See you later, Japan!

I spent four weeks in Japan and had the adventure of a lifetime. From meeting many new people to eating traditional Japanese dishes, Japan was everything I expected and more!

During my art class, a mangaka, Junya Inoue came to visit and talk about the industry and drawing techniques. Mr. Inoue is the author of a manga called Btooom! which has also been adapted into an anime. The class was divided into three parts. For the first part, he introduced himself and answered some questions we had about the industry. Second, he drew one of his characters for us and taught us about the different pens and paper used. Third, he had each of the students draw our own character and come up with some backstory. IMG_3679.jpg

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He was very nice and got a selfie with me!

I also made it to the Ghibli Museum. It’s very tricky to get into the museum, so I hardly got in. One of the professors knew some people living in Tokyo who got us tickets (locals are allowed a certain number of tickets per month they can purchase). Studio Ghibli is the animation studio behind many famous animated movies such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and PonyoIMG_3836.jpg

One of the field trips with Saitama University was to Kawagoe, a small town often known as “Little Kyoto.” It had a very small town feel and there were many historical sights. IMG_4053.jpg

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I also got to experience wearing a yukata, which is a summer kimono.

The most memorable historical landmark would have to be the Daibutsu (Big Buddha), found in Kamakura.

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The environment in Japan is so different from the US. The streets are much cleaner, even in big cities like Tokyo. The trains are on time to the minute and it’s very easy to get around once you get the hang of it.

While my time in Japan has come to an end, these memories will always be with me. I am so thankful to Saitama University and all of the wonderful people I met for making my dream come true. I will certainly be going back one day. Until then, my Japanese language studies will continue!

I’ll see you soon, Japan.

Thanks for the unforgettable experience,

ジェイダ

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Top 10 Cultural Differences

I have not uploaded a blog post in a while and I have not done anything interesting lately (unless you consider my day job to be interesting). So I have decided to write about the top 10 (in absolutely no specific order) cultural differences between the United States and Germany that I have noticed so far!

Without further adieu:

10) Do you have no manners? Knock!

In the office and at home, your door remains shut. No one wants to walk down the hall and see what you are doing and you sure don’t want anyone to be able to see you while they walk by! In the United States, most offices are open spaces or people leave their doors open- not here. Everyone loves their privacy and the closed door policy is everywhere.

9) Lunch time!

In the United States, workers are generally required to take their lunch as quickly as possible and get back to work. Here, it is not uncommon to take over an hour! My office has a cantine where you go to get lunch (very much like the Caf) and sit with your colleagues. This builds comradary within the office and gives you a much needed break from your hard work. In the United States a lot of workers bring their lunch from home and eat at their desks, but here, we eat together and talk about non work-related things.

8) Is hydration really that important?

When you go out to eat in America, the first thing they bring you is a free glass of ice water. Not only is ice nonexistent here (a topic for a point all of its own), there’s no such thing as “free”. My first day in Berlin I ordered water and I was asked if I wanted still or sparkling (tap water is not to be consumed- ever!), I requested still assuming they would bring me a free glass of water. Nope! I paid 2,99€ for a 200 mL (tiny) glass of plain, bottled, lukewarm water!

7) On the topic of water…..

There’s this thing here called Minealwasser (mineral water) and the Germans cannot get enough of it! It is regular water, just with more carbonation in it than you could imagine. Let that bottle sit still all day thinking it is safe to open and you’ll be in for a wet surprise! I always have a towel on hand when I am opening my daily 1.5L bottle of the stuff. At first, I was scared to try it (why would you carbonate WATER?), but it’s actually pretty good! You can buy a huge bottle at Aldi for 0,19€ plus your 0,25€ deposite on the bottle (you get a quarter back when you return your empty bottle to the recycling center).

6) ICE-ICE Baby

I said I would get to it, Germans do not know what ice is (except when the whole counry freezes over in the winter time). The refridgerators do not have an ice maker, and they would never, ever take up the valuable real estate in their tiny glasses with frozen water. I guess when you are paying 4,50€ for a soft drink (without refills) you want to get every last drop of soda possible. The German word, Eis, pronounced as we say “ice” actually means Ice Cream, because that’s the only frozen concoction they want.

5) The bill, please?

