The GoGlobal Blog

Month: February 2016

Orientation Exploration

Orientation Exploration

Following my first night in Rome, myself and the other JFRC students entered into a few weekends packed full of Orientation activities. Between crash courses in Italian, general meetings, and community meals, we had the opportunity to go out and do some sightseeing in and around Rome, as well as on the Amalfi Coast. You can see it for yourself in these videos!

Our first excursion was to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Following a brief lecture about the history of the two sites, all of JFRC got onto a couple of buses and went downtown to explore. We stopped first at the Colosseum, taking a few pictures before entering into the ancient and ominous ruins. If they seemed large and imposing on the outside, that view was nothing compared to the interior. It is then that I realized just how significant a feat of architecture the Colosseum was for its time, and still is today. The fact that people who lived in a time without advanced things that we take for granted today (such as electricity or extensive indoor plumbing) were able to create a structure that has literally stood the test of time is truly incredible.

Once we had taken a sufficient amount of pictures and ambled around the large stadium for long enough, we ventured off to the nearby Roman Forum. At the Forum, we spent several hours exploring the ruins of Ancient Rome’s city center. There were palaces, temples, senate buildings, gardens, and plenty of other bits and pieces of Ancient Roman gathering spaces to wander around in. My favorite aspects of this area were the triumphal arches. Their details and massive structures made for an absolutely beautiful view.


Following our time at the Forum, we were set free to explore Rome as we wished to. Myself and a few others made our way into a church near the exit of the forum, taking a few photos before we went off to meet some friends for a delicious Roman meal of pizza and vino. Then it was time to rest up for our upcoming day trip!


For our day trip, we took visited the Palazzo Farnese. This papal-built palace was imagined as a fortress for the family of a former pope. It sits at the top of a hill, overlooking the town below it so as to see anyone who may be threateningly approaching. It looks rather formidable from the outside, but the interior is full of gorgeous architecture and art. The rooms are smothered in biblical frescoes, and the gardens are a beautiful place to wander around in or reflect upon while sitting near the intricate grotto. We only spent a couple hours here, but there was enough to see to fill a whole day!


The next weekend of JFRC Orientation activities led us to the Amalfi coast. We left early on a Friday morning and traveled four hours to our first stop: a restaurant right on the beach. We ate, enjoyed the scenery, and passed a few hours of time before continuing on to our next destination.


Our next stop was the archaeological sites of Paestum. This area was formerly a major Greek port city and now contains its ruins. There are ruins of several temples dedicated to certain Greek gods and goddesses, arenas for gladiator fights and the like, theater spaces for performances of famous Greek plays, and everyday homes and social spaces. We explored with a tour guide, who led us through the site and its museum before letting us get some gelato and head back to our bus!


We spent the night at a hotel with beautiful views of the coast before we began our Saturday adventures. The JFRC group split up for the day, and the group I was in went to a winery and olive farm first. We walked around the groves, tasted the wine, and ate bread dipped in the delicious olive oil made fresh from the olives on the farm. It was a short but delicious stay that prepared us for our next food-related tour of a Buffalo farm.

While at the Buffalo farm, we were taken on a tour to see how the buffalo were raised and accommodated, as well as how Buffalo mozzarella is made. The farm was extremely conscious of the happiness of their animals and offered them freedom to decide when to be milked as well as space to roam in and consistent food, water, and relaxing activities (rolling massage brushes, for example). We got to interact with a few of the buffalo before we left their space and went to watch a few workers go through the process of creating mozzarella from milk. We finished our tour by tasting the product of their labor, which was, in truth, the best cheese we had ever tasted.

IMG_1323(Wine Reserves at the Winery)

Our final destination of the day was Agropoli. This quaint and charming town on the edge of the water is home to an old castle, which we briefly explored before wandering into town to shop and enjoy the joyful local atmosphere. We arrived just as the afternoon break was ending and stores began opening up for the local Italians who were emerging from their homes. The scene was casual but cheerful, creating a great space to enjoy the evening before we returned to our hotel for dinner.

