Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I take more pictures of me and food than a normal person should

I'm not a very social person.

I found Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the Czech Republic
That's a lie, I'm incredibly social. What I mean is, I'm not a very "stereotypical American" social person. There's a lot of Americans here through my study abroad program. They spend a lot of time together. They go out to clubs, beer gardens, weekend getaways in neighboring countries. They're good people, I like them quite a lot. But I prefer Netflix in bed to night clubs.

My first month in Prague, I saw my fellow CEA Americans whenever I wasn't busy with theatre (which I was most of the time). After a month of show after show, I finally have time in my life to be social. Yet every time I try to be, I find myself wishing I was in bed instead of running around town at two in the morning.

Tea, Earl Grey
(Just kidding, it's green tea)

You can change your location, but you can't change yourself over night.

No doubt I've changed, but I haven't swapped personalities simply because I'm in the Czech Republic. I still prefer going to the store by myself, taking walks at my own pace, and staying in most nights. And you know what? That's okay. I'm still experiencing Prague. I've met countless people through theatre and my internship. It's not as if I've shut myself in an anti-cultural bubble. I've just chosen how I'd rather spend my time and it happens to be different from the other study abroad students. Don't worry, I'm going to be social this weekend. Some friends and I are celebrating the fourth of July with a Brewery Tour and a picnic.

Frozen pizza here is actually delicious
My sister had to explain that making baked beans
does not just consist of putting the can of beans in the oven...

Despite spending most of this week in bed recovering from STILL being sick (two weeks now, I swear the lymph nodes in my neck are going to explode), it's been a good week. I've successfully learned to make food with literally nothing (a skill all college kids need), I've stopped having mental breakdowns at the store when I can't find anything I'm looking for (because it's all in Czech or they just don't have it). I had fried food today for the first time in a long time and remembered why I prefer fresh food to fast food (at least one meal a day for me consists of delicious, fresh fruit now, a luxury Maryville College's meal plan didn't give me).

I wish I had more to tell you but unless economics homework and a recipe for baked beans is interesting to you, I haven't had a very exciting week. But that's okay. Not every week has to be filled with crazy stories. This week, I finally began really settling in. It seems silly, seeing as I've been here for a month, But life is finally starting to feel cozy here.

And that's a big deal to me.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Culture Shock 2

I got a culture shock about shoes.
When I went to America's house, I was surprised because American wear shoes in the house. In korea, when I enter in my house, I have ot take off shoes or I can wear indoor slipper. But American can wear shoes in house nevertheless outdoor shoes. I was thought house's floor have to clean because I often laid down and sat everywhere in house. Thus I didn't understand when they are didn't take off shoes in house and I was uncomfortable even though I sat on the chair. Now my feel is more comfortable than before. I wear shoes in my room however I can't wear outdoor shoes. I just wear indoor shoes.

Cultural Shock 1

When I walked everywhere, Americans always say 'Hi' or 'How are you?' I heard first time, I was really embarrassed, because Korea doesn't have this culture. In korea, I have never spoken with stranger. So I thought why are they saying hello? I don't know who is she or he. Also, when I was eye contact with someone, someone smiled me.
For a long time I didn't adapt that culture, so I avoided saying hello and eye contact.
But now I can say 'Hello' and 'How are you?' when I meet stranger on the way or market.

Interesting cultural observation1

When i went to church in Atlanta, i was surprised because one of American culture. It is clapping hands and stand up. I saw a lot of time that if they are moved or heard great sentence. Sometimes I clapped hands but, American people is more than me and they don't shy. I usually be shy if i do something alone. I think, we have different minds so, i felt different things. Perhaps, other students too. If we have same situation in my country, we just seat chair during clap hands and don't shout. It is my Interesting cultural observation.

Culture shock1

I don't know why i pay tip if i eat food in restaurant because we don't have tip culture. So, I felt to begrudged because minimum tip's percentage is 15%. I still don't  understand. I heard why America has tip culture because salary is so cheap and waiter get tip. Before, I think, boss get all tips but, worker get tips. It is interesting but, I don't like that. Maybe, I will be adapted soon. That is my first culture shock.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cultural Shock 2

Culture Shock 2

 Why does the American prefer a darker skin? In Asia, especially Korea, most people want to get more bright skin than what they have now. So they usually do make up that they looks white.
Asian think a white skin makes them that they looks more pretty and they are more girlish. But American think a darker skin makes them that they are healthy and strong and also attractive. When i went to store such as Sephora in America, i could see they have a lots of different colors of make up items. Before i came here, i prefered to get a white skin. But now i realized i couldn't get a white skin. So i decided to buy more nutural colors of base item.

