The GoGlobal Blog

Month: November 2016

5 Most Ridiculous Experiences From My Time in Vietnam

5 Most Ridiculous Experiences From My Time in Vietnam

In the spirit of Thanksgiving (though a week late) and as my time here draws to a close, I would like to appreciate some of the most unexpected and outrageous things I’ve experienced during my time in Vietnam. There are much too many instances to note, so instead, here is a list of my top five most ridiculous experiences:

1. Pet Squirrel – Now I should preface this by saying that I have not once seen a squirrel since leaving Chicago back in mid-May. This is not to say squirrels don’t exist in Asia, I’m sure they do, I just don’t have the luxury of looking for them when I’m preoccupied checking for random motorbikes in all directions. Either way, walking around one evening about a month ago, some friends and I noticed a few men huddled around a tree, clearly very excited about something. When we got closer, we noticed there was a brown squirrel hanging out mid-trunk. He was tied up, by the neck, with a string no longer than 3 feet in length hooked around a nail in the tree trunk. He clung to the tree in fear, unable to scurry to safety higher in the tree or on the ground. We then witnessed the men attempting to feed garbage to the squirrel, which, for obvious reasons, was unsuccessful. I pass by that tree whenever I get the chance, but have never see the squirrel since.

2. Atonal Karaoke Man – Every night outside our dorm in District 10, around 11:30PM, a sole man begins to belt out karaoke on a system whose speakers are ready to blow. He sings anything from Katy Perry and Justin Beiber (both Vietnamese favorites) to Queen and The Rolling Stones, but all of it in the most atonal way possible. His serenade usually lasts between 45 minutes to an hour and leaves us all praying for peace and quiet. Last night he was even joined by someone playing flute in our echoing halls.

3. Beijing Belly/Nose Picking– Beijing belly, or the beer gut belly of a man exposed due to his shirt being rolled up to his chest (presumably because of the heat), is a common site in many countries in Asia, though I have seen it most in of course Beijing and throughout Vietnam. One day while walking in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, I saw a man proudly exposing his Beijing Belly, and before I could look away he began aggressively picking his nose and staring me down. Never have I been more intimidated by a beer gut and boogers.

4. Cattle Prods and Traffic – One day, we had to exit our taxi 10 blocks away from our service learning site, due to an absurd amount of traffic. When attempting to swim our way through a sea of motorbikes, we noticed a man “directing traffic”. What we first believed was a baton turned out to be something much more unexpected and sinister. This man was holding a cattle prod! Not even 20 seconds later, he was using it on a motor bike driver who was trying to sneak past him. A month into our semester and I believed I had seen everything.

5. Night Market Set-up – Last weekend I decided to take on Ho Chi Minh City as a tourist and check out the night market, where other students had gotten some pretty great deals. I arrived early, but just in time to see hoards of shirtless men parading by – some on foot, some by motorbike – carrying large tents and dragging large metal crates that I can only assume held the contents of each individual shop. There must be upwards of 100 people involved in the process of setting up the market every night. I couldn’t imagine how all of those shops could be set up so quickly but when I returned from dinner less than an hour later, it was in full swing. This was certainly a sight to remember.

Thanksgiving In Ukraine

Thanksgiving In Ukraine

Ciao a tutti!

My last out of Italy trip, and I am sad. This has all been moving by way too fast, but I am trying to enjoy it all and live in the moment and not get caught up by the impending doom that is finals week. Let’s focus on what is important here, that being my trip to Ukraine for Thanksgiving break.

You may be asking, what made me choose Ukraine? Two words: my roommate. She happens to be Ukrainian and has family living in the capital of Kiev. So, that is where our story takes place!

I will admit, I knew nothing about Ukraine besides the bits and pieces of history my roommate has told me throughout the years, so I really had no idea what I was walking (or in this case, flying) into. Most people speak Russian in Kiev because much of the city is still stuck in the Soviet Union times. My roommate told me that the West side of Ukraine has modernized, whereas the East side is still stuck in the past.

One thing I did know is that I did not understand a single thing anyone was saying because NO ONE spoke English. Because of this, I was kind of left to my own thoughts and I forced my roommate to translate for me, but even she was having difficulty because she knows the Ukrainian language, not Russian. However, this didn’t stop us from enjoying the true beauty that Ukraine had to offer: THE FOOD.

