The GoGlobal Blog

Month: November 2015

Our Minutes Hasten to Their End

Our Minutes Hasten to Their End

“Like as the waves make to the pebbl’d shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end.”

-Shakespeare, Sonnet 60

We’re getting close to the end, folks. Most of our finals are done now, so we’re just in rehearsals for our last two performances and trying to get in all of the last-minute sightseeing we’ve put off until now.

Monday we had our Movement assessment, where everybody performed our own pieces, self-choreographed alone or in groups of two or three. It was probably one of the most challenging assignments I’ve ever had, to come up with four full minutes of choreography that showcased a character and told a story through movement. Some people’s were comedic, some were dramatic, and a few were even political. It was incredible to watch everyone’s pieces and see all the talent and huge creative variety that went into the work. (Then that night was awesome because I had one last really special birthday celebration at the restaurant where they film First Dates. A+.)

LDA post-movement-assessment
LDA post-movement-assessment

Tuesday was full of more assessments (okay, just two, but it felt like a reeealllly long day). After a brush-up rehearsal, we all did our Period Dance final, and then another brush-up rehearsal for Stage Combat. Since then it’s been back-to-back rehearsals for Shakespeare and Acting. Those final performances (technically “open rehearsals”) are coming up this week! Add that to our final papers for Dramatic Criticism and Space, Place, and Text . . . we may only still be attending two classes, but we’re keeping busy anyway!

Getting all laced into our corsets for Period Dance!

Wednesday night was amazing – we went to Lates at the Science Museum, which is when they keep it open late for adults only, and they have bars and special events throughout the museum. They even had a silent disco, a roped off dancing area where you wear headphones, so only the people dancing can hear the music. It was such a fun way to celebrate being done with our first round of finals!

Thursday we had a half-day and immediately headed home to start cooking for Thanksgiving! I made dip for before dinner, and chocolate cupcakes, and my flatmate made the chickens so I got to be a witness to that whole process too. We ate around six and then spent the whole night talking and digesting for hours. I’ve never been away from home on Thanksgiving before, but it was actually a really good day. Of course it’s not the same, but it sort of still felt like I was with family.

I’ve been trying to pack activities into my last few weekends here, and this one was no exception. Friday night was Lates at the Natural History Museum, which was even more fun than the Science Museum (though no silent disco here). I really hope I have a chance to come back to this museum after classes end, because it’s huge and there’s so much to explore. Saturday morning I got up early for Borough Market, which was just a bunch of really good food and fancy produce. We spent that evening in our flats hanging out and playing theatre games. Then Sunday was Camden Market, probably my favorite market I’ve been to. After that, even though it was raining, we went to see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace (finally!) and walked all the way to South Bank for the Rekorderlig Cider Lodge (basically a winter festival with a bunch of bars and different fruit ciders). Then back to school for some last-minute work on our Shakespeare performance.

Definitely the best market around.
Definitely the best market around.

As of this very late blog post, we have one more day of class, two days of finals, and then I get a little over a week to explore before I head back. I’m going to be very busy, because I have a lot more of London to see!

Food Porn, Delusions, and Free-Range Children

Food Porn, Delusions, and Free-Range Children


I have recently been made aware of a fascinating Korean subculture known as mukbang. Basically, it’s food porn but without the involvement of any actual porn. A person, known as a “BJ” a.k.a. “broadcast jockey” (you’d think if there wasn’t any porn involved they would have chosen a less suggestive name, but oh well) will either cook or order large quantities of food and then eat the whole amount live in front of a camera. Viewers can log in and watch the spectacle, even interacting with the “BJ” by way of a chatroom as they choke down enough food in one sitting to feed a village in Africa for a month. What’s more, dedicated viewers can send gifts (usually money and food) to their favorite mukbang stars (apparently one of the top mukbang stars was making around $9000 USD a month at the height of her fame, talk about dream job).

The purpose of mukbangs is entirely innocent and almost a bit sad. By nature, Koreans are very social eaters. However, as more and more young adults are moving out and living solo, the custom of eating alone is becoming more common, yet is often hard to adjust to. Thus, to fill the void, the concept of mukbang was created as a way for the lonely to simulate a social eating environment. Seriously. Honestly, I think I would understand the concept of mukbangs a lot better if the viewers were treating the broadcast like pornography, simply because I have have a hard time grasping the fact that people will watch another person consume large quantities of food for innocent entertainment and the replication of social contact. It is just so far off my radar. Here is a link for those of you who would like to learn more:

A Comprehensive Field Guide to Koreaboos

Koreaboo (noun)

Definition: A person whose infatuation with Hallyu i.e. the “Korean wave” has led them to possess inaccurate and distorted views of the realities of Korean culture and society as a whole. On their quest to consume all things deemed “Korean” (by their standards), they often strategically ignore social issues and other topics of significance that fall beyond the confines of their K-pop bubble.

Interests: An aggressive obsession with K-pop, K-dramas, Korean manga, cosplay, and any aspect of Korean culture that could be deemed “cute”.