When you go out to eat and are ready to go home YOU are responsible for asking for the check. The waiter will never bring it to you, because to Germans, that would be rude. When you seat yourself at a table (you always seat yourself), you get to keep that table for as long as you want. If you need something (drinks, food, etc) make eye contact with a waiter (who will HOPEFULLY be somewhere nearby) and beckon them. They will not check in on you, and they will not ask you to pay. I have grown to like this seemingly poor service as I often find it annoying in America when waiters come by every 5 minutes and interrupt my conversation to ask if I need more free ice water.

4) You mean we aren’t here to make new friends?

The first time I went out with some colleagues for drinks, we went to a pretty casual bar in Braunscwheig. By the time we got there, it was past midnight (prime party time in the US of A) but the dance floor was empty, and every group sat at their table, with their friends, not interacting with anyone else. Having never been “of age” in America, I can only go off what I have heard- but that is that going out to bars is a great place to meet new people and even dance a little if you want to. Not here! You go to the bar with your group of friends, and sit and try to scream at them to have a conversation (the music is very loud).

3) You are 30 and don’t have a driver’s license?

Cars exist here. Germany manufactures some of the best cars in the world, but because public transportation is so advanced and efficient, a lot of Germans never bother getting a car- or even taking driver’s ed to get their license! The streets all have bike lanes, and thats how everyone gets around on a nice day. The buses, trams, S-Bahns, U-Bahns, and long distance trains all have regular schedules- usually in intervals of 15 minutes or less. In fact, even the scheduled train between Berlin and Munich (hundreds of miles) operates several times per day. Gas is also very expensive- around 1,50€ for a liter- so it is no wonder that most folks bike or take the bus.

2) The yellow form! The other lady told me it was the blue one!

Ah, bureaucracy. In the United States you deal with those grumpy folks only at the DMV and the Passport Office. In Germany, bureaucracy is in every aspect of your life. Need to change your address with the bank? You have to go to the city office to get a form verifying where you live. Moving? Go tell the city that your are leaving. Need to get on payroll at work? Go get a NEW tax ID number for your new job from the state. Nothing is simple here, but on the bright side it is almost impossible to slip through the cracks or mess something up.

1) Drinking? You haven’t even had breakfast yet! And you have work in an hour!

Germany has about the most relaxed alcohol laws of any country. The other day I biked past some dude holding onto the handle bar with one hand with a beer in the other- at 8:30 am! Drinking in public is fine- no brown bags here. In fact, I have never even been carded and I barely look like I am above the 16 years old limit. People here are very responsible though, and rates of alcoholism are actually far lower than in America.

I hope these little tidbits were interesting! I will probably do more posts like this soon as I had a lot of fun listing out my ideas.

Cheers from Braunscwheig!

British Isles – Part 2

Ok. So, it’s been a crazy month and a half since I got back to the states, so I am just now getting around to posting pics.

Ireland was incredible. I loved the places, the cities, the accents, the people, etc. The air is so much cleaner than the air in the US. You notice it. It was the first thing I noticed after we landed. I breathed, and it was clean and clear, as if I had just gotten my first breath of fresh air after being underwater so long I forgot what it was like to breathe. The food was better, too. All of the ingredients are fresher and mostly grown or raised locally, so the meat was higher quality, the vegetables tasted more natural, and even the beverages were better. I loved the place.

First Castle in Ireland
This is the first castle we got to explore after a jaunted carriage ride through the country out in Kilarney.
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Bagpipes!
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Trinity College, home to the book of Kells, and free tuition, just like all colleges in Ireland.
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This is called Dublin’s Viking Pub, because it was actually established by vikings. The food was pretty good.

Wales was an unexpected gem on the trip. I never thought that Wales would be a place I would want to visit again, but it is now near the top of my travel list. We drove through Snowdonia National park which has some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. I didn’t get any good pics of the park, but I did climb to the top of a mountain behind our hotel right as the sun was setting, and the views were spectacular. Pics are below, but they don’t do it justice. You could see green for miles. I definitely need to go back and visit so I can hike in Snowdonia.

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This was our ferry from Ireland to Wales. It’s huge, and felt like a luxury cruise.
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A nice tea party at a small restaurant in Wales.
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That’s me. At the top of a mountain. Amid the ruins of an old castle. Yep.
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Top of this mountain. The castle ruins are so old, that only pillars of rocks were left and a couple structures.
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Just look at that view.
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Sunset is the best time to climb a mountain.
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Some more structures during sunset.
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The path up the mountain
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Just wow.

