Posts Tagged ‘classes’


Chiyo: Brick Lane

October 20, 2011

Fall Break has officially started, and I couldn’t be happier. I had a full day of classes, and the second class I have is my pop culture class, where every other week we go on a field trip. Today, we were going to the National Gallery, but upon my arrival I was greeted by Olivier, who is part of the internship team, and informed me that my professor had to cancel class due to a family emergency. So I waited for my two friends to arrive, and we went around Covent Garden, and Leister Square before my roommate and I had to go to Brick Lane for Curry Night. 

After we were done wandering around Covent Garden and Leicester Square, my roommate Diane and I took the tube to Brick Lane, and ran into our friend Vince, and ended up stopping in a record stop that he knew of since we were early. It was a very chill atmosphere, and we spent a good amount of time in there before heading back to the front of Brick Lane to the restaurant, we had some more time to kill so we stopped at a pub for a pint and to catch up with one another. When we arrived at the restaurant, a lot of other CAPA students had already gotten there, and we had a table to ourselves. The food was absolutely amazing, and my first time trying Indian food. We had 3 courses overall, and each course got better and better. We definitely had “food babies” by the end of the night. Once we were all done eating, we decided that if we needed to use the Lou, we would get off at the next stop and stop in at a pub for a pint and continue on until we got home. I gave up after two stops because I knew I had to get home to skype someone, and I still had to pack for Fall Break, where I fly out tomorrow morning. Back at the flat I am scrambling to get ready for tomorrow, and I can’t wait to embark on traveling to Eastern Europe for the next ten days. No internship, or class, and just me and my friends relaxing, having a good time. This time that I have been abroad is flying by like no other, and I can’t believe I have less than two months left here before I’m back in the states…It is already starting to feel bittersweet, especially because November is already filling up with events and things I am doing. 



Chillin before our field trip to the National Gallery


Chiyo: “Keep calm and put the kettle on”

October 17, 2011

I saw the above saying at Portobello Road, and I relate to that saying so much. It’s ironic because as I’m sitting here writing this blog post, I have a cup of tea sitting next to me. This week I’m just trying to survive, since I am swamped with term papers, a presentation for my internship, and a case study for my international marketing paper while juggling my internship. Thursday can’t come soon enough when I am officially on FALL BREAK! 

My day at the showroom went fast like usual, and I got to learn how to process returns that need to be sent back to Germany, and handled more buyer’s queries. I also got some exciting news that I will be working in store again tomorrow morning at the world’s largest shopping mall, Westfield at Stratford City. I loved working in the Esprit store on Oxford Street last month, and I’m excited to go to a different location and help out there. I love getting out of the showroom now and then and being in the actual Esprit stores. 

Back at the flat I’ve been cranking out these term papers, and I definitely got my “second wind” considering I’m already sleep deprived from the night before. The thing that is motivating me for the end of this week is definitely Fall Break, and traveling in mainland Europe for ten days. It will be nice to not have to be at my internship or in classes, and to actually relax for once in my life. Which, for those of you who know me, know that I don’t relax. Ever. I’m also finalizing my plans with my parents for when they arrive at the end of my term in December, and found out that we will be traveling to Scotland, France, and Switzerland (as well as them seeing London). I’m most excited for Switzerland because my parents told me we are staying at a ski lodge, which made my day. I can’t wait for them to get here, because I miss them like crazy, and I want to show them the real London. The longer I live here, the more I realize I’m getting more accustomed to British ways than American ways. I’m so out of the loop with “what’s hot” in America, because I’m surrounded by British news, music, etc. I’ve also definitely picked up the lingo because when I skyped a friend yesterday, instead of saying apartment, I said flat. Well, I’m about to curl up with my book, cup of tea, and have the British X Factor as background noise for the rest of the night.


Hilary: Beautiful sunset

October 14, 2011

I am sitting in my room writing an analysis about a short story called “la vuelta” or “the return,” it is a very abstract story and I need to write my final Spanish paper on it…  Its about 9 pages long and has a lot of colloquial language… goodness!  Anyway, so I was trying to finish this paper, and was longingly looking outside at the mountains that surround this valley city and saw this amazing sunset!