Defining Characteristics: Use of the word “oppa”, meaning “big brother”, which is used almost exclusively in Korean society by females when referring to older males. Not that the Koreaboos’ repeated use of the phrase is gramatically incorrect, but the term implies a certain level of familiarity between Koreans (and even romantic intent, as “oppa” is used frequently when referring to one’s boyfriend) thus the phrase is distorted through its use by Koreaboos who more than likely picked it up when binging on K-dramas. Koreaboos also typically possess a pretentious and arrogant attitude stemming from his or her belief that they are Korean culture experts, despite having very limited practical knowledge about the realities of Korean culture. Engaging in rational discussion will usually end poorly and result in excessive eye-rolling on behalf of both parties.

Strengths: An impossibly detailed knowledge about the lives and musical repertoires of any given K-pop group.

Weaknesses: More often than not, the weaker Koreaboos in the herd will have their spirit broken simply by arriving in Korea. The realization that the country of Korea has more depth than what is portrayed on the average K-drama can often be too much for a Koreaboo to bear; many feel cheated or disoriented once they realize they are unlikely to bump into their favorite K-pop idol while strolling the streets of Gangnam and live happily every after. Many are unable to grasp the fact that Korea is a country that grapples with real issues such as political corruption, high suicide rates, and rabid materialism, among other things. While some Koreaboos are able to adjust to the reality of life in Korea, others are not so fortunate- life for a Koreaboo in the real world is not for everyone.

The Reverse Rapture

During my time in Korea, I have noticed a plethora of children. None seem to be older than four years old, probably because all the older children have already been shoved into the infamously rigorous Korean education system. Nonetheless, the weirdest part about the abundance of small children is the complete lack of pregnant women. You’d think that pregnant women would be much more obvious, given the fact that Korean women are notoriously slender creatures. Yet the entire time I have been in Seoul, I have seen literally one pregnant women. One. It’s as though all the Korean children were beamed down from the skies in reverse fashion of the predicted second coming of Christ (sorry, Harold Camping, better luck next time).

What’s more, Korean children are allowed to wander around like a gaggle of free range chickens. Unlike American children, Korean children are not strapped into strollers and carted through the city; rather, their parents let them walk, with their feet, like humans. As floods of people exit the subway at any given stop, one must always be careful to watch the ground lest there be a stray toddler underfoot. Additionally, Korean parents display more patience with their children than I have ever before seen. This may seem like a paltry and somewhat insignificant observation, but once you become aware it’s actually quite odd. In the United States, particularly in a busy city such as Chicago, I would be pressed to find a parent patiently walking their newly-mobile one-year-old step-by-step up the stairs of the subway exit. Rather, Americans have invented nifty tools such as ‘child leashes’ (charmingly referred to as “safety harnesses”) to prevent the young from getting a taste of freedom. Thus, American children are the medicated battery-cage counterparts to Korea’s free-roaming chicken children.

The DMZ: Come For The Scenic View of North Korea, Stay Because There’s Literally Active Landmines Everywhere

A few weeks ago, I took a trip up to visit the DMZ. The DMZ (“demilitarized zone”) marks the border between North and South Korea. By far, the highlight of the trip was the 8-minute film that was presented in the vistor’s center. Although our tour guide vehemently insisted beforehand that the film was “not propaganda because we’re not like the North Koreans”, I was amused to discover that she was entirely wrong. Among other things, the film claimed the DMZ to be a “sanctuary for deer and other wildlife”. A quick look around at the numerous yellow signs warning of undetonated landmines in the open fields proved the exact opposite. All in all, I would give the DMZ a solid 3/5. South Korea certainly has quite the racket going with these tours. There’s not much to do or see besides a brief opportunity to peek into North Korea from the safety of a ‘scenic’ observation point, but the novelty of the locale makes the trip worth it.

Thanksgiving in Rome

Thanksgiving in Rome

The final matches of calcio are being played, it’s finally starting to cool down and Thanksgiving is upon us at the JFRC.

Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally spent at home with family and close friends. This year is the first year I, and I’m sure several other students, will not be at home celebrating with my family. Being in Rome for the holiday is bittersweet, but after reading the Chicago forecast from this week, it’s a bit more sweet than bitter.

In light of Thursday being Thanksgiving, I would like to share 10 things I am most thankful for (aside from studying abroad) in Rome:

1. My daily cornetto cioccolato and cappuccino from M&M.

2. Lasagna from Terra di Siena.


3. Three-day weekends.

4. Rinaldo’s Bar when Mensa is closed.

5. “Free Wi-Fi” signs on the doors of restaurants.

6. The walk from the Zone to campus—my legs look great this semester.

7. My calcio team—go celeste!


8. The SLAs for being so helpful and putting up with us all semester.

9. Fridgidarium for always being there for me.

10. My friends at the JFRC that have become family. Without them, Rome wouldn’t feel so much like home.


Ciao for now,


3 Places You Must Go in Sicily

3 Places You Must Go in Sicily

Ciao! What a busy two months I have had… Since I last posted, I have been to 10 cities in five different countries. Each weekend I slept in a different place and saw and did so many incredible things! This past weekend in particular was one of my favorites of the semester.

Last Thursday night I flew to Sicily. My aunt and I arranged this trip about three months ago. This has been the longest I have gone without seeing someone in my family so to spend time with a familiar face was comforting.

