The GoGlobal Blog

Month: April 2012



Even though I blog about every week, its so impossible to capture everything that has been happening in my life in Chile!

Today was amazing, this will sound really cheesy but I just felt so alive! Being here in Chile, with my photography and journalism friends has made me so certain and so passionate about my calling to photojournalism. I have never felt more like where I belong, then when I am hanging out with my chilean friends debating about politics, human rights, religion and of course journalism in the news. Of course, I stick out a lot too, I’m constantly learning more about how just how different American culture is from Latin American culture, and how much I have to learn. Chilean culture really is so rich and diverse.

Chileans are extremely passionate people, about everything. They express things in ways that Americans usually don’t, they are not reserved in any sense. They also are really politically active, artistic and close with their families- in comparison to the united states. Chileans live at home until they are in their early 30’s and that is completely normal, and my friends are all very open with their love to each other and their families. The other day one of my friends was telling me much he loved his mom and how he would die for her, just in a casual conversation.. and my host mom and host sister are always holding hands, hugging, kissing on the cheeks constantly- it is just the culture here!

Today I went to a huge protest/march for better education, more rights for the Mapuche or indigenous people of Chile and for freedom of the press- all huge issues in Chile. I am not exaggerating when I say this, 80,000 people showed up in the streets to dance, protest and exercise their right to assemble peacefully. I took lots and lots of photos and had fun participating too!

It really wasn’t violent until the end of the march after we had all marched all though out Central and up to a different Stadium that was really beautiful and antique looking where there was live music, speakers, more dancing and protesting. Unfortunately the dancing turned into mosh pitting and then a riot broke up, my friends took really good care of me and we managed to struggle our way to safety! Soaked in sweat, covered in confetti, and feeling extremely triumphant we made our way back to the metro where we reluctantly went back to classes for the afternoon. We stopped at a street market on the way though and we all bought soy burgers, juice and candy before going to the University. After classes we heard shooting outside on the streets from tear gas bombs and they had shut the big entrance doors meaning there was trouble, so naturally of course we had to go check it out. With all of our cameras in hand and bandanas soaked in lemon juice to counteract the tear gas we headed down to the action like real journalists. As we were witnessing some riots, some soldiers came up to a few friends and I who were taking videos and demanded to see our identification cards and they wanted to search our backpacks.. my heart started beating really fast as we all dug in our pockets for our ID’s and opened our bags. They quickly scanned our ID’s and looked through our bags and told us that if we weren’t journalists we weren’t allowed to be taking pictures and that it wasn’t safe here so we needed to leave.

It was one of the scariest moments, but at the same time nothing compared to the moments I experienced while In Ghana with the soldiers searching our things and demanding passports every 10 miles.

I had a little quiz in yoga class today too, but it was easy peasy and my teacher even commented that she could tell this wasn’t my first time doing yoga!

This past weekend I went to the coast, Valparieso to a beautiful sea side city made up of colorful homes situated on rolling hills. Me and my friend Cassie, and Pablo (another foreign exchange student from Peru) decided we would strip down and dive into the freezing, literally, water of the Pacific Ocean! And we did, we literally did a little Chilean polar plunge! That plus some delicious sea food and a tour of Pablo Neruda’s amazing house made for a great weekend!

Unfortunately there is rain in the forecast and COLD WEATHER! not my favorite, time to pull out the sweaters and endless cups of hot tea for me!

The other night, my host mom and I had a really great bonding time- she helped me proof read all of my essay’s that I’ve been working on and we had a great discussion about the her family, my family, relationships, love, racism, really everything that can be discussed haha. Then we baked some delicious cookies together and ate them while drinking tea and bonding more- I am so lucky to have such a great family here that I can learn so much from!

This weekend I plan on making a little field trip up to the Andes with a friend studying from German, possibly going to some hot springs with my mom and sister, working on a documentary and photo essay for a journalism class with my friends, and exploring santiago with them all! I can’t wait 🙂

No matter how far a person can go, the horizon is still way beyond you. -Zora Hurston

Gluten Free Traveler

Gluten Free Traveler

I am gluten intolerant. Usually, I get the response “oh, that is unfortunate, it seems so hard.” It can be extremely difficult when all I want is to to order a pizza from the joint down the street or a eat a cookie that my friends just baked.

Initially, gluten intolerance and travel do not seem like a good pairing. They can actually seem like a nightmare if you think of all the things you cannot eat. Often times, they require more planning, reading labels, printing out cards in various languages explaining your condition, and attempting to ask the waiter in their native language if there is anything without gluten in their restaurant. However, the more places you travel the better you become at finding options that are  satisfying and allow you to experience some of the local flavor.

