Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Joy of Biking in Japan

I spent 4 weeks in Japan, a country that I have always loved and was faced with doing something that I had abandoned once I reached middle school and that was riding a bike. Even before going, I knew that a bike would be provided for me and I had originally planned to reject it and utilize the bus like I do in America.
The first night, I rejected the bike with a good excuse of being uneasy and unsettled upon just getting into the country. This decision left me and a few others walking in the light
rain watching others head home quickly on their bikes. The next day, I got on my bike and took it out making me realize that my initial rejection was kind of silly.
Over the 4 weeks that I spent in Shiga, I rode my bike almost everyday. It was convenient, fun and gave me the feeling that I was fitting more into the culture around me with such a simple act. I also felt free and safe which is a bit odd if you're in a foreign country. I wanted to keep that feeling and bring it home, I didn't realize that there was another factor playing a part.
Fast forward to my first week back home and I am planning to try and recreate the bike experience I had in Japan. It seemed well at first until I stood outside in my neighborhood and remembered the feeling it caused. I tried to imagine myself doing the things I did in Japan and the kind of places I went. It wouldn't be the same. The place I live is more spread out and has a slightly volatile atmosphere. It is more practical and safe to be in a car or bus. For now, I have put the idea of biking in Orlando away and plan to wait until I can get back to Japan to enjoy biking again.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Eating breakfast in the business class lounge!

I have never flown first-class and this is a real treat.  Who would have known there is a free breakfast buffet in the airline lounge?  Now, I am ready for my long flight to Seoul, South Korea. My advise at this point is to make sure you have a travel-size personal care kit!  I really thought I didn't need one but I BARELY woke up in time to catch my flight out of LAX.  I am really wishing right now I didn't have to buy a $4 USD travel-size toothpaste, a $3 USD travel-size toothbrush, or a $5 USD travel-size deodorant!  










Thursday, June 30, 2016

ISP 2016 - Konkuk University

I can't believe that the day has finally come: I am on my way to South Korea!

This will be my first time traveling overseas and my first time writing blogs...so bare with me, please.  I am used to being in a foreign country since I have traveled often to Mexico since I was a child but South Korea will be a completely different experience.  I am looking forward to it!

Today, I took a bus from Apizaco, Tlaxcala, Mexico to Mexico City in order to catch my flight to Los Angeles. I will stay the night in Los Angeles and head to South Korea tomorrow morning (7/1/2016).  Keep reading my posts for pictures of my journey to Konkuk University!!

      *My cat Tipp wanting to travel with me to South Korea!
       *Taking the bus to Mexico City from Apizaco, Tlaxcala!
       *Looking for the Secured Taxi service at the bus terminal
      *On my way to the International Airport in Mexico City!                                                              






Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bath, England

River Avon and Bath
    I couldn't wait to get to Bath, England when I heard we were planning on going there on the Scotland and England Study Tour. I am a big fan of Jane Austen so I looked forward to seeing the setting for two of her books, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. It was truly a beautiful city and lived up to what I imagined.
    Bath is located on the River Avon so I was able to walk along the streets by the river. The bridges, houses, and buildings are very ornate, old and beautiful. The Circus is a section of buildings that are attached to each other except for three entrances and they form a circle.
    I stopped by the Jane Austen House, had a Cornish pasty (which is synonymous with the city of Bath), Bath Abbey, toured the Roman Baths, and walked along the streets taking in the old buildings and watching street performers.
The Circus
    The city of Bath is known for its Roman Baths that can be toured. The tour is very informative of the the history of how the Roman's built the baths there. The waters, as you can see in the picture, has a green tinge to it. The water is this color now because it remains uncovered but, historically, it would have been covered and the waters would not have been green. The waters were believed to have healing properties in it with all the minerals that are in the water.
The Roman Baths
    The city is very huge and I was unable to see everything I wanted to but I hope that I will be able to return one day and see anything I might have missed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Post-Trip England


            When we began our trip I could not wait to see London. Being a history major there were a lot of different aspects of London that I knew I would find interesting. I was not let down by the buildings, but I was surprised at how rude the people of London were. This is not how it was in the entire United Kingdom, but in London it was definitely the case. This became really obvious at night when asking locals for directions and other basic questions. Luckily there was more to England than just London.
            Stonehenge was the most exciting part of my trip. For years I have been fascinated with the creation of it and the history associated with it. Stonehenge is one of the greatest mysteries the world has to offer. After all of these years scientists and engineers still are unsure of how it was constructed. After seeing it in person I have created my own theory, but who hasn’t? Stonehenge really inspired me to take a new approach to the creative process and pushed me to think how to do things differently.
            The same day that we went to Stonehenge we also went to Bath. Bath is an ancient Roman city that has remained for the most part intact. The buildings were beautiful and appeared to have only been slightly altered in restoration. Bath and Stonehenge definitely saved England for me. I will definitely travel back to England; I just don’t know how much of that time I will choose to spend in London.