Sunday, the last day of our weekend trip, took us to Monte Cassino. The site was the first home of St. Benedict’s monastery and also the location of a World War II attack that injured and ended the lives of many. The monastery itself was beautiful, but it was made more so by its long and illustrious history. We were lucky enough to catch the last few moments of a mass occurring in the main chapel, which was a beautiful feat of art in itself. Beyond that, we toured a large portion of the building, its courtyards, and its museum. All were equally impressive and gorgeous, serving as a suitable end for our exciting trip out of Rome.


Stay tuned for my next post, which will feature the end of our Orientation (Mass of the Holy Spirit), our visit to Papa Francesco, and some adventures from on-site classes! Ciao!

El Carnaval de Cadiz

El Carnaval de Cadiz

This past weekend I visited the coastal town of Cadiz to participate in the Carnaval of Cadiz. Thanks to I Love Spain, a student travel agency, and 22 euros I got to sit on a coach bus for one-and-a-half hours each way with other students from Loyola and University of Sevilla. I looked at this opportunity as a way to see a new city and finally see the ocean. As it turned out, I was indeed able to see the ocean but didn’t really get to know the city itself. For one, there were hundreds of belligerent kids in costume running around yelling and trashing the poor city, impaired my impression of it. Also, I was expecting some performances by the chirigotas, which are satirical groups but I saw non of this because I was too preoccupied with finding the ocean. This I was able to accomplish but no thanks to the poor guidance of what I thought were local residents. But alas the ocean! The great open sea, that I so longed to see. I walked down to the edge of the water and simply sat there enjoying the sounds of the waves crashing nearby. The good life had finally arrived but was unfortunately interrupted by the loud sounds of rambunctious children in the city. As I returned to the center of Cadiz, I tried to locate myself on a map and realized Cadiz was in fact a peninsula sticking out from southwest Spain! But the streets very much reminded me of a medieval Andalusian city with the charm of a coastal town and the wind is something to note – constant and powerful.

As I rode the bus back to Sevilla at 2 am,  back to civilized law and order, I thought to myself this can’t be the Cadiz that people had referred to as the “little Havana” of Spain. Was this Carnaval a real tradition or simply an excuse to get drunk and pass out in the streets? There must be more to this city that people traveling here are missing out on.



7am, you descend and all you see is stillness. Water simply sits, waiting for the passage of life and lights are rising, not quite awake yet. Enveloped in the shadow of dawn we arrived; enveloped by the cloak of night we left.

Venezia, the strong woman we fell in love with. She loves us back, but has let us go. Sometime, we will hopefully return to her.

She welcomed us with a three day feast, the carnival. A masquerade on every street corner, confetti popping, colors bursting, people hiding behind masks, cloaks, and large dresses.

Venezia, the city where we joined the feast and all our tourist inhibitions. Whom we bid adieu, riding away in a gondola in the light of the sunset.



Just Keep Swimming!

Just Keep Swimming!

-Dory, “Finding Nemo” (2003)

It was harder to get on his back than I thought...
It was harder to get on his back than I thought…

Picture this: You’re sitting in a well-lit, white room. It is large, about the size of a high school classroom. The windows are large bay windows that open inward and let in a lot of light, but there are also florescent lights on the ceiling. the floor is a grey, smooth, plastic dance floor. Backpacks, coats, shoes, and chairs are stacked to one corner near the door. You’re a college drama student, and you’re sitting crosslegged on the floor. In front of you, eight of  your fellow students strut about, pretending to be various zoo animals (complete with sound effects). You think…




SO, there you go! That’s what I did yesterday, how about you? … Okay, before my parents catch on and stop funding my education, let me explain WHY we were acting like animals. I mentioned in earlier posts how PHYSICAL this program at LDA is: how we have Movement, Physical Theatre, Acting, Stage Combat, and Stretch Yoga on top of all our other classes. It turns out, performance is a pretty PHYSICAL, bodily endeavor. It’s not just about voices and facial expression; every move you make and your relation to space and others in the space tells a story. A line of men at the front of the room staring at the audience means something completely different than that same line at the back of the room facing away. How are you able to tell a young woman’s walk from an old man’s? Or a timid person versus a relaxed, comfortable person? Ursula said it best, people- “Body language!!!”

