The GoGlobal Blog

Month: December 2015

What a long strange trip it’s been

What a long strange trip it’s been

I have been back from Korea for 8 days now, so I figure it’s now or never for some last-minute reflection on my time abroad. Please enjoy a final round my observations on Korean culture.

  • People spit everywhere. If you stop to listen it’s as though the whole population is on the verge of launching into a sick beatbox solo, but the reality is much more off-putting. In the words of the brilliant David Sedaris: “I saw wads of phlegm glistening like freshly shucked oysters on staircases and escalators. I saw them frozen into slicks on sidewalks and oozing down the sides of walls” (from an essay entitled “Chicken Toenails, Anyone?”).  Despite my initial discomfort with the habit, I can’t argue that it isn’t a necessary practice given the amount of pollution in Seoul. Though it’s nowhere near as bad as in China, on any given day Koreans don medical masks to protect their respiratory systems from the scourge of bad air and yellow dust.

  • Capitalism has found it’s home in Korea and has evolved to the point of being an inescapable festering disease. The two movies I had the pleasure of seeing in Korea were preceded not by trailers for upcoming films, but by adverts for phone companies and cosmetics. The much-anticipated “Seoul International Fireworks Festival” was interrupted every 40 minutes or so for a literal commercial break. Which is to say, the fireworks were halted and large screens situated throughout the park in which the festival was held boomed out adverts for (once again) food, cosmetics, and phones. I would say that the rabid commercialism in Korea is comparable to be screamed at as you walk down the street, but sadly this is a very real and everyday occurrence as many shops have a person posted in the front with a megaphone 24/7 lest anyone’s mind stray for a moment.

  • During my time in Korea I managed to visit a puppy cafe, a sheep cafe, and a cat cafe. There was also a raccoon cafe in Seoul, which I never managed to visit, though I can’t say I’m entirely disappointed. Raccoons are not native to Korea, but in my home country if I am ever struck by the desire to see a raccoon I can simply peek inside the nearest dumpster, thus the novelty of a raccoon cafe is a bit lost on me. I wouldn’t necessarily dissuade people from visiting animal cafes, simply because a lot of my friends (who like animals a lot more than me) had many a pleasant experience. However, I will say that the animal cafes I visited gave off a slight puppy mill-esque vibe. I have no doubt that the owners of the cafes took excellent care of the animals, nonetheless the fact that the furry residents remained inside for 99% of their lives in a space barely larger than the average prison cell was hard to overlook.

  • Smoking is very common among Koreans, particularly men. Women smoke as well, but as they are the ‘gentler sex’ (as I am constantly reminded) their impropriety is kept more secret. Should one wander into a coffee shop in Seoul, sure enough you will find a smoking room on each floor. The majority of clubs- and many bars- allow smoking indoors, without the need to retreat to a discreet section of the building. Even airports have smoking rooms, because no one loves the smell of stale smoke more than people trapped on airplanes.

  • There is little to no social welfare in Korea, which means that elderly people, should they lack the necessary funds or family for retirement, must continue to work at menial tasks until, well, they die. The most common menial task for the elderly of Korea is passing out flyers, often for various restaurants. These old women, with their jaunty plastic visors, stand for hours on street corners attempting to shove brightly colored flyers into the unassuming hands of the passing public. It would be quite a depressing situation if the women weren’t so alarmingly aggressive and persistent. Whatever modicum of sympathy I possess for the elderly women and their dire social/financial situation is quickly erased the moment one of them corners me and thrusts a fried chicken advert into my hand, causing me to drop everything else, all the while barking at me in Korean like a rabid chihuahau as I struggle to gather my scattered possessions.

  • Another common pastime for the elderly, although I doubt it generates income, is to spend great lengths of time in the park on Yonsei’s campus collecting fallen chestnuts like a pack of deranged squirrels. Do they eat them? Are they simply cleaning the park out of the goodwill of their hearts? We may never know. Quite puzzling indeed. But I must say, I will miss the sight of the herds of elderly Koreans in their neon tracksuits rooting for chestnuts in the early morning as I make my way to my 9am class.

  • Braces are more common for older people in Korea than in the United States. Not old old people, but mid-20s to late-30s seems to be the ideal windows for braces in Korea. Perhaps braces are not bankrolled by one’s parents and are only possible once young adults have generated adequate income of their own, thus the average age for braces-wearers has been pushed forward significantly. Whatever the case, in a country where people age with incredible grace, the predominance of braces among older people can make it quite difficult to determine someone’s age. Is the guy who bought you a drink at the bar 18 or 28? With braces it’s anyone’s guess.

