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Neither Here Nor There

Thank you for joining me for the second installment of my journey through Ireland. These last few weeks, much like the first few, have had their share of excitement, discovery, and head scratching moments. Since my last post, I have done quite a bit of exploring, mostly around southern Ireland. In reality, classes have picked up a bit, so I have to pick and choose my days to wander. Still, it is mainly just lecture as they do not believe much in homework apparently, which is more than fine with me. With that it leaves me quite a bit of extra free time to go to cool places during the week. 

I have a break in class from Tuesday morning through Wednesday evening, so that has become my exploration time. These have been some of my favorite trips because they involve little to no planning and a lot of figuring it out on the fly. For example, on the 17th of September, I hopped a bus up to Killarney and spent the day touring the castle and gardens. I walked around for hours before sitting down at a fishing dock away from the crowds to take in the scenery. There I met a guy named John, who had been backpacking Europe for a few months, and struck up a conversation. The conversation lasted a couple hours and ended with John eventually deciding he would buy a plane ticket to head back to the states to get a fresh start. I can’t take any credit for his realizations, but I wish him the best in his new pursuits. After that whirlwind, I attempted to walk back to Cork, got lost and ended up hailing a cab to get back to my apartment. That’s a story for another time. 

The next weekend I was lucky enough to embark on a fly fishing trip to a small town in the next county over. Late on a Friday night, I made the trek over to the town of Clonmel where I rented a last minute AirBnb. The nice lady who owned the house called me a cab for the next day in order to get to the fish shop. After arriving a bit early the workers and guide showed up and started collecting gear. Once we were armed and dangerous it was time to snag some trout. The day consisted of catching a few fish, learning some tricks of the trade, and seeing a ton of awesome country. The guys were extremely knowledgeable and kind as almost everyone has been. All of this made for a great day on the water.

Jumping ahead to this week, again with a few friends, we went and toured the town of Kinsale on the southern coast by way of bike. There we went around the city and out to an old military fort dating back hundreds and hundreds of years. I was able to learn a bit about the area’s history and take in the scenery. To no one’s surprise the views out over the Atlantic were nothing short of amazing.

This leads us to this Tuesday. A few days ago, I was sitting in my morning class thinking I had not done anything spontaneous in a minute or two, so I headed to the bus station as soon as we were dismissed. I had remembered reading about a bike trip through the Gap of Dunloe that was a must do, so I bought a ticket and was off. Upon arriving in Killarney, I rented a bike from a local place, nodded as the guy went through the local stops to make, and tore out of town. About 8 miles in I chained up and began to ascend a hiking path. An hour or so later I stood at the top of Slippery Bridge or “Big Gun” peak looking over more country than I could even take in. After staring in amazement for awhile, I headed back down realizing I would be in a real time crunch to make the last bus back. From there I picked back up the bike trip and headed through the Gap of Dunloe. I would try to explain the surrounding scenery, but it’s just one of those places you have to see for yourself. I attached a picture below, but it does not even do it justice. Five or so miles later of pedaling up the rugged terrain and down through the Black Valley, I finally got a bit of signal and realized I had an hour and a half to bike 15 miles back either direction. With the steepness of the surrounding hills, that just would not be possible. With a little detour and a lot of luck I was able to find a flooded walking path back through the forest and out to the main road. A couple miles and a soaked pair of shoes later I was right back on track. From there it was a long but manageable 8 miles back into Killarney. Legs burning and heart racing, I chugged along cursing myself out, and made it just in the nick of time. I chained up the bike and hustled to catch the last bus as it pulled in, a great success. 

As I look back on these last few adventures, I realize they are not things that can be strategically planned out. Life is about adjusting on the run, so sometimes you just have to buckle up and let it fly. I know these are the times I will look back and appreciate the most because they weren’t supposed to happen. I can’t be quite sure if it’s curiosity, determination, or just plain stupidity, but the three combined seem to create something special, something an itinerary will never capture. These trips are just more meaningful. They are about the journey and not the outcome, more about the story of getting there and less about the end result. That’s life.

 Again, thanks for reading, and I will continue to keep updating as often as possible. Much obliged. 