Some cuisines are better than other. I have to say that in my four months in Prague I was unable to eat about 90 percent of  Czech food because they love their wheat flour. I was able to eat most of the meat they prepared and their potatoes. However, most of their sauces were thickened with wheat so I would often have to ask for them to hold the sauce. Their most famous dishes knedliky (bread dumplings),  smazeny syr (fried cheese), bramboraky (fried potato pancakes), kolache (sweet fruit pastry) and of course beer are needless to say not gluten intolerant friendly. I struggled in Prague when I went to restaurants.  I was able to cook my food fairly easily. The local Billa had gluten free pasta, bread, deserts, chips, etc. I eventually found a gluten free beer and an entirely gluten free restaurant. Plus, my favorite food of all time is Mexican. Mexican is very easy for gluten intolerant people because of good ole corn tortillas. I managed to find the one restaurant and it became my favorite place in the city.

Paris was particularly difficult as well because all I wanted to do was grab a baguette at a bakery and smear brie cheese all over it.  Every morning I met my friends in Montmartre and they would pick out their pastries, crepes, and croissants. I’ll be honest, it nearly killed me.

In the Netherlands and Belgium, I ate my fair share of frites. They were naturally gluten free as long as they did not use the same oil to fry them and other bread products. I ate a modified version of Wiener Schnitzel in Austria. I had the best spicy goulash in Hungary. In Germany, due to their diversity I had Thai, India, and Vietnamese food.

Surprisingly, Italy was the best country for gluten intolerances. Because their diet consists almost exclusively of wheat products, young children are tested for gluten intolerances and celiacs disease. There are tons of restaurants that offer wonderful gluten free options. Rome was my best food location and I felt like I gained 10 pounds in 4 days being there. I visited with my friend studying in Rome who is also gluten intolerant. I had an amazing time eating pasta, pizza, gelato in gluten free cones, cakes, and biscotti. It was gluten free heaven.

Due to my initial struggle in Prague whenever I met an Australian backpacker, I immediately hounded them if they know about gluten intolerances and the accessibility of gluten free food in Australia. I met one girl in Krakow, that was actually gluten free too. Although she was from Perth and not Melbourne, she insisted that it was fairly easy to be gluten free in Australia. Hallelujah!!

When I arrived in Melbourne, I went to the local grocery store, Cole’s, and found half an aisle of gluten free products from brownies to crackers. At least I knew I could cook gluten free foods, but how about the restaurants. Nearly every restaurant has at least one gluten free option. It is fantastic. Even fast food pizza chains Dominos and Pizza Hut have gluten free crust. WIth the exception of one cafe, I have been able to eat anywhere my friends wanted to go.

I reently got back from a road trip in the countryside. I stopped a a tiny local grocery store, not expecting to find anything. Much to my surprise, they had a tiny but mighty gluten free section. Australia is wonderful for individuals with gluten intolerances.

With that being said, being gluten free is not cheap. While there are many options here, restaurants usually charge anywhere from 3 to 6 dollars extra for the meal to be gluten free. Thus, on a student budget I opt to cook the majority of my food at home.  Even in stores the products can be a bit of steep. I was craving brownies last week so I purchased a mix for a whopping 6 dollars. It really killed me to buy it, but I had such a chocolate craving, I caved. I made them and while at home I have made many GF mixes, the final product was awful. Not only was my chocolate craving not satisfied but I was irritated that I had spend a bloody fortune on them. I complained for about a minute before I googled the company online and sent them a email politely notifying them of their less than stellar product. Now, I am not usually a complainer, but what can I say? Do not mess with me and chocolate. I received a prompt email asking for my home address and within 2 days I had a package of gluten free products to make up for my dissatisfaction. Lesson learned: do not be afraid to give the company feedback on their product. They will send you more free things to keep you satisfied and happy.

I made a quick list of the countries that were good/bad/ok for people with gluten intolerances. These are just based on my opinions and experiences so some people may have different ideas and disagree.

Fantastic: Australia, Italy

Good: Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany (Schar is a German Gluten Free company that sells their products all across Europe), Spain

Just All right (had some difficulty with traditional dishes): France, Austria, Croatia, Montenegro,Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary

Poor: Czech Republic, Poland (hard when eating out, ok in stores), Slovakia

Any of my fellow GF travelers. I wish you the best of luck. Happy eating!!