England was nice. I got to see some incredible places, like Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, and so on. I didn’t get to see Big Ben because it is under repair and will be so for the next few years, so the entire tower was encased in scaffolding. Still, The tour of London was worthwhile. There’s so much history everywhere you look.

 

The best part of England, however, was the natural history museum. I could spend a week in there. As it was, we spend nearly five hours, and were only just able to see every exhibit almost at a run. The place is huge! The fossils were incredible. I almost cried. I grew up loving paleontology and natural history, which is why I am now studying biology, so this place was like heaven on earth. The research going on there is amazing. I spent a long time on their website learning about their efforts to digitize 20 million specimens by 2020. They are creating 2D and 3D models of these specimens, both wet and dry, and providing open access to anyone around the world with a computer and internet. The best part, that’s only 1/4 of their specimens! There’s so much research going on, from fossils to conservation biology, to genetics, to molecular biology. I might consider this place for my post-doc, because it was awesome!

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That’s a real blue whale skeleton. 

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That’s the blue whale skeleton from below. 

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Some pictures from Berlin (Finally!)

I was finally able to get the pictures from my phone onto my laptop by emailing them to myself. I did buy a new digital camera yesterday (my phone camera has been acting up) so hopefully I will be taking a lot more pictures in the coming weeks!

Anyway, here is some of what I got to see in Berlin:

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The Reichstag in Berlin: the “Capital Building” of Germany. 
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The TV Tower at Alexanderplatz (Formerly in East Berlin) is the largest structure in Berlin. You can see it from almost anywhere. A gentleman on the subway (tourist) was asking me where it was, and when the train went above ground for a little bit I just looked around and pointed it out to him- we were miles and miles away from it too!
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I thought the Juxtaposition of the TV Tower behind an 800 year old church was very cool! Notice the stone work on the Church, the lighter work towards the top was reconstructed after World War Two.
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The view from my friends’ balcony in Berlin. Very great location! The parking lot at the bottom right is where Hitler’s bunker was, the Jewish Memorial can be seen towards the top on the left, and behind the far buildings is the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.

Playing the Koto

For this past week, I want to share my experience with the koto. My host mom took me to her high school on a Saturday when club activities were going on. I was able to play it myself! Now, I did not do very well, haha. The 先生 (teacher) had to guide and correct me a bunch, though, it was really neat to be a part of the activity! The students were super sweet and welcomed me to watch and play.

ジェイダ

Wow, time flies

Logging into my Word Press acount I noticed that I have not posted an update in over two weeks! Well, a lot has happened here in Germany during these two weeks so I’ll go ahead and dive in:

The start of the World Cup was very exciting, I went to a public viewing in Braunschweig to watch Germany’s first game (against Mexico). Unfortunately it was a tough loss, but the environment of the public viewing was great. It had several beer stands and they were handing out free hats and sunglasses.

The next week I continued my work at DLR, researching and coding a little bit. It’s hard work but I like the work atmosphere here.

Last weekend I took a trip to Berlin to see more of the city and reconnect with some friends I made at orientation a few weeks ago. My friends who live in Berlin have an incredible apartment- right next to Hitler’s bunker and a 4 minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate. It was a great weekend. I arrived in time for dinner on Friday and stayed until after lunch on Sunday.

To start off the weekend we got some beer (for less than 0,40€ per ‘tall boy’) and headed to a small street stand for dinner. I ordered a Schweineschnitzel (basically a fried pork chop) which I enjoyed alongside my German wheat beer (very dark and strong flavor- I am a huge fan). After dinner my friends took me around to see a few sights, then we went to buy more beer and got ready to head out to the bars. One guy knew of an Irish Pub just one U-Bahn stop away so we headed there. The bar was incredibly crowded and it was also late so we just stayed for a few rounds and mingled with some locals before heading back to their apartment for the night.

On Saturday I got up early and used my Berlin Transport Card to go around various places in the City. Notably, I went to the Apple store and got my iPhone camera repaired so I could take some pictures. I will upload a lot of photos in a future post, once I can figure out how to transfer them from my phone to my Laptop. Saturday was also the night of the big Germany vs Sweden match, so we went to the public viewing at the Brandenburg Gate. I can not overexaggerate how good our place to stand was. We fought our way to the very front, and were less than 5 people back from the front. It was an incredible experience to get to be a part of all of the energy with the win too. After the game several of my friends tried to go clubbing, but I was way too tired and went on to bed. They came home around 1 am (very early by German clubbing standards) and sadly announced they had been denied entry to every club they tried. This reaffirmed that going to bed was the wise decision.