It passed within about five minutes, as I type this now the lights of the city keep the sky bright instead of the sun.  Today was an amazing day in Quito, the weather held off, no rain, just sun and a little wind to keep the heat off of our heads.  As I spend more time inside observing classes, schools, and teaching methods I long more and more to be outside listening and learning away from the politically charged classroom.

I have been missing music so much here!  I can’t wait to get back home and sing and play the piano and guitar and just listen to music!  I am so lucky at Lawrence with everything we have there, its amazing how much music has become a strong part of my life since going there.  Tonight I am going to see an Ecuadorian guitar trio, classic and Andean folk music, should be wonderful!!

My Quiteñan lifestyle is ending in about a week!  The time has gone so fast its incredible!  I have two months left!  In the next two months I will be creating and teaching a six week English program, living in Cotocachi, writing a monograph about my experience, visiting Cuenca over a 5 day break, spending a bunch of time in the northern Andean highlands taking day trips to lagoons and lakes and hopefully getting a lot more exercise than I have been here in Quito, and a lot more!

Over the past weekend I visited what is known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos” or Puerto Lopez and Isla de la Plata.  It was a great weekend!  I went with two girlfriends and we had so much fun bumming around the town, getting to know the local scene, eating delicious ceviche, and seeing amazing sights, like whales, blue-footed boobies, and sea turtles!!  There were many proposals from locals for marriage and so much more, I think next time I go to the coast I will wear a burke and not speak!  I made the mistake of getting up to dance for a few seconds, and then the whole town flocked to the bar, asking to dance and so much more.  I am actually shielding phone calls right now; Ecuadorian men are so persistent!  I just wanted a boat ride; really, you don’t need to come to Quito and visit me, I promise I don’t want to see you again!  Or to solve my problem I will just say that I am married.


I need to get back to finishing this paper now; I hope you are all healthy and happy, and enjoying being where you are.  Enjoy the people you are with and the nature you are surrounded by.


Mia: More Kenya antics

September 29, 2011

So on Monday, I decided after not being able to run or exercise outside of house aerobics (squats down the hallway are a blast) that I needed to get a good workout. I pulled a random circuit/muscle-building workout off the internet and went to the nearest, cheapest gym, which happens to be 5 minutes from my house, outside of Kenyatta Market. It’s only 250 shillings a day for students, and 3000 a month (the exchange rate is about 102 shillings per dollar right now). 

It was a great workout, but the people in the gym seemed puzzled at my confusion as they were trying to introduce themselves to me…as I was on the treadmill with my mp3 player on. I think the gym is more of a social scene here, as everyone was having a conversation in the weight/treadmill/water room. But it’s a great value, and because of the unsafe running areas around the house, and the hot showers at the gym, I’ll be going back there frequently. 

I was actually going to return to the gym today, but research got in the way of that. I’ve been sitting at my computer for about 8 hours now trying to find ‘scholarly’ sources for all these term papers, and the concept paper for our research proposal. For some topics, finding free sources (mostly studies), is very easy. Apparently American foreign policy in Africa during the Cold War is not one of those topics…JSTOR has failed me again (honestly, who the ^%@* wants to pay 25 dollars for an article), so I’m going to the University of Nairobi’s Library to attempt to find some of the sources I found online. But I’m sure there are other topics with more available resources, so I’ll just have to play it by ear.

On a lighter note, I’ve been having hair issues lately (I took the braids out, and my hair is longer than it’s been in 3 years), so I bit the bullet and got a straightener. I wasn’t expecting much (it was 30$, only heats up to 290 degrees, and is tiny), but I was definitely in for a surprise. When I plugged it in, it heated up within 5 seconds, and made my hair the straightest I’ve ever seen it haha…I think it’s one of the nicest ones I’ve ever used. Kak harasho! 