I feel like this should just become a food blog from how much I talk about food, so that’s what I’m going to do for this post. Now, let me introduce you to these beauties:



beautiful cake from The Cake


Borscht (ft. Varenyky)

And there you have it, ladies and gents. Ukraine was definitely a unique experience, but it was one of the most fulfilling for me because I got to see a part of Europe that I never thought of. And it meant a lot to me because it meant a lot to my roommate, who got to see her family and celebrate Thanksgiving with them. I am truly thankful to her and to them for showing me an amazing time. It will never be forgotten!



Thanksgiving, regardless of whether you’re back in the States or not, is still a time to appreciate all the wonderful things that surround you in life. I haven’t really missed home too much until this holiday, when all my friends and family were together and I was halfway across the world, but in reality, it just made me appreciate them even more. We got to have a thanksgiving potluck here at TBC, where we got to all bring in dishes and eat some turkey and mac and cheese and pie … yum.

  1. I’m thankful for the people I’ve met in this program who support me everyday and make this foreign country feel like home. Who knew sitting for 13 days in the back of the bus on our silk road trip would lead to this friendship. IMG_4832
  2. I’m thankful for my Chinese roommate Jenny who brings me chocolate cake all the time. Without her, I’d be wandering China completely lost. I challenged her to speak to me only in Chinese in the room, and while we sometimes forget, it’s such a great way to practice. IMG_4830
  3. I’m thankful for Kitty and all the other Chinese (and foreign) friends I’ve made in China who think I’m super crazy, but who keep me constantly entertained. IMG_4388
  4. I’m thankful for all the random artists who come to Beijing and how easy it is to get to the front row. FloRida/Alesso, Bow Wow, Vicetone, and Steve Aoki, and we’ve gotten to the first row for everyone. Here’s a pic of steve Aoki handing me the microphone, right before 3 of my friends got on stage and another one got caked in the face. IMG_4716
  5. I’m thankful for the opportunities to explore the city. Beijing is so huge, and I knew it would be hard to see everything, but we got to go to a cooking class where we learned to make some street food – so watch out world, when I return that’s all we’ll be eating (well that and dumplings). IMG_4704
  6. I’m thankful for Chinese ski resorts that aren’t really ski resorts. It’s stuff like this that keeps me on my toes – we went “skiing this weekend” but they failed to tell us that only one of the three slopes would be open and that it was going to be the smallest one (comparable to a bunny hill). Even more hilarious was that they let in over 1000 people so you had millions of unexperienced skiiers trying to go up and down this single hill. Safe to say, I only made it down 1.25 times (accounting for the wipeout I had). Welcome to China everyone! IMG_4841We only have 2.5 weeks left in this country, and I’m starting to freak out. As much as I’m ready for some smoothies and fresh vegetables, there’s still so much I feel like I have yet to do. Until next blog post, catch me in Hong Kong. TATA!


Where are they from? They really like vegetables.

Where are they from? They really like vegetables.

My friends and I really have a knack for planning trips less than 24 hours before we want to leave. But hey, they sometime seem to all workout. This weekend, we decided to visit Qingdao, a city on the coast of China, and located in the Shandong province.

Each province in China seems to have a cultural identity associated with it, and each province is also known for a specific type of food, which makes for different experiences when we try to travel around the country. We arrived via a 5 hour bullet train, lucky for me, I was sandwiched between my two friends instead of some random men.

I was honestly surprised at how nice and accommodating the people of the city were. From what I gathered, the city isn’t exactly a booming tourist attraction, especially during the winter time. This lady we met basically told us we had to come back when it was warm. Regardless, as soon as we walked out of the train station, we had police officers trying to hail us cabs and giving us pointers on how to get to our hostel. We got in at around 10:30, and I swear, the whole city was asleep. We ended up walking down a street, and a woman waved us into her restaurant, probably one of the whole 3 open that night.

I love the little mom and pop shops, and this one was no different. My favorite thing to do is to ask the shopowners what food they recommend because alas, all our Chinese combined still is not enough to read entire menus. Since Qingdao is on the sea, we were able to eat some delicious prawns, and oysters, and shrimp. We were also treated to some delicious “water dumplings” basically boiled dumplings that are a different twist to what we get in Beijing. There were also some nice young men sitting the restaurant that spoke English fairly well, so we befriended them. The shop owner kept asking asking them where we were from because she said she noticed that we really liked to eat vegetables.