During our four-day trip we visited three cities, and I would say they are definitely places you must go if you ever find yourself in Sicily.

  1. Palermo: This is the largest city on the island, with a total metropolitan population just under a million people. We stayed at a hotel in the old part of town, and were very close to many of the historical sites. On Friday morning we took a tour of the city. This is when we learned about the town’s history, from the fragile beginning to the violent mafia era that ruled the area until recently. We also saw some of the city’s most popular sites, such as Via della Liberta, the main shopping street; Teatro Massimo, a large theater built to entertain 3,000 or more people; and the Palermo Cathedral, a unique church that looks unlike any cathedral I have ever seen because of its unique exterior. After our tour we ate pizza while catching up. We wandered around for the rest of the day, eventually finding some gelato. Saturday night we went to Teatro Massimo to see the Martha Graham Dance Company. It was the first time this semester I had been inside a theater and Teatro Massimo did not disappoint. It was beautiful and so was the show.
    Shops, restaurants and churches line each street, especially Via Roma and Via Vittorio Emanuele. Palermo has many street markets overflowing with fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. One of the most popular markets is called Il Capo and it is located directly behind the Teatro Massimo. I have been to a few markets while in Europe, but this one was by far my favorite. When I say the produce was fresh, I mean it was fresh. The fish had been caught that morning and the clams were still alive and spitting water out of the bucket. Many varieties of fruits and vegetables line the stands. There were some things we had never seen before, such as the Italian broccoli, which does not look like broccoli at all, as well some items we have at home but look very different thousands of miles away. We found out that Sicilian eggplants are round instead of elongated and the average pear is about the size of two regular pears at home.
    While we walked through the market we noticed a church. On a whim we decided to go in and were completely blown away. The entire interior was made exclusively of marble and completely decorated in small designs. It was the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and even the altars depicted famous scenes all in marble. Many of the churches in the city have the same style. Arab influences mixed with the time period of when the specific church was built created very beautiful facades. They are all worth seeing! There are so many churches in the city that you can’t go wrong with visiting any of them.
    Friday night was also the night of the Paris terrorist attack. I will admit that this shook me up because I was in Paris just two weeks before. What was comforting, however; was how the world responded to the attacks. The amount of love and support people all over the world gave to the beautiful city of light was very heartwarming. Palermo was one of these supporters. Saturday night when we arrived at Teatro Massimo it was lit up with the colors of the French flag and people had arranged candles and flowers in the piazza. It was a very moving sight.
  1. Monreale: Sitting on a hill overlooking Palermo, Monreale is a must see, not only for its views of the valley and the sea but for its food and buildings. My aunt and I decided to visit this city because it is the town where her grandparents, so my great grandparents, were born. It is only about a 25-minute drive up the hill from the center of Palermo. We first went to the Cathedral, which is being restored. Inside we saw many mosaics, including one of Jesus that is the largest of its kind in the world. Just his hand is six feet tall. The cathedral is also the burial place of some of the area’s royalty, including King William I and William II. After we left we went to a spot where we could see the clearing, all the way down through Palermo and to the sea. Then it was time for coffee. While we sat and enjoyed some Sicilian cookies an older gentleman our guide knew came and sat with us. During our conversation (translated by our wonderful guide) my aunt and I found out that he might have known our ancestors. He said they had lived not far from where we were and that they were shoemakers and iron workers. We were so excited! Neither my aunt nor I had planned on doing any research into the family history while we were there; we only wanted to see the town. However, the new information was great! Who would have known that we would meet someone who had a small family connection to us over coffee!
    Our next stop in Monreale was the local convent. Here we spent a lot of time admiring the columns in the courtyard because of how decorated they were. As I have mentioned, Sicily is filled with mosaics. These columns were no exception. Each was decorated uniquely with small tiles, with biblical tales and local stories carved into the tops of the columns. For example, I recognized a carving right away, the Starbucks mermaid (or a siren as she was known before the coffee powerhouse adopted her).
    Before we left we stopped at a bakery that our guide said was the only one in the area to still use a wood-fired oven. There we got some bread and peeked into the kitchen to see the oven at work. You definitely don’t see that at Panera…
  1. Cefalu: Sunday morning we hopped on a train and traveled 50 minutes east of Palermo to Cefalu. This tiny coastal town was great for a quick stop. All in all, we spent about three and a half hours there. We saw the cathedral, which was similar to Monreale’s, walked to the edge of the town and ate pizza by the beach. It was not warm enough for swimming, as it was definitely the off-season. A lot of the small shops were closed and it was pretty quiet. I can only imagine how the city is during the summer. It was beautiful anyway. It was definitely great for a little “trip within a trip”!

Monday morning saw me flying back to Rome and bidding my aunt farewell in the airport. I will admit that I immediately missed eggplant pizza, Cassata (a Sicilian cake) and the picturesque hillside as soon as I got back to campus.

There is less than a month left of school and I cannot believe how fast this semester has gone by. Soon I will be home about to celebrate Christmas! I can’t wait to share stories of Sicily and other places with my family.


What we May Be

What we May Be

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

Shakespeare, Hamlet

Birthday blog post!