Culture Shock 1

Culture Shock 1

 When i visited my American friend's house, sometimes i could get a small culture shock. I know that most American raise a pet. But even they raise their pets inside of the house, they don't wash their pets. Of course, they will wash their pets someday. But i have never seen that they wash their pets so far. I think one of the biggest reason is they don't have to take off their shoes when they go in their house. So they care about their pet's cleanness less than Korea. Few months ago, i visited my friend's house. That time i was so uncomfortable because of their pets. Wherever i sat, i could see a lot of fur.
After that, i kept thinking about the culture. Now i totally understand culture is different and sometimes difference is depending on personality.

Paris Round One

Walking into the airport, Rachel pointed to the planes and random objects out the window saying "France". Everything was France. We were in FRANCE. The airport is far outside of the city center, so our first instinct was to leave and go to the city. We bought a metro ticket and got on  line 6. We figured we could get breakfast, walk around, and find a hostel. Like it was that easy. We decided to get off at Notre Dame. We might as well see a huge landmark right away. After we looked at the outside of the Cathedral, we decided we should probably find a hostel. We walked around the area for an hour or so. All we found were a few hotels with huge price tags. We were a few streets away from the commercial part of the Notre Dame area, but we didn't know that then. Feeling defeated, we went into a Starbucks to use wifi. It wad painstakingly slow. In fact, my iphone never truly connected to it. Rachel's worked fine, but hostel websites wouldn't let us pay on a phone very well. So, with all of our stuff on a large wooden table in the middle of the coffee shop, we began to unpack my backpack to get to my laptop. We looked rough with our plane hair and we hadn't slept all night (considering that it was the morning in Paris). My laptop was a huge help. The wifi still crept along slower than a turtle, but we found some good options for the nights we would be in Paris. We weren't going to be homeless! We found a pretty cheap hostel called St. Christopher's. It had amazing reviews. So we got back on the metro, got off on the right stop and wandered around the area for another hour. We were on the right street, but after walking up and down it for a while I worried that we would still be homeless, not being able to use wifi to find a new place. WE had already paid, so we looked harder. Once we went to the end of the street and kept going, we found Belushi's Bar. St. Christopher's was right above it. Success!
As soon as I entered, I knew we were in the right place. There were plenty of other young travelers and all of the people running the hostel were American or British with a few French speakers. The people were so nice and the rooms had everything we needed. We were in a mixed dorm every night, but we had to switch rooms since we were making our reservations so late. That first night, we ate downstairs in the bar/restaurant. I ate the most American meal my first night in Paris: Burger and Beer. Oh well, I had two months to get some real French food in. Once I got to the room, I locked my stuff up in the lockers under the bunk beds and fell right asleep. I didn't wake up until morning.
The first real day went spent in Paris was mainly made up of a free walking tour that St. Christopher's recommended. We went with a bunch of other people at the hostel. We all rode the metro to the St. Michael fountain where the free tour began. We had a really awesome tour guide who showed us all around Pairs. We saw the Louvre, French Gardens, and the start of the Champs Elysee. After the tour, we went on further. We walked the entire Champs Elysee and made it to the Arc de Triomphe. Then, after miles and miles of walking, we headed back to our hostel. After checking back into the hostel and retrieving our luggage from the lockers in the basement, we left our stuff in our new room and headed back out again! This time we went closer to the Siene River and bought a boat tour through Paris. Our hostel gave us a good deal on it and it was worth every Euro. Before we boarded the boat, we bought chicken and cheese paninis and I also got a strawberry and Nutella crepe. The boat was very nice and the weather was perfect. I ate dinner as we passed the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and the most beautiful bridges I had ever seen. The lights from the city reflected over the water and made the atmosphere so beautiful. Seeing Paris from the river (as well as finally being able to sit down) was extraordinary. We left around 9 pm (21:00) when the sun was low in the sky. When our boat turned around just before arriving at the modern buildings of Paris, the sky lit up. Every color was visible in the sky thanks to the ever-present clouds over Paris, and the Eiffel Tower had just begun to sparkle (every hour or so, extra lights lit up the tower for people to enjoy at night). The tower also had a rotating light at the top that mimicked a lighthouse.
I suggested grabbing a bottle of wine and sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower to watch the lights up close. The field in front of the tower was full of Parisians and tourists who had the exact same idea. Everything was perfect that night expect for the street "merchants" who came up to everyone on the lawn trying to sell beer, wine, or champagne. This would have been tolerable if they weren't so frequent, persistent, and loud! Overall, though, the Eiffel Tower at night was a great experience.
The next morning we were off to the Catacombs.