Photo courtesy of The Gap of Dunloe


Matthew Twaddle is a sophomore at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in civil engineering. He is attending the University College Cork in Ireland through the UMKC Direct Exchange Program during the fall semester. Matthew is from Maryville, MO and is excited to continue his education in Cork, Ireland where some of his family still resides.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Taking Flight

Leaving home for the first time can be a bit daunting. No matter how many times you tell yourself or tell others that you are ready for it, you never really are. Sure I may have left home to go to college, but it is just not the same. In Kansas City I at least have the occasional day trip back home whenever I need it. This is a whole new ball game. Definitely exciting but new ground nonetheless. In my mind, getting over here and getting setup was really just an after thought until it became reality. I realized it wasn’t going to be a cake walk when I got to customs the morning of September 3rd, looking like a zombie since it should have been the middle of the night. Showing up with every document except for my letter of acceptance to University College Cork was a microcosm of  my whole journey up to this point, so it was very fitting. I thought I was going to be kicked out of Ireland before I got in, but here I am two weeks in. Look at me now, customs guy.

It took a bit of learning, getting looked at weird, and wandering around to get settled in. Now I have all the necessary supplies I need to make it through the semester, which is mainly sandwich stuff and a pair of hiking shoes. To be fair, those shoes have already taken me to Killarney National Park and The Cliffs of Moher which were both mesmerizing, so I would say they have been a solid investment. With one week of classes down and a few adventures under my belt, things are becoming a bit less foreign with each passing day. Sure, it is easy to miss home and the family and friends that make it that way, but living in the moment is something I have always prided myself in. If you worry too much about what is going on elsewhere, opportunities will pass you by. This is an experience I don’t want to squander by thinking about being somewhere else or about what I am going to do next, but instead by enjoying where I’m at in the moment. This semester is going to fly by anyways so why not enjoy every minute. That is something that is pretty easy to do in a place like Ireland, as every corner reveals something else to be intrigued by. I also can’t forget to mention that the adjustment has been made so much easier by all the awesome people I have met. Making friends is a bit easier when everyone is equally confused about their situation, but I never imagined how many great people I would meet, and even go travel with, in such a short amount of time. I guess it isn’t a huge shock that a bunch of study abroad kids would want to adventure and explore new places. Nevertheless, I am really glad they do. Already I am extremely thankful for what this trip has brought to me and pumped for what is to come. I already have a few excursions in the works. I’m going to take a few trips with friends and a couple solo treks, so stay tuned for my next move. Oh and classes went well this week too. I made it to all of those.

Thanks a million, cheers.


Matthew Twaddle is a sophomore at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in civil engineering. He is attending the University College Cork in Ireland through the UMKC Direct Exchange Program during the fall semester. Matthew is from Maryville, MO and is excited to continue his education in Cork, Ireland where some of his family still resides.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Arriving in London

     I’ve been in London for four days now and I’m still pinching myself! I still haven’t gotten the chance to see central London, which is a bummer, but I’ll find a way. In my home in Kansas City most people rely on their cars for transportation, but in London it’s the opposite. Mostly everyone here relies on public transit, which is great, but I’m not used to it at all.

Today I missed the opportunity to go explore central London with fellow international students. The jet lag has been real, and has finally caught up with me! When I first arrived in London I didn’t feel tired at all. It was just yesterday that I began to feel extremely exhausted, but I have been staying up very late due to me getting used to new surroundings. Due to that I completely missed out on exploring the city today.

While I’ve only been here for four days, I’ve already met some great people from my flat and orientation. I’m happy to be putting myself out there in social interactions, and meeting new friends. One person who has really made an impression on me is my flat rep Dre. He has been very kind and understanding. Sometimes, I cannot understand a word he is saying but he won’t hesitate to repeat himself!

So far I’ve been to Asda (a “Walmart” like supermarket), a student friendly bar on campus, and a campus movie night. I feel great so far, but missing out on photo frenzy is kind of getting me down. If I didn’t explain already, photo frenzy is a day when all international students go out into central London and explore the town. The University of Roehampton even set up a clue game to have fun finding historical pieces.

It sounds very fun, and I hope to go enjoy the city soon. As I’ve said already i didn’t go into the city so I have no pictures of the city. Instead here are some pictures of my view right now.


Kierra M. Fayne is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying theatre performance. Kierra is spending the fall semester abroad with the Missouri-London Semester Program: University of Roehampton. She plans to study theatre in London to seek new techniques and tools that will help her tackle performances with more ease. Kierra was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, where she has made connections that have helped her identify her goals to study theatre performance. She is now ready to spread her wings, find connections, and make new friends in London.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

No Worries in Café Clazic

A typical day for me looked like this:

My friends and I walk, three in a line, down the sidewalk to the café I had looked up online two hours prior to our designated meeting time. We met at the CU, “convenience store 4 you!”, outside our shared campus dorm, and started the familiar stroll down the sidewalks leading away from Dongguk towards the Chungmoro subway station.