This week has been another exciting one, even though I have been sick for most of it and busy with homework for all of it. We are officially done with classes that aren’t Acting or Shakespeare. We had our Voice final assessment and presentations of our speeches from Audition class, plus an awesome character/relationship workshop with Kathy. We’ve also been getting ready for our final presentations in Period Dance, Stage Combat, and Movement.

On Tuesday we went on our last group theatre visit! We saw Waste at the National Theatre, which was pretty much another bust. It dealt with themes of corruption, hypocrisy, and sexual scandal. The 1920s costumes were sleek and stylish, on top of a surprisingly minimalist set with some stunning (and obviously high-budget) scene changes. I was surprised and a little star-struck to see Olivia Williams (who I loved in Dollhouse) in the role of Amy O’Connell, a woman who gets pregnant from an affair with a politician. Despite a long script with some fairly tedious and esoteric discussions of early twentieth century British politics, I definitely appreciated that the actors were giving, collectively, a great performance. When all else failed, I could sit back and enjoy their voice and dialect work, which was really impressive.

At the National with Kathy!
At the National with Kathy!

Wednesday morning I woke up with a tickle in my throat which kept getting worse over the week. Luckily we didn’t have any big plans, so I was able to spend the evenings working on my Movement piece and trying to rest at home (I have watched a LOT of That Mitchell and Webb Look this week). On Thursday I was in bed by 10pm! The goal was to be all rested up and better by Friday. I definitely wasn’t. . . but I was not letting that stop me from having a fun birthday.

Since we knew we would all be studying today, we decided to go out and celebrate on Friday night instead. We had breakfast for dinner in our flats, then headed out to a fun karaoke bar called the Spread Eagle. The bar was super tiny, but we still managed to squeeze in most of LDA. Our original plan was to go clubbing afterwards, but since most of us are sick, we didn’t make it. . . still, it was a super fun night and we sang our hearts out impressively for a bunch of people who can barely talk.

LDA takes the Spread Eagle!
LDA takes the Spread Eagle!

I had a really quiet Saturday watching tv and trying to get some rest. Today I was up bright and early and off to Shoreditch market. There were tons of art shops, designer and handmade foods, and all kinds of food. On the way back (well, actually, out of my way, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do) I stopped off to Chipotle and then got off the train at South Kensington on special birthday orders from my mom. Guys, I am so thankful for my family today. They found a bakery in London in order to make my birthday special from 4,000 miles away.

I have the best family.
I have the best family.

Tonight we’re all at school working on our Period Dance and Movement pieces. I’m still sick, and honestly it’s really hard to keep my eyes open, but it’s been the best birthday weekend a girl could ask for. I’m in an amazing city, doing what I love, with people I feel so lucky to have met. London, you sure know how to make a girl feel special.

I just really love this squad, okay??
I just really love this squad, okay??
Under a microscope of hate

Under a microscope of hate

This past weekend was full of emotions for people all around the world. After receiving the news about the series of attacks in Paris I felt life stop for moment, everything went quiet, Rome lost its eternal vibe, and all around went solemn.

These past three months my friends and I have been living in a fantasy world frolicking around Rome, travelling every weekend, eating amazing food, consequently leaving us all to feel invincible. I am blessed to say; throughout all of this I have felt every emotion but fear like those in Paris. Friday evenings attacked left me overwhelmed with confusion, sadness, and anxiety. Sitting safely in my bed refreshing CNN my heart broke a million times over for all the innocent people affected. However, what happened in Paris is not limited to the country of France. Such horrific attacks are happening on a regular basis in other places such as Lebanon and in small villages throughout the Middle East. Millions of refugees are struggling to stay alive and find a safe place to live as they escape political corruption and violations of basic human rights. We as a society are not foreigners to such tragedies; it is just attacks in Paris are the ones that finally got the rest of the world talking.

Being across the ocean and on the other side of the map makes me feel so much closer and more connected to actions of extremism. I cannot help but assume that if I was back on US soil I would have not been able to grasp what actually happened. It would have been another CNN update that I saw and got upset over, I would not have actually had to process what went on in Paris. I would have changed my profile picture to the French flag, and then continued on with my day, I would have not truly being affected. However, not being home in my comfortable and familiar environment my life was affected. Since Friday night, I constantly find myself trying to process what happened. My thoughts have been filled with wishing I knew why tragedies such as the attacks in Paris happened, why a young study abroad student like myself lost her life, or why we use these events as channels to create more hate towards others. It is sad to see our beautiful world under such a microscope of discrimination and violence.

I believe humans are products of their environment. Thus, I constantly wonder what kind of environment are we creating for ourselves and for future generations? What kind of animals are we turning into? It is imperative that we, as an international community, use these tragedies as moments of reflection and focus on what is really important in society. Is it wealth, is it personal gain, is it peace, or is it equality? Are our actions individually and as a whole helping us achieve our ultimate goal? What is humanity turning into?

Although, I only seem to be focusing on the negative things that have happened since I last posted my past three weeks have actually been great as a whole. I spent Halloween weekend in Barcelona and fell in love. The city was full of energy and life. There is no doubt in my mind I will soon be back under the Barcelona sun.