Well, there you have it. My semester in Korea has come to a close. I’m not really the type for a bunch of clichéd reflection on how these last 4 months have been the most amazing/inspiring/challenging/incredible/yadda yadda yadda of my life, so just take my word for it, dear readers, I will not soon forget my time in Seoul (and I hope that my blog stands as living proof of this sentiment). Rather, let us turn our eyes to the future. In 2 short months, I will be jetting off to Buenos Aires for the final semester of my college career, and yes, you guessed it, I will be blogging my way through a haze of steaks, tango, and excellent wine (and of course, rigorous academics).

Until next time.

Avventura di Amanda

Avventura di Amanda

Stapled on the last page of my passport is a small folded piece of paper stating my name and my Italian address. That, combined with my student visa on one of the stamp pages, has allowed me to live in Italy for the past four months. It is hard to believe that those days are officially behind me. I have left the country and am now traveling with a friend from home before I go back to the United States next week.

The question I have been asking this past week has been, where has the time gone? Within the blink of an eye I am finished with finals and it is almost Christmas!

While the semester as a whole was even better than I ever could have imagined, I have to admit that this last week was tough. The stress of finals combined with all of the feels I had knowing my time in Rome was coming to a quick halt made it hard to focus. I just wanted to be out in the city, exploring and eating gelato. Instead I was in the library, trying to finish up all of the final papers, tests and projects I had. The stress was overbearing, and no amount of pasta helped. I texted one of my friends who studied abroad last semester and explained how I felt. She said that it was very natural to feel overwhelmed-I was leaving my new home very soon and that was hard! But what helped me the most is when she told me, “everyone always talks about how hard the first week is but nobody ever tells you how hard the last week is”.

Hearing her echo exactly how I felt was very insightful. I took a good, hard look at who I was when I got to Rome in late August, and who I am now in December. Of course, the two are very different, and in a good way! I have always had a sense of adventure, but now it is heightened so much more because of all of the travel I have been able to do this semester. I am glad I go to school in a city like Chicago, where there are always things to explore!

At the beginning of the semester I started putting the hashtag #avventuradiamanda on all of my Instagram and Facebook pictures. At first it was for convenience, when you clicked on the hashtag it would take you to the pictures I posted while abroad. But the Italian translation of “adventure of Amanda” quickly became my silent mantra this semester. I could list all of the adventures I have had these past three and a half months, but that would be endless (booking hostels, finding train stations, stumbling on one of a kind book stores, climbing coastal hills, etc…)! Instead I invite you to go to Instagram and search the hashtag!

In the end, I have realized that leaving my new friends, Rome, Italy, and Europe is very different than leaving Chicago or Louisville. At least with Chicago and Louisville I can attach an exact date to my eventual return. With Rome, I am not exactly sure when that will be (soon I hope!). I guess that is all part of the adventure.

My excitement to see my family and to live in Chicago again builds everyday, but I also already miss Rome. Everyone always says it, and I believe but it is definitely true…


Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Ciao For Now

Ciao For Now

I’ve been trying to rack my brain with what to write about for this, what is my last blog post for you lovely readers. The fact that this semester has ended is still beyond me and I think I’m still trying to process everything that’s happened since August. Quotes seem to be a go-to of mine. The right one can say exactly what you want it to, and in my case, they usually say it a lot more eloquently. Recently, I came across this one while on the interwebs. I found it in Italian, but apparently it’s some old Indian proverb. I’ve tried to find it in other places, but alas, nothing yet. Regardless, it’s

Viaggiando alla scoperta dei paesi troverai il continente in te stesso

With my best translating skills on hand, I interpret it as: traveling to discover different countries, you find a continent within yourself (like I said, it’s the same idea I want to express about this semester- except said profoundly). With that being said, although it is a cliche, cliches stem from some kind of truth in my eyes, and I feel like while traveling and being abroad,  I’ve discovered new aspects of myself.


