Living in the Emptiness

For the last time on this platform, welcome back beloved readers!

How did you feel when you read the title of this blog post? Confused? Concerned? Five months ago, I would have felt perplexed by a person’s description of their study abroad as “empty.” Isn’t the exchange experience supposed to be exploding with excitement and constant plans? For some students, that concentrated activity is exactly what they need to fuel their soul.

As a person who had a solid Google Calendar for the last two years, existing in the space between very few colored appointment blocks has been a privilege. Thanks to guidance from my free-spirit exchange buddy, Cora, I discovered that when you leave days unplanned, accomplishments are still made and magic fills the emptiness.

The following photos represent some unplanned magic I have accomplished in the free spaces. Continue reading “Living in the Emptiness”

Developing Global Citizens

One of SDSU’s goals is to develop global citizens — as embodied by students like 2019 graduate Marjon Saulon.

Marjon was born in Manila in the Philippines but spent his formative years studying at the Kaohsiung American School in Taiwan after a family move. His studies would eventually lead him to San Diego State University as a business major. After joining the student organization AIESEC (Association for International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce), a global nonprofit, Saulon decided that the comparative international studies major would be a better fit for a global citizen.

It was around this time that Saulon returned home for the summer to take an internship in Kaohsiung at the Philippines Consulate, giving him the chance to learn more about the real-world applications of his major.

Like many other SDSU students, Saulon had a study-abroad requirement, and he returned to the region to study criminal justice in Xiamen, China. He experienced a familiar area in a whole new way through the lens of his studies and career interests.

Saulon, who graduated in May 2019 and was chosen as an Outstanding Graduating Senior in the comparative international studies major, continues to explore his professional opportunities through his job at the Philippines Consulate in downtown San Diego. He took a few minutes to reflect on the challenges and rewards of his Aztec Experience.

Q:  What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?

A:  I would give three pieces of advice: embrace your independence, get involved in the community and set a foundation for your career.

Continue reading “Developing Global Citizens”

Golden Week Mini Adventures

Golden Week is a cluster of Japanese holidays occurring from the end of April until early May that gives both workers and students more or less one week of freedom from the stressors of everyday life. During Golden Week, many people try to travel both within and outside the country and, with Emperor Akihito’s abdication of the throne and the welcoming of the Reiwa era, Japan was especially crowded and hectic.

Since there were more people coming into and out of the country during this time, the shinkansen or “bullet train,” planes, as well as hotels and other accommodations, (especially onsens) were full. Initially, I had wanted to take a trip south and go hit Kyoto, Nagoya and Osaka but, after looking at the prices and availability, I knew that it just wouldn’t work out, so those plans are postponed for the time being. To save my wallet a bit, I decided to just do some small day trips around the Tokyo area in the hopes that they would be less crowded than other areas. They weren’t — but I still had a lot of fun.

Continue reading “Golden Week Mini Adventures”

China Series: I Can’t Even

It’s 3 a.m., and I have class in five hours, but I suddenly felt compelled to start writing — and finishing — my blog posts again. Thanks to the shouting of students living across the hall preventing me from sleeping, I was scrolling through social media and stumbled upon a post my freshman-year roommate had written about graduating. Suddenly, I was hit with this sudden melancholy I assume most students feel right before graduating. But the difference is, I didn’t spend four years at SDSU. In fact, I feel so out of touch with events and life at SDSU that I was surprised to see this graduation reflection.

Continue reading “China Series: I Can’t Even”

Too Little Time in Thailand

How is this possible, for time to pass without warning me that I would crave more?

I am one of 300 other students in the Puey Ungphakorn Library at Thammasat University today, just a few days away from the start of our finals. The sunshine pours through the windows, but we are enjoying the cool air conditioning — it’s 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). All of our laptops and textbooks are open, but some students are laughing with friends or fast asleep on the desks.

The academic portion of this study abroad experience is nearing its finale on May 16 — that’s way too soon. Time passed so quickly here. Instead of introducing myself to new classmates, I’m preparing for my final exams by reviewing my professors’ handouts and attending my last group meetings.

These last four months have radically impacted my view on my home. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to step away from my home and understand more about people’s perceptions of it.

Continue reading “Too Little Time in Thailand”

They Welcomed a Stranger

 

Originally, I was going to have my third post be about my routine and other things I’ve noticed in Georgia, but there’s one story I need to tell first.

When I arrived in Tbilisi, I was initially amazed but also disappointed in little ways. One thing that had been advertised to me was how green the country is. I was told that the country was known for its farmlands, vast nature and abundance of farm animals. I had arrived in the city on Jan. 10, so all the plants were either dead or barren, and there were no animals to be found. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, but it was a shock. The closest animals I could find were in the Tbilisi Zoo. Even then, the fact that the wildebeest were housed with the yaks was a bit worrisome to me — they aren’t even from the same continent! Despite my shock, I continued my journey within the city and did my best to find stuff of interest among the Georgian post-Soviet infrastructure. As a girl who prefers the outdoors, it was easiest to find things I enjoyed at Lisi Lake, the animal shelter and inside the number of museums within the city limits.

Recently, my friend Mariam has been taking me to her favorite areas in Georgia. We had planned to visit Kahetsi Lake, but the travel agency had canceled with us last-minute. With our bags already packed and a longing for adventure, we approached a random marshrutka, or minibus in English, asked where there were going and if they had room for two more. They were going to Gudauri, a city known for its snow-covered mountains and ski resort, and they had room for us!

Continue reading “They Welcomed a Stranger”

Life in Japan

It is really just dawning on me that I’ve nearly been in Japan for a whole month now. It almost feels surreal. So many things have happened, and I’ve made so many memories (both good and bad) in such a short time span. As stated in my first blogpost, the first week in Japan was pretty close to being a total disaster and was really rough on me in various ways. I really struggled a lot more than I was comfortable with in the beginning, but I wanted to keep moving forward so as to not ruin my new life adventure.

It’s been a slow progression, but everything is starting to get better, easier, more comfortable and fun.

Continue reading “Life in Japan”

Cultura Profética

Hello, darling comrades and curious strangers. Today I write to you about a few key aspects of Puerto Rican culture that I have come to recognize as commonplace, at least among the college youth of whom I have mostly been surrounded by for the past four months. I am currently on a mini-vacation on a nearby island in Puerto Rico’s archipelago called Culebra. To set the stage for the vibes of my surroundings on this sunny day that also happens to be 4/20 (don’t worry – I am only celebrating by being extra appreciative of nature and human kindness), I recommend listening to some songs by the Puerto Rican reggae band Cultura Profética.

Something I have learned about the people my age here in Puerto Rico is that many, or even most, of them are planning on moving to the States after they receive their undergraduate degrees.

Continue reading “Cultura Profética”

Travel Insurance: You Probably Shouldn’t — *jumps out of plane*

Might as well go big. Life is too short to not do the things you want to do, am I right?

For those of you who have a slight inclination to go skydiving, 10/10 would recommend. It didn’t really hit me that I was going jump out of a plane until the first person jumped out before me. That’s when I thought, “Oh this is happening.” I got convinced to do a higher jump, so instead of 9,000 feet I did 13,000. It was such a rush. Full send.

Continue reading “Travel Insurance: You Probably Shouldn’t — *jumps out of plane*”

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