12189605_10207986455524293_7254589316061477380_nThe following weekend I explored the historical city of Prague. I felt like I was living in a gothic fairytale.The John Lenon Wall was full of inspiring messages of love and peace, and every building was unique in its own way. The bohemian beer and the street vendors’ potato salad and sausages satisfied my enteral hunger. Prague was definitely a weekend to remember.



The time in between my trips I have spent exploring Rome and finding my own little niches. I am constantly astonished with all the adventure and beauty Rome has to offer.


I know all my friends are done with my over activity on social media, but I hate to say it I’m not. If I had it my way these last three weeks abroad would go on forever and my only worry would be where I would buy my next cannoli. All good things must come to an end but I’m not ready to say goodbye to Roma or figure out how to pack up all my new souvenirs and Zara purchases into two suitcases.

With all this being said wish me luck on the final lap of my trip, please keep Paris in your thoughts and prayers, and hope for a better tomorrow. Missing everyone bunches! Ciao for now!




From Positano to Paris

From Positano to Paris

[This is my attempt at trying to make sense of what’s happening in the world recently. Writing has always given me a good outlet for my thoughts and emotions, so here’s hoping it does the same now- bear with me, my dear readers]


I spent two days in one of the most beautiful places in Italy, arguably the world—and despite that, my mind was hundreds of kilometers away, in a city I have never been to. Positano itself was a place unlike any other I had been to. Built into the cliffs of the Amalfi coast, the colorful houses, endless flights of stairs and the brisk air off the sea were absolutely gorgeous. My travel companions and I were excited, because despite this being Positano’s off-season, it was a place that seemed like paradise. Tranquil, natural, colorful and safe.


We had an amazing AirBnB booked, which was stocked with great amenities, comfy beds, an amazing host with an adorable pug named Willy, and a view that took my breath away. We had a fantastic morning and afternoon, strolling down the winding staircases towards the pebbled beach front. We enjoyed drinks at a bar right on the beach, good conversations, and then proceeded to go back to the beach once it got dark, just laying on our backs and listening to the waves, trying to soak in the fact that we were there. After a struggle of trying to climb the hill all the way back up to our lodgings, we were still in a great mood and going to start a movie, when one of us saw the first scrap of news of what was just beginning to happen in Paris. The mood of the night automatically transformed into a somber one.  Luckily, all of us who had friends in Paris at the time were able to contact them and we found out that they, along with all of our other JFRCers that were abroad, were safe.

Despite the news, we persisted to enjoy ourselves the next day, but personally, I think we were all affected by this. It was impossible not to be. This was most clearly demonstrated to me by two instances. The first is when climbed back down to centro storico to visit one of the little cathedrals. We had been pretty talkative the whole morning, even complaining a bit about all of the stairs and cracking jokes, but the second we stepped into that little cathedral, each of us just sat in our own little separate pew, and took a couple of minutes. I can’t speak for my travel companions, but I felt a deep sense of calm and dare I say inner peace, which I found strange, given the current situation.

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The second was at our late lunch, where we seemed to have calmed down a bit and Paris was somewhere in our subconscious, but it was brought back automatically when we heard a large bomb-like blast coming from somewhere above the town. I swear, my heart skipped a beat. We later found out that they were fireworks, the ones that have a quick spark before letting out a huge, thundering boom and although the spike in our fear seems a little silly in hindsight, at the time, we were definitely on edge. It didn’t help when some lady from Texas who was on our bus back to Sorrento told us that she heard that there were reports that Rome was going to be targeted for the next couple of days. Granted, she said she heard that on Fox news, which I personally have trouble putting stock into, but regardless, to say I wasn’t scared would have been a lie._DSC0048-001

I think what scares me most about the attacks, is the realization that I could have easily been in Paris instead of Positano for the weekend. My friends and I could have decided to travel to France instead of staying in Italy—and I actually had friends and fellow JFRCers that were in Paris. Or even the opposite- what happened in Paris could have easily happened in Rome, or any other city that my friends and I have traveled to. Perhaps realization is the wrong word. Unfortunately, I think we’re all aware, whether consciously or not, that things like this happen, and can happen everywhere and any day. For Americans, I’d say that this realization came to us on a Tuesday morning.

I think I was too young to comprehend that when 9/11 happened, as I was only 7 years old. I remember being scared, but I was only scared of traveling in airplanes. I had never even traveled on a plane, so needless to say, my first flight from Chicago to Warszawa was a nine-hour endeavor of anxiety. Yet, on the way back, despite getting the normal little jitters one can get with the realization that they’re in a big hunk of metal that is somehow defying gravity and thousands of miles up in the air, I grew accustomed to flying. I forgot the fear. Then the terrorist bombings in London made me aware that planes aren’t going to be my only worry, and any time I stepped onto a train or mode of public transportation, I noticed that I unintentionally would size people up. I started thinking of how easily something similar could happen here, as there was nowhere near the security that airports now had. But time passed, Chicago seemed far away from that. I was lulled back into a sense of safety again.