The thing about walking after driving a car for, well, forever is that it seems like a hassle at first. But then it becomes less annoying. Then it starts to turn into a slight enjoyment. And then that small joy in the act finally culminates into a full-blown appreciation. Walking is now like second nature and I wish more of the United States was walkable.

The sky is overcast and looks like it could pour down rain any minute, but none of us had thought to bring an umbrella. On our walk to the nearby café, we make small talk concerning our university course load, the other areas in Seoul we’ve been to, and the topic that had my stomach in knots: our last days in South Korea.

They were coming fast and dwindling down into hurried goodbyes, tearful promises of meeting again, and long flights back to the countries we came from.

My last two weeks in Seoul made me realize something. Nothing big or dramatic, but still relevant to the person I was growing into. That something then slowly crystalized into a myriad of feelings and emotions that eventually snowballed into a seemingly all-encompassing pressure on the person I thought I was.

Our trio passes the familiar GS 25, their signs a signature blue and red and white – inviting and welcoming to all searching for the nearest convenience store, then the Two-Two fried chicken restaurant which was always busy, and finally the ever-faithful Tteokbokki Party. The chain store acts as a marker for me, either traveling to campus or to the station, that I am on the right path and close to where I want to be. Instead of taking the left to cross the street and find the stairs that lead underground to Chungmoro station, we keep walking across the pedestrian crosswalk spanning six lanes hoping the drivers, who weren’t known for their “pedestrian first” mentality, wouldn’t do anything reckless.

After safely making it across, we continue straight on our path watching the darkening sky hoping it wouldn’t decide to rain. This part of town seems darker and gloomier than the other side of the street – the streets we knew well and came to love. It seems like a “wrong side of town” kind of feel. Much less tourist-y and full with hole-in-the-wall mom and pop type of shops. Finding the café I chose is much harder and more difficult than I anticipated. We wandered the streets crisscrossing and backtracking multiple times, all three of us too stubborn to give up.

Finally, I pull out my Naver maps, the Google maps of Korea, and type in Café Clazic. According to my maps, we were standing right in front of the coffee shop. Frantically we look around hoping the map app is trustworthy and we were closer to getting some caffeine. My friend spots the sign advertising the café and pointing to the building on our left with the letters “2F” indicating it is on the second floor.

Relieved, we make the climb to the second level and pause at the unassuming door double-checking within the group we are entering the right place. Reassured, we slide the door to the side and are greeted with the rustic interior of Café Clazic. The inside is dark, an old attic type of ambiance, with wooden chairs and desks scattered around. The ordering bar and expresso machines are located on the far right side. At least one mirror adorns every wall, giving you a glimpse of not only yourself but the other customers in the single room. Off to the side, another small room is connected but with a drastically different theme. This room is bright and light and filled with plants and flowers. In the middle, for decoration and the main point (according to the multiple Instagram posts tagging the location) is the claw-foot bathtub artfully filled to the top with leaves and petals. Small stools and crates surround the tub indicating the tub itself is usable as a table. This is further supported by the clear covering laying over half the tub on the end allowing drinks to be placed on top of that side.

Cafés like this, themed and artistically decorated, dot the landscape and seem to be deeply embedded into the culture of Seoul. From a complete pink environment, to plants and flowers bringing nature to the concrete city center, to animal-inspired themed cafes – Seoul has it all. This is the place to come and be surrounded by environments you see in magazines, movies, Instagram discover page, and what you imagine how you would decorate your future apartment when you have the money and the freedom of adulthood. These are places to meet friends, do business, study, or just enjoy what the city of Seoul has to offer.

Within the cafes of Seoul, for me, there are no worries. There are only good coffee and good company in a city I have come to love and feel comfortable in. Here in the center of one of busiest cities in the world, there’s peace and quiet in whatever café you choose or happen to chance by. Sitting in the chairs, nestled in the atmosphere that is quintessentially and unmistakably Seoul, enjoying either your own singular presence in the bustle of the country capital or that of a like-minded friend there is a quiet inner understanding and feeling of being settled for that small moment of the forever that seems to be your life.

Seoul is cafés and friends and traveling and endless opportunities to do and be whatever you want. At least as an exchange student. These past two weeks, I have learned I am stronger than I give myself credit for and I can endure much more than I think.