The first big change in my life is actually my career path and I have nothing but my placement at Kino Produzioni to thank for that. As a child of immigrant parents and now a single, self-employed single parent, I’ve always felt the pressure to do something that was considered a real job once I graduated from college. I knew from the start that I wasn’t going to become any kind of doctor, dentist or lawyer. I don’t have the patience for it, nor the interest and my hats off to people who do want to study and do that work. And my mom’s never pushed me towards those either, but I’ve always felt pressured to really make something of myself in order to be able to support her after all that she’s sacrificed for me. I never knew how to include my passion of the arts, particularly cinema, photography and music, into my future career- whatever that ended up being. Working at Kino this semester has been a blessing and the fact that I get to continue next semester is very exciting. It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things I can potentially do in the future and I’m actually currently in the midst of applying to hopefully intern at the Chicago International Film Festival once I come back to the States! In general, my internship class has been super supportive and it’s been an absolute honor to work alongside all of these motivated and talented new friends. 

The Italian Interns.

Another big change is my spirituality. No, I’m not any more religious than I was in the past. That I can tell you for sure. I’m still struggling to figure out just exactly what my relationship with whatever I really believe in is. However, being a part of a CLC while here in Rome has been enlightening. It’s  not only offered me a space to talk about things that my friends and I normally don’t, but a place to reflect upon that part of me that I’ve neglected for quite some time. Reflection in a lot of aspects of my life has become central to my stay in Rome. I often enjoyed my solo bus rides to and from my internship or my passegiatas around the neighborhood to the Zodiac, seeing it as a time to myself and a time to think. I find myself writing a lot more about my thoughts, thinking a lot of my relationships with the people around me and the people back home, about short and long-term goals that I set for myself. It’s been really healthy for me.


Lastly, I’m currently stuck in a bittersweet limbo. On the one hand, I have three of my closest friends coming to the JFRC in January for the spring. This is something I have been *low-key* waiting for all semester long. They’ve spoiled me in in the realm of friendships by being amazing people that I can count on for anything– so needless to say, I’ve missed them to pieces. I cannot wait for the honor of sharing my Rome with them and helping discover what the eternal city means to them.

Truthfully, before I came to Rome in August, a significant part of me was filled with anxiety. Now, an important thing to tell you all about myself is that I perceive myself to be a pretty quiet and shy person when I first meet people, but I’m a huge people person. I love having conversations with others, I love being around friends. That’s not to say I cannot handle being on my own or being independent, but growing up as an only child with no cousins my age– living at Loyola where I room with my best friends and have everyone around me was a welcoming change for me. Coming to Rome, a wave of deja vu was hitting me, because was as if freshman year of college was repeating itself. No one I knew well was coming abroad to the Rome center- but that ended up being a blessing in disguise, even if I didn’t initially anticipate Rome becoming home. The fact that I was dreading the goodbyes that I had to make to people that I’ve known for less than four months is a testament to that. I really didn’t want to say goodbye to these friends that have opened their hearts to me just as much as I didn’t want to say goodbye to my friends back in Chicago in August. 
IMG_1471IMG_1508IMG_1492People who you talk to about studying abroad always tell you all the time how difficult it might be to adjust to a new place– but they forget to mention how hard it is to leave, even for those like me who still have another semester to go. I mean, I’m not really leaving- but part of my Rome is. Witnessing everyone’s “lasts,”; last trips to the city center, last view of the Pantheon, last night out in Trastevere, last gelato– it was emotional. They never really talk about just how bittersweet the whole feeling is and how much you’re going to miss everyone, because you realize that there will never be a time like this, where we’re all together in this way, in this city. The night the group flight was leaving is a testament to that, as I have never seen that many people with so many tears in their eyes at 3am in the morning.

There’s a strong sense of camaraderie (not unlike the Fellowship of the Ring for you fellow LOTR nerds) with people that you experience the new and unknown with, and although I’m ecstatic that I get one more semester in the eternal city, it will be immensely different without the new friends I’ve been blessed to meet this semester. Have safe flights home and a wonderful holiday season, everyone! Please know that you will always be a a part of “my Rome” and that it will not be the same without you. Grazie a tutti!


If you are ever presented with the opportunity to study abroad- do it. Don’t hesitate. It’s a chaotic and confusing, but also beautiful-arguably like Rome. You’ll have an even bigger love-hate relationship with the ATAC public transportation system here than you do back at home (especially if you’re accustomed to the lovely CTA like I am back in Chicago). You might find yourself sick of pasta- I haven’t personally reached this point, but I think it’s because in my family home, pasta was never a big thing. You might get annoyed by how there’s no wifi in your room and question why nothing seems to be on any kind of schedule.

