick you up, but you have to be prepared to flag them down to pick you up as well as hop onto a slow rolling bus.

As I close out this entry, I do want to say a few things to anyone thinking about coming to Vietnam to study abroad: do it. It’s like living in a dream. There are some difficulties I’ve encountered like the 13-hour time difference from Chicago (saying good morning to everyone as they say good night to me is still pretty odd) and not knowing Vietnamese at all, but I do not regret my decision at all. Every Vietnamese student I’ve met has been so open and warm to us, the classes I’ve been to so far have already opened my mind, and the faculty has been wonderfully helpful. I’ve been asked “Why Vietnam?” so many times and the best way I’ve responded is “Why not?”. Yes, this is all very new and can be odd, but to learn you have to be uncomfortable in some sense.

If I don’t stop myself now, I’ll keep talking forever but, I can’t wait to keep everyone updated on my semester at the Vietnam Center!

Emily Hansen



“No, I didn’t go to the club… I have a dream to follow”

“No, I didn’t go to the club… I have a dream to follow”

“I have a dream to follow.”

This hit me hard, really hard. Which is why I wrote this spontaneously because I truly believe others can benefit.
I mentioned in my last blog that I live in a house with 20 people. I have not met them all nor have gotten to know everyone’s name.

I was making eggs and potatoes while my friend from Singapore and another guy (whom I’ve met but never got his name) from northern India were talking about start-ups. They were bouncing ideas off each other and I threw in some interjections about ideas I have. Once Erfi, my friend from Singapore, left it was just me and this guy who I will call “V” because his door tag says “V. ‘last name’.”

V: Did you go to “AKA” (the student-ran club) last night?
Angelo: I did, but was not a huge fan
V: Are you hungover?
Angelo: No because I did not drink that much
Angelo: Were you there last night?

And here is the beginning of the end.

V: No I did not go to the club… I have a dream to follow

This statement jumped right from subconscious to conscious and there was no way to forget it, yet he continued on with a leisurely conversation. After the conversation seemed to be done I told him that I really liked that statement, and then I was dug into an even deeper hole.

He said how he is a really busy man because he is doing a masters in a business related focus. He is taking a Swedish language course outside of the school, that from what I heard takes a ton of time. And he is working part-time for the Swedish postal service.

He told me how he used to love partying. To the extent that he was suspended from his school because of partying too much. I was taken back again because he did not seem like the type. The suspension was an awakening for him to do something better with his life. He then had another revelation, when his met his “girlfriend.” I put girlfriend in quotes because he told me how in his culture, there is no boyfriend or girlfriend. The moment you have sexual relations with someone is the moment you say that marriage is on the horizon. V said he was going to marry his “girlfriend,” no doubt.

V said that she is an orphan. She has no idea who her mother or father are. This enrages V’s parents and they do not want them getting married. V’s “girlfriend” has terrible asthma and extremely low red blood cell count. When she walks to school and back, her day is basically done concerning physical activity. He said she is dealing with a lot of health issues.

He still has a smile.

He said he is doing a masters at an international school, learning Swedish on his own, and making money part-time, so he can create a stable life for both of them.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. This is what going abroad is all about. When the hole he dug for me finally reached bedrock, he ran out because he was late for a meeting. I was left with a plate of eggs and potatoes and another pile consisting of my thoughts that I could not eat to make disappear.

He spoke so purely that I do not think he understands the impact of his words. He spoke so casually, as if it was a regular topic. He was not trying to make me feel bad, or trying to get pity from me. He was telling the story of his past, and the story to unfold for his future. V has a solid dream that I know will be fulfilled.

You do not see or hear these kind of first-hand situations when you are in the same place you have always been and surrounded by people who have a similar background to you. At least I never have, which is why, at home or aboard, I always try to dig out deeper information so more of these opportunities to learn can arise. In this case, all I did was tell him that what he said was a really nice statement. And now look at where I am.


¿Qué onda, México?

¿Qué onda, México?

Hola! My name is Alex. I am studying abroad as an exchange student at la Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and I am going to start my first blog post with a little bit of venting.