Even the attacks in the offices of Charlie Hebdo this past January did not affect me as much as recent events have. Those, although also sad and tragic, did not scare me. It was an attack on free speech, it was an attack with specific targets.  I am in no way saying that anyone deserves to be the target of that kind of retaliation, but for some reason, I was not as affected as I was when I saw the events in Paris, November 13, 2015, unfold in front of my eyes through my news updates on my phone. I felt sick to my stomach. These were people, innocent people who have most likely NOTHING to do with the politics on a global scale. Some were enjoying a football match with two of the best teams in the world. Others were at a music concert. Some were simply sharing a meal. What on earth could these people have done to deserve such a horrifying nightmare? One could twist my aforementioned argument, that they, like the victims of the Hebdo attacks, were intentional targets paying the price for what France was doing in Syria. I feel like that makes it even worse.

Again, the scariest thing is that my friends and I could have easily been there. We go out to eat and to bars in Trastevere and Monti- popular neighborhoods of Rome. We go to concerts and AS Roma games at Stadio Olimpico. Perhaps that’s egotistical and slightly irrational, turning what’s happening in some place that you’re geographically nowhere near into focusing on what could happen to you, but I think that’s just how we’re wired—at least I am. I don’t even want to try to imagine myself in that kind of terror and I hope I never will have to experience anything like that firsthand- but then I read that among one of the victims was an American student, studying abroad.

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With this fear also comes a sense of anger. I’m angry that the fact that people like this are trying to take away any sense of normalcy and innocence in the world. I’m mad that some people in parts of the world have to live in situations such as this every day. I’m mad that now, when I walk around Rome, or any place really, I’m feeling slightly on edge, because someone decided that the best way to channel their hatred and anger is to do so violently on innocent people. Doesn’t the world see enough sadness without humans trying to kill other humans? Isn’t trying to live out one’s life difficult enough without all of this hate? How is life supposed to go on now? Is this edginess going to pass, just as my fears of planes were lulled back into a sense of security only to be taken away when the next tragedy happens? Is this just the new, unfortunate normal? What are we going to do? How are we supposed to make it better?

The truth is- I don’t have any of the answers, and I’m also not sure if anyone else does. Despite all of this hatred though, there is strength, solidarity, happiness and love. There are accounts from people who survived the hostage situation and massacre at Bataclan, telling stories of their survival because of the complete strangers who shielded them from harm. There have been reports of Parisian locals opening up their doors to shelter victims. Countless videos have become viral of various street musicians playing for crowds in public squares that have come to pay their respects by leaving flowers and lighting candles. The strong and proud people of France will try to pick up the pieces after this tragedy, as they’ve done before, just like we tried and did after 9/11. And I think that’s beautiful.

Obviously, despite being more anxious than usual, life has to and will go on. I can’t just hole up in my room, scared under my blanket, not wanting to venture out into the world. My heart goes out to everyone affected in events such as these, not only in Paris, but all over the world- including in Beirut, in Syria, in the Middle East, in Africa, in places where something like this may happen more often and places that do not receive the same coverage as the Western world. Not to defend the media frenzy that seems to only cover the Western world, but I think we’re so desensitized when we hear about bombings in the Middle East, that when it happens somewhere that you wouldn’t normally see it happen, it sadly becomes sensationalized. Normal is a key word, though. In a perfect world, there shouldn’t be any place where bombing/terrorist attacks/senseless killing is “normal.”


John Lennon was a dreamer, so perhaps I take after him because of my undying love for the Beatles. Maybe I’m naïve, but I really do dream that one day, despite the fact that we won’t agree on a lot of things- or anything for that matter- we will find a different way of dealing with that disagreement. Sure, there will be struggles, as that is what life seems to always include, but senseless hate won’t be one of them. Until then, all we can do is show that we’re stronger than that hate. The love we have for others is stronger than the fear that the people who don’t understand it try to instill within us. The world is filled with too many beautiful people, places and moments for it to be a bad place. I just hope that we’ll realize this sooner rather than later.




Thus far the miles

Thus far the miles

“Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend.”

-Shakespeare, Sonnet 50

I KNOW I say this every week, but this week has actually been super crazy. We’re getting down to the wire for our finals, with just one week to go until our Combat, Movement, and Period Dance presentations, and another week after that before our Acting and Shakespeare finals. And our assessment for Voice is tomorrow!

Monday was busy and full of physical classes. Tuesday was a very active morning, putting scenes in Acting and Shakespeare on their feet. Since I had that afternoon off, I headed out to the London Transport Museum, which was way cooler than it sounds. It showed the history of public transportation in London from horse-and-carriage, to the first underground trains in the 1860s, to buses and the Tube system today. They had lots of interactive exhibits, like old models of trains or streetcars you could sit in, and the opportunity to drive a virtual underground train. I’m so glad I went, because I learned a lot of fascinating information I’d never really thought about before. That evening I continued an awesome day at the National Theatre, seeing As You Like It. I really enjoyed the performance, especially the design, which had some of the best sets and sound effects I’d ever seen.

"Driving a bus" at the transport museum!
“Driving a bus” at the transport museum!