Emily Stahl is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Marketing at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Emily will spend the semester abroad in South Korea participating in the Dongguk University exchange program. She is a member of the Delta Zeta sorority, Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, and Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Being from a small town north of KC, Emily is excited to live and study in the city of Seoul for 4 months. She looks forward to gaining a better perspective and understanding of the culture and society within South Korea. Emily is also eagerly anticipating expanding her knowledge of business interactions on an international scale and to meet people and make new connections while abroad.


Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The Cities That Made Me Speechless

I sat down three times to write a blog about Prague, but for some reason, I couldn’t think of anything to say. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my time there, I definitely did. And it wasn’t that the city didn’t leave an impression on me. But I felt like I didn’t have any coherent thoughts or words about my experience there.

But soon after, it was time for me to go to Rome, and I had the idea to just write a blog about both cities, that way I had more to say. Then I came home from Rome and my writers/thought block was almost worst. I didn’t understand what was happening.

See the reason I couldn’t write about Prague, and now how it’s even harder to write about Rome was I didn’t know how to write about a beauty you just have to see with your own eyes.

I couldn’t explain the magical feeling I got walking through the winding cobble-stoned streets of Prague, like I had been transported to a fairy-tale land. I couldn’t put into words the emotions that overcame me looking up at the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, the ceilings I heard about every day of my childhood (thank you Catholic school education).

It’s that feeling of being lost in history that people are chasing when they come to Europe. But it’s not kind of history that has a face and name, like when you see a Berlin square that the Nazi’s rallied in. It the 100’s of years of people that weren’t written in the history books. The merchants who all met in a small square in Prague that you, thousands of years later, are eating dinner in. It’s the streets that the first Christian’s walked on, and you have to wonder about what life they were living. The history that swallows you up, and you are just a small fraction, a blimp in the city’s eyes.

In Prague and Rome, when you see artifacts and buildings that were built in the 1700s, you are unimpressed because the 1700s? That’s new for these cities. With buildings built 2,000 years ago still standing, 300 years is modern. But then I kept thinking about how stuff in the 1700’s is older than my own country. With the U.S. not being founded until 1776, most of the stuff around me has been there before everything I’ve ever known at home was even thought of. Some of these buildings were worked on before anyone knew America even existed.

My expectations going into Prague were actually pretty low. I remember both of my sisters saying Prague was a “must-see” but I didn’t really know why. Prague’s history was (and is) confusing to me, I didn’t understand how the city was important in history, I don’t remember ever learning about it in history books. All I knew was that it was old and currently in the Czech Republic, but previously in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, under Nazi rule, AND in the Austria-Hungary Empire. I couldn’t wrap my head around an old and beautiful city that experienced that many regimes in current history. But that experience made Prague what it is, a must-see. It has pretty much every era of world history to show, from ancient to Baroque to the communist era.

As for going to Rome, I was anxious. From loving ancient history, to learning about Rome so much in school, I was worried my expectations were going to be too high. But from St. Peter’s Basilica, to the Colosseum, to the food, Rome did not disappoint.

But my favorite part of both Prague and Rome weren’t the grandiose structures of ancient times, it was the quiet beauty that just existed as part of daily life. The cobblestone streets and the beautiful trees and the random statues on every corner. It’s probably the stuff you get used to living in Prague or Rome, but when used to seeing a Walgreens (no disrespect to Walgreens, I love you) on every corner, it is a bit overwhelming.

All in all, amazing doesn’t cut it. So again, I find myself at a loss for words.


Emily Reid is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She is spending the semester in Berlin, Germany through the ISA Berlin Program

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Berlin the Bountiful

I’m halfway through my time in Berlin, so here is a list of all my favorite things about this city so far.