I already studied abroad for a semester during Fall 2016 in Heredia, Costa Rica with USAC. This was, by far, the best time in my life, which is why I decided to study abroad again. I knew this would be very different- my program at la Ibero is much more independent, I’m taking classes in Spanish, living in an apartment instead of with a host family, etc. I prepared myself for these differences (or thought I did) but also figured that I had already studied abroad and traveled before, so I felt that I knew at least the basics of how to live and travel abroad.

When I got to Mexico, everything I knew seemed to be thrown out the window. Leaving the airport, my Uber driver couldn’t find my apartment. When my roommate and I made it to our apartment, we found it absolutely filthy- apparently it’s not a thing to clean before you move out here. I kept getting stuck places the first few days because I had planned to just use the WiFi on my phone, but it’s not safe to hail taxis off the street here, so everyone goes everywhere with Uber- without a working phone, I couldn’t call an Uber. Getting a Mexican SIM card was one of the most difficult Spanish interactions I’ve every had. In Costa Rica, it’s safe to drink the water; here, I am still adjusting to carrying around plastic bottles and not having water accessible all the time. Even though I speak Spanish, classrooms that echo and professors that mumble make it nearly impossible for me to determine where we are supposed to find the homework for the next class. On the first day of one of my classes, which I really needed to take, the professor told me and a German student that we would almost definitely fail since Spanish is not our mother tongue. My roommate ended up in the hospital with a bad infection and my phone broke during the same day. I have felt wildly overwhelmed more than a couple of times here.

Pero, todo vale la pena- all of these difficulties are so worth it already. Despite how many troubles I have encountered and how much stress I’ve had, I can tell this will be so rewarding in such different ways from the last time I studied abroad. There are around 170 exchange students in my program, and only 20 of us are from the United States, meaning I already have friends from all over the world: Central and South America, Canada, Europe, Australia, and of course Mexico. I have been at events where five or six different languages are being spoken, and I’ve picked up a few Portuguese words (Brasilians say “cheers” by making the sound of two glasses clinking together, something like like “ching ching”- it’s very endearing). I’m already picking up some Mexican slang (que padre!). Even though it’s tough, I am forced to speak Spanish almost all day every day, and I know I will continue improving. Everything is so inexpensive here, so I feel quite comfortable financially even without working. My roommates, another girl from the U.S. and a guy from Mexico, are so so so supportive and wonderful. The Mexican people are truly the kindest I have ever met: I haven’t encountered a single person who does not go out of their way to help me with whatever I need and make me feel welcome here.

I guess my takeaway is that this is tougher than I expected. I made it through Costa Rica with almost no culture shock, but it hit me much harder this time. I am still so excited to be here and grateful than I am able to experience studying abroad again. I know I will continue to settle into this new life in one of the coolest cities I’ve ever seen.

Next time, I will hopefully have more adventures to share and less complaining to do. I can’t wait to see what else CDMX will throw at me!

From Home to Rome

From Home to Rome

It’s been a crazy couple of days already. Well it’s actually only been 5 days. Throughout my time here, I have learned a lot. I’ve learned that snacks in airports are crazy expensive. I’ve learned that having a 9-hour flight can suck. I’ve learned that it is possible to get the stomach flu within the first two days abroad ANDD…I’ve technically learned a lot of things. Fun right?

There’s a lot you can expect when studying abroad but you are never truly prepared for it until you make it to your destination. So for those who are curious or want to know what one may go through when studying abroad, let me give you a recap of what I’ve gone through so far.

The first day was hectic and emotional because not only did I not know what to expect, but I was also not ready to say goodbye to my family, friends, and loved ones. It didn’t hit me that I was going to leave all of them for such a long until my final week at home. It was harder because I have never been away from home. Ever. So to study abroad in Rome, somewhere far far away, was a huge step. I started counting down the days and hours until I left and I was honestly dreading the little amount of time I had left. It wasn’t something I was used to.