So, in Physical Theatre, I learned about the neutral mask and how the body has eight stages of tension. Each stage of tension communicates a different emotion and state of being for the character, and it also has the ability to affect the audience. When you’re watching a really suspenseful film and a woman is hiding, breathing shallowly, and has her eyes wide and darting, don’t you get a little anxious yourself? These stages of tension range from utter relaxation (amoeba) all the way to complete anxiety (catatonic). One can’t stay in catatonic long, or the terror is hard to break out of. (That’s how powerful body language can be!)

In Movement, which is my favorite and least favorite class all at once, my body is literally pushed to the limit. We find our body’s momentum and weight and learn to use it to move in and around space creatively in this class. I’m making it sound like a dance class, but in reality, we don’t learn routines, we MAKE them in the moment. One exercise we did today were these rolls across the floor that resembled somersaults, but we had to straighten our legs as they swung over our head so we could catch our momentum on our toes and slide back onto our tummies. It’s really hard to explain, but we do things like that-weird cartwheels, frogjumps, starfish rolls, handstands, and lots of creative jumps and turns across space. It’s really fun, but really frustrating at times when you want to keep working and just nail a move, but your body is just exhausted.

That brings us to the animal exercise! OKAY, so in Acting, we were broken into groups and assigned plays and characters that we’ll be playing for the midterm presentation. I got Top Girls, by Caryl Churchill, and my character’s name is Patient Griselda. (I’m not going to bother trying to explain Churchill’s complicated structure, but it’s quite a read so I recommend it!) Anyway, we learned that each character has a specific plane and pattern of movement that endures through the scene. The specific term for what we did was Laban Movement Analysis; it’s this way of annotating and recording dances and ballets, but it works for actors as we try to understand our characters! My character has a sort of gliding movement pattern, she’s light, flexible and sustained in her personality and her actions. Our teacher, Kathryn Pogson, told us that a great way to see exaggerated examples of these Movement forms was to head over to the London Zoo and find an animal that exhibited these traits. And YES, OF COURSE we all acted out the animal movements right in front of the enclosures so that EVERYONE around knew how crazy acting students are. But it really did help!! It’s amazing! I found a White-Naped Mangabey Monkey who reminded me so much of Griselda, and upon acting like the monkey in class, I feel like I got a better sense of the way Griselda carries herself! (And let’s be real, it was super fun to crouch and flit about like a monkey all day.)

So, before you go make any assumptions about how weird acting school is, remember that all this insanity is for a purpose! My sore biceps and hyper-awareness of posture will lend to character building and performance. It’s only week four, but I can already see how each of these classes are lending important tools to my actor toolbelt. I’m dead-tired and incredibly sore, but I see and feel myself getting stronger and stronger each class.  I’m confident that by the end of this, I’ll be eager to get onstage and show you all what I’ve learned…right after I’ve taken a four month nap!



The Trip of Many First’s

The Trip of Many First’s

This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to go to Venice with three great friends of mine. It was the first trip we had all planned and executed all by ourselves. And it was nothing short of an experience.

When you’ve always travelled with your family you are so used to relying on them for the directions, them for the daily plan and them to keep you safe. I never realized how much I relied on them until taking this trip by myself.

Getting lost happened countless times on this trip (although Venice is probably one of the most confusing cities ever) and while sometimes it’s frustrating when you just want to get somewhere, I think it was really a blessing in disguise. One instance was when we were trying to find a gondola ride and decided to follow this big group of people. After following them for awhile they stopped outside an elementary school when the bell rang and hundreds of children ran outside.

We had followed all the locals to watch them pick up their children…

But, it was so cool and put into perspective that this beautiful tourist area include’s people’s homes.

On this trip we had to learn how to use public transportation all on our own. Asking our receptionist (twice) and then getting lost and asking countless locals, is always an experience. However, everyone was incredibly nice and almost excited to tell us how to get where we wanted to go. The language has never been too much of a barrier. Italian’s know a lot of English and once you know the base Italian words, you can make it work.

We got to meet this incredibly nice man named Marco in his mask shop. We knew we had to get a mask in Venice and we knew it had to be authentic. He was excited to show us how he makes his masks and so passionate when telling us he’s been doing this since he was a little boy. It’s people like that who help return you to the culture you are living in.