TsingTao, the popular beer that is brewed right here in China, is based out of Qingdao (if you have any knowledge of chinese, they are actually pronounced the same). We spent the morning touring the beer factory, which is kind of interesting because the town was built by the Germans, so many of our snapchats looked like we were straight out of Germany. It’s interesting culture because they do this weird thing where they sell beer in a bag, so you can literally get a plastic grocery bag filled with beer for like 10 kuai (1/6th of a dollar).

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We spent the rest of the day walking by the ocean, though it was very foggy and cold so obviously we could not swim. It’s a coastal town so there is a lot of cool little shops and stands that sell seafood.Screen Shot 2016-11-24 at 1.49.33 PMAt night, we went to the same area of the Beer Factory, except it had transformed into a night market. We tried a variety of street food including Chinese cream puffs.

While it was a short vacation, I’m so glad we went. China is very diverse like the United States, so hitting up different areas of China is eyeopening and rewarding.

I want MOHER of Ireland

I want MOHER of Ireland

Ciao a tutti!

I’m going to pretend that you all didn’t moan at the title of this post, but instead, you are laughing at my puns because I am just so funny… (-:

You guessed it! This world traveler set her sights on Ireland, and now she is here! Along with London, Ireland was another dream of mine. And no, this is not because its the two home countries of the members of One Direction. (Okay, kind of) I just heard the Irish were so nice and beautiful that I had to test this theory out for myself. And I can honestly say…yes, yes they are.

In this post, I’m just going to talk about why I loved Ireland so much because I LOVED IRELAND SO MUCH. It’s tied as my favorite trip with Greece, and that’s saying something since we were in Greece for 10 days. Let us begin…

  1. The People: What can I say that will do these people justice? Every single Irish person I encountered while in Dublin was genuinely the nicest person I have ever met, like every person was nicer than the last. Okay, besides the creepy married man that grabbed me in the bar on Saturday night. But everyone else was great. I can’t talk about the people without talking about our Prince. The Prince was a man that bought my friends and I drinks the entire night while we were at this pub, but not once did he come over to us or talk to us. We felt bad and tried to turn him down, but the bartender kept coming over and saying that he insisted on buying us cocktails and shots. Thus we dubbed him the name the Prince. He came over when he left and we thanked him, but other than that, he met a lady friend, and we watched them hit it off while sipping on the 5th drink he bought us. On a different night, we just had the best night of our lives dancing with everyone. I was sitting at a table, waiting for my friends who were getting drinks at the bar, and this guy came over and said “Don’t just sit there, dance with me,” and so we danced! It was so nice! They just make you feel welcome, and I was so happy the entire weekend.
  2. The Food: This may sound dramatic, but it changed my life. It was so delicious, I’m salivating just thinking about it. It was very hearty with its meat and potatoes, something I didn’t exactly experience in the City of Carbs aka Rome, so it was nice to let my stomach take a break from me inhaling pasta every meal. The Shepherd’s Pie that I had… I… um… makes me speechless. We went to this little restaurant by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and it was very quaint and a little quirky, so we were a little nervous that the food wouldn’t be as good or would be expensive, but it was the exact opposite. Everything was homemade and we got an entire meal of Shepherd’s Pie, salad, and bread for 8 euro. Every meal I had while in Ireland was better than the next. I recommend The Hairy Lemon on Stephan Street. We went there twice, and we became best friends with the owner.15107236_1422595744432102_5250398412740109319_n
  3. The Views: Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe it. It reminded me of London with it’s old-time vibes and quaint buildings, but it definitely had character that set itself apart. We visited Cliffs of Moher, and thankfully it was a nice, sunny day. We were literally at the edge of Ireland, staring into abyss that was the ocean. I felt every worry leave my body, and I felt at peace. It was so calming hearing the lapping of the water and feeling the breeze on your face. It was a tranquil experience, not to mention one of the most breathtaking sceneries I had seen thus far. Just don’t look down because it’s frightening. 
Bari… It’s in Puglia… It’s in Italy.