  1. I could argue Berlin is the most international city in the world. For one, let’s take into account that one city was controlled by four different nations for a number of years. Want to go a British pub? 20 minutes away in Charlottenburg. Hungry for some French food? Visit the neighborhood of Wedding, a former French district. And there’s nothing like an American burger… I can find one down my block in Zehlendorf. I had known the city of Berlin was split into four of course, but I had only really thought of East Berlin changing, and had never realized the brief control by other nations would actually have a lasting effect on West Berlin.
  2. Flower shops are everywhere. There are three flower stores I walk past every day on my 3 block walk to the S-Bahn platform.
  3. Their determination to keep the memory of The Holocaust and and the atrocities in World War II alive, but at the same time to prevent it from happening again is tremendous. In the museums I’ve been to so far, they have these plaques up, that say “No photos of Nazi symbols,” which prevent tourists and attendees from focusing on the Nazis and Hitler. Along with that, the site of Hitler’s bunker was kept secret until 2006. The German government refused to put up a sign or open the bunker to the public to prevent neo-nazis and worshippers from making it a pilgrimage. Today, the bunker remains sealed and looks like an ordinary parking lot a part from a small sign at the corner.
  4. It is true, the German’s are incredibly environmentally conscious. Some of the ways are obvious and a little incumbent to the typical American, the 3 different bins at every trash can and the lack of dryers in houses. But most of the ways are subtle yet so easy it has me wondering why we don’t do them in America. For example, train and bus doors don’t open unless you push a button, most public lights, like in schools or apartment hallways are motion sensor so they are not on permanently. But my personal favorite is that it is a common habit for Berliners to leave glass bottles outside of trash cans. Besides the abundant cigarette butts, these glass bottles are the only litter you will see. But it’s not really litter because people, mostly homeless, will go around collecting these bottles to make money. And since drinking in public is legal here, those beer bottles stack up on the weekend.
  5. Doner Kebab. For those of you who are unlucky enough to never had tried this delicious, heaven sent, marvel of food, I pity you. In a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, perfectly cooked piece of bread, slathered in garlic sauce, spicy sauce, hummus, anything you can dream of, then filled with seasoned meat and topped with lettuce, and then sprinkled with cheese. Doner is amazing and I eat it every day. You will catch me coming home 40 pounds heavier and still smiling because that’s how amazing doner is.
  6. Stuff! To Do! Every! Day!: This could also be filed under things I don’t like about Berlin because wow is this overwhelming. And the guilt I feel when I’m laying in bed not doing anything. 100 new galleries opening every day, new exhibitions at every museum, all the bookstores and coffee shops, concerts and a walk in every park, restaurants to try….phew.
  7. Public transportation. Yeah, commuting sucks but being on a train and not worrying about driving gives me time to read and work on homework. Public transportation is specifically great in Berlin because Germans love punctuality which means buses and trains are always on time.
  8. Art scene. The city of street art means you’re walking through an art museum 24/7. Everyone here is so creative, you can’t help when it rubs off on you. From the people sketching on the bus, to work shopping screen plays in coffee shops, everywhere you turn is an artist working on their next masterpiece.
  9. All the parks and green areas. This is something I will appreciate much more when it gets warm out, but Berlin is more park than city I swear.
  10. Berlin is Berlin. You are you. Unlike any other major city, one gets more stares in public for dressing too nice than too sloppy. It’s a city where it’s cool to look unkempt. At the same time, a 86 year old man can walk onto a bus in a wedding dress and I don’t think anyone would look up from their newspapers. Fashion is no fashion, wear whatever you want, no one has any expectations or rules. This applies for bars and clubs too, there isn’t a dress code apart from don’t try hard. As a girl who takes approximately 7 minutes to get ready in the morning, I am at home here.
  11. Bread and cheese all day every day. I could go days only eating some variation of bread and cheese. And since these two things happen to be my favorite food groups, let’s just say I am doing well.
  12. Mauerpark Flohmarkt, and any other flea market. Sundays are the best days in Berlin! Everywhere you turn there is a market, like elves come in over night and transform the city. Mauerpark is the best, with rows of stands, live music, karaoke when it’s nice out and the occasional dance show.
  13. Spatkaufs. Late shops open on almost every street corner. Go in and buy beer or snacks for really cheap, and when it’s nice outside people will just hang out on the street drinking and eating.

 


Emily Reid is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She is spending the semester in Berlin, Germany through the ISA Berlin Program

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Never Ending City

It takes a day to learn to love a new environment. And another day to learn to enjoy being in the new environment. And another to continue to love that new environment.

It takes only a few minutes to hate being the out of place piece in a foreign puzzle. It takes only a few seconds to be homesick. It takes a fraction of a second for your stomach to drop and your insides to feel as if they’re in a food processor being blended into a squeamish realization of being so far away from everything you know.

There are so many things one takes for granted – being able to communicate fully and articulately thoughts and feelings. Being able to confidently say what you mean and mean what you want to say. It’s odd how comforting being able to read words and letters subconsciously and be able to comprehend them can be. All these little things build to become an enormous weight of experience.

But here, there’s peace in being out of place. For once, I am in the majority. I am the majority. I never realized how it felt like I was holding my breath when I was in the minority. Here, I am breathing. And it’s quite liberating and reassuring.