This trip was full of culture, full of new experiences and full of first’s. But, we made it through. We did it. I can’t wait to do it again.

Summer Vacation!?!

Summer Vacation!?!

After about three and a half weeks of a 3 hour a day class, I am on summer vacation in Chile! Our program essentially had us take an intensive (J-term) Spanish class, but now we are free to travel around South America for a month and then we start the real semester the 2nd of March.

Tomorrow morning to start, I will be flying to Punta Arenas, the most southern point you can get to in Chile by plane. There with two classmates, we will be touring Torres del Paine national park. We will then be meeting a third classmate to explore Chiloe an island with very distinct culture and food. And of course taking a penguin tour! Lastly, we will be heading to Pucon, where we plan to zip line, white water raft and I may even sky dive over a volcano!

But, back to the things that I have experienced. Last weekend, the program took our whole group to Isla Negra, Chile. It’s about a two hour drive west of Santiago, that goes through the countryside. We went to visit one of Pablo Neruda’s three houses, and enjoy some time on the beach. Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, and was the second Chilean to be awarded it yet. Neruda, a lover of the sea and all things maritime, built the home to resemble a ship with low ceilings, creaking wood floors, and narrow passageways. A passionate collector, every room has a different collection of bottles, ship figureheads, maps, ships in bottles, and an impressive array of shells. Following this beautiful tour, we headed to the beach and enjoyed getting soaked by waves and climbing on the rocks.

This weekend a small group of us went to the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolumbiano ~Precolumbian Art Museum in Santiago. This museum in particular is said to have the best collection of artwork in Santiago, and I would agree. Items in the museum’s collections are drawn from the major pre-Columbian culture areas of Mesoamerica, Intermediate / Isthmo-Colombian, Pan-Caribbean, Amazonia and the Andean. The museum has over 3,000 pieces representing almost 100 different groups of people. The collection ranges from about 10,000 years ago. And more importantly for me, the majority of the collection was incredible examples of ceramic work.

Well, I better finish packing for tomorrow!





Meeting the Mekong

Meeting the Mekong

The troop successfully embarked on its first program trip this past weekend. We ventured into the Mekong River Delta, one of Vietnam’s two prominent river deltas. The Mekong is a fluid source of power and economy to the people of the southern region which we were able to witness during our trip.

Our cultural tour began at a Cao Dai temple. Caodaiism incorporates practices and beliefs from Taosim, Buddhism, and Christianity, to name a few.


Soon after leaving the temple, we arrived at our boat. Our tour guide was a wealth of knowledge, which he gladly shared with us all, teaching us the history and culture of the region. Our first stop along the river was at a river market, and what seemed to be a hub for tourists. We were able to see how coconut was used to make a variety of snacks. My favorite? Coconut taffy, specifically, freshly made coconut taffy. While the other, more adventurous students and friends on our trip tried snake wine, I stuck to the safer option of coconut taffy and pop rice, the Asian counterpart to popcorn. I did, however, hold a 25 kg python, a feat I am quite proud of accomplishing (never mind the snake was probably used to it). And speaking of snakes, they are quite the delicacy in the Mekong Delta region, so of course we had to try some. Shocked and awed, I couldn’t tear my eyes away as our tour guide killed the snakes and cleaned them to be prepared for dinner. The snake, wrapped in bitter banana leaves, was palatable and somewhat akin to the texture of a meatball, but I don’t think it is a dish I’ll be adding to my Top 10 list (although most of the positions are held by other Vietnamese dishes).

_DSC6633 _DSC6650

The next day our tour guide took us to a brick factory, which relies heavily on the Mekong Delta. The bricks are made up of a mixture of sand from the Mekong and clay, and the kilns are fired with rice husks transported along the river. This factory also exports pots, vases, and scaled-down replicas of the Easter Island statues, as well as provides impish students with a playroom, aka the storeroom for hundreds of millions of rice husks.

_DSC6720 _DSC6734

On the way back to Saigon, we stopped by a pagoda to visit and play with some 100 children. Prizes were distributed for games such as the potato sack race, gifts were given to each and every child in preparation for the new school term, and we also had the opportunity to hand out red envelopes containing “lucky money”. During the Tet holiday, children receive money from older relatives which they refer to as lucky money.


