Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pepsi look-alike?

I see striking similarities....

This one's for Sep

This is a Steelers picture I saw when I walked by a sports bar. I guess there are Steelers fans even in KOREA!

Airport pictures (cont'd)

When I log into Blogger, it's all in Korean. So I have to guess where to click. 

The departure board - all in Korean

Korean Starbucks menu

Butterflies line the ceiling

Another departure board in Korean - this one also flipped to English

Pictures of the Korean airport

Coin changer that I almost tried but chickened out.

Fast food even overseas

Korean chocolate

A hands-on museum/entertainment center for kids that was across from the free wifi cafe

Breakfast on the plane

This was my breakfast this morning - an "omlet" (aka a brick of eggs), a bun (seen in the plastic on the left), a dish of fruit (pineapple, green melon and one strawberry), a dish of yogurt (Dannon, you have competition) and my mug for coffee/tea. Dinner looked similar - everything served in these cute little Asian-styled dishes. 

Made it to Korea

Each seat had a personal screen where we could "watch movies" or the news or something. The flight crew also posted a GPS of the plane and our flight along with information on our speed, local time, destination time, etc. It was written in English, Chinese and Korean - I think. 

Getting ready to cross the International Date Line!!! (I think this is where I lost my May 31, 2009 but I'm not entirely sure.)

I guess at 36,000 feet it's pretty cold outside. 

This picture is just for fun. Most everything on the plane (magazines, instructions, etc.) was in Korean and some Chinese. But on the back of our seats, they posted both. 


Well, I have landed in Korea and leave for Beijing in 4 hours. The flight was so long but only slightly uncomfortable. I slept for what I thought was at LEAST 8 hours, only to wake up and find out we weren't even half way over the ocean. They gave us dinner last night on the plane and then breakfast again this morning but my internal clock is all screwed up. I'm trying my best to just be on China time and not even think about what time it is in the states. But overall, the flight was fine, no problems and I'm glad to have both feet back on the ground - at least for the next few hours. My connecting flight to Beijing should only be about 2 hours, so that will feel like a piece of cake compared to the last 13. 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

More pictures of Santa Monica

I LOVE Marina del Rey ... too bad I'd never make enough money to live there. 

I guess this is another little "borough" like Marina del Rey, Malibu, Santa Barbara, etc. But I didn't get to see it. It's right down the hill from Loyola Marymount University. 

Loved this mural - Create Art, Not Violence. I think it's perfect, especially in this day and age. 

As I was walking down towards the water and the pier, I passed this guy who was doing sketches. Above is one of Catherine Zeta-Jones (quite possibly one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood). While I was tempted to buy it (yes, I'm impulsive) I merely settled for a picture. I guess I can say I saw CZJ while in Cali, although it wasn't her in person. :)

I've been to Santa Monica before but it was something like 7 years ago - probably before I really appreciated it. This time, I feel like I soaked it up. I only wish I had an extra week to spend in LA to explore some more. 

Santa Monica

Fun architecture - reminds me of Miami with the bright colors. 

The Santa Monica pier

Santa Monica Blvd.

Sailboat on the Pacific Ocean

La mer

Today I had time to kill during my 14-hour layover, so I took the bus ($1.50 roundtrip) to Santa Monica and the pier. The weather seemed pretty cold for California - about 65 degrees and windy. But it was still nice to see the ocean. People looked at me weirdly because I was in long pants, my fleece and carrying my huge pack everywhere, but it was still fun! I just love California. Everyone is so chill and has their own style. I also love how eclectic the architecture and culture is. I may need to look into grad schools out here...

Chicago to LA pictures

The international terminal at O'Hare - I was actually considered a domestic flight since I have a layover in LA, so I didn't need to go to this terminal. Nor did I need to be at the airport 3 hours early. But alas, we showed up bright and early at 6am.

This was hanging in a corridor at O'Hare - we saw it as we left the international terminal and walked to the domestic airlines side. Yay for Shanghai!