Bari… It’s in Puglia… It’s in Italy.

This past weekend I told several people I was going to Bari, Italy and the people seemed confused. “Where is that?” and “What is there?” These responses concerned me because the only people who knew anything about Bari were my Italian professor and my roommate who went there earlier in the year. Of course my friend and I looked up things to do, but we planned on spending 3 days there. We weren’t sure if we would have enough to see in this small city. The trip ended up being fantastic and filled with action! We saw the two churches of the patron saints of Bari: Saint Nicholas and Saint Sabino, ate AMAZING seafood, and walked through this hardly renovated old town. It was a nice getaway from the chaos of Rome.

On our last day, Sunday, my friend and I took a day trip to Poglinano a mare which was just 30 minutes away from the center of Bari. With white apartments on top of cliffs surrounded by the sea, it looked like pictures of Greece that I’ve seen. That town was even more untouched with small side streets and everyone’s laundry hanging above.

Our trip to Bari was pretty last minute; we planned it a week before and everything worked out alright. I would not go back anytime soon because we saw all of the town, but it would be nice to visit for a vacation. Below are some pictures from my time in Bari!

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Paris in Pictures

Paris in Pictures

Ciao a tutti!

Paris is one of those cities that cannot be described in metaphors or imagery because words will not do it justice. So, instead of trying to create an image for you guys, here are some pictures (w/ descriptions) of the unfiltered beauty that is Parìs.

The Louvre- A true masterpiece. An underground art museum that holds some of the most famous art in the world, including the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory. What made it even more beautiful was that it had free admission since we were studying in Europe.


The Eiffel Tower by day…


… and by night. A glittering light show that happens on the hour, every hour, for about 5 minutes. A can’t miss.
From the top of the Eiffel Tower. Worth the 8 euro. DRESS WARM, esp if you are traveling here in later months, such as October. Feeling in hands was lost, but didn’t stop me from taking millions of photos of that beautiful view.


On top of the Arc du Triomphe. Incredible history, and yet another incredible view, this time with the Eiffel Tower in the back. Try to avoid a foggy day, unlike what we did. Also, it’s free if you’re a student (-:


Self-explanatory. Yum.


Notre Dame minus the Hunchback. The line to get in was ridiculously long, but the outside views made up for it.

To quote my favorite movie Anastasia, “París holds the key to your heart,” and it indeed does.

Arrivederci i miei amici <3


A Night to Remember

A Night to Remember

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The photo you see on the top was taken during the very beginning of our tenure at TBC. Everyone from our group came from different backgrounds, upbringings, and lifestyles. I am happy to say that I have established at least some sort of relationship with every single person. That brings me to the photo on the bottom. It was taken  at Lina’s birthday party, one of my closest friends, here in China and back in Chicago. It is crazy to think of all of the memories we created from the first to our present pictures here in China.

There has been so much shared between everyone in these photos; laughter, struggles, and so much delivery food. Study abroad friendship is so much more than just your average one. Yes, it is temporary and everyone goes home eventually, but what you take away from that limited time will be with you for the rest of your life.

I feel like TBC is unique in a way because China is not just any place to study abroad. It is CHINA. It is a completely different lifestyle, outlook, and perspective than what we know and are comfortable with. Taking on China, with our very diverse group makes the bonds between us all so much stronger. Learning, exploring, and adventuring with each other has brought everyone so close together.


Lina’s birthday particularly was a memorable night for me. Lina is an international student who is studying at LUC. Her and her sister are from a tiny island close to Madagascar called Mauritius. I met her my freshman year and have since been trying to do as many “firsts” for her as possible! This night was her first surprise party. Our party planning group consisted of fellow babies Members: Moni, Yessi, Tessie baby, baby Jo, and Isabel. This was Lina’s 21st so we wanted to do something super special for her. We planned rushingly within a week to get all of the decorations, the venue, and the cake ready for her party. The best part about the entire night was that so many people came out to help us celebrate this night for Lina.

The night of, the babies and I were running around in panic getting last minute things ready. The TBC students and Chinese roommates gathered at the restaurant early with us and waited for Lina’s arrival. We screamed her name, popped confetti, and surprised her so much that she had tears in her eyes by the time she understood what was happening. It is great that you can get such a huge group together to spend a fun night celebrating our happy times in China.