All in all, it was one sweaty, jam-packed, educational, entertaining weekend.

Paradoxical Familiarity

Paradoxical Familiarity

Dear Internet,

While browsing through the collection of Marvel movies on the German Netflix, I realized that last week’s Intensive Courses could be summarized through  a (surprisingly) much more academic and somehow nerdier version of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). A slower, but determined Steve Rogers is entered as a candidate for the “Super Brain” program. Though intellectually less able than his competition, with steely determination and long nights of studying, Rogers pulls through as the chosen subject, and eventually becomes the mentally muscular Captain America.

Though I am refraining from calling myself Captain Germany (for both ironic and non-ironic reasons), the transition to life in Freiburg has been simultaneously disorientating, yet thrillingly smooth. The last week has been a crash course in European politics, German culture, and most importantly, German language. And though I still sometimes have to do a one act play at restaurants because I don’t know how to say “I want the food to go”, I’ve started to like less of a foreigner, and more of a foreigner who at least read the travel guide before coming in.

A friend of mine noted last week that instead of always pointing out differences, perhaps a better perspective would be to try and find the similarities. In that regard, Freiburg has begun to form in my mind as a paradoxical mix of familiarity within the unknown. Every day I see Chicago’s colleges, Milwaukee’s urban feel, and Seattle’s mountainous environment, all underneath the overall newness of Germany that I have yet to examine or explore.

And while I admit that it is a bit of a coping mechanism, its somehow comforting to see how similar life can be in locales an ocean apart: College students looking for jobs, new parents trying to balance both work and their children, the elderly observing it all with a knowing look in their eye. It’s made exploring the city less daunting, but more importantly, it’s making Freiburg feel like a new home.

Your verbose pen-pal,

Matt Boey


Today’s Special Moments are Tomorrow’s Memories.

Today’s Special Moments are Tomorrow’s Memories.

-Genie, Aladdin (1992)

Will I ever upload a flattering photo? The answer is no. These are way more fun.
Will I ever upload a flattering photo? The answer is no. These are way more fun.

I  type this as I rock out to my Disney Jams playlist with my roommates, feeling like I could take on the world because I’m in LONDON. (Okay, maybe I’m the only one rocking out, but we all do feel pretty awesome.)

The reason I’m in such high spirits may have a small bit to do with Saturday’s class trip to Brighton, United Kingdom. It’s this charming, bustling, hip beach town in southern England. Picture the setting for a British Nicholas Sparks novel. Pebbled beach, colorful lanes of cafes on a cobblestone road, an entertainment pier…BOOM. That’s Brighton! It started as this little fishing town back before the US was even an idea, and King George III (Y’kn

ow, Mad King George? The one who wouldn’t let Washington’s dreams come true?) had a son who didn’t know what to do with his time. So, he decided to take over an apartment complex in the middle of town and make it into a fabulous beach getaway palace. George, Prince of Wales, sort of built the world’s first Epcot, with a palace inspired by Chinese culture and stables inspired by Indian culture! The inside of the Royal Pavilion was floor to ceiling dragons, gold, and Chinese porcelain. George was great at hosting parties and even better at eating; he once had his French chef prepare a feast with 100 courses! He had the kitchens built close to the Great Hall so he could take his guests on tours of the huge facilities. Kitchens were commonly in separate buildings in case of fires, but George was a glutton for gluttony and wanted his friends and guests to know! It’s assumed his obsession with being a sort of “emperor of the world” at this time of Britain’s great power may explain his desire to create a Chinese/Indian-style summer home. Unfortunately, he was such a restless designer and architect that he only visited the finished product three times before his death. Some say it’s the journey and not the destination, anyways, am I right?