Cuckoo in Triberg...7 Days Left in Dortmund

yep thats right, i only have a week left in Dortmund!  then its off to Finland for a week, traveling with my mom for a ladies week, then ending our tour of Europe with a family trip.  everyone told me it would go by really fast, but of course you never listen.  this has been the fastest 5 months of my life!  i have seen so much, learned a ton, gained experiences i will never forget, and grown so much.

i am sad, but happy for what i have done, but ill save the sappy stuff for a later post!

recently my school in Essen went on a field trip to Barcelona and so i got a week off i was not planning on having!  I started it off by going to Dresden to see Milky Chance in concert... it was totally worth it! i had a blast and collected/found enough beer cups afterward to pay for a shirt ;) thank goodness for that euro back idea!
this night i slept happily on a bench in the train station and eventually got home 10 hours later with five different trains...ehh it was still worth it!

after a day or two of rest, i was off to Heidelberg then Triberg in the Black Forest.  In Heidelberg i did the main things in a days work.  It was so small and very touristy.  So many americans!  i also ran into Mario Kissel who studied abroad at Maryville College at the Heidelberg Castle!! Such a small world!

next morning: on the train to Triberg!
Triberg has Germany's highest waterfalls (which you expect to be huge........) hiking trails, cuckoo clocks, gnomes, and more cuckoo clocks.  I spent the day hiking all around in the forest, and for once i felt at home and in my element. i saw the waterfalls, The House of 1000 Cuckoo Clocks, and the world's largest Cuckoo Clock.  I literally have never seen so many dang awesome clocks!!

It was great to explore Germany more!  Now im off to pack up my room :(  ughh ill write soon!

The Start

Rachel and I decided to fly to France a few days early. We were already going to be in Paris on our way to Chambery, so we left three days before we had to be at school. Unfortunately, the Friday before our travel day (Monday) I got sick. I had chills, a headache, and a cough. The entire way to Atlanta to catch the plane I was bundled up in the car sleeping the whole way. When we arrived in ATL we went to Ikea for dinner and because Rachel had never been. We shopped around and ended up making a huge purchase totaling $0.99 for a reusable shopping bag. This simple bag actually ended up  helping me in countless scenarios. In France, grocery stores do not offer bags. Well, they really do, but they cost money. After Ikea we headed straight to our hotel. We were situated next to the airport so it was very convenient for the morning. Before I passed out on the bed, I had to pack. I know. I waited until the night before I left for Europe to pack my final bag. Not to mention, I was only bringing a carry-on which means that much more thought had to go into the decision making process since I was limited to a 9in X 14in X 22in backpack and a small purse. I spent the next hour and a half narrowing my clothing choices down from 7 dresses to 3, 15 shirts to 9, 5 skirts to 3 and so on. My clothes were the only problem I had with space. I finally put everything in my backpacking backpack and pulled the tightening straps as hard as I could. My bag had fat rolls all over, but after all my work, it was exactly the right size. Honestly, I have no idea what I would have done if it was too big. After I had my things all ready to go (complete with a giant Ikea bag of clothes to bring back home), I fell right asleep. My mom, Rachel, and I woke up early the next morning, went to breakfast at the hotel, and then my mom drove us over to the airport. Even now, it had not hit me that I was going to spend my summer in Europe. We arrived at the train that takes travelers into the actual airport. Atlanta, after all, is an enormous international airport with separate buildings for international/domestic traveling. I did not know this at the time. My mom said goodbye at the base of the stairs to the train platform. She was about to get emotional, but held it together. I was feeling too sick to think about anything but my queen sized bed at home with all the fluffy pillows I could ask for. All I wanted to do was lay down.