However, you’ll also feel a sense of satisfaction every time you can make yourself understood to someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you. You’ll feel a little proud at the fact that you can plan a ten day trip across three different countries for a little less than 400 euro- and you should be! The sense of togetherness you feel with the people you share ungodly early morning flights and overnight train rides with because although you all share the struggle- the views, the experiences that you live through in your destination is all worth it.

Plus, there’s an endless array of gelato if you happen to study abroad in Italy. And that is arguably the biggest selling point if you ask me.


I don’t think that this is supposed to be the best time of my entire life, there’s still so much of life to live- but this experience is definitely up there. Studying abroad challenged me to not only discover the world, but discover myself. And with that, I leave you with my video project for my Italian class.

Go Global, it has been a blast. If anyone has any questions about studying abroad feel free to contact me and if you want to keep up with me during my second semester in Europe, look up , which will hopefully be updated more than it is now (oops- but hey, that just means I’m out and about doing other things, no?)

Ciao for now 🙂



“If it be true that good wine needs no bush, ’tis true that a good play needs no epilogue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes, and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues.”

-Shakespeare, As You Like It

This (last) post is coming at you from my own bed in Kansas City. I got in about 24 hours ago, and so far I’ve slept, mostly unpacked, gone to an audition (and gotten a callback!), and somewhat gotten back on central standard time. It’s 8:30 and I’m exhausted, though, so that last one maybe not so much.

I really didn't want to leave, guys.
I really didn’t want to leave, guys.

After I finished my blog last Monday morning, I headed out to do some souvenir shopping. I spent a while doing that, including stops at the National Theatre bookstore and the Globe shop. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Tate Modern. I was honestly surprised at how much I loved it! Usually I prefer more classical art, but the Tate was super cool, especially the “Energy and Process” and “Citizens and States” collections, and a video exhibit on the restoration of a vandalized Mark Rothko painting.

Probably my favorite painting in the Tate Modern, "untitled" by Laura Owens
Probably my favorite painting in the Tate Modern, “untitled” by Laura Owens

Tuesday was a really exciting day. In the morning I went to the National Portrait Gallery, something I’d been wanting to do all semester. I spent a long time there, looking at portraits from the 1500s all the way up to present day. I thought the coolest part was a temporary exhibit, “Face of Britain,” with five different galleries scattered around the museum, each focusing on a theme of Power, Love, Fame, Self, or People. I also really liked the Victorian section, and of course, the portrait of Shakespeare. That afternoon I got to go to the National Theatre Archive, where they keep records on past productions. I’m doing an independent study project on the play “Greenland,” which premiered there in 2011. I got to look at the technical scripts, the costume bible, the programme, and even watch a DVD of the show! It was such a great experience to get such firsthand information for a paper, and to get a peek behind the scenes of a theatre we’ve seen so many shows at this semester. Then that night we went to see an honestly terrible production of “Macbeth” at the Young Vic, which I really don’t want to talk about…

Wednesday I had a slow morning trying to convince myself to brave a third museum in three days, but I’m so glad I ended up going to the Victoria and Albert. It’s a massive museum that I barely got a taste of, but it was so worth it. I spent most of my time in the historical fashion exhibit, where they had extant garments from as early as the 1700s. After that I had a little time left over to explore the Theatre and Performance section before rushing back to have a quick dinner before a very exciting evening. We saw the Book of Mormon! It was great! I’d seen it before in Chicago, but it was an interesting experience seeing it in London. The audience seemed less scandalized by some of the language, some of the ad-libbed references were different . . . the actors did a pretty good job with the American accents, though!

I got really excited about the Theatre and Performance exhibit at the V&A.
I got really excited about the Theatre and Performance exhibit at the V&A.

Thursday I went back to the Natural History Museum to see everything I missed last time . . . and even then, I couldn’t do it. In the end, we had time to do Dinosaurs, Mammals, Human Biology, “Creepy Crawlies,” and Ecology, which felt like a pretty thorough afternoon. I liked the dinosaurs and mammals a lot . . . the centipedes and scorpions, not so much. We kept busy in the museum until closing time, and then we headed out for ice skating just outside the museum! It was really fun and pretty with all the lights, and we were proud that we didn’t fall throughout the whole session!

We're basically pro skaters.
We’re basically pro skaters.