Sunday morning we slept in pretty late, but had time to get lunch and visit Alexanderplatz before my train ride back to Braunschweig.

Overall, it was an incredible weekend and I will definitely be heading back very soon, I have not even seen half of the tourist attractions there yet!

So far this week I have had a lot of work, and got to witness the unfortunate loss of Germany to South Korea last night, meaning the World Cup fun is over for the next four years.

I have also begun my apartment hunt for Bremen this fall, I am hoping to get to move in about a month before my classes start so I have time to travel around Europe and see all that it has to offer.

Where There is Rain, There is a Rainbow

June 28th, 2018. It’s been an entire week since I arrived in Seoul, and five days since my previous post. As I write this, I have just checked into my dorm for the summer semester and am settling in, but to a very unfortunate set of luggage.

I was able to take part in the wonderful three day field trip provided by Yonsei University that allowed me to go to beautiful places out in the countryside of South Korea – Seorak Mountain, Ojukheon, Nami Island, and more were included on our itinerary. My first obstacle to make it to these field trips, however, was to get from one side of Seoul to the other to get on the bus.

The man who ran the hostel I stayed at told me it should take about 25 minutes from the hostel to Yonsei by train. I factored in an extra 15-20 minutes for walking to and from stations so that I could arrive at Yonsei promptly at 8 am to check in for the field trips. Therefore, I felt leaving at 7 am would be plenty of time. Sadly, I was wrong.

I woke up the morning of the 26th ready to pack and trek to the metro station only to find that it’s pouring rain outside. This didn’t strike me as odd – summer is the rainiest period of time for South Korea, with July racking up on average 21 days out of the month where it rains – but it was definitely an inconvenience. Especially so given that I had two luggage with me that had to be pulled, so there was no way I could hold an umbrella. Hoping it would die down, I put on my baseball cap and walked to the metro station. It worked for a while until I had to get off over by Yonsei University. Then it got complicated.

Then rain became torrential and my only method of getting to Yonsei was to use my phone as a navigation tool. The problem then became that the rain messed with the calibration of my screen, and apparently knocked the “current location” dot off the map. I had no idea where I was, where I was going, or where I had been! Not to mention I was racing against the clock with heavy luggage in tow. My plan had been to make it to Yonsei by 8 am to attend the quick 20 minute orientation and then get on the bus. However, I didn’t get to the buses until 8:50 – a tight ten minutes before they were to depart. My luggage got entirely soaked (I have to wash half my clothes, but thankfully my laptop and camera were not harmed!) and they now reek of mildew. But I was still happy and thankful that I was able to make it to the field trip before they departed, because wow! Everything we went to see was amazing! Our group visited two temples – Naksan Templre and Shinheung Temple, as well as the birthplace of Confucian scholar Ojukheon and home of his mother Shin Saimdang, climbed Seorak Mountain and rode a cable car, walked around the man made island Nami Island, walked through a traditional oceanside Korean market, and even played in a water park. There were so many beautiful views, fun conversations, and joyful times from the field trip!

So even though I practically had to swim to Yonsei and wet half my possessions, there was still some fun and happiness to be had by the end of the trip. 🙂

Stay tuned for my blogs in the future! I’ll be editing my next vlogs as I didn’t have access to my laptop during the field trip. I have a lot of catching up to do! 나중에 봐용 여러분들!

Part III – The Pilgrimage to Lagarto Cocha

Note: This blog is a part of a series on my journey to the Ecuadorean Amazon and it is a sequel to this blog – Part II – Journey into the Ecuadorean Amazon . I highly recommend reading that before you read this post below.

Lagarto Cocha

In the early morning of the third day, we were preparing to depart for Lagarto Cocha – a sacred place for the Secoya in the Amazon near the border of Ecuador and Peru whose name translates to Caiman Lakes. Most of Don Basilio’s family members, as well as Don Cesareo’s family, were coming with us to Lagarto Cocha. We had two canoes for accommodating all members with their belongings and food supplies. Gasoline tanks were ready for the motorized canoe and we were placing the luggage and food into the canoe.
While we were doing that, a group member named Daniel, who is now a close friend and mentor, asked me: “Hey Ankur, have you ever tripped before?”
I replied “Umm… not really” and he started chuckling. I was going to find out what he meant soon enough.