That is, until I open my mouth to speak a less fluent version of what used to be my native language. But I’m working on that. That is a whole different feeling for a different post.

A few days ago, I rode the subway during peak rush hour, a mistake I assure you, to the Hyehwa exit on line number 4 (the blue one). A month ago, I wouldn’t have known what any of those words in the previous sentence meant. Now I understand why people lament about the state of public transportation in the United States. It’s amazing and efficient and cheap – the subway system here will forever be my baseline on how well a country implements inter-country travel for its citizens. Anyways, let me set the scene: there I am patiently waiting for the escalator to end its automatic descent and close to the bottom a view of a well-packed crowd of all types (businessmen, college students, ajumma’s, ajusshi’s, children) are all packed together like ants waiting for the next train. Here personal space is not a factor, it’s not even an option and entirely out of the equation altogether. For a moment, even if you are a foreigner or not – visibly out of place or not – you’re just another faceless, nameless person in a crowd simultaneously taking up too much space while having not enough. Once the train arrives, it’s just a sudden push of bodies against one another like a concert without the dim lights, bad smells, and annoying crowd moshing.

Once on the subway, there’s no room to move. It feels as if there’s no room to breathe. Every time the subway goes a little too fast or takes a turn a little too suddenly, you only move a fraction of what you would expect to because there’s a sea of people cushioning the impact you would have had. You just jostle against the stranger next to you. Like a self-contained bouncy ball. I recommend avoiding the subway between 6:00-7:30 in the afternoon if you don’t want to experience this.

After getting off at the Hyehwa exit, my friend and I made the trek up, way up, many, many hills to get a glimpse of this breathtaking view.

I can’t even begin to describe the pure beauty of this scene. I’ve never been to New York City, but I would confidently make the statement this view beats anything NYC could offer. The biggest difference between the two is that Seoul holds more meaning to me than NYC ever could.

The first hill isn’t bad. Climbing an incline that’s reminiscent of the acute angle we’re taught about in fourth grade is not ideal. It’s not hard, but it isn’t easy either. The second hill still isn’t awful. By that point, I was slowly adjusting to the climb, but then the third hill came and I was just annoyed at the steep incline and how frequent they were. By the fourth hill, I wanted to abandon the climb and go back down the last three hills. But my friend reassured me the view would be worth it and, fortunately, she was correct. Here, the sun sets around 6:30-6:40 so we were able to watch the sunset over the city, the sky being clear for the first time in weeks. The city skyline laid bare before me was, and still is, one of the prettiest scenes I have witnessed. In both directions, buildings of various heights sprawled across the horizon paired against the orange-pink-cerulean watercolor painted sky creating the illusion of a never ending city. To the far left laid Namsan, distant and untouchable, the mountain I use to guide me back to where I need to be. It was a breathtaking view and at that moment, the nagging feeling of being out of place faded away for a brief moment. The view was a balm, a blissful reprieve to all the negative emotions that were slowly bubbling beneath the surface slowly compounded by all the miscommunications and cultural differences that were too distinct to patch over in the few weeks I had been here. We stayed until nightfall, content to watch as the city began to reflect the stars I can no longer see and miss.

There is a picture I came across on the internet where an iceberg is depicted and serves as an analogy for the small, intangible distinctions that come with different cultures. It’s aptly labeled “The Cultural Iceberg”. The top, the tip of the iceberg, are things that are easy to see: language, fashion, food, visual arts, et cetera. And the rest of the iceberg, the part you can’t see, the one submerged under the water are the things that are difficult to view and make it hard to acclimate to a culture and country that isn’t yours or one you didn’t grow up in. Family roles, relation to authority, body language, gender roles, pride, rules of conduct, beauty standards, humor – these, among several others, are the aspects of a culture that are hard to grasp. These are some of the contributing factors that act like bricks in the foundation of a difficult adjustment period.

 

But there is beauty in learning and seeing and being able to experience first hand the type of culture I could have grown up in and had my childhood in. To play the what-if game. It is an odd feeling, undoubtedly, but to have this opportunity, to experience all these feelings, is one I feared I would not be able to have. So I welcome all the emotions – the good and the bad.


Emily Stahl is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Marketing at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Emily will spend the semester abroad in South Korea participating in the Dongguk University exchange program. She is a member of the Delta Zeta sorority, Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, and Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Being from a small town north of KC, Emily is excited to live and study in the city of Seoul for 4 months. She looks forward to gaining a better perspective and understanding of the culture and society within South Korea. Emily is also eagerly anticipating expanding her knowledge of business interactions on an international scale and to meet people and make new connections while abroad.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Bologna Bound

Growing up in a small town in Missouri doesn’t leave much opportunity for exposure to cultural diversity. Those surrounding me held the same ideals and beliefs as I did, but as a result, I was very ignorant of just how different the rest of the world was. I was lucky to have parents that realized the importance of bringing the world to us and decided to become hosts to foreign exchange students. My experience being a host sister immediately challenged everything I thought I knew about life in other parts of the world, as well as influencing my choice of study abroad destination. Throughout my time at home, my family went on to host four more students. Since then, I have known that studying abroad was right for me!

Bon Voyage!

My name is Olivia Weaver and I am a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, a minor in Psychology, on a Pre-Dental track. I will be studying in Bologna, Italy for the Spring 2019 Semester through the University of Bologna Exchange program. Fun fact, the University of Bologna is the oldest still running university in the World! It was founded in 1088!

University of Bologna

Luckily, I planned ahead with my academic advisor so I am able to take whatever classes I want during my semester abroad! In my mind, I was planning on taking like classes like Wine Tasting and Cooking Authentic Italian Cuisine 101. Well… I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but apparently not all Italian universities offer courses like that. In the end, I still get to take some really cool classes! I am most looking forward to taking a Speleology (the study of sediment in caves) course offered by the university that travels throughout France and Italy touring different caves with the professor. This class is going to rock…(pun intended 🙂 )

I am so excited for this semester and this opportunity to learn and grow (as a person also though considering the food in Italy may be in size as well…). This will be my first time traveling to Europe and I plan to see as much of it as I can while I am there! Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more stories throughout my time abroad!


Olivia Weaver is a junior at the University of Missouri–Kansas City pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, a minor in Psychology on a Pre-Dental track. Olivia will be studying in Bologna, Italy for her spring 2019 semester through the University of Bologna Exchange program. Olivia is excited for the opportunity to experience and appreciate different customs and traditions of those across the globe.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Failing and Flourishing but Adapting Nonetheless

Me, second from the right, and my new friends from across the globe 🙂

I had been speaking hypothetically about this journey for over a year before I actually departed. I knew I had wanted to come to Argentina for a long time but I never really put too much thought into what I would experience while I was there. I had caught a case of the travel bug after my first volunteer trip to Mexico just a year after I had graduated from high school. I stayed and worked there for two months trying to preserve the environment there. Never once did I get homesick even though my living conditions consisted of just a cement block with carved out windows. When I returned from my first adventure, I knew I needed to get out again. I had learned so much from being in another culture and traveling alone for the first time. My mind had been opened and a travel bug ventured in. I traveled once more to Guatemala for six weeks the summer before my present journey, here, in Buenos Aires. This is by far the longest I have ever been gone. Weeks before this semester-long trip, I moved out of my apartment and threw out the majority of my belongings and put the rest in storage. I was living with my sister with nothing more than the two backpacks I was going to take with me to Argentina. It began to sink in that I was leaving the United States for a while this time.

I didn’t put much thought into how my life would work in another country. I knew I was going to be taking classes in Spanish and living in a hostel, but I never imagined how it would actually feel. After having been here for three weeks now all I can say is that my adjustment was very smooth or maybe I have just gotten used to the daily cringe-worthy awkward language moments and hostel lifestyle.

When I first arrived in Buenos Aires I was immediately met by a leader of the program I was traveling abroad through and guided to a meeting point with upwards of ten other traveling students. Fortunately, I immediately felt secure. However, once we left the airport and went to our respective living accommodations is when I began to realize just how far I had come. I knocked on the door to my hostel and I was shown around my new rustic and eco-friendly home. Showers were archaic and dirty with everyone’s belongings mixed together. The kitchen as well was a mixture of all of the resident’s food. My room contained four beds, all of which were full after my arrival. I put my stuff in my room and had to attend a meeting at the school just thirty minutes after my arrival. I didn’t have time to process what I thought about my new home. However, it began to sink in during moments of boredom in my orientation meeting. I was thinking ‘oh my god, my stuff is just sitting there open for the taking’ I hadn’t met any of my roommates to deem them trustworthy or not. I thought of the showers and when would be an appropriate time for me to wash off the 24 hours of travel musk I was wearing. I didn’t know the rules around cooking or storing food in the hostel… I felt very alone.