OKAY, there’s my informative section, now on to the fun stuff: My evening in Brighton. So, after our teacher set us loose on the beaches, we intelligent adults took off our shoes and socks and sprinted across the ice-cold pebbles into the waves. Of course, the waves came up to meet us (VERY QUICKLY) and we all were soaked to the knees in frozen sea-water…but it was SO worth it! We all became instantly giddy; running, jumping, splashing, spinning, singing, and looking generally like Disney Princesses. Don’t worry. A lot of it has been documented in photo AND video form so others can enjoy our little episode. After about a half an hour, most of us realized we couldn’t feel our feet and figured the pebbles and shells could be tearing into them, so we dried off, warmed up, and basked in the sunset for a while. Then, we went to the entertainment pier where some of my fellow classmates were crazy enough to go on huge roller coasters. It was amazing, they were being suspended 100-feet in the air above the ocean! I didn’t have the guts to spend four pounds on getting my guts thrown around, but they seemed to have fun! The class split up and took over Brighton’s nightlife after that, invading dive bars, themed bars, Australian bars with pantsless Rugby Teams (from whom we learned a number of interesting drinking games), and dance clubs. Everyone we met was so interested to hear about where we came from, they were helpful, excited, and generally cheerful. I REALLY loved the Brighton vibe. I’ll DEFINITELY be going back, (maybe when Mom comes to visit?)

Well, ANYWAY, I had a KILLER time in Brighton. Touring the Royal Pavilion was AMAZING and really showed off the insane wealth and influence of historical England. I really got close to my friends here, and we all got a chance to just unwind and act like little kids after a very stressful week . (Which is a favorite pastime of mine: acting like a kid.) Next week, I’ll go into detail about all the interesting theatre I’ve been seeing here, just so you don’t think I’m spending all my time frolicking about. 😉




Everything Is Really Old

Everything Is Really Old

Ahoj, Friends!

This is my first blog post! It would’ve come earlier, but as always, I have an unfortunate internet connection. Also, I’ve been rather busy in the beautiful city of Prague!

I have been here a little over two weeks now and have already fallen in love. There’s always something to do, whether it’s grabbing one of the many delicious pastries from a vendor or walking around Old Town. I think my favorite part of Prague, thus far, is Vysehrad (which I’m still not a hundred percent on how to pronounce). It is a little further outside the realm of “tourism,” although I did find out about it through my guide book (thanks, Rick Steves). Vsyehrad is a fortress that has been around since before Prague was Prague. It contains the infamous Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, which—with its ornate wall paintings, devotion to Mary, and saint relics—was everything a theology nerd like myself could want. Even the cemetery that runs alongside the church was extravagant, acting more like a secret garden than a place for mourning. I managed to make it out of the church just after sunset, and had an excellent view of Prague lighting up, and the Vltava River.

View of the Vltava River from Vysehrad

I’ve also managed to spend some time outside of Prague. The past couple weekends, USAC has coordinated several hikes in the surrounding towns. Our first one led us to a 1000 year old town which contained a cave that housed the hermit, St. Ivan. As the legend goes, St. Ivan lived in the caves with the physical representation of Satan, and battled him with a cross. We got to see the blood-stained wall from the fight, along with the town’s original church. We then proceeded to hike up a snowy mountain and essentially skied our way back down it.

I’ve definitely noticed that the Czech’s version of “safety” is not the same as American’s.

The original church, set into the cave where St. Ivan lived

This past weekend, we also went up near the German border and hiked up to the ruins of a 14th century castle, which for some reason, they allowed us to climb on. It amazes me, first that anyone can walk all over ruins, but also how incredibly old everything is here. Just the other day, we visited the “New” Jerusalem Cemetery for class, which is older than my country. One day, we ate dinner at a restaurant that is housed in a building that has been around for several centuries. I go to church in a Cathedral that is over 600 years old (FYI, St. Vitus Cathedral does NOT have heating). Everything here has a long past; it is so different from home, where new buildings pop up everyday and old buildings are constantly being torn down. I have to say, I kind of like knowing that generations have looked upon the same sights that I have, and we’ve all been amazed by it.

However, it hasn’t all been fun and games and there have already been several mishaps, ranging from me…misplacing…my coat for a day (don’t worry, Mom and Dad, I have it back) to us accidently leaving a student at a train station while he was in the bathroom. But, everything has managed to turn out all right in the end. It’s hard to let the bad stuff get us down when we have bellies full of goulash and are watching the sunset from the Charles Bridge.

I think, for the moment, that will be all. All I can really say is, I’ve been in Prague for two weeks and I don’t really ever want to leave.