Well, blog break’s over, now I have to get back to writing my literature review for the concept paper. The group settled on researching refugees in northern Kenya, and I’m focusing on where and how the children are getting educated. Fun stuff, I’ll probably put something about it on here next time. 


Margaret: 出轨了 – Chūguǐle – derailed

September 25, 2011

Yes, sadly Marg is quite derailed.  I’m beginning to realize that studying and working hard isn’t going to cut it with my classes.  There’s a huge gap in my education between what I learned at Minnesota and what I’m supposed to be learning here.  I can’t magically make up for the language foundation that I never had.  Taking this level of hanyu would be comparable to reading the Sorcerer’s Stone and then skipping to the Deathly Hallows.  None of it would any sense, and the reader would endure 759 pages of Avada Kedavra and Lord Voldemort!  I should probably change classes, however I’m not even proficient enough at the language to tell me my teacher my concerns.  I’ve been unmotivated and somewhat apathetic this week, simply going through the motions.  Let’s hope I can give tomorrow a renewed Margy try.

On the bright side, as soon as Friday hits, I get to temporarily forget about all of it in favor of food, dancing, glitz, and glam.  On Friday night, a few friends and I rented a paddle boat on Houhai.  The boys did all the work!

And now for the newest biggest news since I’ve been here: On Friday I bought train tickets to travel to the North Korean border for next week over a week-long holiday with two guys I met.  I promise there’s no need to jump on a plane and come kidnap me.  One is Keen, a thirty-something MBA student in Tiffany’s program.  He was born and raised in Chinatown in New York City before going to school at Cornell and then moving to Japan.  He’s really interesting because he was on the ground when the planes hit the World Trade Center and when this latest earthquake hit Tohoku.  Just hoping we don’t get arrested on the border!  His buddy is a tall, white excitable and eccentric Australian named Ben who’s in the language program with me, although he’s in nearly the highest level.  He and I packed into a tiny room to buy train tickets from the campus travel agency on Friday.  Everyone was frantic, pushing and shoving to trying to buy tickets at the last minute when most were sold out.  We arrived at the front, and out of this Aussie’s mouth came the fastest Chinese I’ve ever heard a foreigner speak.  The room fell dead silent.  I turned around as if I was on stage to see thirty Chinese people staring at us with big silly grins on their faces.  I burst out laughing, which only added to the spectacle.

On Friday after class we’ll take the Beijing-Tianjin intercity railway, peaking at 217 miles per hour, to Tianjin, or what I like to call Beijing’s brother on the ocean.  The trip is only about thirty minutes.  We’ll spend the night there, getting up on Saturday to take a train (soft sleepers!) to the city of Shenyang.  The trip one-way is $46 USD.  Shenyang is the largest city in northeast China with just over eight million people.  It was used by the Manchus in the 17th century as their capital and is now a major commercial hub with Japan, Korea, and Russia.  Traditional cuisine includes…wait for it…sauerkraut!  We’ll then head to Dandong, presumably by bus or train, which literally lies on the border between China and North Korea.  The main attractions here are the end of the Great Wall and the Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge (lol) over the Yalu River.  Tourists can rent boats to get closer look at the border where the North Korean city of Sinŭiju lies.  North Koreans gather on the edge of the river, waving at foreigners.  We also hope to get to Heaven Lake, a volcanic crater lake within a mountain range, half located in North Korea and half in China.  In North Korean legend, Kim Jong-il was born near this lake.  Dalian, presumably our last destination, is a seaport famed for its beaches, although northeast China is not at all balmy at this time of year.  Ben has advised me to bring a multitude of “jumpers.”

I’m really excited to travel with them, and I think they really know how to do this kind of thing.  I may never have another chance in my life to travel to such a crazy place with two people I just met.  I’m starting to feel like a hippie.  We’re hoping that our destination is a bit off the beaten path as most students are headed to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xi’an, and Inner Mongolia for this Golden Week.  I’m sure I will have a plethora of crazy shenanigans to blog about whenever I return.