I could not have asked for a more fun group to study abroad with other than TBC 2016.

Xiao Long Bao – The Hutong Center

Xiao Long Bao – The Hutong Center

Again, TBC staff has given us an amazing opportunity to gain cultural awareness through weekend activities. For this opportunity I was able to attend my first ever cooking class at a place called The Hutong. The cutest little gem inside the huge maze of old Beijing. I went with Sebastian, a fellow TBC student to make a special soup dumpling that is popular to eat in southern China.

As soon as Sebastian and I arrived we were warmly greeted into their kitchen with tea and snacks. Classes are small, ours only had 5 people, but this helped so that our teacher, Yao could pay more attention to our wrapping technique.

On of the great attributes to the Hutong center is their location. A bit difficult to find coming from the subway stop, but not far at all. A two story hutong that overlooks the vast jungle of other stone houses and structures. Quaint and relaxing, just what you need on a Sunday morning.

We exchanged stories about our Chinese proficiency and knowledge of cooking all in just a few hours. The Xiao Long Baos were so easy to make! The only thing was that they were time consuming. There is a lot of prep work to make all of the ingredients for these little bundles of juicy dumplings. Most of the prep work was done by our Ayi, and they even gave us a cute little packet on how to make them at home! The most difficult part if wrapping the dumplings. I had an easier time to wrap them considering I had smaller hands, as compared to Sebastian. All in all it was a great experience and they tasted delicious!!

Here is some of the process:

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Jimmy- TBC’s “Social Butterfly”

Jimmy- TBC’s “Social Butterfly”


Who knew that one of my favorite people here at TBC would be so similar to me in so many ways! Coming to TBC you have the option to live with a Chinese roommate, I chose not to have one because I had already previously lived with a roommate and figured that I would be fine if I was assigned to another international student. That was not the case. I ended up living by myself in one of the apartment dorms available on campus. My first week was so hectic and so scary because I had no idea what I was doing or who I could ask for help!

The Beijing Center Staff do their best to make the best environment for students to study abroad here at UIBE and they accommodate us for just about anything that we need. This included the TBC lounge: The place of gathering for many TBC goers. This is how I met Jimmy, and he has changed my entire experience here in Beijing.

If I recall correctly, I walked into the lounge one night and hear the very familiar sounds of Sam and Dean battling demons, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures on the television. I walk over to the couch to see Jimmy sitting there in his minion onsie, sprawled over the entire seat, and drinking the Chinese version of Arnold Palmer half and half. One look and I could tell that we would be friends. We stayed sitting and laughing on the couch arguing about who was the better brother between Sam or Dean, until morning.

10 seasons later into the series Jimmy had become, not just mine, but also everyone else’s go to man when it came to any help being needed. He is always always there for you no matter what, and all of the TBC students love him for that. I remember the one time it was “my time of the month” and I was stuck in bed, he came to my room and gave me candies and our favorite drink   and told me not be sad or sick so that we could go get spicy hot pot later in the week. He will do anything to help anyone and is such a sweet guy. If it is money, a recommendation, a plus one, ANYTHING- Jimmy will be there and even dress his best for the occasion.

Sometimes it is frustrating to live in a completely different country and coming from such a privileged one like the US, it could make our perspective on the world different. A lot of times when I have a hard day at work and I am upset over a cultural barrier I call Jimmy and he takes me out to eat to talk about it. He is such a good resource to speak to because he understands enough of where I may be coming from in a certain situation, but then explains to me why, over here the thought process is another way. Getting his perspective on ideas have opened up my eyes and relieved the frustration. I am forever grateful for him.

Routinely, Jimmy and I like to take walks to the 7/11 across the street from campus for our “green tea” talks. We have very different schedules so this is our time to talk about our days and go through highs and lows. It is our unspoken stress reliever. We also like to make it a point to try a new place to eat at on his secret list of the best of the best joints! I have never eaten so much than I have with this man!!

In conclusion, Jimmy is the pickachu of the Chinese roommates. Everyone loves him and he is what brings people together. If you ever see him on campus, you will know right away who he is. Constantly surrounded by people, holding a togo order of dumplings, and in his comfortable blue slippers. It is a shame that no other future TBC students will get to meet him as he is graduating this year.