Me with my pack, getting ready to leave for LA.

Looking out the airplane window over canyons. I doubt it's the Grand Canyon but I really have no idea. It was AWESOME though. There was SO MUCH of it - it seemed to last forever. Very cool. 

Chicago/Los Angeles

These were how close our seats were at the Cubs game! And we bought the tickets at a discount, too!
Go Cubbies!
Sep and me at Navy Pier last night for the concert.
Sunrise over Chicago seen from my friend's apartment window. AMAZING. 


Sep and I had a GREAT time in Chicago yesterday. We saw a Cubs game and had fantastic seats! We explored the DePaul campus a little, ate at a really good Thai restaurant, and then hung out at Navy Pier that night to watch the band my friend works for. In all the fun, it did turn out to be a LONG day. I don't think we got to bed until about 12:30. Then we were up at 4:45 this morning to get me to the airport. Ugh. I'm tired, hungry and LA is grey - it looks surprisingly a lot like Michigan (unfortunately). 

So I'm at the airport now (I had to pay for internet - stupid Los Angeles) trying to figure out where to eat and if I should catch a bus to Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Hollywood...? We'll see. I'm not feeling very inspired right now but it would be more amusing than sitting in the airport until midnight when my flight leaves for Korea. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Team blog

Our team leader Cathleen has just created a team blog for us. Apparently, we will take turns updating it while we're in China - so if you're interested in reading about the trip from my teammates' perspectives, you can read the blog:

This blog will remain my personal blog and I will update it daily (internet access depending). 

More coming soon!


Other GIEU blogs to follow!

Friends and family, 

As I connect with some of my classmates who are abroad on other GIEU trips, I am finding out they post blogs as well! Their blogs are slightly different than mine as they post a group blog and mine is individual, but if you are interested in the goings on in Vietnam and Indonesia (that's all I have so far) you should check them out! Veitnam has posted pictures and Indonesia is just fascinating! 


I'm leaving for Chicago tomorrow with Sep. It looks like we'll be seeing a Cubs game in the afternoon, maybe some shopping on Michigan Avenue, a ferris wheel ride on Navy Pier and a local, hip bar with my best childhood friend who's hosting us. What more could we ask for in Chicago for a day? 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New itinerary!

I received a message from Larry, our site leader, today about our new itinerary! It looks something like this:

June 1 - Arrive in Beijing
2 - Tour to China National Stadium in Beijing, Water Cube, Lama Temple and Confucius Temple
3  - Tour to Forbidden city, Beihai Park and Hutong
4  - Tour to Great Wall and Ming Tombs
5  - Tour to Summer Palace and Old Summer palace; attend a Peking Opera performance
6 - Tour to Temple of Heaven and Loasha Teahouse
7 - Tour to Badachu Park, Xiangshan Park and Botanical Garden
8 - Shopping at Wangfujing and Liu Li Chang
9 - Leave for Tianjin; visit Tianjin Normal University (TNU) campus; Welcome Ceremony and banquet
10 - Visit elementary/middle school
11-14 - Teach at middle school
15 -  Meet director, professors and students at TNU College of Arts
16 - 20 - Teach and audit classes at TNU College of Arts
21 - Cruise on the Haihe River; shopping at Cultural Street; visit Opera museum
22 - Tour to Shi Family Mansion
23 - Tour to Tan Gu district
24 - Tour to water park, zoo and TV tower
25/26 - Free day; shopping in Tianjin
27 - Rest and pack
28 - Shopping in Beijing/seeing group to airport/Last night in Beijing
29 - Train to Shanghai 
30 - Visit/tour Shanghai

It's kind of weird that we're doing more site-seeing than we are actually working with students but maybe the students will be taking us around to the sites and it will give us a chance to teach them colloquial English. 

Sep and I leave for Chicago Friday morning. We're hanging out in the city, visiting some sites and possibly attending a concert with one of my friends. Then, we're heading to the airport EARLY Saturday morning for my flight at 9:00. I will try to update again between now and then, otherwise there will be more to come from my 12-hour layover at LAX! (Perhaps a picture of a movie star or two.) 


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Trip updates

Ellen is a colleague of mine who is also going on this trip with me and is the one I will be going to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Bangkok with. (She's also in the School of Kines.) She has a cousin who teaches English in Beijing and he is going to meet us at the airport and take us to the Beijing Zoo!! I'm so excited! I cannot wait to see a real Panda!! 

As for our trip itself, it looks like we'll be spending some time at Tianjin Normal University (TNU) - as of May 14th. We'll be working with high school/university students like we had originally planned. I'm not sure what this means as far as Beijing itself, the Peking Opera, Dr. Lu Sr. or any other details from our original itinerary. I guess we'll have to wait and see. I expect we'll hear more in the next few days as we get closer to our departure. 

Packing fiasco

Sep and I have been making numerous lists of things I need to remember to pack for China. Everything from toilet paper, to a converter, to bug repellent, to a clothes line. My list is about  a page long and I have been DREADING trying to fit it all into my pack (see photo above). But good news! I have extra room! Even with packing everything on my list, it looks like I'll have some extra room for souvenirs after all! It's pretty crazy to think I am going to be carrying my life in a hiking pack for 6 weeks. Granted, some of that time will be spent in a dorm room, but I am fitting my LIFE into a pack. And I look forward to the challenge of carrying it around Southeast Asia.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kids from other countries melt my heart

Stephen and his older brother with his brother's elementary class in Korea - aren't they ADORABLE?!

My friend Stephen, who is part of GIEU Indonesia, has begun his field site experience already. He left last week (a week early) to spend a time in Korea with his brother. His brother teaches English over there at an elementary school. Stephen has been posting pictures on Facebook of his adventures and they look awesome! Looking at Stephen's pictures makes me want to move abroad and teach elementary English (and dance, maybe!) too! 

Depending on finances, next summer Sep and I have talked about teaching abroad - perhaps in the Czech Republic... so I guess it could happen! But Stephen's pictures of the kids remind me of how great it was when I taught dance at the elementary school in Grand Rapids. What a fun age! And it would be great to have that experience with children across the world! 

2 Weeks Pre-Travel

Map of Tianjin as compared to Beijing (above)

Close up of Tianjin (above)

A little over two weeks until I leave for China. Drama continues to unravel with our trip - for example, we may no longer be working in Beijing but in Tianjin (a city Southeast of Beijing about an hour and a half). What we are doing in China still remains somewhat of a mystery as well. I'm anticipating numerous updates on details of the program between now and when we actually arrive in China. Not to mention,  two people have also dropped out of the program for various reasons. So... we'll see what happens.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nervous to fly

I'm not flying Southwest, obviously, but this is a cool shot.

THIS is my plane. Asiana Airlines. Let's hope my nightmare is not a premonition...


I'm getting ready for my trip - packing, planning, prepping, practicing (eating with chopsticks), and trying to figure out which 3 t-shirts I should bring abroad for 6 weeks. Talk about stressful.

I also have this reoccurring nightmare/phobia that my plane to Seoul, South Korea will crash in the Pacific ... I'm not even kidding. I've never flown overseas nor have I ever had a flight that lasts 15-20 hours, so I'm probably just freaking out but I seriously feel like our plane is going to crash. Ugh... 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Official send-off

Yesterday, GIEU held convocation - our official send-off to the various field sites. The people going to Viet Nam leave tomorrow, the New Zealand kids leave Sunday and the Indonesia trip leaves early next week. 

We also had our last team meeting yesterday. The next time I meet up with my team will be in Beijing! I kind of can't believe it. The trip still seems surreal to me - maybe because we've been thrown a few curve balls or maybe because I'm so excited but the countdown is T minus 29 days until blast off! 

I will update more between now and when I leave. But for now, it's a lot of prepping and packing... and practicing eating with chopsticks. 

Thank you for your support and the birthday wishes!