When I returned, my belongings were still there. My roommates turned out to be some of the coolest people I have ever met. And turns out we have a cook here at the hostel that prepares dinners for us regularly. Additionally, the hostel is incredibly eco-friendly and sustainable which perfectly aligns with my studies of Environmental Science at University. I felt amazing and all of the fear I had before melted away. The next adventure was navigating the language barrier.

My biggest obstacle by far has been communication. Every single day I feel like I am just hurdling over one awkward moment to the next. Honestly, I have cried many times over this. I want to learn this language so bad but I cannot understand or communicate how I’d like. I am not able to explain my thoughts in Spanish. I have been studying and communicating as much as I can each day and sleep heavy from mental exhaustion each night. I am nowhere near where I would like to be at this point, but I am improving immensely each day.

The most monumental thing I have noticed so far in my life here is that I am learning so much every day. If I wrote down all of the little things I have learned I would have written a novel already. My roommates are from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, France, Germany, Venezuela, and many more countries as well. I am learning about so many different cultures. I am discussing heavy topics including feminism, LGBTQ rights, corruption, racism, etcetera within many different countries all the while speaking a foreign language. Everyone has been incredibly patient with me and really try to hear what I have to say even if it takes me 10x longer to explain. I have already made lifelong friends here. Not once have I felt homesick just like on trips before. I never learn this much in a day in the United States. I truly believe traveling teaches me sooo much more than school ever could. I am already intending to continue my travels after I finish my degree.


Ashley is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing an Environmental Science degree along with a Spanish minor. She is studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the ISA Latin American Studies program during the spring of 2019. She hopes to become fluent in Spanish and attend graduate school to study marine biology.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Leaving to Learn in Ljubljana!

Only two days until I leave for my study abroad trip in Ljubljana, Slovenia! My name is Katrena Smith, I am a junior at UMKC, majoring in psychology. I will be finishing my sociology minor at the University of Ljubljana, continuing my education toward becoming a Child Life Specialist. For those of you who have no idea where Slovenia is(I wouldn’t know if I weren’t about to live there for 6 months), it is a very small country to the right of Italy. What language do they speak, you ask? Slovene. Do I know how to speak Slovenian? No, no I do not. I have researched a few key phrases, but luckily most everyone will be able to communicate in English. There is so much to learn about and ways to grow as a person on my trip, I am so incredibly excited and nervous for my adventure of leaving my home of KCMO to study abroad in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

      Let’s talk about Ljubljana. First of all, I know I did not pronounce this city correctly the first many times I read it which is a pity because it is a gorgeous sounding name. In the Slovenian language, J’s are pronounced as Y’s. Ljubljana is actually pronounced [lyoo-BLYAH-nuh]. Amazing, right? Well, I know I am not even there yet, but all the photos I have seen have been breathtaking. I’ll update with pictures I take later, I promise. The population of Ljubljana is 270,000, which is tiny for the capital of a European country. In comparison, the population of Kansas City is 488,000 and Ljubljana is roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts! One of the reasons I chose Ljubljana was due to the small town feel. Everything in Ljubljana is accessible by foot or by bicycle which I am extremely thrilled about. I can rent a bike for €3 for an entire year, and you better believe I already have that budgeted. Ljubljana is adorable and I can not wait for it to become my home away from home.

I have always had a thirst for travel, yet I have never been outside the United States. I look forward to stepping outside my comfort zone and being challenged. Turns out I am actually flying into Slovenia on a national holiday. First challenge of the trip has already happened! Since it’s a holiday, all the offices are closed and I won’t be able to get my dorm, so…. I had to get an AirBnb for the weekend unexpectedly. Honestly though, the host seems super nice and accommodating and maybe as a local, she will have some great advice for me regarding the city. It’s difficult not knowing what dorm I will be in or where exactly I will be, who I’ll be rooming with, or what it looks like, but it’s alright, I am ready for anything! As long as I have a bed and my roommate doesn’t steal from me, I’ll be just fine. See? I’m already going with the flow and I haven’t even gotten to Slovenia yet. Weirdly enough, I can’t wait to face all the challenges that await me.

Thank you so much for reading, I am excited to update you once I have been in Ljubljana for a while. Wish me luck on my flight!


Katrena Smith is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying psychology. Katrena, a Gilman Scholarship recipient, will spend her spring semester in Ljubljana, Slovenia as part of the UMKC exchange with the University of Ljubljana. There, she will be complete her Sociology minor, adding to her education in pursuit of becoming a Child Life Specialist.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.