We didn’t see a show as a class this week, so we were able to put lots of focus into our classes. We read Hedda Gabler and Krapp’s Last Tape in Space, Place, and Text, and discussed our thoughts on Measure for Measure in Dramatic Criticism. Friday in Acting class we continued work on my scene, which is coming along with lots of hard work. Then we finished blocking our abridged Twelfth Night in Shakespeare class, and I ran (literally, I ran) to the Tube to head off to St. Pancras train station.

All corseted for Acting class

I just barely made my train, but by 5pm I was off to Brussels for a weekend with Louisse, an exchange student who spent a year at my high school, and who I hadn’t seen since then, four years ago. When I saw her at the train station it was like no time had passed at all. To my surprise, as she led me through the station, we took a left and there was our other friend, Francesca! Lou had asked her to fly in from Italy as a surprise. We all had an amazing weekend, sightseeing in Brussels, spending an evening at a fun rock bar, and generally catching up. It was such a quick trip; we were up at 6:30 this morning and off to catch trains home, but I’m so glad we all got to get together even for just a couple of days.

So good to be reunited! Lou, Franny, and me!

Today I had about an hour to unpack before heading off to the theatre with my friend Lindsay to see Jane Eyre at the National Theatre. We were really excited, and it’s gotten really good reviews, but to be completely honest I thought it was total CRAP. I’m not saying it was a worthless experience; we had incredible (£50) seats for only £15, so we were able to see lots of detail, and I still think I learned from the production. But I’m very excited to go home and write a scathing review in my theatre journal.

Excited for the show! (before it started)
Excited for the show! (before it started)

Next blog post comes on my birthday!!

I’m Just Trying to Not Get Run Over or Threaten the Delicate Patriarchy

I’m Just Trying to Not Get Run Over or Threaten the Delicate Patriarchy

Frogger: Seoul Edition: If I were to visualize the hierarchy of road occupants in Korea, the order would be as follows: TaxisTrucks → Cars → Scooters → Bicycles → Floating Plastic BagsPigeons That Wandered into the Street by AccidentDiscarded Cigarette Butts → then all the way at the bottom we would reach People (this is the only time you’ll find people ranked lower than pigeons, see below). Never before have I seen cars (and in particular, taxis) so blatantly ignore pedestrian crosswalks and attempt to pass through while people still crowd the way. I swear Korean taxis exist in an alternate Mario Kart-themed universe in which each pedestrian they swipe with their side mirrors while blasting through a crosswalk earns them extra coins.

To further confuse the matter, the roads of Seoul aren’t exactly filled with clunky, rusted Datsuns wheezing old exhaust. Rather, on a daily basis one can expect to see an army of Porsches, BMWs, Mercedes, and Bentleys cruising the streets at breakneck speeds. Thus, it is beyond my comprehension why a shining new Porsche would want to pay to get a Catie-sized dent removed from its hood after I am inevitably run down, much like Regina George in Mean Girls (hopefully minus the spinal fracture and halo brace).

Guys and Dolls: Relations Between the Sexes in Korea

Dorm life has its ups and downs, but one of the most striking differences between dorming in the US versus Korea is the rules imposed to regulate interactions between males and females. Each floor of the dorm is strictly separated by gender, which is not surprising to me as my freshman year dorm at Loyola adhered to the same protocol. However, males and females are strictly forbidden from entering each other’s rooms under any circumstances. Males and females are only allowed on each other’s floors from 8am to 10pm (after that they are strictly forbidden). Offenders are quite literally threatened with eviction if any such shenanigans should occur. Even the laundry rooms are segregated by gender. Additionally, should any resident or visiting guest forget that they are in the presence of weak and easily-overpowered females, helpful reminders have been placed near the entrance as a warning to possible miscreants.


So, what if one does wish to rendezvous with the opposite sex while in Korea? I’m glad you asked. As many young Koreans live with the parents until marriage (which often does not take place until late 20s/early 30s), the Korean youth have invented several convenient loopholes. Two popular locales exist:

1) DVD 방 (DVD Rooms) i.e. Korea’s answer to “Netflix and chill”. In these establishments, couples can rent movies and are provided with their own private room in which to watch said movie, thus what happens behind closed doors for the duration of the movie is their own business.

2) Motels that can be rented by the hour (I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory)

All in all, Korea has made astronomical strides in gender equality in the last fifty years. I mean, South Korea has only been a democracy since 1948 (if we’re going to be really honest, it has only been a functioning democracy since like 1993 but I won’t get into that now) and yet it has already elected its first female president, Park Geun-hye. Not that we’re keeping score, but the United States has been around since 1776 and has yet to see a female president in office. Anyways, I’m getting off topic. The point is, in many ways Korea has made impressive strides in gender equality, yet remnants of its traditionally patriarchal system are still evident. For example, in Korean class we learned how to introduce our family members and their various occupations. As I began to describe my family, I made the ‘mistake’ of beginning my description with my mother’s occupation instead of first talking about my father, causing my instructor to interrupt and remark: “In Korea, we talk about the father first, not the mother. Why did you talk about your mother first? Are you a feminist?” which caught me off guard. More than anything, I was surprised that a detail as small as referring to a woman before a man in a sentence is what constitutes an act of feminism in Korea.