I spent Friday packing up all the stuff I’d managed to scatter throughout the week, and trying not to be too emotional about having to leave. We watched Bill Murray’s Christmas special (I’d recommend it) and went out to the food market in St. Katharine’s Docks (basically right downstairs from their flat). That night we went to a really cool bar called The Alchemist, where they do science-themed cocktails! I had a color-changing one where they gave me two tiny mixed drinks in little Erlenmyer flasks, one yellow and one bright blue, and when I poured them both into my glass, it turned pink (complete with dry ice to make it bubble)! After that I had one last pint at the Dickens Inn, a pub I went to several times over the semester, and went to stock up on British cookies and candy to bring home.

Saturday morning came too soon, and we were off to the airport by 7:45. I think I was awake for something like 20 hours by the time I finally made it to bed last night. I don’t think I’m completely back on KC time yet, but I’m getting there.

Back in KC!
Back in KC!

So, to sum up: I took 11 challenging classes, saw 21 plays, made 19 great new LDA friends, spent probably around $500 and countless hours on the Tube, rode 6 roller coasters, wrote 4 papers, learned 4 new monologues, went to eight museums (by a loose, exhausted count), took hundreds of pictures, and fell in love with one great city. Don’t worry, London. I’ll be back.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Parting is such sweet sorrow

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
-Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Well, officially, we’re done! Most of my classmates are off exploring Europe, and a few have even been snapchatting me from back home in the States. I’m spending one last week here in London, trying to see all the things I got too busy to see during the semester! It’s been a fun and emotional weekend, which I’m going to use as my excuse for this post being late.
Early last week we were all deep in rehearsals for our Acting and Shakespeare performances, plus our two final papers. I spent most of Monday doing work, and then Tuesday morning a group of us were at a coffee shop by 7:30 to finish the papers. Rehearsals all week were stressful but fun, and it was great to see our pieces start coming together. Tuesday night I did take a little break to go on the Jack the Ripper walking tour in East London. I think I was the only one of our group that enjoyed it, but I thought it was great! The guide told us about London at the time, took us to the sites of some of the murders, and showed us photos of victims and suspects. It was really crazy to see areas I recognized, like Brick Lane and Shoreditch market, and hear her talk about what used to be there in the 1880s.
Wednesday we had our Acting performances! We rehearsed in the morning, had a rushed and stressful lunch, and then sat to watch the other group perform scenes from Chekhov’s “Three Sisters.” It was cool to see the results of all of their efforts after just hearing them talk and vent about the process all term. Then we set up the classroom for our scenes from “La Ronde.” The performance went really well! We’d never performed for an audience, so we’d never had laughter or any kind of response during. It was amazing how, even in an “open rehearsal” in a classroom, we could feed off the audience’s energy. I’ve learned so much about acting from Gabby’s class, and I feel like she gave us so many tools to take with us for future performances.
"La Ronde" cast with Gabby
“La Ronde” cast with Gabby
Wednesday night I wanted to go see “” at the National Theatre, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open – hopefully I’ll get a chance to go this week. Thursday was another crazy day, so I was glad to have gotten some rest. We started off with a huge warm-up, all 20 of us squeezed into the Shakespeare Room with Yolanda, our teacher. Each group got to run their abridged play and then have a quick lunch. The other group went first again, performing a 45-minute version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Then we did our version of “Twelfth Night” and before we knew it, we were officially done with LDA.
Two Olivias
Two Olivias

That night all the students and faculty went out for a fancy dinner, and Kathy gave us our diplomas for completing the program. After that, since we didn’t have anything to do on Friday, we finally made it to a club in Picadilly we’ve been meaning to go to since the first week! It was weird to be out on a Thursday, but we were all glad to have one last night out together!

We spent Friday packing, returning books to the library, and saying goodbye to Kathy and Lesley and Sophia in the office. That evening we all piled our leftover food together to share it so it wouldn’t go to waste. We stayed up all night talking and packing, not wanting it to end.

Goodbye Lesley!
Goodbye Lesley!

Saturday morning we had to be out by ten, so we were up early to finish cleaning the flats. Lots of people headed to the airport, but I got on the Tube to East London, where I’m staying this week with people I met while I’ve been here. After dropping my things off, we headed out for some exploring – and we didn’t have to go very far. We spent the whole day enjoying the Tower of London – just half a mile away from their flat. Then we went to an “American BBQ” restaurant, which was pretty good, but it’s hard to impress a KC girl with BBQ from anywhere else.

Sunday we did absolutely nothing, which was AWESOME. Today I’m off for exploring and souvenir shopping!

Gonna miss these goons.
Gonna miss these goons.