Tiempos para no olvidar

Tiempos para no olvidar

So many things to catch up on, I don’t even know where to start! I’m happy to say that I now finally feel a little bit more at home here, I have my group of friends at school that I go to lunch with instead of solo all the time, to go out with on the weekends, talk about anything with and just relax with in my long gaps between classes! One of my best friends here is a guy named Vicente ( I doubt he will be reading this, he doesn’t really speak English, although it’s much better than any other Chilean)  He is one of the nicest, funniest guys in the world- oh and he is gay! We hang out for hours literally just lounging in the park or walking around the city talking all about life, the obstacle of being Gay in a country that is so backwards, our hopes dreams, and even fashion! He is a journalism major also, and we have a lot of the same goals in life, it’s funny because he is always talking about how he needs to get out of his home country, travel and widen his perspectives- and that is exactly what I am doing right now and was saying about 6 months ago! He is coming to New York City next December and January with a local YMCA here that helps Latinos come to the USA and work, so fingers crossed I will be paying him a visit next winter to help him with the culture shock as he has been helping me here.

Last weekend my friends and I went to a concert in Estadio Nacional, about an hour from my house- it’s the biggest stadium in Santiago, where they used to torture people and have public executions during the dictatorship. It was a concert called “Un cancion para no olivdar” or A song to never forget, in memorial of the dictatorship. It was really cool, I heard lots of singers and speakers that were really passionate and moving! I took lots of really cool pictures too and of course lots of salsa dancing took place! On Sunday I got my own little personal tour of Santiago with another one of my Chilean friends! We walked probably at least 10 miles, no joke! We walked all over Santiago- we visited the park where Daniel Zamudio ( a teenage homosexual) was beaten to death a few weeks ago for being gay, and visited his memorial, I saw more stadiums and museums that were very old and are now just a pile or rubble from a huge earthquake that happened in 2008. I saw the Memorial for Victor Jarra ( a singer, artist, poet and political activist during the Dictatorship that would paint beautiful murals and sing songs about freedom and the struggle for human rights, he was arrested by the Government and tortured by having his tongue and fingers cut off while he was still alive then shot to death by 44 bullets of a machine gun then his body was thrown into the streets as a warning to all other Chileans). The memorial is now, ironically enough a deserted site filled with graffiti, homeless people, trash and stray dogs- I wanted to take pictures but my chilean friends advised me it was not safe to take my camera out- but the site will always be held in my memory. It goes to show, how a country is left after a communist dictatorship- and how the struggle with poverty and human rights is still such a problem here.

After that awesome tour, our feet hurt SO BADLY! So much walking- but I was happy to go home that night and have delicious dinner waiting for me with the family- homemade soup, avacado, tomato, cheese sandwiches and apple Kuchen! Yesterday during my Photojournalism class, we took a field trip to go visit a famous photo exhibit, it was by a chilean photographer who traveled to India and took pictures of the people in the streets, rivers and temples- it was so beautiful but devastating. Hannah if you are reading this- I’m so proud of you for going to India, and I know you are going to make a difference! 🙂

I also went to the Chilean Modern Art Museum with some friends and explored looking at art, more photography and what not, I ended the afternoon by getting delicious soy burgers with some vegetarian friends and watching the Barcelona/Chelsea futbol game! After the futbol game, and after my voice was a little strained for yelling at Alexis Sanchez (chilean playing on the Barcelona team) I went to a march with more aspiring journalism students from Chile! It was a protest against the repression and cutting down of forests in Patagonia! It was so cool and we even got to go make some posters and march around, I was a little scared of the Carbineros (Chilean corrupt police that are brutal! ) but everything was pretty peaceful!

This has been a long entry! But I’ll wrap it up by saying that this weekend I’ll be off to the coast with other foreign exchange students to explore an older city called Valparerisó!

Miss you all!

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” – Alan Keightley

There’s More to Poland than Pierogi

There’s More to Poland than Pierogi

Really, it’s true. Though, I would have to say that the pierogi is beyond delicious.  Now, I know what you’re thinking. Poland doesn’t exactly sound like a top-rated destination. So why would I go there? There are many reasons, actually. If I could, I’d go back all over again.

I spent the weekend in Krakow, which is in the south. To say that it’s an amazing city is an understatement. It’s so full of rich culture and history. Our hostel was about a five minute walk away from the Krakow Castle and only a few more from the main center. We spent a lot of time exploring and just enjoying. Krakow reminds me of a mix between Prague and something more modern. The remnants of communist influence are still there, but the city feels like it’s moving toward modernity. I just loved how old the city felt, but it wasn’t so left behind.

Our big trip of the weekend however, was actually about 65km away from the city. One thing three history majors absolutely could not pass up was a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. In fact, I believe it’s not something anybody should pass up. It made for a very intense day, but I believe I understand so much more about the history of WWII and the Holocaust.