I’ll end my thoughts on the matter with this observation: I’ve found that in Korea, masculinity seems much more fragile than elsewhere, an impression made apparent in the tiniest interactions.  While out to dinner with two Korean guys and a western girl, rice was delivered to the table in piping hot metal pots, which were determined by one of the guys to be too hot to distribute to the table at that moment. Being a waitress, I’m used to touching hot plates, so I simply picked them up without hesitation and passed them out. The look on the face of the Korean guy was one of unfettered embarrassment and humiliation; in that moment, I had basically discredited his masculinity by saying he was too ‘weak’ to pick up some stupid rice pots (and what’s worse is that I had done it publicly). This, of course, was not my intention- I just really wanted rice. I love carbs. But it’s the little moments such as this that get blown out of proportion that I am really made aware of just how fragile is Korean masculinity. As always, this statement is not true of all Korean men, nonetheless after such incidents I find myself becoming hyper-aware of such things.

Gangnam Style- (Not “Gang-land” Style): After skyping with my dear mother one Sunday evening, I came to realize that the title of the immensely-popular “Gangnam Style” by PSY was quite possibly a complete mystery to those unfamiliar with the geography of Seoul. Therefore, to save others the possible embarrassment of possessing the incorrect belief that Gangnam is a play on the English word “gang” (spliced with mystery Korean syllables), I feel it is only fair to explain that in reality, Gangnam actually refers to a very wealthy district of Seoul. If the song were set in New York City, the title would be “Upper East Side Style”; if it were Los Angeles, it would be “Beverly Hills Style”; as the song is Korean, the title remains “Gangnam Style”. Thus, the song is simply a celebration of the wealth and excess of the Gangnam lifestyle.

Pigeons: The Harbingers of the Apocalypse: Koreans are absolutely TERRIFIED of pigeons, which I find hilarious. It is a widely-held (and entirely accurate) belief in Korea (and pretty much everywhere else) that pigeons carry a variety of nasty diseases; the motion of flapping wings is believed to sprinkle said diseases like a morbid and unappetizing dusting of invisible confectioners’ sugar. However, it is the Korean reaction to pigeons that is something entirely unique. I have seen people literally cross the street to give a single scrawny bird a wide berth; if a pigeon takes flight, people duck and cringe in unison like a demented flash mob. I’m not saying that I would respond with delight and enthusiasm if a pigeon were to suddenly accost me in the face, however I must admit that there is definitely some comedic value in seeing a country full of reserved and dignified people respond with such hysteria to the presence of such pathetic creatures.

Rehearse your parts!

Rehearse your parts!

Come, sit down, every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts.

– Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Well, you can tell I’ve had a crazy week, because I took very few pictures!

The big source of stress this week has been our Movement final, which is a four to five minute solo (or small group) piece we have to choreograph ourselves. Four minutes of choreography is a lot, but I’m really enjoying the challenge. I’m up to three and a half minutes as of this morning, so I’m feeling pretty good about it! Other class adventures include “Hot Seat” in-character improvised interviews in Acting, putting together our scenes in Stage Combat, and a very heated discussion about Medea in Dramatic Criticism. We also turned in our second paper on Friday, so this weekend has felt like a big sigh of relief.

Honestly, I’m going to kind of skim over the week, because we had a massive weekend. Most of my evenings were full of homework anyway, except for Thursday, when we saw Measure for Measure at the Young Vic. I had never seen the play before (and read it for the first time last week, in preparation for going to see it), but I absolutely loved the production. It was done in a contemporary setting, which I thought worked really well with the themes of sexual corruption and, on the other extreme, sexual puritanism; they also used video projections of the actors throughout, which was a cool way to illustrate how, when we are surrounded by media, our private lives tend to become everyone’s business. (The only downside – apart from some questionable acting choices from Isabella – was that that night was Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Day, so we missed out on the opportunity to experience a very English holiday)

After turning in our papers and enjoying a relaxing, class-free afternoon on Friday, we were up early Saturday morning to get on the bus for Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s about a two-hour drive from London, and it’s the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and his grave. I hoped to have time to visit the grave, but a group of us made the decision to use our free time to go to the Museum of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which cost five pounds and was worth about that (but super silly and fun, so still a good time). Then we all met at the Swan Theatre for the RSC’s performance of Love for Love.

Friends outside the Swan!
Friends outside the Swan!

I didn’t really like the performance, to be honest, but it might have just been due to personal taste. The costume design was probably my favorite part, so I mostly paid attention to that when the play was . . . less than completely engaging. After a dinner break, we went to see another show, Relatively Speaking at the Bear Pit Theatre. We didn’t realize until we got there that it was a community theatre production, which basically sums it up. It was interesting to see some community theatre here, because we’ve been seeing such high-budget shows, but I think I’ll keep spending my money on those rather than returning to the Bear Pit.

Our bus got us back to our flats close to midnight, so we went to bed pretty much right away. Sunday morning I got up early to head in to school and work on my Movement piece. Then, once all my homework was done, I hung out with friends. We spent the afternoon in Picadilly Circus, exploring the big fancy department stores and looking at the Christmas decorations.

Working on my movement piece.
Working on my movement piece.

This post is late, I know, but it’s currently Monday morning and I have class in about twenty minutes. Ready for another crazy week!