Post-Trip Scotland


This trip was truly all that I had hoped for and much more. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel back to Europe for the third time, and this time I was fortunate enough to travel to Scotland, England, and France. Out of the three nations it was Scotland and France that had the greatest impact. The highlights of the trip were traveling north to the Highlands in Scotland and then traveling back to Edinburgh following the departure of the rest of the group.
            The Highlands more than lived up to my expectations. I was actually really surprised to see that the Highlands had a very similar layout to Washington State. Oddly enough Scotland resembled a green Eastern Washington. The wildlife and vegetation was exactly the same. On one of my walks I was lucky enough to come across several deer and a few grouse. It is safe to say that I felt as if I was looking out at my own backyard.
            While in the Highlands I was amazed to find that we had a Scotch bar in our hotel. I made sure to take advantage of this and tried as many different local whiskeys as I could. This would continue as we moved across Scotland. I found out quite quickly that finding Scotch in Scotland would be easier than shooting fish in a barrel. One of my favorite parts of the trip was the tour of the Scotch distillery that we went on as a group. It was insightful to get a step-by-step walkthrough of the process of making Scotch.
            Once we arrived in Edinburgh I was really able to get an understanding of what the people of Scotland were truly like. For the most part they were friendly and were than willing to answer any questions. Edinburgh was one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever been to. All throughout the city you can look and find old castles, government buildings, and all around amazing Architecture. I fell in love with the city and actually returned for another three days after the rest of the group returned home. I will defiantly be back to Scotland in the near future!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Calton Hill, Edinburgh


View of the North Sea from Calton Hill
  If you ever find yourself in Edinburgh (pronounced “Edinbra”) you must visit Calton Hill. This spot is a great place to start your adventure in this city for the view and the historical significance.  There is a lot to see in Edinburgh, in fact, it was my favorite city we visited while on the Scotland and England Study Tour this past May with Columbia College of Missouri. On the east side of the hill you can gaze out over the sea. From the other side you get a wonderful view of the city. From this point you can also see Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Arthur’s Seat, New Town, and Old Town. There is really no bad view from this hill!
The National Monument of Scotland
     On the hill itself is also many buildings including Nelson’s Monument, Playfair Monument, Dugald Stewart Monument,the City Observatory, and the National Monument of Scotland.  I did not see all the monuments here but a good chunk of them. The hill has many paths that you can walk or hike around.
   The National Monument of Scotland is also known as “Scotland’s Disgrace” as it was never completed. The monument is half of a building with tall pillars. But even unfinished the monument is very impressive! It also is a great spot to get a group photo if you climb up on it.
Nelson's Monument
      Nelson’s Monument is also located on Calton Hill. It is a tower that is near the National Monument of Scotland. You can go up the stairs to the top of the tower to get a lovely 360 degree view of the city. It was designed to look like a telescope which is appropriate since it is on the same hill as the City Observatory.
    The Playfair Monument was named after William Playfair who was the architect of many historical sites, buildings, and monument in Edinburgh, including the National Monument of Scotland and the Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill.
   After we finished taking in the beautiful view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill we stopped in at a tea shop in Holyrood Palace and then were dropped off at St. Giles Cathedral to explore the city. St. Giles Cathedral is a beautiful building with stained glass windows, a large organ, and high ceilings. We walked along the street of old town which is where the famous Elephant House coffee shop is located.  J.K. Rowling was supposed to have written some of Harry Potter from this coffee shop.  The Writer’s Museum was a neat find as well. The National Museum of Scotland is also located in Edinburgh and has free entry! The museum was so huge we only saw part of it including Mary Queen of Scots’ jewelry, whale skeletons, and many mechanical inventions from different time periods.

Edinburgh Castle
      The city of Edinburgh is a huge place and there is something for everyone no matter your interests. Walking along Calton Hill, reading about authors from Scotland at the Writer’s Museum, and walking through the National Museum of Scotland were all highlights for me on this trip! I hope I encourage you to one day go to Edinburgh as it is now one of my favorite places.
Subscribe to our feed