We set in motion and the canoe ride lasted for about 8 hours. Along the way, the scenery was mind-blowing. There were multiple rainbows showing themselves during the first two hours of the ride. Here is a picture of one below.

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A variety of birds were flying across treetops. Blue macaws to the Amazon were like pigeons to cities. Monkeys could be seen climbing treetops and we also saw fishes jumping out and into the water. During the journey, Don Cesareo was telling us some interesting stories about his childhood and shamanic experiences. The most interesting point to keep in mind was that he had first consumed ayahuasca as a child of 8 years with his grandfather, who was also a shaman, in Lagarto Cocha! Literally, he had been drinking the sacred medicine for more than a century and we were heading to the same place for our retreat! Here is a pic of the crew without me.

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And here is me wearing an Alabama t-shirt in the Amazon!

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Finally, we reached the entrance to the sacred territory. We had to show permits for entering Lagarto Cocha to border guards of both Ecuador and Peru. The color of the river water changed from light brown to a much darker hue. This was a natural phenomenon because the leaves of the trees there produced dark tannins and when they fell into the river, their pigments created a sort of a tea when mixed with the water. About 10 minutes after entering Lagarto Cocha, we saw the loveliest creatures (my bias is due to the fact that they are my favorite animals). Pink dolphins were circling the canoe and occasionally, they would briefly show their beautiful faces but they were shy about that. I was so excited to see them that I stood up on the seat of the canoe and it got out of balance. Of course, it did not capsize but I got off the seat and stood on the canoe floor. Unfortunately, I could not get a picture of the dolphins because they were too fast for me. The sounds of the rainforest were enchanting. Birds were singing and insects were humming but little did I know how alive the rainforest became at night. The trees themselves commanded respect as they were enormous and awe-inspiring.

Teachings of the Grass

Our mission was to find the camping spot where the Secoya had previously stayed. Lagarto Cocha is best described as a forest land filled with lakes. Floating vegetation like certain grass species were growing throughout the lakes and this was our main obstacle or rather our teacher. When we tried to reach the camping spot known by the Secoya people, our canoes actually got stuck in the tall floating grass. Later on, this would become absolutely normal in our canoe rides. The first time it happened, I was mildly surprised. All of us in the canoes got out and pushed the canoes over the grass. It was a challenge but still great fun to be honest. Here is an example of how the grass was our ‘obstacle’.

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My philosophical insights from these repeated incidents were that the journey of life will never go as planned. Unexpected situations and what may be perceived as catastrophes will arise no matter what you do. Our responsibility is to deal with those unexpected uncertainties in the best way possible with a nice smile on our faces. A positive attitude to overcome difficulties is much more constructive and useful in times of crises. This is why I said the tall grass which was seemingly an obstacle to the canoe was a great teacher. In Stoicism, there is a famous saying which goes along the lines of ‘The obstacle is the way’. This made much more sense to me after my experiences in the great rainforest. Here is an instance where we had to pull the boat on sand because the water level became too low!

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Reaching the Campsite

Eventually, in the late evening, we reached a small campsite in the forest near the lake shore. This is what it looked in daylight like after setting up the tents.

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While navigating the riverscape, we did not have any kind of cellphone or GPS service. All navigation was carried out by the Secoya people, often lead by Don Cesareo, who knew the place like their baby. We finally reached the campsite after sunset and could not see much so we got our flashlights and headlamps out. Tents were set up and the Secoyas constructed neat little bathrooms a short walk away from the campsite. This is a picture of our good old jungle bathrooms!

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Preparation for Ceremonies

Over my two-week stay, three yage (a different preparation of ayahuasca) ceremonies were conducted at the campsite of Lagarto Cocha. I will start by stating the pre-ceremonial rituals. Firstly, it is extremely important to know what ayahuasca is and gain more knowledge of the tradition. I read the book ‘Rainforest Medicine’ by Jonathan Miller, the author who led this trip, twice before the trip. I cannot stress the importance of respecting this sacred vine before the ceremonies. Ayahuasca is NOT something to be taken for fun. This is a vine whose translation literally means ‘vine of the soul’ and is not something to be messed around with.
About nine days before consuming yage, I had to undergo a ‘dieta’ which is the Spanish term for a diet. I had reached Peru on 22nd July and was going to stay there until 4th August. During that period, I avoided alcohol (I don’t drink that anyways), fatty or oily foods, and sugary foods like candies or pastries. This was the recommended dietary preparation for ingesting yage smoothly without vomiting or other negative side effects. It is extremely important to have kind intentions too! These actions are also to inculcate discipline as before each ceremony, it is imperative to fast and not drink water. Since there were going to be three ceremonies, it meant a total of three whole days of no food and water (not three consecutive days but three separate days in a period of two weeks).