It’s truly an experience I will never forget. I spent the entire day feeling numb and just shocked in general. It’s so easy to learn about the Holocaust in school and think you understand what happened, but it’s a completely different story to go there. It’s more about a feeling that you get when you’re there. To be walking where thousands of people were murdered and forced to labor until they were simply too exhausted to go on is an indescribable experience. I cannot possibly convey to you how truly sick I felt with all human beings at that moment. To be in a place where innocents were put through trials tougher than anything any one of us will ever face is gut wrenching.

It was an awful day, but I am so glad that I experienced it. I believe that everyone should go to a concentration camp at some point during their life. We need to be reminded of these horrors in order to assure that nothing like this ever happens again. It may seem like what happened in Auschwitz and the hundreds of other concentration camps around Europe was a long time ago, but it really wasn’t. Auschwitz was only liberated 67 years ago. There are people alive today that can still remember it. I also visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp outside of Berlin over spring break and even though that camp was also liberated in 1945, it was still used by the Soviets for another 10 years. Not everything ended when WWII did. We must keep that in mind.

If this post comes across as a bit preachy, I apologize. This is a subject I feel very strongly about and I want to do my part to make sure the horrific events of WWII are never forgotten. My trip to Auschwitz is something that will stay with me forever and I am glad for that.

However, even though I’ve seen the worst in humanity, I’ve also seen some of the best as well. I met some of the friendliest people while I was in Germany and Poland. People of today should not be blamed for their predecessor’s actions and I honestly believe that the world is working toward becoming a better place.

And to leave you with one final, happy thought, here’s a picture of some of the most delicious pierogi in the world.

Feliz Pascua!

Feliz Pascua!

I am now a 20 year old Chilean… well at least half of that statement is true!  Thank goodness for Easter break, while a lot of the other gringas here have their family from the USA visiting, or took an overly priced bus ticket up to the north for a weekend getaway Teresa and I decided after being invited to numerous asados (barbecues in the park!), carretes ( parties) and just having the chance to have one long weekend where we could relax, hang out with Chileans and our families- to stay in Santiago.

So, we didn’t have school on Thursday or Friday which was very lucky for me because I might have had one of the most active 3 day weeks in a while- with my chilean mom commenting to me ” Tienes demasiado energia!” (you have too much energy). That is an understatement if anyone knows me well enough.

On Monday morning, I rode my bike to school, went to my Yoga class, then rode my bike back ( about 12 miles in total) then had just enough to relax, eat lunch , shower and then go all the way back to school to my first practice of Capoeira! It is a type of brazilian martial arts, a mixture of dance, gymnastics and fighting! It is the coolest and hardest thing I have ever tried. I was so sore, seriously. But by the time I have about 3 months training, I’ll be a brazilian warrior in the making- watch out USA!

I had a schedule similar to that for the week, so I was dead and so ready for a break come Thursday!

On Thursday Teresa and I met up at a park and relaxed, and then ate onces (chilean version of tapas) with my mom, consisting of  delicious fresh baked bread, tomatoes, potatoes,cucumbers and some type of fried zucchini!

Afterwards we lazily walked around, ended up at the mall listening to a live band, eating delicious gelato and seeing a movie that was about Chicago! It was a really fun relaxing evening. On Friday Teresa and I went out to a discoteca and danced the night away- literally. We didn’t get back until about 5 AM, the usual time for Chileans. It was a very memorable and fun night to say the least! The next day we both just slept A LOT and we’re actually really sick..not too fun, but worth it for sure, actually made us feel even more Chilean- going out till 5 AM then regaining energy all day- SO Chilean of us.

Today, Easter I actually ran a 10k! ( Yes, I am now in the metric system! ) It was a beautiful, lovely Sunday morning filled with lots of families on bike rides and couples walking their dogs or going to church! After my run my older brother Javier came over and my mom made a delicious brunch of stir fry with pasta and a delicious raspberry cake! We ate lots and lots and drank endless cups of tea chatting. Afterwards my brother and I went on a Easter bike ride together to try and find an apartment that mi Pololo (boyfriend) Rick can stay in when he visits in May! We found one, but it was super sketchy and my brother said we probably shouldn’t go inside- so after hesitantly ringing the doorbell and hearing a million dogs bark we both exchanged glances and ran down the street in fear. It was pretty funny 🙂

Now, Teresa and I are both just relaxing, it just started raining too, the first rainfall since I’ve been here. I really wanted to go out and do a photo shoot because I finally got a new memory card and have been itching to take some good shots in the city, but with the rain – might have to take a rain check…no pun intended.

