Monday, November 16, 2015

Why would anyone want to study abroad in Latin America?

Mitad del Mundo...the middle of the World
Studying abroad in Latin America is difficult. You deal with expensive plane tickets, corrupted governments, active volcanoes, and a complicated language barrier, if you do not speak Spanish. There is a reason why Europe is more popular and more glamorous. In Italy you can take wine tasting classes, in Greece you can learn about the Spartans, and in Germany you can eat some of the best food in the world. So why would anyone choose to spend a semester in Latin America?

Why would anyone want to experience the World’s tallest capitols that tower at well over 9,000 feet in La Paz Bolivia and Quito Ecuador? Experiencing daily life at 9,000 feet above sea level is not for the weak of breath because altitude sickness can kick in at any given time. But, experiencing living in the Andes Mountains, in my opinion the most beautiful mountain range in the World, is well worth the strain on your lungs! Plus once you return to a normal elevation you can basically concur the world.

Why would anyone want to visit Machu Picchu? It’s only one of the 10 Wonders of the World and the site of one of the strongest ancient civilizations the world has ever seen (and this is coming from a Greek). But you’re right flying into the tiny Cuzco airport can be a little overwhelming, especially when WIFI doesn’t exist and you can’t get in contact with you friend whose flight was delayed because we are talking about Latin America here. However, you can always spend 10 hours hanging out in Plaza de Armas contemplating whether you will make your train to Aguas Calientes or not! But if you have any questions of course you would ask the locals who are all more than happy to answer absolutely any question you may have. Be advised that Spangilsh will become a part of your everyday speaking expeditions.

Why would anyone want to travel to the edge of the Rain Forrest to participate in adventure sports? Sure there are more mosquitoes than tourists in New York in Baños; but bug bites are temporary, memories are forever. It is not every day you can ride in the back of a truck to the swing at the end of the world, then go zip-linning through the jungle, go puenting off a bridge (similar to bungee jumping), take a chiva to a huge waterfall, and then end the night salsa dancing at a bar called Leprechaun next to another bar called “Why Not?” Where else in the world can so much be accomplished in one day in one of the most beautiful locations in the world?

Why would anyone want to take a two hour plane ride to the Galápagos?
Maybe you are religious and don’t believe in evolution, but don’t hold that against the tortoises. In the Galápagos you can swim with
any creature you have dreamt of from sea lions, turtles, sting rays, puffer fish, sharks, and penguins. So there are no unicorns, but I am sure they are working on it! Being able to walk on the beach where Darwin once sat observing the wild iguanas is a sight that you will never be able to have anywhere else in the world!

Why would anyone want to live in Quito, Ecuador? Besides for the fact that no parent of any student studying here knows how to say the name of the city, what is there to do in Quito? Let me begin with the people. Except for when dealing with public transportation the people are never in a hurry to do anything and there are so many of them you can never be bored! Ecuadorians are lovers of life and non-spicy food and they are constantly trying to make the griengas feel less nervous about not having the beautiful skin color of the Ecuadorians. I believe everyone wants to fall in love with a “Latin Lover” at one point of their life and that is probably the hardest part about studying abroad.
Ecuadorians love to dance and they will put any American to shame with their hips that do not lie. Dancing is always a part of life in Ecuador even at an Oktoberfest there will be salsa dancing. And of course Quito has a lot of beautiful landmarks you have to see while living here, before time runs up.

Why would anyone want to study abroad in Ecuador? There is not enough time for love, for traveling, for exploring the city, or trying every type of food that you want. Along with school work and going away to experience other areas there leaves little time for anything else.
And timing is never right, whether you are waiting for a bus that already left, a train that you didn’t know where to find it, or the person you suddenly feel passionately about there will never be enough time. Because, studying abroad is a race against the clock. You become friends instantaneously with people that have the same mindset as you and suddenly you are doing everything with them without even thinking about the fact that come December 24th you will be living thousands of miles apart. You try to plan trips to everywhere you want to see when all of the sudden you realize you are out of money and weekends. You try to build new relationships only to have them crumble under time constraints and language barriers. You learn to use google translate as a part of your everyday life and when you don’t have wifi you are searching for it continuously because you can’t lose a moment when the time you have left is so short. So let me ask you... 
Blue Footed Boobie

Why would anyone want to study abroad in Latin America? The question is why wouldn’t you? Maybe you are afraid of adventure? Maybe you are afraid of being pushed outside of your comfort zone? Maybe you don’t want to make new friends with people from not only Latin America, but from everywhere in the World? Or maybe you are just afraid to live?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Grüß Gott!

Austria is absolutely wonderful! Since arriving, the weather has been getting slowly colder, but is still mild, which is unusual for this time of year. I consider myself lucky, since this means that there is still a chance to go out and enjoy it on the weekends when we have some free time.
I am studying my 3rd semester of my Master’s degree in Information Systems from HPU here at Fachhochschule Salzburg, and I have been lucky enough to get a room at the on campus housing. The rooms are great, and each one has an individual kitchen and bathroom. There are three differently coloured rooms: red, blue, and yellow. I am in a blue room, which means that all my cabinets are blue, as well as the floor!
When I have class, it is merely a walk of about 2 minutes away. Since this is a Fachhochschule, the classes are more technical than I am used to, with the course Robot Kinematics being the one which is the furthest from my ‘comfort zone’. Luckily though, this is also my favourite course, with a wonderful professor, so I am happy I have the opportunity to take it. The thing about the courses that struck me as being most different from HPU, was that there are no textbooks. At the beginning of the semester, I was getting a little frustrated that I could not find my reading list. But then it turned out, that you get a pdf with a course ‘script’ that the professors have written themselves. In addition to this, each slide deck contains about 100 slides that hold valuable information, and represent a significant part of the course materials.
I have already made some wonderful friends here, but when it comes to the classes, I am the only international student in all my courses. There is a total of 81 international students visiting FH Salzburg this semester, but only a few of us are Master’s students, and none of them are studying the same line as me. Here at FHS, the Master’s programme that I am enrolled in is called Information Technology & Systems Management. This has also caused some heartaches for the professors of the courses that I do attend. Because I have two courses where the classes overlap, I have to change between which lectures I attend. I heard from the other students, that when I am not in class, the professor teaches it in German. Another one of my courses is simply taught in German, due to a miscommunication error in which the professors were not told that the course should be in English. On the bright side, I have learned a lot of new German ‘IT words’, and have become more accustomed to the local dialect. Hopefully by the end of the semester I will be able to speak German with confidence!
Cute salamander found whilst climbing the Untersberg

Hike at the beginning of the semester when it was a bit warmer

One of the best days of my life! I went to watch the almabtrieb where the cows are brought down from the Alps for the winter. This is celebrated by ordaining them with head dresses and parading them down the mountain and through the town. (It is also celebrated by singing and drinking lots of beer)

Friday, October 30, 2015

在台灣留學 Studying in Taiwan (ROC)

大家好!(Dàjiā hǎo!)Hello Everyone! 

Upon Elephant Mountain and gazing at Tapei 101 at sundown :)
Almost three months has past since I left Hawaii. So far, it has been an interesting adventure! What I remember from my first week in Taiwan was nothing I really prepared for. After all, the summer was a bliss and my Chinese was not polished enough for what was in stored for me. Upon arrival to Taoyuan airport (that's the often main international airport to get to Taiwan), I was able to use my Chinese the first time while ordering breakfast at the airport. It was horrible. However, over time my Chinese had progressed to at least to an extent where am I able to speak and listen to it a whole lot more. 

I currently dorm at the Shui Yuan dorms (C; mixed gender with certain floors for boys  and others for girls) a little outside National Taiwan University. It's a decent place that's clean and has internet (though the wifi is quite bad :( ).  I also got a roommate from Hong Kong! He's a nice guy and I am glad they roomed us together because it's great to be with another Cantonese speaker (hearing and speaking it, reminds me of my parents). 

The best thing about the dorm however is its diversity. Every where I go, there are local Taiwanese students, mainland Chinese students, Germans, French, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Koreans, and other nationalities. An interesting fact: NTU has about 432  international exchanges students from 28 different countries, and representing 149 universities. If you don't believe me check out their site:

Speaking of other nationalities, I forgot to mention that many of my classmates and fellow dormmates can speak Mandarin really well!!! It's not rare to see westerners speak Chinese to each other or see Koreans and Japanese speak Chinese like they have been speaking it like forever. I guess I should not be surprise, NTU is after all, the so called "Harvard of Taiwan." It makes sense that it will draw top students from around the world to study here. 

As for my travels in Taiwan, so far I have been in the North and exploring Taipei to the fullest. I have been  to neighboring towns like Kee Lung, Jiu Fen, Shi Fen, Mao Kong, and Wu Lai. I hope I can explore the Southern cities more later, and even see the north and east coast beaches of Taiwan (can they compete with Hawaii?).  I still have plenty more to see. 

At the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. Here is a memorial dedicated to the former leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975 

At the Presidential Building 

Taiwan is quite the modern city. There are subways (MRT), High Speed Rail, Taxi, and Buses 

At the Martyrs' Shrine 

A Taiwanese Local Moco?

My ride in Taiwan!!! I got him for only $400 NTD (about $12.50 USD)

In front of National Palace Museum (the "Louvre of Taiwan"

At KeeLung
Just Chilling in a Hot Spring (41 degrees Celsius) no big deal....
In Jiu Fen, the almost Japanese-like old mining town that was said to inspire settings in the movie, "Spirited Away." 
Jiu Fen
Some Taiwanese Shave Ice :P

Got here just in time for the boat ride

An aborigine village in Wu Lai (after Taiwan's recent Typhoon) 

Some Coffee while you wait? 
At Shi Fen. A waterfall fit for Nymphs and Mermaids! 

Flying my first sky lantern with my Taiwanese friend

If you want to fly lanterns, Pingxi and Shifen are the places to go! Hop on board! 
Safety first! 

At the Taipei Zoo. I saw Pandas! (I do mean actually ones!!) 

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more!! 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mint tea and a nice piece rghaif :D

Salam, Everyone:D
It's Carina again, and I am now on week six of my semester here in Morocco and so i believe with that said  i am local enough to tell you all about Morocco now :D Ha ha okay maybe not but i will provide you with some awesome information!!! First things first....Mint tea....its delicious and everywhere!!! second thing rghaif.....Kuli, Kuli,, eat , and eat...its truly "benin"... as the Moroccans say"tasty"
Words to keep in mind: benin- tasty, and Kuli- eat...see your already learning Darija its the Moroccan dialect. Your almost ready for Morocco just a few more things to keep in mind.


  Person : Sweet, savory,... and wait is that powdered sugar on top...Eww...What is  that anyway?
Carina: The best thing you've had I swear....I and the rest of my friends day dream about this stuff!!! 
Person : Wait something is totally wrong here...How can something good be sweet, and savory you gotta tell me more!
Carina: Yupp....Its called Pastilla and it is truly amazing!!! 
person 1: I'm ready...I'm ready ...sign me up already!
Carina: Wowaha...this is just some of the haven't even heard about the rest that Morocco has to offer.

Okay, now your almost ready to study in Morocco:D The last piece of advice i would like to give to not eat the shwarma on the street...really? yes really or you will be in the bathroom for along time. Okay... now on a serious note... really?  Okay not really...have fun, make Moroccan friends, go to the souk, barter with the everything ha ha...really take every opportunity that comes your way:D "What you put into your trip is what you really will get out of it" remember your Passport...and WELCOME to MOROCCO!!! 
P.S. If you want any more advice from a local;D feel free to NOT contact me lol...okay  just kidding yes please....if you really are interested in Morocco even if its just a small me, I can try and answer all your questions for you.
 Carina (