The GoGlobal Blog

Tag: culture

9 Days. 8 Friends. 5 Countries.

9 Days. 8 Friends. 5 Countries.

If you asked me before coming to the John Felice Rome Center that I would be able to pull off visiting 5 countries and navigate 4 different languages in 9 days, I would have never believed you. Over the past two months here (WOW time is flying by!) not only my confidence in myself has grown but also my ability to navigate foreign cultures has as well. Also, luckily for me, 7 of my fellow Alpha Delta Pi sisters were willing to embark on this adventure together.

We set off on Friday for Vienna, Austria and ended in Barcelona, Spain by the end of the following Sunday. In-between those two countries, we took a day trip to Budapest, Hungary, stayed in Nice, France, and packed in another day trip to Monte Carlo, Monaco. Every where we visited, a different aspect of the local culture and architecture intrigued me. In Budapest, I felt like I was transported into a fairytale; whether it was peaking through the arches of their castle lined hill tops or the aroma of fresh apple strudel floating from tiny alleyways, I loved it and hope to return some day. Taking in the aqua beachfront in Nice was breathtaking, and people watching from a cafe in Monte Carlo, ogling over the lavishly dressed locals, was a hoot. Undoubtedly, nothing tops the cuisine in Barcelona. We ate tapas after tapas as well as plenty of paella and Spanish omelettes, and even got to experience brunch again.

There wasn’t a place I regret visiting, or an experience I wish I could have rather had over of my fall break. This trip was unforgettable, and what made it even more memorable was the life-long friends who were by my side.

Pretty in Paris

Pretty in Paris

Make sure to visit this at night for a stunning light show every hour on the hour
If you can afford it, the views from the tower are breath-taking

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited Europe before. I saw some cities in Spain, France, and Italy, and loved them all enough to come back. Recently, I returned from a trip to Paris, which I saw last time I was in Europe.

I thought I wouldn’t have much to do, since I’d been to the Eiffel Tower, seen inside the Louvre, and entered the Notre Dame, but I didn’t have enough time to visit half of what I wanted to.

As preparation for this semester abroad, I hunted down works of fiction that took place in Europe as inspiration on where to visit during my stay, and I had a few new ideas on what to see in Paris. This trip was so fun because it was like a scavenger hunt, I was either viewing the touristic attractions in a new light or visiting places a tourist would normally walk by.

Be sure to look for the cat if you don’t have the time to read part of a book in there
A complicated, beautiful work of art. If you think it’s pretty on the outside, wait until you walk in

I highly recommend reading a couple books that take place in the countries you’d like to visit, because that way you’ll learn about new places to visit, or gain more knowledge on places you already know of.

Thanks to the books I have read, I was able to visit the church of St. Etienne du Mont, Shakespeare & Company, and learn more about Point Zero.

I learned Point Zero is where all distances in France are measured. Apparently if you make a wish on it, it’ll come true, and if you don’t make a wish, you’re bound to return to Paris again one day.

Don’t worry, I made sure to stop at Point Zero before I left Paris, but I can’t tell you what I wished for, or it won’t come true!

It’s worn away from the tourists walking past, to Notre Dame
I Live in Rinaldo’s

I Live in Rinaldo’s

I live in Rinaldo’s. I’ve officially set up shop and am not leaving until spring break starting today. I realize that I’m spending too much time focusing on creating content for work and brainstorming that I haven’t been studying enough. I’ve done research on different and effective ways to use instagram to make sales, while posting 3 times a week, I’m supposed to also be posting 2-3 stories a week,

finding new stories to write about like new restaurants, and the March Events Blog post is due next Monday. I completely bombed my finance test which probably shouldn’t have been as hard as it was. I need to be more focused and balanced in how I’m allocating my time. The rest of my midterms are next week so I’m basically not leaving JFRC until my grades are where I need them to be (or sleeping probably, but that’s college right?). Today I took the 990 Bus to Vatican City to take some pictures for my internship and send out postcards to my friends and family. It was 2,80 euros per stamp. The man who was working at the post office seemed was super rude. I handed him my debit card and he threw my postcards on the

desk and said, “No Card.” Alright, noted. I handed him cash, took my postcards and stamps, and left. It was probably because I spoke English to be honest. On my way back to the bus I stopped at a McCafe. I wish McDonalds had them in the united states like they do here. They have cheesecake, muffins, cornetto, colorful doughnuts, and it’s awesome. I got some decent pictures for the Roman Foodie instagram. I ended up buying a creamolosa al caffee. Its pistachio fudge topped with espresso and vanilla soft serve. I had no idea what I was getting but I figure I should try a new thing every day if I can. My life has been changed. With such easy access

to sweets, I’ve come to the realization that I need to do something to keep me healthy. So, for the past month or so I’ve gone to the gym 5-6 times a week depending how my body feels. I’m finally starting to see the benefit of all the work I’ve put in and I’m really happy about. So, the goal for next week is to sort my life out, but its really hard to say the least.


a new taste of Thailand

a new taste of Thailand

วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep  
วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

สวัสดีครับ Sawadeekrap!

Welcome to beautiful Thailand! Filled with stunning temples, smiling locals, spicy food, and a tai-kadai language, this authentic culture craves study from all disciplines. While sharing my unique adventures and pretty pictures, I aim more to delve into the vast abyss that is Thai culture, too often assumed to be pad thai, pretty girls, and white beaches.  With my background studying cultural anthropology, paired with language and political science, my time in Thailand will be focused on deconstructing the importance Thais place around their food, as well as how tourism has changed the meaning, practice, quality, and importance of eating as a Thai. Since a little kid drinking ชาเย็น chaa yen (Thai iced-tea), my mom instilled a passion for Thai cuisine. It is important for us, as humans who require sustenance, to appreciate the food we choose to eat. Anthropologist Gillian Crowther, author of Eating Culture (2013), reminds us of the function food plays in our lives. “Food is our everyday creative and meaningful engagement with nature through culture…humans don’t just randomly feed; we select, fashion, concoct, and make an edible assemblage that fits our imagining of food” (Crowther 2013:XVIII). Food, therefore, is the simplest form of the selective choice of environmental manipulation for human advancement. Changing the environment from object to artifact for the sole purpose of consumption creates the basic definition of a culture; placing hierarchical importance on objective material in a human’s life. Food, therefore, is vital for understanding any culture.

My first week in Thailand was overloaded with new flavors, textures, smells, and sights. With a home base at Uniloft in the neighborhood of สุเทพ Suthep close to the campus of Chiang Mai University, I am luckily far away from the touristy center of Old Town, where authenticity within cuisine is quickly diminishing. On ซอยเจ็ด Soi 7, carts serve dishes from ข้าวซอย Khao Soi (traditional chicken bone & beef liver soup) to  ข้าวไก่ทอด Khaw Gai Koah (fried chicken on rice). At my favorite restaurant, ขนมจีนหล่มเก่า หลัง มช kah nom thien loo khaw laam ngoo, I order ส้มตำ Som Tam, spicy papaya salad–crisp, refreshing, sour, sweet, salty, and spicy, all masterfully combined together in perfect proportions, leaving your mouth in awe of its magic.

 ส้มตำ Som Tam
ส้มตำ Som Tam

All these dishes are prepared by one woman cooking on a single burner stove, with 1 wok, 1 knife, and 1 spoon. Watching these chefs prepare the 30 orders that come in at the same time is a miracle in itself. No measurements, just different spoonfuls of น้ำปลา nam plaa (fish sauce), น้ำตาล shugar, น้ำมะนาว nam manow (lemon juice), พริก prik (chili), and ถั่วเหลืองหมัก khoon loo mak (fermented soy paste). It is amazing that different combinations of these simple ingredients create such a varying palate that defines Thai food.

Since I have been here, two Thai students have reached out to help me and Christian, an ethnographic film major, with our Thai and learning the ins and outs of Chiang Mai on their motorbikes. Recently, Mew and Chitsa took us out to try a Thai dessert, ขนม kha-nom (literally ‘dessert’). This cereal of coconut milk, ice shavings, corn, stale bread, green noodles, and fermented water chestnuts coated in a waxy red sugar was devoured by my new friends. Even for my adventurous diet, watery coconut milk with salty corn didn’t sit well with me. Despite my intolerance for the dish, Mew and Chitsa were ecstatic that two Americans were willing to try something so foreign. Their positive attitude and excitement made me feel at home in such a new environment. Their smiles and laughs were parallel to that of many Thais, where my desire to share in their local culture makes thems proud of their heritage and traditions. That makes me feel great, showing someone that what makes them who they are is valued in the eyes of someone completely different from them. So, I look forward to continue try new things, learn more Thai, and become as local as possible with my three new adventurers.

Christian, Chitsa, Mew, and myself
Christian, Chitsa, Mew, and myself



Walk with me: First Impressions

Walk with me: First Impressions


Against all odds, I MADE IT TO LONDON!! So far, I have seen incredibly beautiful buildings, walked over fifteen miles in two days, eaten some ridiculous food, had my bank card shut down (oops), discovered many websites that don’t work in the UK (get it together Pandora), and met some very charming people. In fact, as I write this, a delightful woman has walked in and is telling me about her life in Egypt and offering me half of her KitKat (incidentally, more delicious here than in the States). So, feel free to skim to your interests, but here are my first impressions about this lovely place.

1. Food– What am I eating?? Is this for one person? Is a sweet tooth nonexistent?!

Food is different anywhere you go, but British people take their food very seriously. Portions are huge, tea time is real (although tea often just means coffee), and you have to be very aggressive at the bar to order your food at all. A steak does not mean a juicy, red meat with A1 sauce on the side. Instead it’s likely to be pork based (we think- will report back). The grocery store has an entire aisle devoted to various flavors of crisps (aka chips)(Say that word out loud more than once and try not to cringe at the “sps”), but processed desserts appear to be against nature. However, the best thing I’ve discovered is the Cadbury Creme McFlurry. Finally, McDonalds does something right :,)

IMG_2619    IMG_2621    food

2.  Transportation

The tube is so.nice and so quiet. As someone who is used to the CTA, hopping on the tube is completely disarming. No one singing along to their iPod on speakerphone, no one jangling cups, no rowdiness of any kind. Although it is very nice, I almost miss the bizarre conversations people have with themselves on Chicago transportation. Also those two-story red buses? Not a mere tourist attraction. They’re everywhere and function the same as any city bus would. Finally, walking. It’s possible to walk anywhere and everywhere in the city (although it might take awhile). It’s 7:40 PM and I have already walked 6 miles today (thank you FitBit).


3. Culture

I have experienced so much culture shock since I got here, and the English have a very distinguished way of life; however, I have also noticed a lot of parallels! As I was walking out of a store today, Mark Ronson serenaded me with ‘Uptown Funk’ and when I had to ask the front desk woman to repeat herself despite the fact that she was already speaking English, Taylor Swift was there telling me to ‘Shake It Off’. My sister took a friend and I to a place called Primark today in a shopping district and it was very similar to any outdoor collection of stores in the U.S. Primark itself reminded us a lot of Forever21 and its five stories of clothes and home goods rival the flagship on Michigan Avenue. We also have seen many places that remind us of home such as a Burton ski and snowboard store (in London?!), Burger King’s, Subway’s, and McDonald’s of course, and a Pret A Manger on every street. Perhaps what has delighted me the most is that the brand of wine, Barefoot, is seen as an imported delicacy from the States. Experiencing a completely different lifestyle is incredible, but it’s also nice to have some comforts of home! 🙂

street        IMG_2629

(I loved this street with its beautiful and apparently completely commonplace buildings and fun street art!)

Until next time lovely readers- wish me luck!!


At the Heart of Culture

At the Heart of Culture

I am a firm believer in the link between language and culture. The daily vernacular can show as much, if not more, about a people’s beliefs, customs and perceptions as art or music.

“An lar” means “the center”

Americans are lucky; we share our language with several other countries while retaining our unique dialect. That patented American accent is the quickest way to find a kindred soul while abroad. While Ireland is in a similar position, the country has been working for the last 100 years to revive its native language, Gaelic.

And now, time for a history lesson with the man we all love to hate: King Henry VIII.

In 1541, the Irish Parliament passed a statute that declared good ol’ Henry the King of Ireland. The Irish nobility had given their allegiance to the King in order to maintain their titles, power and land. But, alas, allegiances are mostly just words, and as the newly Protestant England worked to impose laws upon the predominately Catholic Ireland, the English overlords ran into some trouble. So England tightened its grip. Eventually, the native Irish lords were stripped of their power, and Irish culture, language and law laid by the wayside. More Scottish, English and Welsh settlers moved to Ireland as English culture, language and law was enforced.

The next 200+ years saw English rise as the accepted language. Using Gaelic was looked down upon and even punishable at times. The late 1800’s, however, saw a push for the use of Gaelic as a cornerstone of Irish culture.  As Ireland gained more independence from Britain, the language found more of a foothold.

Another shot of Cork

Today, Irish students are all required to take Gaelic in some form. And I, being the cultural thrill seeker I am, am taking an intro class in modern Irish.

It’s different. Incredibly different. My safety net of Latin root words is gone. The words, so easily formed on an Irish tongue, sound strangled and clipped when I try to say them. And yet, I’m happy to learn. Its through language that we find the heart of a culture. I don’t expect to use it in everyday life, if at all, but it helps me decode my surroundings.

It’s something that many have fought for the right to speak. So even if I butcher it, I’ll give it my best go.


Through the Lens of Hip-Hop: Vietnamese Youth Culture

Through the Lens of Hip-Hop: Vietnamese Youth Culture

A HipHop (B-boy) dancer landing a freeze during the Converse Street Festival
A HipHop (B-boy) dancer landing a freeze during the Converse Street Festival

Converse shoes, beanie caps, graffiti, and break-dancing are all elements of today’s hip-hop scene in Vietnam. While these facets aesthetically resemble a similar culture in the United States and other parts of the world, Vietnamese hip-hop conveys a deeper message hidden under the clout of imported flash. MCs, graffiti artists, b-boys, and DJs comprise only one of the counter-cultures that have developed in Vietnam through the processes of globalization. As one of the most youthful countries in the world, Vietnam must balance the traditional customs of past generations with the trends and developments of today’s world.

I have chosen this picture to expand upon for a number of reasons. Having been involved in the hip-hop scene in the U.S., I hope that I can relate to similar minded youth in Vietnam. I believe that Vietnamese hip-hop is a developing culture that is different than similar subcultures in other countries. Finally, I view the hip-hop subculture in Vietnam as lens through which one can visualize Vietnam’s progress and development.

In the early 1970’s hip-hop formed in the Bronx in New York City as a form of self-expression and protest by the youth. As it spread, the messages associated with the movement also found audiences in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. By the end of the 20th century, and with the economic success of the early 21st century, Vietnamese youth readily gained access to the rest of the world through venues such as MTV, the internet, and their neighbors in Asia. It wasn’t long after that a hip-hop culture developed in Vietnam.

However, in my observation and interaction with hip-hop artists in Vietnam, there is an almost entirely different message being portrayed underneath all the baggy shirts, flat brim caps, and break-beats. While American hip-hop music is notorious for off color language and a subculture that often lends itself an unsavory reputation, Vietnamese describe their brand of hip-hop as “clean.” Raps are often about romance, youth culture, dancing, expressing yourself, and being who you want to be. There are almost never political or societal issues conveyed through Vietnamese hip-hop. The overall message is resoundingly individual and being true to yourself.

As said in Saigon Electric / Yo!, a 2011 film exploring Vietnam’s street dancing scene, “We [Vietnamese] dance because we have to. It’s all we have to live for.” I believe that this quote highlights the ambiguity of the task Vietnamese youth have in forging their own culture. When President Clinton visited Vietnam for the first time in 20 years following the end of the conflict in Vietnam, he was exposed to a new generation of Vietnamese who had the freedom to find futures beyond the wars of their parents and grandparents’ generations. However, as Vietnam steadily opened up to the rest of the world, the next generation of youth have pushed the envelope even further in the creation of a unique, and thriving youth culture.

Converse’ arrival and success in Vietnam display just how eager Vietnamese youth are to ‘catch up’ with their contemporaries around the world. While Converse’s image might inspire images of old-school basketball or pop-punk bands and skater culture in the United State, Converse has harnessed a slightly different approach in Vietnam. The Converse Street Festival in Ho Chi Minh City represents nearly a decade of growing presence in Vietnam. While staple “Converse cultures” such as skate boarders, rock bands, and b-boys transitioned and took root in Vietnam, Converse successfully marketed itself to a population that literally grew up with the brand in Vietnam. While it seems that Vietnamese artists in the hip-hop scene earnestly take their inspiration from the United States, Europe, South Korea, Japan, and other hip-hop centers, a unique Vietnamese identity is slowly taking shape.

When I arrived on site at the Converse Street Festival, there was already a large crowd gathered on the main stage where the b-boy crews were battling. I noted that with few exceptions, nearly everyone in the crowd was my age or younger, and that their energy far exceeded what should have been possible for the amount of people. I have been to jams (b-boy competitions) many times larger in Chicago and the United State, but the excitement and talent of the performers, spectators, and judges in Vietnam was just as comparable!

Hip-hop in Vietnam, through conveyed through the same vehicles as ‘original hip-hop’ across the world, conveys a deeper story. The growth of this subculture parallels the development of Vietnam in recent years, not only economically or culturally, but also consciously. I believe that it would not be too farfetched of a statement to say that Vietnamese hip-hop is proof of Vietnamese identity taking new shape in an uncertain future. With over half of its population under the age of 30, Vietnam’s youth are eager to soak up the rest of the world’s trends. However, they do not seek to just catch up, but also gain the tools to forge their own of unique identity whether it be through industry, policy, or something as obscure as street dancing.

Roadside Tagging in Mui Ne

A B-boy starts his routine

A semi-related preview of my holiday break in Nha Trang

For more info on the Vietnamese Hip-Hop scene, specifically b-boying check out these links!