As soon as my mom left, it finally hit me. I was going to be all alone in Europe. I had never traveled this far without an adult. I have been to big cities, other countries, and even Europe before. But at that moment, my past experience didn't seem to matter. It felt inapplicable to the challenges that were right in front of me. If I felt this way in Atlanta, how did I plan to tackle Paris? I couldn't believe my study abroad adviser, my parents, and my friends thought I was ready to travel all around Europe on my own...with one bag of stuff! How could they let me do this? These were the first thoughts of panic I had. Of course, I knew that these thoughts were mostly irrational so I put one foot in front of the other headed towards the airport. We went up the stairs and met the first challenge of the metro even though we were only using the airport transportation. We had to figure out which train went the direction we needed to go and also what stop to get off on. When we got on the train, I remember holding onto the pole in the center of the train with just my backpack and a my purse feeling like I was homeless. Afterwards, I realized this was probably because I was going to Paris three days early with no hostel booked. I was homeless, essentially. At least for the first three days. And, if for some reason we didn't make it to Chambery before 8 pm the first night of the program, no one would be available to pick us up and show us to our apartment. I tried to put all of those thoughts out of my head and focus on navigating the airport. As I said before, it was huge. We followed the signs and were able to check in easily using a kiosk. Next to the kiosk was the carry-on bag size example. I nervously took off my backpack and tried to place it into the compartment. At first the angle was off, so I just sat on top of the metal bars. An instant wave of panic and fear shot through my body. I lifted it up and tried again. It fit perfectly, straps and all. I may have had an inch in each direction to spare. I was so grateful for the paper measuring tape I found at Ikea as well as my backpack's tightening straps. Next challenge: security. The line was pretty short. Then we got up to the conveyor belt and saw the sign: all laptops must be taken out.  Even though I had actually looked up the laptop rules, TSA decided not to follow them. My laptop was in a an approved case and was supposed to be able to stay in my bag. So, I spent a flustered 5 minutes (which is a long time to struggle in line at security) opening my carefully packed backpack to free my laptop. Rachel had to come back and hold the backpack while I pulled up on the case. I felt so stupid for not putting my laptop in my purse where it could be easily removed. Besides that little inconvenience, security was a breeze. I even got away with bringing an extra bottle or two of shampoo outside of my single quart sized bag of liquids. We meandered through the airport until we found our gate. Then we sat down and charged our phones. My back hurt from the weight of my stuff. I know that it didn't weigh very much, but it was more than my school backpack weighed and I wasn't used to it.

Rachel and I used Buddy passes through Delta for our airplane tickets. This essentially means that they are deeply discounted, but we were on stand-by for a flight. We didn't know if we would get on the first plane, or the second, or even any flight at all (although this outcome was very unlikely given that we had three days extra just in case). The first flight started to board right on time. Within ten minutes of the announcement to begin the boarding process, my name was called, then Rachel's. We were surprised. When we got to the desk the flight attendant said there were three spots left and one was in business class. She offered that seat to seat one of us. We looked at each other for an uncomfortable moment, but then immediately proceeded to play rock-paper-scissors for the seat, best 2/3. We attracted some attention from nearby travelers and even got some laughs. Rachel won. Oh, well. I was happy to  be on the first flight! Unlucky for Rachel, though, the attendant realized that another stand-by traveler would get the business class seat over us for whatever reason --maybe he was a frequent flyer or some other reason. The good news was that  we were able to sit together. We boarded the plane after they printed our boarding passes right at the desk. Our seats were in the middle "column" of the plane and in the very back. The only issue I had was that we could not see a single window. But that didn't matter because I ended up watching the rest of season 4 of  Downton Abbey the whole way. Delta has such a nice plane. They had tv screens on the back of every chair that were loaded with all of these brand new movies, music, tv shows, and games. I couldn't believe it. Where were the days of straining your neck to see a cut off screen three seats in front of you? And we had options to choose from. The movie wasn't determined ahead of time for all passengers. I guess I haven't flown overseas for a while. I enjoyed all these upgrades. The flight was also the first time I heard French spoken (as a secondary language, though). I tried to sleep on the plane, but it didn't work. By hour 5 I was getting uncomfortable and cold even with the little red Delta blanket. The rest of the flight was uncomfortable because I could't sleep. It really messed with my jet lag even more. Finally, at 6 am we arrived at CDG.