So if you plan to study abroad, but you have never been away from home, expect to feel like this. Don’t worry though. That feeling will go away with all the great adventures and long walks you go on (literally). I only knew one person in my program, but with all of the outings I’ve had I’ve been able to make a good group of friends. Don’t be shy and, especially, don’t be sad to be away from home. Go head first and embark yourself in this incredible journey you are in!

Another thing…packing is hard. I literally wear a different set of clothes everyday, so to limit myself to only a suitcase and carry-on for my study abroad trip was a struggle. Right now, I still miss my clothes at home. Packing was hard because you literally want to bring everything, but also because you feel like you are leaving a part of you behind (not to be cheesy). Don’t panic! You will have tons of opportunities to buy stuff over there for a cheaper price and better quality. Also, you will have the opportunity to discover a new you through all the experiences you go through, which may include a new fashion style!

Don’t overpack, but also don’t underpack. Currently, I’ve been wearing the same yoga pants for 4 days because I only brought two pairs (sad times). Also, start packing ahead of time because you’re going to need all the time to weight your suitcases and triple check the clothes you bring. I know somebody here who actually forgot to bring their pajamas. Oh! Leave the heels at home. There is way too many hills and rocks for you to be able to efficiently walk in those.

Once I got through the struggle of packing and dealing with my feeling, I was able to start enjoying my journey. The very first day I got here I went to eat gelato and visit the Trevi Fountain. It was amazing! It didn’t feel like I was in Rome until that moment. It was great and I was low-key having a Lizzie McGuire moment when I threw my coin in the Trevi Fountain.

In that moment, I knew I’d enjoy my three to four months here. I was obviously going to miss home and everybody that was there. I was going to miss my mom’s food, my dog, the Chicago skyline, and everything about home. However, I knew that great experiences would be formed here. After going through so many orientation sessions and making some new friends, I am ready to start off school. I am ready to take on new challenges in a new country, surround myself in a different culture, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

For those of you who are reading this and are thinking about studying abroad…DO IT. Even if it is just a winter or summer term. It will be worth it. For those of you who are reading this for funsies or because you were curious…well now you know what I’ve gone through so far. It’s been a rollercoaster full of emotions, but in between all of that, memories have been made already.

I hope to make even more memories so I can continue updating you, but for now CIAO!

P.S: Here’s a picture of me finally visiting the Colosseum 🙂

From Jonkoping to Tenhult

From Jonkoping to Tenhult

Tenhult Big House
path near lake Tenhultasjon
Munksjon Bay
Tenhult Station

Welcome to my blog! I am attending the International Business School @ Jonkoping University in Sweden. The university is split into four schools: School of Health and Welfare, School of Education and Communication, School of Engineering, and last but not least Jonkoping International Business School. All 4 schools consist of around 10,000 students, of which around 2,000 are international students. I thought before I start posting about informative cultural or societal aspects of Sweden I would start with my journey to where I live to add some geographic context.

My university is in the city centre of Jonkoping. Among the students living in the city, many locals reside there because of the developing business scene. As a result some students, including myself, are made to live further away. I wanted this to happen to me because 1. I wanted to live in “the countryside” and 2. I wanted to travel so I could learn the area more quickly.

Alright, the logistics. From the university it takes 3 hours and 20 minutes walking. It takes 1 hour riding a bike. It takes 30-45 minutes depending on the time for the bus. It takes 13-25 minutes by train, which comes every hour. Lastly, it takes 2o minutes by car, however no one has a car.

Alright, now I took the train to Tenhult Big House where there’s approximately 20 international students. So far in my house I have met students from Singapore, Mexico, France, China, India, Czech republic, and Netherlands (informally Holland). Yeah, they were not kidding about being an international hub. In my exchange group of 150 students, there are about 70 countries represented. Having all these perspectives in one place is surreal to me. In 4 days, I have already broken down so many stereotypes I have heard and made additions to my global perspective. I am so grateful for an opportunity like this.

Thank you for reading! Anybody reading who is studying abroad in Europe, I created a Facebook group for students to connect, meet up, and share information while traveling in Europe. Here is the link:

Let me know if you are interested. My Fb name is Angelo Michael DeMarco.