Oh and my host family here isn’t religious just like me, mi madre described her religion as being “mente abierta” or open minded, and that couldn’t be anymore similar to me! Another perfect match in that way!

Hoping that you all have a cheerful and tranquil holiday

Besos y Abrezos!

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

L- L- London!

L- L- London!

London, why are you so wonderful?

It has been at least 60 degrees everyday in London since my last blog post! It has been sunny, perhaps raining a total of two times, and did I mention it’s been wonderfully warm?

Because it will be impossible to write everything I have done within the past weeks, I will highlight a few of my many extraordinary experiences, as well as one or two of my not so great experiences…

First off, my trip to Scotland! Edinburgh was beautiful… although it was completely different from what I was expecting. When we arrived we went on a coach/ walking tour to see some of the main sights like the Edinburgh Castle as well as some other beautiful sights of the city. After the tour we had down time to explore the city so a couple friends and I decided we wanted to go to a pub for some lunch. None of us had our passports because well the horror stories we hear about passports getting stolen have made us protective of them, but we thought we all looked over 18 (oh and we are all over 18), and we weren’t going to get any alcoholic beverages so we would be able to get into any pub. That was so not the case! We were seated at the first pub we went to, but when the waitress asked for our IDs and we didn’t have any, they kicked us out! We were all shocked! Apparently Scotland is very strict about pubs and will not allow anyone in without a proper ID, even if you are there just to eat. So we eventually found a restaurant, but we were all so bummed out about the pub experience that we weren’t too excited about Edinburgh any more.

Later that evening when went to a “whiskey tasting” with our tour group, which really just consisted of us going to a pub and buying whiskey, another disappointment as we thought we would be going to an actual distillery. We stayed out until 10pm and then we went back and went to bed. The next morning we did a Highlands tour, which was beautiful. We got to see the Loch Ness and Ulrich Castle. That was definitely the high light of my trip to Scotland! I actually tried haggis, which for those of you who don’t know what that is (or who are squeamish… you might not want to read the next line!) it is a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs finely chopped and mixed with various spices, all cooked in the sheep’s stomach. I know it sounds really gross and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try it, but I’m glad I did, as I will never have it again, but I can say I’ve had it before 🙂 I also had Iron Bru, the only soda product in the world that out sells Coca- Cola (only in Scotland, of course). It tasted like cough syrup so I’m not sure how it outsells Coke in Scotland but alas, it does.

Edinburgh was a beautiful city that I would like to go to again, I just wouldn’t do an organized tour as it is a small enough city that I could have easily explored on my own!

Last weekend I went to the annual “Chocolate Festival” here in London. It was fantastic! It was every chocoholic’s dream, as chocolate was everywhere! A couple of friends and I were able to go to a FREE champagne and chocolate tasting and I got to learn a lot about chocolate (who knew it was such a complicated process with the beans and all!).

The past couple of weeks have been geared towards doing school work- yes I guess studying abroad does entail studying…. darn- it! I’ve had a lot of papers to write and I have to start studying for exams, as they start in a couple weeks 🙁 However, I did manage to see Wicked a week ago! It was truly wonderful!

My spring break started last week, and continues until the 16th of April! It has been nice to not have to go to class. I feel so lucky because my mom was able to come over on Friday the 6th of April. She will be visiting me until next Saturday! It’s SO nice having a familiar face and having my mom here! On Friday we went to Harrods, an exquisite and gigantic department store. It is a very upscale place! They had a pair of crystal male shoes, that cost only 3,000 GBP (about $4500). We then walked to Hyde Park and then grabbed dinner at Olleys, one of the best fish n chips places in London.

Yesterday we did a lot of touristy things like we went to Parliament (yes I said hi to Big Ben!), Westminster Abbey (it was beautiful! There is so much history in that one place, it’s fascinating), Buckingham Palace, and we walked through St. James Park (which was beautiful because all of the flowers are blooming and there were so many birds and wild life out and about). It was a little freaky because people would hold their arms out with bread crumbs in their hands and pigeons would land on them and eat the bread crumbs. Weird right?

This morning we woke up early and went to mass, which was a different experience than I’m used to. For example, since most people are Anglican and not Catholic, the church was very small and there were a maximum of 30 people there for mass. They didn’t have an organist for music so everyone sang acapella. We will be leaving for Paris in 15 minutes! I’m so excited! 🙂

Well that’s all folks, for now! I will do a better job of updating my blog, I promise 🙂

Cheers from London!