The first ritual we participated in after reaching Lagarto Cocha was called the sunrise renewal ceremony. This was the day before the first yage ceremony which would happen in the night. It was around 5 am in the morning and we gringos were standing in a line to receive a medicine. Leonel, one of the healers, had prepared a brew out of Konsa’a, a native plant, for cleansing the body. As you can guess, the goal of the ceremony was to vomit the toxins out of the body. So I gulped down three bowls of the brew which tasted alright (similar in taste to carrot juice) and then less than 5 minutes later, I felt a force akin to a punch on the stomach and vomited on some innocent plants. I saw this scene multiple times as the other group members were doing the same beside me. I will leave the rest to your imagination!

It was amazing and inspiring how much the Secoyas were connected to their natural surroundings. Their ecological knowledge was beyond incredible and they truly depended on the rainforest as I mentioned in my previous blog. Because they depend on the gifts of Nature, they have to protect their landscapes so conservation is vital to them and not an option. They made most of their items from natural materials too such as this wonderful bag.

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This is another example where Don Basilio is showing us a plant which the natives use in a certain ceremony for strengthening their teeth.

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In the next blog, I will share some details on the yage ceremonies themselves!

Exploring Japan

So it’s been two weeks since I came to Japan! I have gotten to make many friends and visit places I’ve always wanted to go! I hope my experience allows you to follow me to Japan!

On the Thursday where I left off, I visited an art exhibit about Hokusai Manga. This is where we get the Japanese term “manga” to refer to comics, though the original term referred to Hokusai’s sketches.

After the exhibit, I went to Omiya to eat dinner and shop around. There were several alleyways filled with unique stores and restaurants. You really never know what kind of shop you’ll find upstairs or in the basement!

Friday was a field trip to Shibuya with my art class. We met at Hachiko Statue, a very popular meeting spot among Japanese people and tourists alike. This statue is a tribute to the real life dog, Hachiko, nicknames Hachi. This Akito dog was adopted by Eizaburo Ueno and the two grew very close. Everyday, Hachiko would see his owner off to work at Shibuya Station and come back to pick him up after work.

When Hachi was two years old, Ueno died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage at work. Still, Hachi would go to Shibuya Station every morning and afternoon at the time his owner’s train arrived, hoping to find his master. The locals knew Hachi and called him “Chuken Hachiko,” Hachiko the Faithful Dog. He continued to go to the train station twice every day until he died 8 years later. Hachi became famous around Japan and his story had spread around the world. Hollywood made a film about Hachi, which is called Hachiko A Dog’s Story. I watched this movie the summer going into 8th grade and had never heard the story before. It hit me right in the heart.

For those of us who came early, my art professor took a group of us to see a mural within Shibuya Station.

Once everyone was at the meeting spot, we walked over to the NHK museum. The NHK is a very popular TV station. Many Japanese people will have this on TV while eating breakfast, including my host family. There are news shows, kids shows, and comedy shows on the channel.

I will update more soon!

안녕하세요 – Hello!

안녕하세요 여러분들, 저는 티겐입니다! Hey everyone, my name is Tegan. I’m a rising junior double majoring in Finance and Spanish with International Trade. This is my second time going abroad, but my first time going to study and I couldn’t be more excited!

As I write this, I’m a mere five days away from taking off to Seoul, South Korea. I can hardly believe it – going to Seoul has been a dream of mine since I was 13 years old, so finally having this dream come to fruition eight years later seems surreal.

During my seven weeks in Seoul, I’ll be studying at Yonsei University – one of the top three universities in the entire country. My program will last from June 20th until August 13th (cutting it close with the Fall semester!), and although I wish I could stay for much longer, I know my time spent there will be filled to the brim with excitement, different atmospheres, and a wave of new friends.

While I don’t have anything to post about now besides an introduction, I do want to let everyone know that I will be running a vlog as well on YouTube to chronicle my adventures and experience! The channel is called A Wandering Seoul and is linked within this post. I plan to upload about every 3-4 days there.

I’m ecstatic to share how things go during my time in another country on the other side of the globe, as well as see how everyone else’s study abroads are unfolding. 나중에 만나자! Let’s meet after a while!