After a meeting with my language partner Q, a successful erhu lesson, and the purchasing of a new phone (squat toilets, skinny jeans, and a few drinks make for a deadly combination), I am hoping to be slightly less chuguile going into this week.  In any case, I only need to make it to Friday, and then the big adventure begins!  Gotta go email a professor of Marxism who wants to improve his English.  Zaijian!


Jon: Le Arabia

September 24, 2011

Arabic. I seriously believe it might be the death of me one day. This weekend concludes my first full week of classes, and I am very much looking forward to the break. Every day I have Arabic for 2 hours and then another hour of Ameea (what the Jordanian dialect is called), however in order to be prepared for class I have to spend about 4 hours a day prepping. That is a lot of Arabic, alas it is what I came here for. My other class, the Environment and Politics of Water, is turning out to be very interesting. We are right now in the pure science of it all so I’m having to double down on the reading and really try to pick it apart but it is intriguing. 

This Sunday I start my internship and I am extremely excited for this! I ended up interning with Friends of the Earth Middle East (, where I will be designing sustainability standards for one of their EcoParks. Also, the organizer for the internship programs at CIEE seems very intelligent, and has an amazing resume. She has worked on multiple UN projects among other development tasks, and her husband is in charge of the World Health Organization here.

The only other thing I want to comment on today though is about women here in Jordan as I have been consistently surprised here in this regards. In the US we view the hijab and burqa as oppressive, sometimes even as middle eastern women deny this. We also tend to assume the women who wear these garments are more conservative, yet through Amman I have been shown this is not true. Public displays of affection are outlawed in Jordan and while hand holding doesn’t completely fall in that category it is still considered a very ‘liberal’ thing to do in public. Yet I have seen multiple times Muslim women who are wearing the full body burqa holding hands and walking with their boyfriends in public! Honestly I have seen every combination of girls in how ‘liberal’ their clothing is and their own beliefs. Almost every girl wears the headscarf yet they do not seem any more oppressed by it than miniskirts are in America. My favorite example is my Arabic teacher Ghadeen. She wears a headscarf and dresses modestly (covering most skin up) and yet she is the epitome of, excuse my language, a badass. She is not allowed into Saudi Arabia because of articles she’s written, she races cars for fun (though can’t race again till December because of a racing accident), and goes to the shooting range at least once a week. I won’t say for sure if women’s clothing is oppressive, I’m not even sure that it is my place to. But I will say I am very much enjoying the opportunity to learn and live in the Middle East.


Chelsea: Cold milk? What?

September 20, 2011

Back in the swing of things…back to my “reality” of classes and family time! The trip this weekend was fantastic – just a short 2 hour bus ride away from Quito! We tried out some different types of food – Ecuadorian-Mexican and Ecuadorian-Chinese, both a little different than what you would get in the U.S., but delicious. Otavalo is known for its huge market, and we definitely took advantage of that all Saturday morning! It was fun to look at all of the scarfs/jewelry/crafts and was a good test of my Spanish skills to bargain for my purchases!

Later in the day, we finally found an open tourism office and convinced the man there to let us go horseback riding, even though it was slightly raining and it was later in the day! We went on a horseback ride for over 2 hours through Indigenous communities and some tight mountain passes. My horse was deemed “alegre” (happy), and it definitely lived up to that—it had no concept of walking and liked to pass the guides. I definitely loved it.

We had our first essay due yesterday. Yikes! It’s hard to get anything academic done here with all of the distractions, but my group managed to crank out the 8 page paper in no time.

…just another full week of classes (without any trips, boo!), but should be fun!

This week has been full of cooking. My family had spaghetti (Ecuadorian-style) on Sunday and I made cheesy garlic bread that my family loved! This morning I made pristiños (a type of donut with a honey sauce…) to share with my Spanish class and tomorrow is my brother’s birthday so I’m making my family a breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon! 

…and this morning I got Trix.  My brother was eating them for breakfast and I think my drool tipped off my mom that I wanted some. It was delicious, despite the 10 minutes of making fun of the fact that I eat my cereal with cold milk (they drink it warm!). Worth it 🙂

%d bloggers like this: